Month: June 2023

Planning and armed congregants top church security measures

BRENTWOOD, Tenn.—Most churches have some type of security measures in place during worship services. Pastors point to intentional plans and armed church members more than other measures, but compared to three years ago, fewer say they have plans and more say they have gun-carrying congregants.

Numerous fatal shootings have occurred at churches in recent years. In March, an armed assailant killed six people at The Covenant School, a Christian school in Nashville, Tenn. Shootings have also occurred at other places of worship like Jewish synagogues and Sikh temples.

When asked about their protocols when they gather for worship, around 4 in 5 U.S. Protestant pastors (81 percent) say their church has some type of security measure in place, according to a study from Lifeway Research. Still, more than 1 in 6 (17 percent) say they don’t use any of the seven potential measures included in the study, and 2 percent aren’t sure.

“Churches are not immune to violence, disputes, domestic disagreements, vandalism and burglary,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “While loving one another is a core Christian teaching, churchgoers still sin, and non-churchgoers are invited and welcomed. So real security risks exist whether a congregation wants to acknowledge them or not.”

Security measures

In terms of security specifics, pastors are most likely to say their congregation has an intentional plan for an active shooter situation (57 percent). Additionally, most (54 percent) also say armed church members are part of the measures they have in place.

Around a quarter (26 percent) use radio communication among security personnel, while 1 in 5 say they have a no firearms policy in the building where they meet (21 percent) or armed private security personnel on site (20 percent). Fewer have uniformed police officers on church grounds (5 percent) or metal detectors at entrances to screen for weapons (1 percent).

“Most churches are small, so security plans often don’t need to be elaborate or expensive,” McConnell said.

Around half of the fatal shootings in churches since 1999 have occurred in the South. Pastors in that region are the least likely to say they don’t use any of the security measures at their churches (12 percent). Conversely, they are among the most likely to report their congregation has an intentional plan for an active shooter situation (64 percent), radio communication among security personnel (34 percent) and armed private security on site (26 percent). Additionally, Southern pastors are the most likely to say they have armed church members (65 percent) and uniformed police officers on site (9 percent).

More worshipers in attendance often leads to increased security measures. The larger the church, the more likely it is to have armed private security personnel on site and radio communication among security personnel. Churches with 250 or more in attendance are the most likely to have armed church members (74 percent) and uniformed police officers on site (27 percent). Those large congregations are also among the most likely to have an intentional plan for an active shooter situation (74 percent).

Pastors at churches with worship attendance of fewer than 50 people (29 percent) are the most likely to say they aren’t using any of the methods of preparation considered in this study.

Mainline pastors (22 percent) are more likely than evangelical pastors (14 percent) not to use any of the seven potential ways of security preparation at their churches. Denominationally, Lutheran (34 percent) and Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (30 percent) are at least twice as likely as pastors at non-denominational (14 percent), Restorationist movement (13 percent), Pentecostal (12 percent) or Baptist (8 percent) churches to say they don’t use any of the security measures.

African American pastors are three times more likely than white pastors to say they have uniformed police officers on site (12 percent v. 4 percent). African American pastors are also more likely than white pastors to say part of their security measures includes radio communication among security personnel (37 percent v. 25 percent) and a no firearms policy in the building where they meet (34 percent v. 21 percent). Meanwhile, white pastors are more likely than African American pastors to say they have armed church members (56 percent v. 33 percent).

More guns, less planning

Compared to three years ago, pastors say they’re more likely to be relying on armed churchgoers and less likely to have a no firearms policy for their building. Fewer also say they have an intentional plan for an active shooter, compared to a 2019 Lifeway Research study.

Previously, 45 percent of U.S. Protestant pastors said armed church members were part of their congregation’s security measures. Now, more than half (54 percent) include that in their attempts to keep churchgoers safe. In 2019, 27 percent said they enforced a no firearms policy at their building. That has dropped to 21 percent now.

Churches are also less likely to rely on intentional planning to address potential security threats. In 2019, 62 percent said they had such a plan in place for an active shooting situation. Since then, the percentage of pastors who say that is the case at their church has fallen to 57 percent.

“While churches may have different convictions on how to maintain security, it is surprising that fewer churches have an intentional plan for an active shooter than did in 2019,” McConnell said. “As churches cut back on activities during COVID, this may have been one of the initiatives that did not resume for some churches.”

For more information, view the complete report and visit

New resource underscores prayer focus at upcoming SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (BP)—Unified prayer and spiritual preparation are the intent of a new resource available in advance of the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in New Orleans. offers four unique supplications and encourages attendees to join for onsite prayer June 11 from 4:30-6 p.m. in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) Theater on the second floor.

Prayer is intended to prepare leaders and messengers for the meeting’s jampacked schedule of business, inspiration, fellowship, edification, evangelism and worship, said Kie Bowman, pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist & The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas, who is helping the SBC Executive Committee develop a national prayer strategy.

“When we work, we get what we can do; but when we pray, we get what God can do,” Bowman told Baptist Press, citing the oft-quoted adage.

Robby Gallaty, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., and Bill Elliff, founding and national engage pastor of The Summit Church in Little Rock, Ark., will lead the June 11 prayer meeting open to all messengers and guests.

“You may be wondering why we’re hosting a prayer gathering at the Convention when we’re attending for the purpose of a business meeting. The simple answer is that God inhabits the prayers and praises of His people,” Gallaty said, referencing Psalm 22:3. “When the people of God bow their knees before Him, it bends the ear of God to their requests. In Acts 4:31, the place was supernaturally shaken after a corporate prayer gathering of a handful of believers, and it changed the trajectory of the Church.

“What could God do when hundreds of ministers and messengers of the Gospel cry out to Him?” Gallaty posed. “I’m asking and anticipating God to manifest His presence among us on Sunday, June 11. I hope you’ll make plans to join us.”

Elliff said the gravitas of the meeting calls especially for prayer.

“In a moment when we sense the desperately needed winds of God’s Spirit blowing across our nation, will we pray? Will we find where God is moving and join Him?” Elliff asked. “We gather once a year to seek to advance the kingdom of God, but what could be more important than to pay the price of prayer, for prayer can do anything God can do. Prayer brings God into the equation.”

Elliff shared similar inspiration in advance of the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

“We have been praying a deep spirit of repentance would permeate this prayer meeting tonight and a deep spirit of repentance would permeate this week, every session, all the way through, and that when the world looks in and sees the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said at that event, “it would not see us arguing and fighting, but see repenting with humility and brokenness and grace and truth without any hypocrisy.”

Bowman pointed to extraordinary results of prayer in advance of recent SBC annual meetings, including the salvation of a convention center employee in advance of the 2021 Nashville prayer meeting that drew hundreds.

Other prayer events planned for New Orleans include “Power in the Prayer Meeting,” a panel discussion June 12 from 11:10-11:40 a.m. on the Cooperative Program stage in the annual meeting exhibit hall. Bowman will moderate the panel featuring Nathan Lino, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Forney, Texas, and Todd Kaunitz, lead pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview, Texas.

In a Cooperative Program stage panel discussion June 14 from 11-11:40 a.m., Elliff and Tim Beougher, the Billy Graham professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will discuss “The Role of Prayer in the Asbury Awakening.”

“For the past few years, there has been a rising tide of united prayer,” Elliff said. “This spring, we have seen unusual stirrings across our nation. God longs to bring the next great awakening to our nation. Will we cooperate with humble, repentant, extraordinary prayer?”

Throughout the annual meeting, attendees are invited to pray in the prayer room in the main foyer outside Halls D and E of the convention center. The room will be accessible June 11 from 1-9 p.m.; June 12 and 13 from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and June 14 from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

In the prayer room, individuals will find space for personal prayer. Small groups desiring to reserve the prayer room may contact prayer room leader Ray Swift at

“I want to encourage the family of Southern Baptists to experience the power of prayer at the 2023 SBC,” Swift said, “and participate in a time of prayer at their own convenience.”

The 2023 prayer guide is available at

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

25 years of answered prayer with Juan Sanchez

In November, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will mark 25 years of answered prayer at its Annual Meeting at Cross City Church in Euless. Each month until then, the Texan will feature a brief conversation with past SBTC presidents about how they have seen God answer their prayers for the convention over the past quarter century and how they are praying God will bless the convention moving forward. This month, we feature past SBTC president Juan Sanchez (2017-2019).

What were some of your earliest prayers for the SBTC?

When I came to pastor in Texas in 2005, I was greeted by a mailout from the SBTC warning that the two greatest dangers facing us and our gospel reach were universalism and Calvinism. Frankly, it made me not want to be a part of the convention. My first prayers were asking God for wisdom if we should even be a part. But that prompted me to begin praying that the Lord would open the eyes of SBTC leaders that we have one mission together—to see unbelieving people come to faith in Jesus Christ and become true worshipers of the Father. My earliest prayers were for unity around the mission of the church, knowing we can do more together than we can apart and that our convention would realize that all of us who believe the same gospel have a lot more in common that we realize. So, rather than leave the SBTC, I decided we would lean in.

“We are in a war against the enemy for the souls of men, women, and children. As we fight this war together, we will bring glory to God.”

How have you seen God answer some of your prayers regarding the convention? 

The Lord answered our prayers in clear ways very quickly. He allowed us to establish relationships with SBTC leaders and pastors who do not share our [church’s] Calvinism but share our passion to reach unbelievers. Those relationships allowed us to build trust. That trust led to increased participation in the convention. We no longer felt like we were a threat, but we genuinely felt like a part of the convention. Over the years, it has been a joy to see how the Lord has knit our hearts together as Southern Baptists in Texas pursuing the glory of Christ by fulfilling the Great Commission together.

During your service as president, how were you praying for the convention? 

My prayers as president were not that different. I prayed that SBTC pastors and churches would realize we can do more together than we can in isolation; that we don’t need to be suspicious of one another; that so long as we ground our ministry in the sufficiency of Scripture, we can honor the Lord and fulfill our ministry.

What is your prayer for the next 25 years of the SBTC?

Now, more than ever, I pray that the Lord would remind Southern Baptists in Texas that we who believe the gospel and trust in the sufficiency of the inerrant Word of God are in a war, not with each other but against the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. We are in a war against the enemy for the souls of men, women, and children. As we fight this war together, we will bring glory to God.

Spreading the flame of revival

Spreading the flame of revival

Over the past few months, we have seen God do some amazing things in churches all over our state. I have heard story after story from pastors who have experienced a fresh move of the Holy Spirit because they are leading their congregations to pray. Many of these churches are experiencing congregational repentance and reconciliation. Some are seeing record salvations and baptisms, while others are seeing marriages restored and miraculous healing. All these pastors have confessed that the only thing they have changed in their ministry is that they are intentionally leading their people to pray.  

 My singular desire as the president of this great convention is to lead our churches to pray. I am begging the Lord to send revival and spiritual awakening to our churches and communities. You see, revival is what happens to believers when God brings us to a place of brokenness. This leads us to repentance, resulting in a fresh outpouring of His Spirit in us. 

Pastor Bill Elliff says, “To ‘revive’ literally means to ‘bring to life again.’ It is a word for the church, for you cannot ‘revive’ what has not once been ‘vived!’” Revival is the byproduct of the Holy Spirit bringing back spiritual vitality to the church. J.I. Packer said it like this: “Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness.” 

Without a revived church, we will not see a spiritual awakening in our culture.

Revival in the church will lead to a spiritual awakening in our communities. Spiritual awakening is what happens to unbelievers when the Holy Spirit moves in power through His church. It’s when He moves with such a manifestation of His presence that unbelievers are supernaturally and powerfully awakened to the saving power of Jesus and their need for Him. When a spiritual awakening occurs, you see lost people in a geographical region come to saving faith in Jesus in exponential numbers, resulting in a rapid expansion of God’s kingdom. It should be the heart cry of every follower of Jesus to see God move in power like this. Without a revived church, we will not see a spiritual awakening in our culture. Andrew Murray, a great prayer warrior, said, “A revived church is the only hope of a dying world.” 

We must become a praying convention. Many churches have replaced prayer with programs and many pastors are leading by the systems of man and not the Spirit of God. We need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit that comes by prayer and prayer alone. We are told that when we call upon His name, He hears us and will answer us. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” If this is true (and we know that God’s Word is always true), then let’s seek Him, let’s pursue Him, and let’s call on His name with all our hearts! 

I want to encourage you to share your prayer stories with other pastors and church leaders. Keep telling the stories of God’s movement to fan the flame of revival. As Elliff says, “Spread the fame of revival to spread the flame of revival.” 

Barber reflects on his first year as SBC president and the work that lies ahead

‘I’ve really learned about the faithfulness of God and his people’

What are a few things you feel Southern Baptists can celebrate as we prepare for this year’s annual meeting?

Bart Barber: We’ve had very high giving to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. Cooperative Program receipts are strong. That may seem mundane because we take these offerings every year, but there’s nothing mundane about the cooperation of Southern Baptists to fund missionary work around the world. I think we can also celebrate the fact our churches have led a lot of people to Christ. The reports I get from around the convention are of a lot of churches that are experiencing some renewed vitality. I know we’ve seen that at First Baptist Farmersville. I’ve been to all six of our seminary campuses, and when you meet those people who are studying and preparing to go into ministry, it gets you excited for the future. Our ministries are doing the things we’ve tasked them to do, and that’s worth celebrating.

What are some of the key areas you feel we, as Southern
Baptists, still have work to do that can begin in New Orleans? 

BB: One of the things I think we’ve seen over the course of this year is that there’s a good bit of uncertainty and a lack of clarity in the way our Bylaw 8 procedure works with regard to doctrinal objections to churches and [their affiliation with] the SBC. Our governing documents, in an effort to keep the peace in our cooperative, deliberately have been worded in such a way that they [vaguely] talk about close identification with the Baptist Faith and Message. I affirm the efforts that were made in that to try to build as good a base for cooperation as could be built, but I do think nobody really knows what that means. The challenge of that is, now we have a process that has a credentials committee and they have to know what it means in order to do their work. 

Everybody has a different idea about what they think our governing documents call for. So I think we’re going to have an opportunity to do work to make those procedures and the ideas behind them clear, understandable, and consistent so everybody knows we’re operating fairly, that we’re operating in a way that preserves the core theological distinctions that hold us together as Southern Baptists, while also preserving the latitude for cooperation that makes us able to harness and use the resources and energy of a broad coalition of churches for the work of the Great Commission.

"Though the culture seems to be sliding further away from biblical truth, I think that’s also opening opportunities for the gospel.

What has the past year taught you personally 
and in your role as SBC president?

BB: One thing I have learned is how much work it is to be president of the SBC. The people who’ve served in this role before … I appreciated them, but I didn’t appreciate them enough. It’s a job that requires a lot of attention and effort. I’d say another thing I have learned is the excellence and dedication with which the staff at the SBC Executive Committee works to help the ministries of the SBC operate and work well. I have leaned hard on them for so much of the work I’ve done. 

Personally, this has been a year with a lot of struggle and difficulty in terms of health things in my extended family. Also, I’ve got a 20-year-old and a 16-year-old, and I have learned how important it is for me to hang up the phone and ignore the SBC for a little bit and pay attention to them. I’ve had to sort out some priorities and make sure to tend to those things.

I’ve also really learned about the faithfulness of God and His people. There have been so many times I’ve been scared about things. That interview with 60 Minutes—I was terrified about that. I’ve never done anything like that before. That put me in front of a whole lot of different people. What if I mess up? That would’ve been easy to do. But there was an army of people who prayed for me about that. My church prayed for me. Friends prayed for me. People who didn’t know me but who care about the SBC prayed about that, and I saw God respond to those prayers and carry me through that. It’s so reassuring to see that it never really was about what I was able to do. It was about what God could do to carry me through it.

How can we amplify the voice of the SBC to speak into a culture that seems to be sliding further away from biblical truth? 

BB: I think ultimately, the headquarters of SBC work is the local church, and the best work we can do is help Southern Baptists to speak—not to speak for Southern Baptists. Our seminaries are doing excellent work to equip people to be able to address the issues that are before us in the world. We amplify our voice through the work done by institutions like the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission as questions come up before the Supreme Court to advocate for traditional gender roles, traditional marriage, pro-life concerns, and religious liberty. The Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee does a great job with this also. 

Though the culture seems to be sliding further away from biblical truth, I think that’s also opening opportunities for the gospel. We are seeing how many people are harmed by the movement of culture, the family, education, and law and society away from biblical truth. We believe those things because God gave them to us, but we also believe those things lead to healthy societies, healthy families, healthy people. That’s been the story of spiritual awakening over and over in the United States. It was in times of great darkness and indifference to the gospel that people had a hunger and a yearning for something more. I think the best way we amplify our voice is to share the gospel with people in our community who are lost and to help them see Jesus is the answer.

"For us to be stronger than ever before, we’re going to have to become people who are more excited about and more interested in the things we achieve when we cooperate than we are about things that divide us."

In 10 years, if Southern Baptists are able to say they are stronger at that point in history than ever before, what would have had to have happened between now and then?

BB: One, I think we’re going to have to help our local churches address sexual abuse in ways that are more effective than we’ve done in the past. We’re incurring expenses that are not related to [fulfilling the Great Commission] to address sexual abuse now. [Those expenses] arise out of failures to address sexual abuse in an effective way, either in prevention or in ministering to those who have been affected. So it protects the financial future of the SBC for us to address this in a way that’s strong and effective.

Secondly, I think we’re going to have to embrace a clear and shared vision for cooperation in the SBC. We’re going to need to develop an appetite in which the most interesting personalities and the most interesting statements—however they come, from the pulpit or from social media or whatever else—are not the things that are the harshest and most severe, but instead that … excite us to look and see what we’re able to do when we cooperate. I’m not saying we can’t ever have a difference of opinion and I’m not saying we can’t address real issues whenever they arise. But I think for us to be stronger than ever before, we’re going to have to become people who are more excited about and more interested in the things we achieve when we cooperate than we are about things that divide us.

Southern Baptists of Texas 


Monday, June 12 (after evening session)

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Rooms 206-207

The power of the doctrine of inerrancy

Each week during worship, just before the sermon, our congregation sings a portion of the song “Speak O Lord” written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. It is one of my favorite parts of our liturgy. Week after week, through the ups and downs that accompany pastoral ministry, I look forward to this moment when I will hear a multi-generational and diverse congregation join with one voice and sing:

“… Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.

Words of pow’r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.”

As we prepare for the preaching of God’s Word, I sometimes listen to those around me and take in the fact that all of us in that moment are desiring the same thing. From the oldest to the youngest member, we want to be found in a spirit of humility, submission, and belief concerning the Scripture about to be shared. In these moments, we are training our congregation to recall that the entirety of the Scripture is without error or fault and is 100% trustworthy in all that it presents.

When the beauty of the doctrine of inerrancy is held fast and guarded by the pastors and leaders of the body of Christ, the implications can echo through the entire congregation. Here are a few practical areas where the doctrine of inerrancy can have an impact:

In the pulpit

The doctrine of inerrancy brings great humility to our sermon prep. On more than one occasion, I have gotten down the road with an idea about how I wanted to preach an upcoming sermon only to realize something I was seeing was not correct or needed further study. The inerrancy of Scripture guides and guards our sermons and allows us to train those in our care to study deeper than they may believe they can. The doctrine of inerrancy, together with exegetical and expository preaching, allows us to train our churches to know God more fully and trust Him more deeply so they can speak about Him most truly.

In our public discourse

Believers today need to reclaim what it means to be a people of the book. I have watched tearfully as friends have deconstructed their faith and, in many cases, it started with an abandoning of their belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. The beauty of this doctrine is that it does not find its roots in man’s understanding of God’s Word or in the development of the canon, but in the person of our triune God. God does not lie and there is no deceit found in Him. Therefore, His Word as the revelation of Himself to us cannot contain falsehood. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy is helpful and clear, and I encourage you to consider making it a core document in your statement of beliefs. Two other resources to help train your church members how to confidently defend the validity of Scripture with their lost family and friends are Greg Gilbert’s book, Why Trust The Bible, and the documentary, “The God Who Speaks.”

In family discipleship

A father once approached me in our church because his teenager was questioning the Bible. He shared with me that in a moment of feeling defeated by the questions he could not answer, he told his kid, “Well, the Bible would be different if it was written today.” I quickly rebuked him and told him to never say that again. If I had left the conversation with just those harsh words, neither he nor his teenager would have a right understanding of Scripture. Instead, we carefully began to walk together through the beauty of the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word. We looked at passages like 2 Samuel 7:28, Psalm 119, and Proverbs 30:5-6. We started to draw lines in the sand with verses like Psalm 12:6 and Numbers 23:19. What began to take shape was a renewed and robust understanding of God’s nature. When God was understood more fully, the confidence in His Word was trusted more deeply. All the questions the student had were not answered, but his source of truth had been reclaimed to its rightful place in God. The doctrine of inerrancy can help families in your church live out the biblical mandate to make disciples of their children.

In our gospel proclamation

Salvation shines brightest in a church that holds fast to the doctrine of inerrancy. Because God’s Word is truth, His gospel can be believed, offering hope and rest for every weary and burdened sinner and every questioning skeptic. The doctrine of inerrancy propels followers of Christ to be bold, confident, and urgent proclaimers of the good news far and wide. Proverbs 25:25 says, “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” The best news has come to us from the shores of heaven itself through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of inerrancy keeps us building the church until its completion.

Brother pastor, we need the perfect truth of God’s Word to be exalted above our leadership doubts, our worries for God’s people, and our own self-righteousness that too easily creeps into the corners of our heart. I pray the doctrine of inerrancy will echo through your congregation and be used by you to carry many into the halls of eternity.

Maximizing your life

Years ago, I read a poem by missionary C.T. Studd that includes a line that has always stayed with me: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” 

Life is super busy for our family right now. On top of living out our calling in our jobs, we have four children we are constantly chauffeuring to this event or that meeting. There rarely seems to be any margin for down time. However, if we are to maximize our lives, we must keep things in the right perspective and order our priorities. 

I recently preached the funeral of a 35-year-old man. As I ministered to the family and watched the heartbreak they were experiencing, I was reminded that all of us have only one life to live. As Studd reminds us, the only things that matter are the things done for Christ. If I want my life to truly be maximized, I must be diligent to stay faithful to the things that matter. Allow me to remind us all of several things in our lives that should be priorities:

Spend time with the Lord

If I am not disciplined and diligent, the demands and commitments of the day can rob me of my time with the Lord. Nothing should take a higher priority than meeting with our Lord each day in His Word and in prayer. I am a better man, husband, father, leader, and friend when I am consistently spending time with the Lord. Maximizing my life for the things that really matter must begin here.

Invest in your family

The scope of your ministry will always pale in comparison to the investment you make in your family. Outside of your personal time with the Lord, there is nothing greater you can invest in than your family. One day we will retire from our jobs or ministry positions and be quickly replaced. However, no one can ever be my kids’ dad again. It is imperative that I invest time discipling my family, teaching them to walk in the ways of God.

Serve with gratefulness

A few weeks ago during my time with the Lord, I was reminded in Paul’s letter to the Colossians that we work for the Lord, not the approval of men. Whatever your calling from the Lord is, serve with joy and gratitude. He has blessed you with the specific opportunity you are in. Give it all you have for His glory and remember that you are living on mission.

Leave it all on the field

My boys are athletes. We always tell them that no matter the results, they should leave it all on the field. Simply put, give all you have while you have the opportunity. In our lives, we should leave it all on the field for the Lord. When we come to the end of our days, we should be able to feel confident we gave our very best to the Lord. 

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Let this sink in and impact your life. Allow this truth to help you navigate priorities in the busyness of life. I want to make my life count for Him. I know you do as well. Let’s do it! I am honored to serve you! 

5 minutes with Nathan Lino

Nathan Lino, a fourth-generation South African, founded Northeast Houston Baptist Church in 2002 and served as its senior pastor until June 1, 2022, when he began his tenure as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney. He has served as president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as a trustee of the International Mission Board. He currently serves as an evangelism consultant for the SBTC. Lino and his wife, Nicole, have been married since 1999 and have four children: Colton, Campbell, Cassidy, and Chloe.

What is something you’ve been able to celebrate at your church recently?

We have seen Jesus Christ do two really big things in the life of our church family over the past few months. First, Christ put it in our hearts to make seeking His manifest presence together the activity of first importance in the life of our church. Second, we’ve seen a significant surge in the number of non-Christians that Jesus is saving.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in your ministry lately?

Nicole and I only joined this 160-year-old congregation last June. We are a bit of a culture shock for the church and vice versa. But I can honestly say that both the Lord and the congregation have been incredibly gracious and welcoming to Nicole and me—none more so than my longtime, beloved predecessor’s wife, Jeannette Pritchard. She has been amazing. (Editor’s note: Jeanette Pritchard shared the story of the death of her husband, Jimmy, in the December 2022 issue of the Texan.)

What’s one lesson you’ve learned to this point of your ministry that you know you’ll never forget?

Almost every leadership decision I regret I made in isolation. On the other hand, I’ve rarely made a bad decision after sincerely seeking and taking to heart the wisdom and counsel of leaders who have earned my trust through their godliness. The Lord is not wrong on either account: every church needs a senior leader willing to make hard decisions, and wisdom truly is in the counsel of many minds. 

What’s one thing you want to see God do specifically in your church this year?

What I want more than anything else for our church family is for our hearts, homes, and church to be filled with more of the manifest presence of Jesus Christ. If we have the Lord, we have everything we need. 

How can the other churches of the SBTC be praying for you?

I’d appreciate prayer for two things: wisdom and holiness. I need understanding from the Lord as to how to lead this new flock to which He has assigned me, as well as my personal family because our children have begun transitioning out of our home and into their next stages of life. I also want the Lord to transform me into a more advanced state of personal godliness. 

5 minutes with Carlos Hinojos

Carlos Hinojos recently completed his seventh year as pastor of Redbud Baptist Church in Lubbock. He has previously served congregations in the Rio Grande Valley, working as an associate pastor and church planter affiliated with First Baptist Church in McAllen. After a stint as a high school program coordinator in Plainview, Hinojos came to Redbud in 2016. He and his wife, Sylvia, have been married 37 years and have four adult children, three grandchildren, and two foster grandchildren. Hinojos is a member of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board.

What is something you’ve been able to celebrate at your church recently?

On a personal level, I would say my seven-year anniversary, which is exciting for us. … But [regarding] the church, our prayer ministry that we launched right before COVID … it’s something the church had not done before. The church had a regular Wednesday night prayer service, but corporate prayer—just praying for our community, praying for the lost, praying for each other, and all kinds of things at the corporate level—had not been done here. We launched that in January 2019. We started out with a group of about six men and there was already a group of about six women who had been praying. … That developed into the prayer ministry. … Then COVID hit in 2020. That’s been really helpful to the church, even after COVID.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in your ministry lately? 

Keeping the church focused on the mission. For us, our vision is very simple: we are a going church, growing disciples. We focus on making disciples, training, and equipping our people to make disciples and to lead people to Christ. The challenge is to keep focused on that when so many things come our way, even good things. 

What’s one lesson you’ve learned to this point of your ministry that you know you’ll never forget? 

One of my biggest lessons I’ve learned in my years of ministry has been to wait on God—waiting on Him, yet walking with Him at the same time. … My tendency is to get out ahead of God  and to do things and to orchestrate things, because I’m a doer. I’m a make-things-happen kind of person. I’ve learned that anytime I get out ahead of God, I literally mess things up. 

What’s one thing you want to see God do specifically in your church this year?

We are really praying for an awakening and a revival at Redbud. That is what the groups who are praying are asking God—awaken us. Awaken our church and bring revival. Bring us to the place where you do something so supernatural in us that it can only be explained by the hand of God in our midst. Let that spill over into our community of Lubbock, Texas. 

How can other SBTC churches be praying for you?

Pray for that awakening and revival. There are great churches in Lubbock, but there’s always room for another church to do more. There’s not enough of us to do it all.

Mission:Dignity Sunday set for June 25

DALLAS—In the Old Testament, we find these words: “They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green, to declare, ‘The Lord is just.” Psalm 92:14-15a.

On June 25, Southern Baptists have the opportunity to honor righteous, unsung heroes of the faith. Namely, retirement-aged Southern Baptist pastors, workers and their widows who served and abundantly blessed those in their care during their years of ministry. Many of these heroes still serve in whatever capacity they can – by volunteering at church, preaching, leading Bible studies (in-person and online!), lifting up intercessory prayers and in many other ways.

Michael and Sandra Dowling have served the Lord together for more than 15 years in Alabama. Though they’ve reached retirement age, they still feel called to serve the community where they live.

“When we received the acceptance letter from Mission:Dignity, it immediately helped us feel that we were going to be more free to serve,” the Dowlings said. “There are no words to describe what a difference Mission:Dignity has made in our lives. They serve us so we can serve others.”

Today, Mission:Dignity helps more than 2,800 individuals yearly with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It also ensures a well-deserved dignity, independence and, often, the ability to continue serving the Lord.

“In accepting the call, I realized that I was responsible to support my family, and there was going to be a lack in our finances with Social Security alone as income,” Michael Dowling said. “Mission:Dignity, by providing this monthly grant, allowed us to be free to serve the community without worry. Now, I have a pulpit on my front porch to reach the people who walk by and say, ‘Pray for us.’ And I have food to give them when they need it.”

Stories like the Dowlings’ highlight the importance of Mission:Dignity.

“At GuideStone, our mission is to enhance the financial security and resilience of those who serve the Lord,” GuideStone President Dr. Hance Dilbeck said. “What we hear from our recipients weekly is that these honorariums provide them with additional security—dignity—in their daily lives. I’m thankful we are able to join with churches across the Southern Baptist Convention to provide support for these retired SBC pastors and pastor widows.”

The Southern Baptist Convention has set aside the fourth Sunday in June for churches to celebrate and raise a special offering for Mission:Dignity. Churches, Sunday school classes and other groups can order or download free Mission:Dignity Sunday materials from GuideStone, or give by visiting or the GuideStone booth at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans in June. The materials are not dated, so churches can use them any time of the year they wish.

“Every day, we hear from these dear soldiers of the cross striving to finish well with the dignity they deserve,” said Aaron Meraz, director of Mission:Dignity. “With 100 percent of donations given to Mission:Dignity going to help them continue to ‘bear fruit in their old age,’ our churches can be assured that their gifts are not only meeting physical needs but advancing the Kingdom of God as well.”

Visit for more information on this vital ministry from GuideStone.