Author: Jayson Larson

A powerful way to edify your church

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” — Revelation 1:3

Normally, before we preach through any book of the Bible at our church, we have an introductory sermon. For longer books I preach an overview sermon, and for shorter books I will read the entire book and preach a shorter sermon.

As we were preparing to preach through the book of Revelation this year, Revelation 1:3 continued to come to mind. I thought about how amazing it would be to read the entire book of Revelation as a church, but my hesitation came from its length: 22 chapters, 404 verses, 11,472 words (in the English Standard Version). However, after reading it aloud (which took almost an hour, much longer than my 35-40 minute sermons), I couldn’t be happier that we did or more confident in our decision to do so. We knew this would be a new experience for many, so we shared four reasons with our church as to why we did:

Scripture is God’s inspired, inerrant Word

1 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12
While I am full of excitement to preach the depths of God’s truth from Revelation over the next few months, this is better than any sermon I’ll ever preach. I’ll be honest: reading this book will take significantly more time than an average sermon. But there is no better use of your time than to spend time reading God’s inspired, inerrant Word.

Publicly reading Scripture is biblical

1 Timothy 4:13
The public reading of God’s Word is modeled in the Old and New Testament (Exodus 24:7; Deuteronomy 31:10-13; Joshua 8:34-35; 2 Kings 23:1-2; Nehemiah 8:3-4; Luke 4:16-21). In fact, in Nehemiah 8, Ezra read the law to God’s people from sunrise to noon. But it’s not just a biblical practice that brings blessing: it’s a biblical command (Colossians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 1 Timothy 4:13).

Reading entire books brings understanding

Luke 24:27, 44-45; Acts 8:30-35
Each book of the Bible is a complete literary unit. Therefore, knowing what happens in the book provides context to help us understand each smaller part within the whole. Not only should we read books completely, but reading the whole book in one sitting furthers our understanding of the content and purpose of each book and how it fits into the larger story of Scripture.

Faith comes from hearing God’s Word

Romans 10:17
God’s Word is powerful, for by it the universe was created (Genesis 1). And while creation declares God’s glory, God’s Word is what revives the soul (Psalm 19:1-7). This is why the Holy Spirit inspired men to record the 66 books: “That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

After reading this book, we received numerous words of encouragement from members and visitors. Even though it took almost an hour to read the book, everyone’s ears were tuned and their eyes were glued to the page (especially the youth). I cannot wait to see the fruit this will bear on our church in the coming months and years.

Pastors, read entire books to your church on Sunday mornings. It may take a long time, and you may need to change your service around a little bit to allow for more time. But it will edify, strengthen, encourage, challenge, and bless your church. You won’t regret it.

Hundreds of students gather for first M3 WKND of the year

EULESS—Cold weather didn’t deter nearly 700 teenagers from attending the first of four M3 WKND events held Jan. 12-13 at Cross City Church. The event was hosted by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention student ministry staff.

M3 WKND is designed to encourage, equip, and empower students to share the gospel wherever they go and with whomever they encounter. The remaining M3 WKND events are scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in East Texas, Feb. 2-3 in Austin, and Feb. 9-10 in Amarillo.

“We will never know the full extent of the fruit of M3 WKND 2024,” SBTC Student Associate Brandon Bales said, “but we do know the fruit of God’s work at this event: 32 professions of faith, 41 committed to be baptized, and 14 placed their ‘yes’ on the table to serve in ministry, missions, or leadership in the local church. To God be the glory.”

The weekend kicked off with a concert—but not the type some students may have been expecting. As the event timer ticked down to zero, students began to cheer, clap, and shout in anticipation of the loud, musical kickoff that often accompanies student events. Instead, they were met with a concert of prayer, with songs and time set aside to focus their attention on Christ. After an object lesson on the filling of the Holy Spirit, students were asked to assume a posture of prayer to seek God. For the first 90 minutes, students, leaders, and others in attendance prayed and sang, petitioning God to fill them with the Holy Spirit so they can be bold in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone anywhere.

Bales said the sight of hundreds of teenagers praying was “chilling—but in a good way.” One student pastor in attendance added, “This is what a revival generation looks like—on their hands and knees praying for God’s power and pleading for the lost around them.”

The weekend was packed with opportunities to equip students to share the gospel. On the first day, students attended two main sessions and two breakout sessions. The main sessions focused on the Lord’s prayer and the urgency to share the gospel. The breakouts targeted core issues students face every day, including the problem with evil; the intersection of science, politics, and faith; bridging the culture gap with authenticity; starting a campus ministry; and reaching unreached people groups.

SBTC Student Associate Brandon Bales speaks during M3 WKND, held at Cross City Church in Euless. SBTC PHOTO

Students also participated in a block party designed to help them socialize. The block party included obstacle courses, drift mini-bikes, jousting, a mechanical bull, and food trucks. But the main point of the block party, Bales said, was to show teenagers they are not alone in the mission to fulfill the Great Commission. One student pastor in attendance said, “It’s a joy watching our students interact with students from other local churches.”

The final element of an M3 WKND is the send-off. But just as the weekend started with a twist, Bales said it ended with one, as well. Instead of the hype and light show that typically concludes the event, a send-off rally was held to help students focus on the words of Jesus as they prepared to head back to their communities and schools: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have taught you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

What I learned while waiting on the Lord

“Snap out of it!”

My wife’s loving rebuke hit me like a ton of bricks. For six months, I had nursed a sense of self-pity over my inability to land a role as a lead pastor. In my mind, I was completely prepared to transition from a support role to a lead role on a church staff, but after sending out 25 resumes, I was a mess.

My wife’s tough love brought me back to reality and began a learning process that helped me land my dream job. Here’s what I learned while I waited on the Lord to open that door:

Get clarity

It’s tempting to jump at the first ministry opportunity that comes your way and apply for every opening that pops up on the ministry job boards, but before you submit your resume, you should clarify your calling. Write out your ministry philosophy, identify your spiritual gifts, and settle key theological convictions. As much as possible, clarify what kind of ministry God is calling you to do. Is He calling you to plant or revitalize? Has He gifted you to preach or serve in other areas of ministry? Is He calling you to an urban, suburban, or rural context? One of my mentors put it like this: “If you could do anything that would maximize your joy and God’s glory, what would it be?”

Pursue character

As you wait for your next ministry assignment, relentlessly pursue godly character. After all, the New Testament teaches us character is the most important qualification for church leaders (1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:6–9). Recent history warns us of the peril of church leaders allowing their giftedness to take them further than their character can keep them. Only God knows what kind of conflict or obstacles you will face when you begin your new work. It could be that, in His kindness, He is preventing you from taking on a new role before you’re ready. Get honest with yourself and God about your character deficiencies and seek the spiritual transformation you hope to bring to others.

Find a coach

Don’t seek out a coach for their network or the opportunities you think they might bring your way. Instead, look for someone who can help clarify how God has gifted you and identify blind spots in your life. You may already have a trusted pastor in your life who would be more than willing to meet with you for lunch at least once a month. Show up with questions and take notes. Tell your mentor how you believe God works in your life and ask him to pray with you about your next steps. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable asking to lunch, consider joining the Young Pastors Network cohort.

Make connections

Since many churches call pastors based on recommendations from people they trust, landing a new ministry role can often come down to who you know. You must develop connections with pastors and ministry leaders in your area and across the state. You can do this by attending local association meetings or the Empower and Equip conferences and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Annual Meeting. Introduce yourself to guys you don’t know and ask them questions about their ministries. You may meet someone who knows of a ministry opportunity that would be a good fit for you or that God will use to bring further clarity to your life.

Learn contentment

It’s easy to fantasize about a new role that fits your gifts, but that kind of discontentment undermines our ministries by keeping us from the good work God has called us to do where we are. If we believe God is sovereign over our ministry calling, we should strive to be faithful wherever He plants us. Jesus sees the faithful ministry of men who are content to serve where He calls them and promises to reward those who prove faithful. He put it like this: “One who is faithful in a very little will also be entrusted with much” (Luke 16:10). Before you start to look ahead to what may come next, give yourself completely to serving the Lord right where you are.

After my wife confronted me about my selfishness, the Lord taught me these lessons the hard way. Brothers, if God can help a guy like me, I know he can do it for you, too.

Shaping powerfully effective small groups

While small groups represent a key ministry in many churches, using them effectively can be a challenge. This is especially the case when it comes to training small group leaders. Over the past year and a half, our church has reevaluated our approach to training and has created a process for better preparing and equipping leaders. Here are some general steps we have developed:

1. Selection

Before small group leaders are trained, they must be chosen. This is not a step churches can afford to skimp on. In fact, it’s the most important step. Training, small group structure, and curriculum can’t make up for an unqualified leader.

What, then, should churches look for in a potential leader? The most important criterion is character. A potential leader should have a good reputation both within and outside the church. Their lives should be marked by a pursuit of godliness and a commitment to help other believers grow in their relationship with Christ.

Training of small group leaders begins in the ordinary work of discipleship within the life of a congregation, and pastors and other leaders should keep an eye out for congregants who evidence this pattern of life. This also means the number of small groups within a church should be governed by the availability of godly leaders.

Beyond character, churches should have a clear set of qualifications for small group leadership by which they can evaluate potential leaders. These will likely include basic communication and social skills necessary to facilitate group activities. These are not technical competencies, but rather the kinds of things that can be developed in many individuals. They aren’t universal skills, however, so leaders will need to make a habit of looking for individuals who display these abilities—or at least the potential to develop them.

2. Orientation

If small groups are to be an effective means of ministry, there must be a consistent and shared vision for the role they play within the life of a congregation. As with most churches, the heartbeat of small groups in our church is mutual discipleship. But we are very intentional in promoting small groups not as a requirement for membership, but as one extension among many as part of the church’s core work of discipleship. This is based on our conviction that discipleship finds its center and source in the church’s Sunday gathering, and all other activities of the church flow from that center. Michael Lawrence, a pastor in Oregon, wrote an article about using small groups to cultivate fellowship in a way that is similar to our church’s model.

While this might seem unexceptional, it is significantly different from how some churches use small groups. For example, in many larger churches, small groups function as the center of Christian “community,” operating primarily to mitigate the anonymity that can characterize a larger church context and often being required of members for that reason. This is a fine and noble use of small groups, but it can sometimes create an incentive for individual members to look to their small group as the center of their life together rather than the church’s worship gathering. To avoid this tendency, and since our church is small enough that anonymity is not a problem for us on Sunday mornings, we have chosen a different vision for small groups. I explain this not to present our approach as a universal model, but as an example of how a vision for small groups should be intentional, strategic, and clearly communicated to small group leaders.

3. Preparation

Since the heart of our small groups is mutual discipleship, we center their activities around the ordinary means of grace—namely Bible, prayer, and fellowship—as part of their regular gatherings. This means, at a minimum, small group leaders at our church must be prepared to 1) lead a Bible-based discussion, 2) facilitate a time of prayer, and 3) coordinate a regular gathering for the group in which these practices can take place.

The first of these is the most challenging. Anyone who has ever tried knows that leading a group discussion is a special skill. There are several pitfalls leaders can fall into in this regard. On the one hand, they might try to lead discussions as free-for-alls, using vague, general questions that don’t lead the discussion anywhere. On the other hand, they might have a very clear sense of where they want the conversation to go and will merely ask leading questions rather than questions that provoke shared reflection by the group. Or, if they find awkward silences unbearable, they might attempt a few questions before kicking into lecture mode and end up teaching a lesson rather than leading a discussion.

In my opinion, churches should devote a substantial amount of training to leading effective, Bible-based discussions. There are many resources available along these lines, but two I have found particularly helpful are Orlando Saer’s Iron Sharpens Iron: Leading Bible-Oriented Small Groups that Thrive and Colin Marshall’s Growth Groups: How to Lead Disciple-Making Small Groups. The former is a short book packed with helpful advice on navigating a Bible-based discussion. The latter is a 10-week training course that includes opportunities for trainees to practice leading such discussions. Both resources cover other important areas of small group leadership, as well.

4. Implementation

The training of small group leaders should not end once they are assigned to a small group. As leaders continue to grow through experience, pastors can play an important role in their development by maintaining strong lines of communication and by providing additional resourcing opportunities.

Strong lines of communication (for me, this means regular conversations, coffee visits, and lunches with small group leaders) carry two primary benefits. First, it provides pastors with an opportunity to continue shaping the vision of small groups and to provide more specific guidance when and where needed. Second, it helps pastors better fulfill their shepherding roles by giving them a better awareness of how members are doing and by providing a context for small group leaders to relay pastoral concerns to the church’s leadership.

Training of small group leaders is also facilitated by continued resourcing opportunities. At our church, we host two small group leader meetings per year, which always include a refresher on the vision and strategy of small groups within our church as well as specific training topics. These meetings also provide opportunities for leaders to share insights and advice with one another.

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits all approach to small groups, at least not when it comes to specifics. But where small groups exist for the purpose of mutual discipleship, what makes for successful groups is what makes for successful discipleship in general. In such cases, much will depend on the ability of churches to select qualified leaders, orient them to the unique function of small groups within the lives of their congregations, equip them to lead others in the basic practices of discipleship, and continue to support them in their discipling roles.

 

 

Six things to consider as you navigate your first year of pastoring

So many thoughts run through my head as I reflect on my first year as a pastor. I’ve served in two churches as lead teaching pastor, and the first year at each was among the hardest of my life. More than ever, I was slapped in the face with the crippling effect of what is probably my greatest idol: people-pleasing.

On the other hand, the first year at these churches was among the best of my life. It’s interesting how God does that sometimes. I’ve never been more face-to-face with my own sin and selfishness, and more amazed at God’s incredible grace shown to a 25- and 30-year-old pastor. The expectation of preaching the Word of God every single Sunday has grown me so much in the midst of studying and preparing. I’ve never so directly had to face the conflicts between my own vocational ambition and simply obeying God and seeking His glory.

I preached 48 sermons each of those first years, saw core people leave the church, new people come in, been complemented more than ever before, and criticized more than ever before. Even with so much good linked with so much difficulty, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I did a few things well and also made some mistakes. I had a list of priorities, some of which were in good order, and some of which weren’t. Six brief exhortations for the first year pastor (or for more experienced pastors) based on my experience:

1. Love Christ.

More than anything, treasure Jesus. Cherish your identity and status as a child of God. There’s nothing greater than Jesus, and His love for you is not dependent on your performance as a pastor. Rest in this. Spend ample time in the Word, but especially in your first year as a teaching pastor.

2. Preach the Word.

Preach the truth. Don’t be ashamed of God or avoid certain parts of Scripture. Preach and teach all of it. God will be glorified and your people will grow spiritually. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 15 years of pastoral ministry, it’s that God’s people love God’s Word (at least most of the time).

3. Get to know your people.

Spend time with your members, deacons, and small group leaders. Do this not just for leadership purposes, but to get to know them personally and grow to love them as the flock God has entrusted to you. Learn their names, get to know their families, and care for them.

4. Make disciples.

Find a few men, even just one or two, to spend regular time with one on one. Read Scripture together. Pray together. Read through a great book together. Spend a year with these men with the goal of spurring them on in their faith. You will never regret immediately investing meaningful time into a few men.

5. Find a mentor.

Do. Not. Do. This. Alone. Find someone inside or outside the church who will call you on your weaknesses and speak truth to you. A retired pastor or an older pastor down the street could be a good option. I cannot emphasize this enough. You need someone you can call without hesitation to let you vent or give you advice.

6. Go home.

When you go home, do your best to truly go home. Don’t check your email while you’re with your kids. Don’t let your mind wander and be distracted by church things. Focus on your family. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, but that’s what they should be: rare exceptions. Go home not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

These thoughts may not be new for you, but I pray you will take them to heart. There’s nothing more important than grounding yourself in Christ, especially in your first year of ministry. Find good rhythms, carve out time to have date nights, and exercise.

May God bless you and keep you as you shepherd His church!

 

SWBTS graduates historic number of Hispanic graduates

FORT WORTH—The Spanish department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), under the direction of Mark McClellan, has been working diligently to equip Hispanics in North America and all over the world. Southwestern celebrated a milestone this month when 124 of the 336 students who graduated at the fall commencement were Hispanic. This goes a long way toward Southwestern’s goal of becoming the premiere theological training institution for Hispanics worldwide.

“It’s a blessing to see what the Lord is doing at Southwestern, and we are very proud of our students and thankful for God’s mercy and grace for this great achievement,” said McClellan, professor of missions and director of Hispanic Programs at Southwestern.

The historic number of Hispanic graduates was preceded by a celebration banquet the night before which gathered Hispanic leaders, many of whom are also students, from all over the world, including Puerto Rico, South America, Mexico and Brazil,

SWBTS President David Dockery congratulated the graduates and acknowledged the leadership of McClellan and Dean Sieberhagen, interim dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

“We are excited about being able to offer quality theological education, pastoral preparation, and equipping you for ministry, from the certificate program to doctoral work,” Dockery said.

“The work for the Spanish program is very important for the vision of the future at Southwestern. Southwestern is committed to you and we ask for you to renew your commitment to Southwestern. We want you to think of this seminary as your seminary … a place providing Spanish language education not only in Texas but across this country and around the world.”

Dockery said Southwestern has a global emphasis to equip leaders so they can reach the world with the gospel. He asked the Hispanic graduating class to provide feedback so leaders can make the Hispanic program even better.

Notable attendees at the banquet included Bruno Molina, executive director of the National Hispanic Baptist Network, language evangelism associate at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and adjunct professor at the seminary; Daniel R. Sánchez, SWBTS’ distinguish professor emeritus of missions; Terry Coy; and Bill Goff.

Julio Arriola, Send Network SBTC church planting director, recognized the more than 30 church planters present at the event and some of the Send Network Español Champions: Jorge Altieri, the Michigan, Ohio, and Indianapolis regional representative; Esteban Vasquez, associate pastor at Champion Forest, Texas; and Julio Crespo, pastor at Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, who opened the event with prayer.

“May the Lord use these graduates and the future ones so that Christ is made known in all nations,” Crespo said.

Martin Manchego, who graduated with a Master of Divinity, said during a time of personal testimony that Southwestern professors “are more interested in the personal growth and well-being of all students than academics, and that alone inspired me and others to study at Southwestern.”

Hispanics are also part of the English-language programs at Southwestern. They are contributing to the advancement of the gospel and guiding the new generation of English-speaking Hispanics into fruitful ministry.

Among them is Hugo Encorrada, a father of six children, two of whom are students at Texas Baptist College. Encorrada graduated from SWBTS’ School of Music and will continue his education at Southwestern to earn a Ph.D from the same.

The Spanish Program at Southwestern is accepting students for the Master of Theological Studies in Portuguese, starting in January of 2024.

5 Reasons to Attend SBTC’s College Discipleship Conference

Two years ago, a group of college leaders decided local church leaders needed a space to bring students for the purposes of helping them cast vision for being disciple-makers and to mobilize them with the gospel. Last year, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s collegiate ministry pulled this off and hosted more than 300 students, encouraging them to be inspired and equipped in the mission of God at our College Discipleship Conference.

This year, we want you and your students here. Here are five reasons you should bring your local church college ministry to the College Discipleship Conference:

1. It’s mission critical.

That’s a bit dramatic, but here’s what I mean: you’re leading the most moldable and sendable demographic, and the world is not becoming more Christian, but less. This generation has the potential to change that. You have the unique opportunity to empower this generation to make a difference!

2. It will reinforce the vision of your college ministry.

Sometimes it takes a secondary voice to reinforce the things you have already been saying and the vision you have been casting. This will be a huge support in doubling down on the vision of your college ministry. You preach to your students about the need to be disciples who make disciples. You want them to be missionaries where they live, work, study, and play. This event will reinforce those values.

3. It will help you raise up laborers in your ministry.

One thing I see in a lot of college ministry leaders is they feel like they are trying to accomplish the Great Commission alone. This conference will help inspire and equip college students to lead the college ministry you’ve been entrusted with. The hope of this event is that it will help distribute the weight of responsibility in the task and empower your students to make disciples like they never have before.

4. Your college students will meet other college students who are living on mission.

Students will get to collaborate with other college students, getting to know them on a personal level and learning from one other about how to make disciples on their campus and in their community. This gives students a greater vision and helps them realize they are not the only ones on this mission.

5. You will make friends with other college ministry leaders.

The silver bullet of a successful ministry is relationships. Getting to learn from other leaders will help you become a better leader. There is always someone you can learn from and there is always someone who can learn from you. You will get to meet other local church college ministry leaders who are doing ministry just like you.

Don’t miss out on this! We would love to see you and your students reach your campus and community like never before. If you have any questions, please reach out to me mtidwell@sbtexas.com.

AM23: SBTC messengers conduct significant business at meeting

EULESS—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention met for its an­nual meeting Nov. 13-14 at Cross City Church in Euless. The event drew 925 registered messengers and 247 regis­tered guests, a total of 1,172 people. Messengers conducted significant business that facilitates the convention’s ministry for the coming year:

Forshee, Lopez, Cooper elected to serve as officers

Austin pastor Danny Forshee was elected SBTC president by acclamation on Nov. 14, the final day of the meeting.

Forshee has served as lead pastor at Great Hills Baptist Church for more than 13 years and as president of the Danny Forshee Evangelistic Association for nearly 20 years. From 2018-2020, he served as chairman of the SBTC’s Executive Board.

Rounding out the convention’s elected leadership is Eddie Lopez, pastor of First Baptist Forney En Español, who was elected as vice president, and Sharonda Cooper of Emmaus Church of Georgetown, who was elected convention secretary. Both were also elected by acclamation.

$27.8 million budget approved

Messengers approved a $27,833,488 budget for the next year. This amount is the same as the 2023 budget. The convention’s business and financial plan prohibits raising a budget for the next fiscal year above the current year, beyond receipts in the prior year.

Sexual abuse awareness, prevention resources made available to churches

Messengers were informed of resources being made available to raise awareness and help prevent sexual abuse at SBTC churches during the Nov. 14 afternoon session.

A membership to MinistrySafe—an organization whose mission is to protect children and those who serve them through training and resourcing—will be provided at no cost for the first 500 churches (first-time users) that sign up. SBTC churches interested in learning more are being urged to text PROTECT to 469-727-7272.

Additionally, SBTC Executive Board Chairman Caleb Turner reported to messengers that a licensed therapist specializing in trauma and sexual abuse has been retained by the convention as a resource for churches.

Effective date for 2022 motion extended

At the 2022 annual meeting in Corpus Christi, messengers approved a motion to interpret the SBTC’s constitutional affiliation requirement that the “office of pastor be limited to men” to apply “not only to the titles of senior pastor or lead pastor, but to any role designated by the noun ‘pastor.’”

Referencing a request by SBC President Bart Barber that state conventions “pause” actions they may be considering that involve the nature of cooperation, the SBTC Executive Board recommended the date for implementation of the 2022 motion for presently affiliated churches be moved to Jan. 1, 2025. After a time of discussion at this year’s annual meeting, the board’s recommendation was approved by a hand vote of messengers.

Messenger intends to propose constitutional amendment in 2024

Messenger Rob Collingsworth of Redemption Story Church in Fort Worth reported his intent, in accordance with Article IX of the SBTC Constitution, to propose two constitutional amendments at next year’s annual meeting. Collingsworth is proposing the following amendments (in bold):

Article III. Doctrinal Statement

“The Baptist Faith and Message, adopted in 2000 and amended in 2023 by the Southern Baptist Convention, shall be the doctrinal statement for the Convention.”

Article IV. Affiliation

Section 1 “(d) affirms the church-wide authority and oversight office of pastor/elder/overseer to be limited to men.”

AM23: Great Hills’ Forshee elected next SBTC president

EULESS—Danny Forshee was elected president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention by acclamation during the Tuesday morning session of the 2023 SBTC Annual Meeting held at Cross City Church.

Forshee has served as lead pastor at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin more than 13 years and as president of the Danny Forshee Evangelistic Association nearly 20 years. From 2018-2020, he served as chairman of the SBTC’s Executive Committee.

In his nominating speech, Houston’s First Pastor Gregg Matte said two words typify Forshee: joyful and prayerful. “[His presidency] will done from his knees in prayer,” Matte said.

Great Hills gave $233,730.08 through the Cooperative Program in 2022 and $244,799.41 in 2021.

Forshee holds a doctoral degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, where he has served as a professor. He also served as a professor of evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

He has written four books: For the One; Modern Family Vintage Values; Jesus and the Church; and Winning the Battle in Your Mind. He writes a daily devotional and records a weekly podcast called REvangelical: Rethinking Christian Living.

Forshee and his wife, Ashley, have three grown children and four granddaughters.

 

AM23: Send Network SBTC planters sent out with encouragement, prayer

EULESS—Julio Arriola, director of Send Network SBTC, opened the church planter commissioning ceremony at the 2023 SBTC Annual Meeting Tuesday morning (Nov. 14) with a reminder of Luke 10:2: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”

The number of church planters, family members, and Send Network SBTC staff who joined Arriola onstage at Cross City Church for the commissioning service was hardly few, however. Dozens filled the worship center stage, representing the 36 churches planted since the beginning of the partnership between the SBTC and the North American Mission Board begun in 2022. Those churches, Arriola said, represent all corners and communities across the state: “from East Texas to West Texas, north to south, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio,” representing “different languages, different ethnicities, different cultures.”

Arriola welcomed not only planters who have worked through Send Network SBTC, but also asked other planters in attendance to come forward. “The Lord is using you. We are grateful for you,” Arriola said. Speaking to the messengers, he added, “Your faithfulness in Cooperative Program giving and [the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering] has made this possible.”

Arriola invited SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick to the stage to pray for the group.

Thanking God for His goodness in sending planters, Lorick said in his prayer that God is “bringing the world to Texas.” He prayed for God’s favor and provision for the planters, plants, and their communities, and for churches and pastors to come alongside to assist planters.”

Jason Crandall, Send Network SBTC church plant lead, also prayed for the planters, with Arriola translating in Spanish. Crandall thanked God for sending the workers to respond to the “lostness of 19 million people [in Texas] who are far” from Christ.

During his report Monday evening, Lorick reported encouraging numbers related to the convention’s recent church planting efforts. In 2022, Send Network SBTC planted 36 churches—more than double the number planted the year before. Projections indicate the number of 2023 church plants may rise to 50, the most planted in a single year since 2005, he added.

“In 2024, we are dreaming of planting more churches than we ever have in one single year,” Lorick said.

Said Arriola: “We firmly believe that our current cohort of church planters will be at the forefront of a revival within our family of churches, pioneering a transformative era of church planting and evangelism.”