MISSIONS EFFECTIVENESS EXAMINED BY SBC LEADERS

By Karen L. Willoughby
Baptist Press

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discusses the importance of advancing the Gospel locally, regionally, and globally during a panel discussion Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. -Photo by Miranda Johns

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discusses the importance of advancing the Gospel locally, regionally, and globally during a panel discussion Monday, June 13 in St. Louis.
-Photo by Miranda Johns

ST. LOUIS (BP) — Entity leaders discussed ways to be more effective in global missions during one of 18 Cooperative Program panel discussions held June 13-15 in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis.

The videotaped discussion took place at one side of the America Center’s exhibit hall with Jon Akin, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church near Nashville moderating.

Responding to his questions were Frank S. Page, president of the SBC’s Executive Committee; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; and David Platt, president of the International Mission Board.

Moderator Jon Akin opened the discussion by asking Page about a report on the decline in attendance, members and baptisms in Southern Baptist churches. Does this indicate America is going to become like Europe — post-Christian, unchurched? [Read more…]

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PASTORS ON POLITICS: BIBLICAL, NOT CONTROVERSIAL

By by Tom Strode
Baptist Press

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas (center) participates in the panel "Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today" during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis on Wednesday, June 15. -Photo by Bill Bangham

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas (center) participates in the panel “Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today” during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis on Wednesday, June 15.
-Photo by Bill Bangham

ST. LOUIS (BP) — Proclaiming Scripture instead of promoting controversy is their approach when addressing political issues, pastors said during a June 15 panel discussion at the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention.

Five Southern Baptist pastors explained to Ronnie Floyd, now former SBC president, during the afternoon session how they handle political issues in their churches. The panel discussion — titled “Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today” and moderated by Floyd — came during a tumultuous election season that has found many Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians dismayed at their presidential options from the major parties.

“I do not try to be controversial; I want to be biblical,” said A.B. Vines, senior pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., and a past president of the National African American Fellowship (NAAF) of the SBC.

“I want to give them the Word of God,” Vines said, adding he teaches the people of New Seasons Church “to trust God in these moments.” [Read more…]

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EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM DRAWS FOCUS AT PASTORS’ CONFERENCE

Baptist Press

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (BP) — The 2016 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference continued with exposition of 2 Timothy 4:5-6 during afternoon and evening sessions June 13.

Five speakers further explained the words of the apostle Paul, urging pastors to “do the work of an evangelist and fulfill your ministry.” The conference preceded the SBC annual meeting in America’s Center in St. Louis.

Jack Graham

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, spoke to the 2016 Pastors' Conference on the urgency of evangelism and offered 10 principles of excellence and effectiveness on Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. -Photo by Bill Bangham

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, spoke to the 2016 Pastors’ Conference on the urgency of evangelism and offered 10 principles of excellence and effectiveness on Monday, June 13 in St. Louis.
-Photo by Bill Bangham

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, urged Pastors’ Conference attendees to fulfill their ministry calling, to be faithful, to be fruitful in their efforts, and to finish well. They way to accomplish these tasks is to “do the work of an evangelist,” Graham said.

Basing his message from 2 Timothy 4:5-8, Graham offered 10 principle ways to create an evangelistic environment and culture within the local church, including: evangelism begins with the pastor; an invitational culture should be encouraged and developed within a church; authenticity is critical; the power of the Gospel must be trusted; do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ; train believers to share their faith; give a public invitation; baptize believers as often as you can; engage in event evangelism, and participate in mission trips and church planting.

“Pastors and people in ministry are called to … keep showing up and being faithful,” Graham said, emphasizing his point about pastors setting the tone for the evangelistic climate of their churches. “It all starts with us — with our attitude, our holy ambitions, and the enthusiasm, eagerness and passion to preach the Word and to do the work of an evangelist.”

Graham noted evangelism should permeate the atmosphere of a church. The ideology of it is more caught than taught, he said, so a high expectation should be set for church members to be invitational.

Additionally, Graham called for petty differences to be put aside when working to share the Gospel within a community.

“The time is now to come together — to do away with the distractions and divisions, to set aside petty differences — and get on our knees, get together, and get people to Jesus,” he said.

When it comes to evangelism being carried out in the local church, Graham exhorted the group: “You gotta finish. Live this! (Evangelism) is our life; it is our legacy. I’m not interested in leaving a legacy; I’m interested in living a legacy and doing what God has called me to do.”

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, outgoing executive director of LifeWay Research, challenged pastors to be authentic in their evangelism, telling them that laypeople won't do evangelism if their pastors don't. Stetzer spoke during the 2016 Pastors' Conference on Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. -Photo by Bill Bangham

Ed Stetzer, outgoing executive director of LifeWay Research, challenged pastors to be authentic in their evangelism, telling them that laypeople won’t do evangelism if their pastors don’t. Stetzer spoke during the 2016 Pastors’ Conference on Monday, June 13 in St. Louis.
-Photo by Bill Bangham

Southern Baptist churches should develop new strategies for evangelism to reach an unbelieving world, said Ed Stetzer, who was appointed in May as executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.

“Brothers and sisters, Jesus’ last words have to be our first priority,” Stetzer said of the Great Commission, the biblical mandate to evangelize unbelievers. “And yet, our evangelism effectiveness continues to decline.”

The church has become increasingly ineffective despite an unchurched community that is largely willing to listen to the Christian message, he said.

According to LifeWay Research, 89 percent of unchurched people in their 20s say they are willing to listen to someone explain Christianity, while most Protestant churchgoers have never told anyone how to become a Christian, Stetzer said. Stetzer spent nine years at LifeWay, most recently as executive director of LifeWay Research and will assume his post at Wheaton on July 1.

“We have a nation with open hearts and a church with closed mouths,” he said.

Southern Baptist evangelism strategies that were widely effective in the 1950s no longer work, Stetzer said, and Southern Baptist churches need to change their approach. Southern Baptist churches need to reevaluate how they “do church,” Stetzer said, or risk losing their place in God’s plan for the universal church.

“God has not promised a future to Southern Baptists, he has promised a future to His church,” Stetzer said. “The question is: Will we be part of the future of His church? Or will we ourselves embrace the inevitable decline that will come if we refuse to change?”

Jimmy Scroggins

Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla. preaches during the afternoon session of the 2016 Pastors' Conference Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. -Photo by Bill Bangham

Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla. preaches during the afternoon session of the 2016 Pastors’ Conference Monday, June 13 in St. Louis.
-Photo by Bill Bangham

Kicking off the Monday evening session of the Pastors’ Conference, Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church (formerly First Baptist) in West Palm Beach, Fla., drew a sharp contrast between his previous ministry in Kentucky and that in South Florida, “way below the Bible Belt.”

The “multicultural, multigenerational and multi-campus church” is “seeing people saved” and has been identified as the ninth fastest growing church in the United States, Scroggins said.

“Yet we are not making a dent in the millions and millions of lost people in South Florida,” he said. “And as a Southern Baptist family, we are not making a dent in millions and millions of lost persons in the world.”

He cited 2 Timothy 4:6, saying as Paul entered the last days of his ministry, after having poured himself out in the race of evangelism, much like a sacrificial drink offering, he passes the baton to Timothy.

Paul is giving Southern Baptists the same message, Scroggins said, “to pour ourselves out.”

He urged Southern Baptists to pour themselves into gospel conversations, gospel congregations, and gospel prayers. Millions of Southern Baptists must have millions of gospel conversations, Scroggins said.

“Let us see something in our generation,” he said. “Let us be poured out for the sake of Jesus Christ.”

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, addresses the 2016 SBC Pastors' Conference Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. Hunt encouraged seasoned pastors help shape the lives of younger pastors, to "bring along" and mentor them as they move through their ministry. -Photo by Bill Bangham

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, addresses the 2016 SBC Pastors’ Conference Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. Hunt encouraged seasoned pastors help shape the lives of younger pastors, to “bring along” and mentor them as they move through their ministry.
-Photo by Bill Bangham

Johnny Hunt

Preaching on “Enthusiastically Reaching My Journey’s End” from 2 Timothy 4:6, Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., declared, “If I’m still alive, then God’s not through with me.”

In 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul, knowing he was in his final season of life, wrote to Timothy that his life was “being poured out as a drink offering,” the final act in the Old Testament sacrificial ceremony outlined in Numbers 15. Paul wanted to encourage Timothy “in what he already knew” about continuing in obedience to God, Hunt said.

“It’s not the truth we know that changes us; it’s the truth we obey,” Hunt said, adding that Christians should desire to hear God tell them, “well done,” rather than “well known,” when appearing before God’s judgment seat.

“It’s a long way from here to where God wants to take you,” he said.

Hunt closed his message by referring to Joshua 14:7-12. When Caleb, at 85 years old, was near his life’s end, “He still wanted (then) what he wanted when he started,” Hunt explained.

“It’s not the promises you’ve made to God that are important; it’s the promises God has made to you,” Hunt said.

Greg Laurie

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., addresses the 2016 SBC Pastors' Conference Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. Laurie will lead a revival prior to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix. The revival will be the only Crossover event next year. -Photo by Bill Bangham

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., addresses the 2016 SBC Pastors’ Conference Monday, June 13 in St. Louis. Laurie will lead a revival prior to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix. The revival will be the only Crossover event next year.
-Photo by Bill Bangham

A strong call for revival was Greg Laurie’s message to pastors in his keynote address closing the 2016 Pastors’ Conference Monday night, saying that believers want to see an awakening in America, but that revival must first start in the church and among church leaders.

Laurie is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., and recently led what is reported to be the largest single presentation of the Gospel in American history in Dallas. According to Harvest America, the event drew more than 350,000 people to the live event and related webcasts, and more than 25,000 professions of faith were recorded.

“God is giving our country some wake-up calls,” Laurie told the pastors. “But it is not going to be solved by politicians. Are we going to wake up and pay attention?”

Laurie said that we often use the words “awakening” and “revival” interchangeably. He noted, however there is a difference between the two, saying that awakening happens in a church, and revival happens to a nation.

“We point our fingers to D.C., and to Hollywood, but the breakdown is in God’s house,” he said, telling pastors that he was praying for “stunning spiritual awakening.”

Laurie noted that the church never “defaults to quality, always to mediocrity,” and challenged pastors to recognize that the church, and pastors in particular, have fallen asleep. “Revival is waking up from sleep. And when you are sleeping, you don’t even recognize that you are asleep,” he said. “But nothing can happen through you until it happens to you. We must ourselves be revived.”

He encouraged pastors to recommit themselves to preaching the Gospel and to giving clear, concise, public invitations. “It will excite your people when they see people walking forward and accepting Christ,” Laurie said. “We can evangelize or we can fossilize.”

Laurie said as we begin to look forward to a revival in our nation, we must have a sense of expectancy, and we must begin to apply “revival principles” in our churches today. He told pastors we must teach the Word of God, have people participate in worship, have people bring non-believers to our churches and extend invitations, and we must believe that Christ is coming back.

“Stories of revivals spark revivals,” Laurie said. “Can we see it again? How desperate are we? Do we really want it that bad?”

Dave Miller, senior pastor of Southern Hill Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, was elected president of the 2017 Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix. Paul Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church of Chandler, Ariz., was elected vice president, and Toby Frost, pastor of South Main Baptist Church, Greenwood, S.C., was elected treasurer.

 

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BELLEVUE SINGS OF ‘KING’ ON FOX, CARNEGIE HALL

Baptist Press

Hannah Tetmeyer leads the Bellevue Baptist Church choir of Memphis, Tenn., in “Say Amen” in New York’s Times Square Plaza during a June 20 broadcast of “Fox & Friends.” -Fox & friends screen capture

Hannah Tetmeyer leads the Bellevue Baptist Church choir of Memphis, Tenn., in “Say Amen” in New York’s Times Square Plaza during a June 20 broadcast of “Fox & Friends.”
-Fox & friends screen capture

NEW YORK (BP) — The choir from newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines’ pastorate sang the Gospel alongside Elvis hits in New York’s Times Square on Fox TV today (June 20) in advance of their concert tonight at Carnegie Hall.

An Elvis impersonator with the choir said the Memphis, Tenn., group loves to sing of “the King.”

“We always want to sing about the King,” said the impersonator, one of two Bellevue choir members who impersonated the rock star on the live broadcast of Fox & Friends just before 9 a.m. Eastern Time. “So, most times we sing about Jesus, sometimes we sing about Elvis. Whatever draws people closer to Jesus, man, that’s what we’re about.” [Read more…]

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TENNESSEE RANKS SECOND IN NUMBER OF SBC MESSENGERS

Baptist Press

More than 7,000 messengers gather at America's Center in St. Louis for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday, June 14. The theme of the 2016 meeting was Awaken America. -Photo by Van Payne

More than 7,000 messengers gather at America’s Center in St. Louis for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday, June 14. The theme of the 2016 meeting was Awaken America. -Photo by Van Payne

ST. LOUIS (BP) — The Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting drew 7,321 messengers to St. Louis June 14-15 from the nation’s 46,000-plus Southern Baptist churches. The unofficial total is 35 percent above last year’s 5,407 messengers in Columbus, Ohio.

When registered guests, exhibitors and others are included, the count of those at the SBC annual meeting rose to 11,581 as of Wednesday morning.

SBC registration secretary Jim Wells said the results were higher than his pre-annual meeting estimate. [Read more…]

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‘WE NEED YOU, LORD’: BAPTISTS PLEAD FOR NATIONAL REVIVAL

Baptist Press

Outgoing Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd led a focused time of prayer during the National Call to Prayer for Spiritual Leadership, Revived Churches and Nationwide and Global Awakening at the annual meeting of the SBC Tuesday, June 14 in St. Louis. -Photo by Adam Covington

Outgoing Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd led a focused time of prayer during the National Call to Prayer for Spiritual Leadership, Revived Churches and Nationwide and Global Awakening at the annual meeting of the SBC Tuesday, June 14 in St. Louis. -Photo by Adam Covington

ST. LOUIS (BP) — At times they raised their hands. At times they gathered together in groups of two to three. And at times thousands of messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention knelt at their chairs on Tuesday night (June 14) as they pleaded with God to bring national revival and spiritual awakening to America.

In one of his final acts as SBC president, Ronnie Floyd led the convention in an evening of prayer during its annual meeting in St. Louis.

“From this moment on, it will not be about personalities on the stage. It will be about Jesus, all the way,” said Floyd, who has focused much of his two-year presidency on urging Southern Baptists to pray for spiritual awakening. “We’re about to give Him praise. And from this moment on, I’m going to ask you to give Him your all. What if this were your last night on this earth? Wouldn’t you want to give it all to Jesus and be ready?”

Floyd noted that Southern Baptists had thousands at First Baptist Church of Orlando who were, at that time, praying desperately for their city.

“Orlando is a lot more desperate tonight than they were before this tragedy,” Floyd said. “But why should it take a tragedy to make us desperate for God?” [Read more…]

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10 OF 22 MOTIONS REFERRED TO SBC ENTITIES

Baptist Press

160616sbc-motionsST. LOUIS (BP) — Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention proposed 22 motions, the most since 2010. Ten motions were referred to convention entities for further study and for a report at the 2017 SBC meeting in Phoenix.

The Committee on Order of Business automatically referred three motions to SBC entities and/or the Executive Committee:

— A motion by Lonnie Wilkey of Tulip Grove Baptist Church, Old Hickory, Tenn., to ask trustees of all SBC entities to consider examining their media policies, and if they do not have clearly defined guidelines, to consider establishing a policy that trustee and committee meetings be open to the public. The motion was referred to the Executive Committee and all SBC entities.

— A motion by Victoria Gurgone of Peace Church, Wilson, N.C., for the Executive Committee to consider adding a “veteran” and/or “active duty” option on the online registration form, as well as adding “veteran” and/or “active duty” to SBC name badges. The motion was referred to the Executive Committee.

— A motion by Graham Weaver of Lenexa Baptist Church, Lenexa, Kan., to encourage SBC presidents past and present through LifeWay Christian Resources to write their memoirs. The motion was referred to LifeWay Christian Resources. [Read more…]

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SBC RESOLUTIONS ADDRESS CULTURE, MINISTRY CONCERNS

Baptist Press

Stephen Rummage, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee and pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., speaks at a press conference during the annual meeting of the SBC in St. Louis Wednesday, June 15. -Photo by Adam Covington

Stephen Rummage, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee and pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., speaks at a press conference during the annual meeting of the SBC in St. Louis Wednesday, June 15. -Photo by Adam Covington

ST. LOUIS (BP) — Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention, in addition to repudiating the display of the Confederate battle flag, approved 11 other resolutions on a variety of culture and ministry concerns.

Messengers voted on the proposals over both days of the annual meeting, adopting resolutions that expressed compassion for those devastated by the Orlando mass shooting, urged consistent evangelism of unbelievers and encouraged care for refugees. They also passed measures that included calling for the federal government not to discriminate against people who support only the biblical, traditional view of marriage and opposing an effort to require women to register for the military draft.

For Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Resolutions Committee, the call for Southern Baptists to evangelize was central to the 10-member panel’s deliberations in presenting the 12 measures to the messengers.

The resolution on evangelism “might just seem like a standard resolution for an evangelical body such as Southern Baptists to pass,” Rummage said at a news conference Wednesday morning (June 15), “but really that is at the heart of everything that we talked about, including what we had to say about the Confederate flag. Everything that we do should have as its end and as its goal reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” [Read more…]

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GAINES ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE SBC

(Left to right) Outgoing Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd together with presidential nominee J.D. Greear congratulate president-elect Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., after he is elected president of the SBC by acclamation after Greear withdrew from the race and moved that the convention elect Gaines by acclamation during the SBC's annual meeting at America's Center in St. Louis Wednesday, June 15. -Photo by Bill Bangham

(Left to right) Outgoing Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd together with presidential nominee J.D. Greear congratulate president-elect Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., after he is elected president of the SBC by acclamation after Greear withdrew from the race and moved that the convention elect Gaines by acclamation during the SBC’s annual meeting at America’s Center in St. Louis Wednesday, June 15. -Photo by Bill Bangham

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist & Reflector

ST. LOUIS — Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines was elected by acclamation as president of the Southern Baptist Convention after fellow nominee J.D. Greear of North Carolina withdrew his name from consideration.

The day before (June 14), Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, missed election as president by three votes in a runoff election with Greear, pastor of Summit Church in Durham, N.C.

Gaines received 2,410 votes or 49.96 percent, while Greear received 2,306 votes or 47.80 percent. However, 108 votes were considered illegal because the wrong ballot was used or an indistinguishable mark was made. SBC President Ronnie Floyd announced, that according to Robert’s Rules of Order, the winning candidate needed 2,413 votes. Gaines fell short by three votes.

Earlier in the day, on the first ballot, cast by 5,784 messengers, David Crosby of New Orleans, La., received 583 votes or 10.08 percent; Gaines received 2,551 votes, or 44.1 percent of the votes; and Greear received 2,601 votes, or 44.97 percent. None of the candidates received 50 percent or more of the votes. [Read more…]

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NO CLEAR WINNER DETERMINED IN SBC PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Editor’s Note: J.D. Greear graciously withdrew his nomination for president of the Southern Baptist Convention and asked those who supported him to support Steve Gaines. Gaines was then elected by acclamation. Complete story to follow later.

 

Baptist Press

ST. LOUIS (BP) — Although an announcement of a new Southern Baptist Convention president was expected on Tuesday (June 14), no clear winner was determined the day of election.

A run-off between nominees North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear and Memphis-area pastor Steve Gaines failed to provide a clear majority, as required by Roberts Rules of Order. A second run-off election between the two pastors has been scheduled for the Wednesday morning session at 10:58 a.m.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd reported results of the run-off election at the beginning of the Tuesday night session. Of the 7,230 messengers registered at the time of the first runoff, 4,824 ballots were cast. To be declared a winner, a nominee is required to win 50 percent plus 1 of ballots cast, or 2,413 or more votes. [Read more…]

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