Uncommon topic addressed at 9Marks conference

October 5 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Buzzwords are commonly employed by Christian conference organizers to generate interest and excitement. Passion, thrive, exponential, ignite and catalyst are just a few that one might find emblazoned across banners, T-shirts and promotional materials. There is one phrase, however, that doesn’t often headline such events: church discipline. That unpopular idea is what the 9Marks at Southeastern conference featured as its theme Sept. 25-26 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C.
“Flattery is unloving, but accurate rebuke is a treasure to be sought,” said Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He delivered the opening message of the two-day conference to nearly 750 attenders in SEBTS’s Binkley Chapel. Dever described church discipline as a loving part of the Christian life. It is both formative and corrective, he added. “Formative discipline is positive, direct teaching where we’re setting out biblical truth. It’s your sermons; it’s your Sunday School classes, it’s the mentoring.”
Dever went on to say, “Corrective discipline would include somebody contradicting, or challenging, or confronting or rebuking.” He appealed to Matthew 18:15-20 to set the foundation for the practice of discipline within a local church. “Our churches should be marked by genuine concern, care and love. Part of that means we want people to repent of their sins,” Dever said.

10-5-159marks2.jpgSEBTS photo
A line forms to check-in at the 9Marks at Southeastern conference in Wake Forest.

Many Southern Baptist churches do not actively engage in discipline, according to Dever, but he urged pastors not to rush into the practice too hastily if they become convinced of its importance. Instead, he encouraged “patience in shepherding,” offering teaching tips for leading congregations into the biblical practice of church discipline, like encouraging humility and making sure the church understands the significance of membership.
Garrett Kell, lead pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., led the second session, explaining what it means to “create culture of church discipline.” He emphasized God’s intent to save and care for his people, “wishing that none should perish.” Kell then connected God’s love to how church members should care for one another. “The love that Christ has shown you and has shown me is intended to warm our hearts toward wandering sheep,” he said. “We are intended to be little reflections of the Father.”
Kell, like Dever and other conference speakers, referenced Matthew 18:15-20 as the guiding biblical text for the process of church discipline. He explained the three steps of the process: approaching the wayward Christian privately, then with partners and finally confronting them before the whole congregation. Kell added, “A healthy church recognizes that discipline is both normal and necessary.”
SEBTS President Danny Akin opened the third session with a quote from German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to sin.” He noted that church discipline is addressed throughout the New Testament, and it is a vital part of ministry, quoting from an American Baptist named John Dagg: “When discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.” Akin explained each verse from 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, noting how unchecked sin cripples a church and how godly correction is rooted in the redemptive work of Christ.
Pastor of the newly planted Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C., Thabiti Anyabwile, delivered the fourth message on how to know when church discipline works. He answered the implied question in the two points of his talk: Discipline works when a church (1) feels and when it (2) forgives.
The passage Anyabwile called upon was 1 Corinthians 2:1-11, which is a word of temperance to the Corinthian church after the scandalous case of church discipline against a man committing sexual immorality with his step-mother recorded in 1 Corinthians 5. The congregation allegedly responded too harshly to the sinful practice and failed to forgive the man after he repented. “It’s possible that cases of discipline present the power-hungry or the power-drunk an opportunity to lord it over the church,” said Anyabwile.


Mark Dever

He continued, “If we feel like we are against the sinner, if we feel like we are opposed to the brother or sister, that’s reason for us to stop or slow down, and begin a concert of prayer, tarrying in prayer so the Lord would help us to understand that the ones He purchased with His own blood are not be conquered, but to be worked with, to be shepherded, to be nursed along.”

Mez McConnell, director of a church planting ministry in Scotland called 20 Schemes, addressed the topic of dealing with false teachers.
“Wolves,” as the Bible calls them, should be dealt with severely, according to McConnell.
However, he emphasized the need to tell the difference between a new Christian who happens to hold an errant belief – “doctrinal immaturity” – and a false teacher who intentionally seeks to divide a church. “You must discern the difference between ill-informed sheep and ravaging wolves,” said McConnell. “If I disciplined everybody who said anything dumb or unbiblical in my church, I’d have nobody left,” he said, referring to Romans 16:17-18. “But we must act when we come into a knowledge of sinful practice.”
Closing out the conference was Ligon Duncan, chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary and former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss.
Duncan’s self-admitted goal of the talk was threefold: to convince attenders that “the Lord Jesus uses church discipline to cultivate respect, godliness and peace in a congregation.”
Panel discussions accompanied each of the main sessions, reviewing the relevant content and considering in greater detail the topic of each session. Jim Shaddix, who holds the W.A. Criswell Chair of Preaching at SEBTS, moderated a breakfast panel Sept. 26 between Akin and Duncan that featured an in-depth discussion of preaching in the life of a local church.
Conference videos are available online at Next year’s 9Marks at Southeastern conference is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and the theme will be Christian discipleship.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Seth Brown is the content editor for the Biblical Recorder.)

10/5/2015 2:47:59 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 1 comments

Report ranks SBTS’ doctoral program in top 5

October 5 2015 by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS Communications

A recent report from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) ranks The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) fourth among peer institutions for producing faculty doctorates in the accreditation agency’s member schools. Trailing only Princeton Theological Seminary, Harvard and University of Toronto, Southern improved 12 spots on the list since the previous report in 2001.
“Southern Seminary established one of the first research doctorates in higher education in America and has been a pioneer since the beginning, preparing scholars for the church through the highest level of academic preparation,” said SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. “This report is a significant affirmation of Southern’s leadership in preparing scholars for the church past, present and future.”


In the 1891-1892 academic year, SBTS admitted its first class in the research doctoral program, known then as the doctor of theology (Th.D.) and became one of the first free-standing institutions in the nation to offer the degree. Today, Southern offers the doctor of philosophy, while also offering several other research doctorates, including the doctor of education and doctor of missiology.
According to the report, 103 faculty members teaching in ATS-accredited institutions last year listed SBTS as the school where they earned their doctorate. The seminary is among 25 schools producing 51 percent of the faculty in more than 270 ATS schools in North America.
“I am filled with gratitude and humility with regard to the incredible reach and influence of our research doctoral program for the sake of the gospel,” said Randy Stinson, SBTS senior vice president for academic administration and provost. “It is a reminder of the great stewardship that is ours to train up generations of Gospel scholars that will spend their days in classrooms all over the world.”
Since Mohler’s election to the presidency in 1993, Southern has claimed a higher spot on the list then it did when the 1991 report ranked the seminary sixth among peer institutions, before falling 10 spots in 2001. Gregory A. Wills, dean of the School of Theology and the seminary’s historian, said the report reflects the increasing number of like-minded evangelical schools who esteem Southern’s doctrinal commitments and academic standards.
“Our graduates who have gone out from our Ph.D. program have demonstrated the strength of their academic preparation and their commitment to God’s truth by becoming successful candidates for positions at institutions of theological education all over North America,” Wills said.
The report also contradicts a “doom and gloom” message in higher education that no teaching jobs are available for today’s Ph.D. students, Jonathan T. Pennington noted. As the director of Southern’s research doctoral studies, Pennington said he is “very thankful” to see “our graduates doing so well and making an impact as professors in a wide variety of schools” despite a tight job market.
“As I look forward to the next decade of Ph.D. education, I firmly believe that we will see a clearer distinction arise between the many Ph.D. programs that now exist,” said Pennington, who is also associate professor of New Testament interpretation. “Those programs that focus on rigorous academic training combined with a focus on personal mentoring of students – all in a confessional environment – will, I believe, produce the next generation of qualified evangelical professors.”
Among that next generation of professors is Matthew Haste, who recently graduated with his Ph.D. from Southern and accepted a faculty position at Columbia International University (CIU), an ATS-member school in Columbia, S.C. Since the ATS report covers the 2014-15 academic year, Haste’s hire at CIU in August is not reflected in the number of faculty doctorates from Southern. Haste said the academic rigor and mentorship of his professors prepared him adequately for his new teaching role.
“The faculty at Southern Seminary modeled Christian scholarship to me,” said Haste, associate professor of ministry studies at CIU. “They demonstrated how to balance rigorous academic study with pastoral sensitivity. As a new professor, I am consciously trying to interact with students and serve the church in the same way that I observed the faculty at Southern doing.”
Preparing Ph.D. graduates to be excellent teachers is what prompted Pennington to seek a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, which the Research Doctoral Studies Office recently received. The Graduate Program Teaching Initiative grant will fund a consultation in March 2016, in which Wabash consultants and several of SBTS’s Ph.D. graduates who are now teaching full-time will visit the Louisville campus to discuss ways to improve the doctoral program.
More information on SBTS’s doctoral studies programs is available online at
(EDITOR’S NOTE – S. Craig Sanders is manager of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

10/5/2015 2:40:31 PM by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS Communications | with 0 comments

Pastor’s granddaughter shot in Oregon campus attack

October 5 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A 26-year-old man who killed nine and injured perhaps nine others at an Oregon community college reportedly targeted Christians in the attack, said a Southern Baptist pastor whose granddaughter was shot and survived.
“The shooter asked a question, ‘Are you a Christian?’ And if they said yes, he said, ‘Good, because you’re going to see God in a second,’ and he shot them. My granddaughter hid and got a bullet through the leg,” said Howard A. Johnson, founding pastor of Bethany Bible Fellowship (SBC) in Roseburg. “That’s pretty traumatic.”
Johnson chose not to name his granddaughter to protect her privacy, and in deference to families whose children and relatives died in the massacre. Nine students and the shooter are confirmed dead. Between seven and nine were reportedly injured.
“She did not die, but she was shot,” he said. “There are 10 others’ parents and family [in the area] whose children were killed. My prayers and strength go to them because they won’t be able to look their children in the eye and say what happened, as I was able to do with my granddaughter.”


CBS This Morning screen capture
Candles are arranged in the letters UCC at a candlelight vigil in memory of those killed and injured in an Oct. 1 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.

“I was able to talk to her. She is the only child of my number three son who died at age 31. And she was three at the time. She’s now 19 and attending college, and you’d think she’d be at a safe environment, but that didn’t happen.”
A second granddaughter is a nurse at the hospital where his injured granddaughter was treated for her wound, Johnson said, and was able to attend to the injured student in the surgical room.
News reports identified the shooter as Chris Harper Mercer, who entered a building at Umpqua Community College (UCC) Oct. 1 around 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time and began shooting.
The shooter brought six guns and a vest with metal plates to the campus, The Associated Press reported. A motive for the massacre has not been determined.
Steve Schenewerk, pastor of Community Baptist Church in nearby Winston, said he texted scripture and prayers to a member of his church, a UCC staff member, who was in a building under lockdown on the campus during the shooting.
“She texted several times her fear, the fear [experienced by] her coworkers, and I was able to share some scripture with her via text and let her family know she was OK,” he said. “She wasn’t in the building where the shooting happened, but of course they lockdown every building. And then one of our other families, their son works on campus. There was some concern obviously.”
The community is described as close knit.
“It’s a small community,” Schenewerk said. “I can’t imagine many families … in the area don’t have some intimate connection with someone who was on campus during the shooting.”
After killing the shooter, law enforcement officials cleared the crime scene by transporting school employees and students to the Douglas County Fairgrounds, where Schenewerk volunteered as a grief counselor, he said.
“There were multiple … pastors and other Christians from various agencies at the fairgrounds. All of them shared a sense of shock that that kind of targeting would go on here,” Schenewerk said. “Douglas County is very conservative politically, very economically depressed … and the Christians are just stunned that that kind of targeting could happen.
“That’s the kind of thing you read about in the Middle East obviously, in Africa and other parts of the world, the Muslim countries; it’s not the kind of thing you would expect to happen in Douglas County,” Schenewerk said. “Stunned is a good word to express that.”
Christians have been involved in outreach efforts throughout the tragedy, Schenewerk said.
“The manager of the fairgrounds is a believer, and he opened up every building we needed in order to accommodate the hundreds of people that gathered,” he said. “The Christian community was really on top of this from the beginning.”
Many Christians gathered at a prayer vigil at a community park Oct. 1, and Schenewerk and other pastors prayed with community members on a Christian radio station after the tragedy.
Johnson also noted the response from the Christian community, adding that three members of his congregation are volunteering as grief counselors with a crisis intervention team in response to the massacre.
“I would think that the Christian community has gone above and beyond,” Johnson said. “The community is close knit in that if you’re not related to somebody, you’re a good friend to somebody. … So you’re pretty much going to feel this incident and the tragedy for some time. And of course the American viewpoint is it will never happen in my community, until it does.
“We always think it’s going to happen someplace else.”
Bruce Sloan, Region 4 team leader and church health strategist with the Northwest Baptist Convention, said Southern Baptist chaplains may be deployed.
“Our response has been to pray for the churches on the ground,” he said. Sloan has encouraged churches to pray for the community.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

10/5/2015 2:28:27 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Cooperative Program nurtured, climbs in fiscal year

October 5 2015 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

It’s been an uplifting year for the Cooperative Program.
The church led by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Ronnie Floyd reached the $1-million mark during its 2014-15 budget year in giving to Southern Baptists’ cornerstone channel for supporting missions and ministries – state by state, nationally and internationally.
“Increasing your church’s support through the Cooperative Program (CP) is the greatest way you can forward the work of reaching the world for Christ,” Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, wrote in a Sept. 21 column.
Floyd’s column preceded the annual Cooperative Program Emphasis Month in the SBC each October. For online CP resources, click here.
Noting the Cooperative Program’s comprehensiveness in advancing the gospel during its 90-year history, Floyd wrote: “Not one of us can adequately support any one cause, but all of us together can pray, plan, give, cooperate and support every cause.”


IMB 2012 file photo
Southern Baptists’ gifts through the Cooperative Program played a part in IMB missionary Martin Chappell’s baptism of teenage refugee in Bangkok, Thailand.

For the 2014-15 fiscal year, Cooperative Program gifts by Southern Baptist churches – $189,160,231.41 – reached 100.62 of the convention’s Cooperative Program Allocation Budget to support the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, the SBC’s six seminaries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and convention operating expenses.
The 2014-15 total was 1.39 percent above Cooperative Program receipts for the previous fiscal year for SBC causes.


‘Kingdom work’

In Florida, the State Board of Missions has recommended a budget to allocate 51 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to Southern Baptist outreach nationally and internationally, which will be placed before messengers at the state convention’s Nov. 8-10 annual meeting in Panama City.
“This would have global implications,” said Tommy Green, the convention’s new executive director-treasurer who set forth the shift in Florida CP funding upon his election to the post in late May.
“It’s not just about Florida,” Green said of the budget recommendation. “It’s about Kingdom work.”
If adopted by messengers, the Florida convention would join three other states with budgets allocating half or more of their Cooperative Program receipts to SBC causes – the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, at 55 percent since 2008, up from 50 percent at its inception in 1998, and Iowa and Nevada Baptists who moved to the 50-50 mark at their conventions last fall. The SBC of Virginia, meanwhile, allocates 51 percent, including shared expenses which are in the process of being phased out of their budget.
At the Send North America Conference in Nashville in August, the Cooperative Program was the focus of a panel discussion featuring four of Southern Baptists’ most visible leaders – North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin and Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Southern Baptists’ mission boards and other entities could not do what they do, Ezell noted, “if it were not for the sacrificial gifts of people in churches who give faithfully every Sunday.”
“How else,” Mohler asked the 13,000 conference attendees, “are you going to give to the local church and have it reach so many different places without you having to think about it all the time? Eighty-plus-year-old ladies in Arkansas giving out of their annuity checks made it possible for 13,000, largely very young, people to be in here, and they did not have to orchestrate it, but they want to be a part of it.”

‘Heartfelt gratitude’

The 1% CP Challenge initiated by SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page continues to expand across the SBC.
More than 4,400 Southern Baptist churches met or exceeded the challenge to increase their Cooperative Program support by 1 percentage point of their budgets, according to an Oct. 1 Baptist Press report this year.
Nearly 3,850 churches met the challenge for the first time during the 2013-14 fiscal year (Oct. 1-Sept. 30) and 576 met the challenge for two consecutive years.
Page sent letters to the 4,400-plus churches underscoring, as he told BP, the “heartfelt gratitude on the part of every international missionary, every church planter in North America and Canada, every person in need or at risk from natural disaster, every seminary student, every plateaued or struggling church, and so many other people who are impacted.”

IMB drawdown

Floyd, in his Sept. 21 Baptist Press column, referenced the International Mission Board’s reduction of 600-800 missionaries and staff due to budget shortfalls in recent years.
“If you are concerned about some of our missionaries having to come home … the greatest thing your church can do to help turn it around is increase your giving through the Cooperative Program,” Floyd wrote of the IMB’s announcement in August.
“Pastor and church leaders, please go to your finance committee, deacon body, church board, elders or whoever is key to leading in the decisions of your church financially and appeal to them to increase your church’s financial support through the Cooperative Program as soon as possible.
“This helps us reach our states, our nation and our world for Christ,” Floyd wrote, noting, “This financial decision is a gospel decision. … I pray your church will join my church and other churches that are stepping up during this time and increasing our financial giving through the Cooperative Program.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

Related Story:

1% CP Challenge met by 4,422 churches

10/5/2015 2:14:34 PM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Senate approves USCIRF reauthorization

October 5 2015 by J.C. Derrick, World News Service

The long battle to reauthorize the United Stations Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) appears to be nearing an end.
On Sept. 30 the U.S. Senate passed a four-year reauthorization that largely maintains USCIRF’s current structure and direction. USCIRF authorization was set to expire Sept. 30, but Congress included an extension in the stop-gap funding bill it passed Sept. 30, keeping USCIRF’s doors open until the House can debate the Senate measure this week.
The legislation funds USCIRF at $3.5 million annually and is deficit neutral. It earned bipartisan praise, including from Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and the two senators who filed vastly different reauthorization bills in July and August.
“The commission has been a steadfast champion of this ‘first freedom’ and a reliable voice for the oppressed and marginalized,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “I welcome this four-year authorization which would allow the commission to focus, without distraction, on their critical mandate at precisely the time it’s most needed,”


The legislation comes after more than a year of wrangling on the staff level. After negotiations broke down in December 2014, Congress approved a nine-month extension to get USCIRF through the rest of the fiscal year. Recently, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan compromise to authorize USCIRF until 2019.
The bill is close to a clean reauthorization and does not include the reforms Rubio sought in his bill. It also does not include the reforms Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wanted, elements of which the international religious freedom community said would act as “poison pills” to the commission.
Instead, the legislation gives the commission 60 days to craft a strategic plan and conduct an organizational review. A unanimous commission vote (or a majority of both party appointees) would enact any proposed changes – such as designating ISIS, Boko Haram, and other non-state actors as “countries of particular concern.”
Durbin said he is proud of the compromise that will help “foster bipartisan consensus” and discourage partisanship on the commission.
USCIRF itself released a unanimous statement in support of the bill – a notable accomplishment, since the nine commissioners have not always agreed on the various reauthorization approaches.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, praised the compromise and said it wouldn’t have happened without Rubio’s involvement: “Against many obstacles, Senator Rubio fought for the protection of religious freedom around the world, and I am grateful for his leadership on this from start to finish.”
Regardless of how the strategic plan develops, USCIRF is in for changes: Next spring both Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett, who have alternated chairing the commission since 2012, will drop off due to term limits. Executive director Jackie Wolcott has submitted her resignation, although she agreed to stay until Dec. 31 or until the commission hires a replacement.
Congress created USCIRF in 1998 as an independent, government-funded body to provide recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and Congress on religious liberty conditions around the world.
Ambassador John Hanford, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom from 2002 to 2009, told me it’s a relief to have USCIRF well funded so it can focus on its tasks: “Their work is more important than ever.”
Hanford, who helped write the legislation creating the commission, said he was disappointed to see the compromise did not include needed provisions that would have bolstered the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. He said his successor, Ambassador David Saperstein, does not have adequate resources, and the original version of the House bill – filed by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. – would have addressed those problems.
“Unfortunately, the position has been downgraded and the staff has been slashed under this administration,” Hanford said. “It’s a strange situation where you have the office tasked with the incredible challenge of actually advancing religious freedom in dozens of countries around the world being smaller and far less funded than the commission, whose function is to offer policy recommendations.”
Another stripped provision would have addressed conflicts of interest on the commission. One commissioner, James Zogby, has come under recent scrutiny for his business dealings with the government of Saudi Arabia, a country over which USCIRF provides oversight and recommendations.

10/5/2015 2:09:01 PM by J.C. Derrick, World News Service | with 0 comments

Chinese church’s vision reaches int’l students, Native Americans

October 5 2015 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

Chinese workers came to Tucson to build a railroad and, in the process, formed a local culture. Members of Tucson Chinese Baptist Church, however, are intent on making a global impact.
Tucson Chinese Baptist Church has been a solid contributor to Southern Baptist missions and ministry since the church was started in 1977 as a mission of First Southern Baptist Church in Tucson. Since 1991, the Chinese church has given 10 percent of its undesignated offerings to undergird Southern Baptist outreach across Arizona, North America and the world through the Cooperative Program.


Photo courtesy of Tucson Chinese Baptist Church
Tucson Chinese Baptist Church leads in a baptism at McNary Apache Baptist Church on one of Arizona’s Apache Indian reservations.

“I know our church was started partly through the efforts of the Cooperative Program because of the missionaries sent by the Home Mission Board,” pastor Joe Chan said of the precursor to today’s North American Mission Board.
“We think we ought to be a participant after that,” said Chan, a member of Tucson Chinese Baptist Church for about 30 years and pastor since 2001.
“I went to school at Golden Gate [Baptist Theological Seminary] and that’s funded partially by CP, and my son goes there,” said Chan, a former businessman called in mid-career to the pastorate. “I strongly believe that pastors who benefit from the Cooperative Program through seminary training should be big supporters of CP because they benefit from it.”
Reared in a “culturally Buddhist” home in Hong Kong, Chan became a Christian through an evangelical Lutheran church when he was 16. He moved to Phoenix to go to college and then took a job in Tucson.
“When I was the first time at the Baptist church in Phoenix, I heard about the Cooperative Program,” Chan recounted. “I liked it from the very beginning. It is still the most efficient way for mission cooperation.”
First Chinese Baptist Church’s global efforts are complemented by ministries to internationals at the University of Arizona and Native Americans in Arizona.


Photo courtesy of Tucson Chinese Baptist Church
Tucson Chinese Baptist Church’s facilities include a community center, built in 2008, for the 5,000 Chinese who live in the Tucson area.

The church, with about 140 in Sunday worship, also built a multipurpose center on its property for the 5,000 or more Chinese in Tucson as a way of ministering to those who share their ancestry. A Vietnamese church they helped start in Tucson is now on its feet. And several men from the Chinese church are helping about a dozen mostly former addicts rebuild their lives after jail sentences through intensive Bible study and a Set Free church focused on both physical and spiritual restoration.
“Our primary focus is to be Chinese,” Chan said. “But not to the exclusion of other groups.”
The outreach to international students at the University of Arizona in Tucson started in 2006. Johnathan Chan, the pastor’s son, leads the ministry in addition to serving as the church’s college and young adult pastor.
“Southern Baptists spend a lot of money sending missionaries to [East Asia], so when students come from there to our city, it is logical for us to reach out to them,” the senior Chan said. “Currently there are more than 2,000 international students from [East Asia] at the University of Arizona. It is a vast mission field.”
The Tucson church, which encompasses members who speak Cantonese, Mandarin and English, also sends its adults, teens and those even younger on a variety of missions endeavors throughout the year “so they will experience firsthand what it means to share the gospel,” Chan said.
“I always emphasize [sharing the gospel on mission trips] should be the beginning, not the end,” the pastor said, “[so that] when they come home they should have developed a burden for people who don’t know Christ.”


Joe Chan, pastor of Arizona’s Tucson Chinese Baptist Church.

Tucson Chinese Baptist Church is in its 24th year of week-long mission projects conducted at the request of eight Native American churches on Apache and Navajo reservations in Arizona. These range from Vacation Bible School and sports camps to construction projects and youth activities.
“What we didn’t realize when we started was that Native Americans receive the Chinese much more openly than they would other groups,” Chan said. “We don’t have the past to deal with. It became easy for them and for us that we would go there every year.
“At the time [we started] there wasn’t any consistent group with them,” Chan added. “Many go there one to two years. We want to maintain a long-term ministry relationship. In order to have any impact, we figure it has to be more long-term.”
Chan now is coordinator of what started in 1992 with three Chinese churches participating in what is called YSMP: Youth Summer Mission Project. Today, the teams from 14 Chinese Baptist churches across the nation consist of about 240 participants, half of whom are teens.
“Many of the people who have become missionaries and pastors had their first experience with this Youth Summer Mission Project,” Chan said. “It’s a good way for them to develop the seeds of the passion for people who do not know Christ. So in a way, this is how we invest in the Cooperative Program for the future.”
Tucson Chinese Baptist Church has baptized about 80 people in the last 10 years. New members are immediately discipled and given opportunities to put their new faith into practice.
“In addition to those who make Tucson their permanent home, we also minister to those who stay in Tucson on a temporary basis so that when they do leave Tucson, they will be Christians on mission for God elsewhere,” Chan said.
“We focus on the growth of the church as well as the growth of the Kingdom of God.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. This article is adapted from SBC LIFE, journal of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.)

10/5/2015 12:47:56 PM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NAMB announces new logo

October 2 2015 by Baptist Press

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has introduced a new logo and messaging that reflects its goal to mobilize more churches and individuals to missional action in the effort to push back lostness and plant more churches in North America.
“Every Life On Mission” and “Every Church On Mission” are two phrases NAMB will use prominently to encourage individuals and churches to become more actively and personally involved in missional activity.


“In its simplest form, NAMB functions as a network that can help connect every Southern Baptist church to its next missional opportunity,” NAMB president Kevin Ezell said. “We hope these steps lead churches to become involved locally in their communities, throughout North America and around the globe in evangelistic church planting. We realize that the first step for many churches is just helping them get their members out of the pews and into ministry action.”
Ultimately, NAMB’s goal is to work with its partners to see more churches and individuals involved directly in church planting. Research from NAMB puts the estimate of non-Christians in North America at more than 259 million. The Southern Baptist church-to-population ratio is 1:6,194. The Canadian Baptist church-to-population ratio is 1:115,040. These sobering numbers keep church planting at the center of NAMB’s mission focus and priority.
But NAMB is also growing the number of opportunities for Southern Baptists to serve missionally through mercy ministries like international learning centers, inner-city construction, adoption and foster care, combatting human trafficking, evangelism initiatives and tools, and more. Ezell told NAMB’s trustees in June that these expanded ministries would reside in a new area at NAMB called Send Relief.
In addition, NAMB continues to support national Southern Baptist Disaster Relief coordination in cooperation with state conventions as well as military and non-military chaplaincy ministries.


Kevin Ezell, NAMB President

By serving churches and partnering with state Baptist conventions and associations, NAMB has developed a strategy for pushing back lostness throughout North America. NAMB’s 32 Send Cities focus special attention on urban areas where most North Americans live, and from which cultural influence emanates. NAMB funding through state Baptist conventions plays a key role in helping Southern Baptists reach less populated and rural areas as well.
NAMB’s Send North America Conference this past Aug. 3-4 in Nashville challenged more than 13,500 attendees to live life on mission and became a celebration of every Christian’s calling to proclaim Christ wherever God has placed them. The conference themes – Every Life On Mission and Every Church On Mission – will continue to be key elements of NAMB’s challenge to Southern Baptists.
Ezell said the move to a new look demonstrates NAMB’s emphasis on serving churches and pastors, and the continued streamlining of strategy. Every energy and all attention will be focused on fulfilling its mission as effectively as possible by the generosity of Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
“We have seen such great progress in recent years,” Ezell said. “We believe this new way of expressing ourselves gives us greater clarity and hopefully brings broader understanding about who we are and how we serve Southern Baptist churches.”
Explore more about how NAMB can assist your church in discovering its next missional opportunity at

(EDITOR’S NOTE – The North American Mission Board communications team submitted this story.)

10/2/2015 12:55:00 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hendricks named director of BP operations

October 2 2015 by Baptist Press staff

The Executive Committee has named Shawn Hendricks as Baptist Press director of operations. The new role will be in addition to his regular duties as managing editor.


Shawn Hendricks

As managing editor/director of operations, Hendricks will assume additional administrative assignments while continuing to direct and edit content released by Baptist Press. Art Toalston, who has served as editor of Baptist Press for more than 23 years, will transition into a new role as senior editor. In his new position, Toalston, 65, will step aside from some of the daily administrative duties to devote himself more fully to the same editing, writing and mentoring tasks he has done since becoming editor.
“Art has devoted more than 30 years of stellar service to the Lord and Southern Baptists, first as a staff writer with International Mission Board (IMB) and then editor of Baptist Press for almost 24 years,” Roger S. Oldham, vice president for Convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee, said. “He has demonstrated tremendous gifting and competence across a range of journalistic skills such as time-sensitive news writing, content development and copy editing and has earned the trust of so many ministry leaders at every level of Baptist life and from every part of the world. We are grateful he will continue to be a vibrant part of the Baptist Press leadership team.”
Hendricks accepted the position of Baptist Press managing editor in 2013 after serving two years in the same role for the Biblical Recorder, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Before that, he served for nearly 10 years as a staff writer – and later senior writer – at the International Mission Board.
“When Shawn joined Baptist Press in 2013, his administrative and leadership skills became immediately apparent,” Oldham said. “Art has worked closely with Shawn over the past couple of years to mentor him and model before him how to manage the duties of a daily news service. We have every confidence Baptist Press will continue to thrive under his able hands as he steps into this expanded role.”


Art Toalston

Hendricks also worked as a news and feature writer with the State Gazette daily newspaper in Dyersburg, Tenn., 1997-98; public relations staff writer at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Mo., 1998-99; and news and feature writer at the former newsjournal for the Missouri Baptist Convention, Word & Way, 1999-2002.
A 1996 communication arts/journalism graduate from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., Hendricks completed internships with the Indiana Baptist, newsjournal of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, and The Jackson Sun (Tenn.) daily newspaper. He is a native of Troy, Mo.
Hendricks, 41, was selected as Baptist Communicators Association’s (BCA) president-elect for 2016-2017 at its April annual meeting. He was program co-chair for the BCA’s 2014 annual meeting at the LifeWay Conference Center in Ridgecrest, N.C. He and his wife Stephanie have a 7-year-old daughter Laura.
Before becoming editor of Baptist Press in 1992, Toalston worked seven years at the IMB as a staff writer and 10 years in reporting and journalism education in Mississippi and Ohio.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Toalston holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has studied at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he also worked in the news office. His undergraduate degree is from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.)

10/2/2015 12:49:23 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

Selma’s faith community seeks racial healing

October 2 2015 by Anna Keller, The Alabama Baptist

When Jerry Light moved to Selma, Ala., to become pastor of First Baptist Church several years ago, he was surprised that only two African-American churches identified as Southern Baptist.
“It bothered me because Baptists are always missions-minded – both locally and abroad,” Light said. “I know Selma has a racial stigma hanging over it but that was a long time ago and we need to move beyond it.”
Light and First Baptist began making a concerted effort to reduce some of the divides in Selma, a city of 20,000 where more than 75 percent of the residents are African American.
Among the first steps: First Baptist hosted a joint Vacation Bible School with an African-American church in town.
And Light met Juanda Maxwell, a member of Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma.
Together, Light and Maxwell spearheaded an organization named One Selma: Coming Home United in Faith, a group that began meeting last fall with the aim of lessening the Alabama town’s racial divide by starting with the local faith community.
“In a conversation [Juanda and I had] one day over the phone, we hatched the idea of having a unity march,” Light recounted.
The Unity Walk, which took place in March, attracted about 2,000 participants and commemorated the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when 600 peaceful protestors marching from Selma to Montgomery were met by Alabama state troopers and a mounted group with billy clubs, cattle prods and tear gas.
Light and Maxwell advocated for the march to take place toward – rather than away from – Selma to “show that as a community we’re together and headed home,” Light said.
The pastor said the march opened his and Maxwell’s eyes to the appetite for change in Selma. From there they worked with Sony Pictures to bring a showing of the movie “War Room” to Selma, which also proved to be a success.
They then started planning their next initiative, Return to Worship Week, a community-wide and denominationally inclusive outreach to encourage people to go to church – any church – in Selma during the week of Sept. 13-19, whether it entailed re-engaging in or experiencing church for the first time or, for church members, inviting friends and family. It was called Return to Worship Week, Light said, because not all churches worship on Sundays.
Local churches joined together, put up yard signs and distributed door hangers to publicize Return to Worship Week. A banner also was hung on City Hall.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was among the churches that embraced Return to Worship Week, hosting an ice cream social after the worship service Sept. 13. Rector Jack Alvey said the event brought some people who had been absent from the congregation for some time along with a handful of visitors.
“It just was amazingly wonderful and good for Selma,” Maxwell said of Return to Worship Week.
“All of these [events] are steps toward a goal, which we feel is inspired by our Lord. And we’re working together, that’s the best part of it – working together black and white,” she said.
“We’re trying to find ways to get people in Selma to truly know one another,” Maxwell noted. “The only way we think you can effectively do this is through the faith community. Our faith and our service in Christ – that’s the only way to change it, the only way we can actually do something that will last.”
Light said the “next tangible project is having a minister’s conference for all the ministers in Selma. ... We want everyone to be a part of this event.”
Alvey, of St. Paul’s, said, “I believe there is a hunger for improved race relations in Selma, and I think some of that hunger comes from the fact that for 50 years Selma has been painted in a very negative light in that department.
“I have also perceived the Spirit working in Selma to show the world how the Good News of Jesus Christ can reconcile people of all races and colors,” Alvey said. “I feel that Selma, led by the church communities, is starting to live in that reality and God has certainly provided rich possibilities for reconciliation.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Anna Keller is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist at, newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention.)

10/2/2015 12:44:38 PM by Anna Keller, The Alabama Baptist | with 0 comments

Students, churches set aside Oct. 15 to ‘Engage 24’

October 2 2015 by Tobin Perry, NAMB

As a student pastor at Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va., Doug Adams realizes how important it is to involve college students in personal evangelism – and how tough it can be.

To help overcome the inherent struggles in getting students to share the gospel, Adams has turned to a familiar friend of student ministry – peer support. By participating in a nationwide evangelism effort called Engage 24, Adams has set aside a day to challenge every student in his ministry to share the gospel with at least one person.


NAMB file photo by Susan Whitley
Brian Frye, the North American Mission Board’s national collegiate strategist, says of Engage 24, “We’re creating a time where there’s this collective focus on evangelism with a tangible goal.”

“It’s a day when you might be doing something you’ve never done before, but you feel like you’re on a team doing it with the rest of your church body or your small group,” Adams said. “Engage 24 gives many of us more confidence to share our faith for the first time because you know you’ve been prepared and others are doing it with you on that specific day.”
Not only has Engage 24 made an impact on Spotwood’s college students, but for the last two years Spotswood has incorporated a church-wide focus on evangelism using Engage 24 as a model for the greater body. Spotswood picks a specific date when they ask their members to “engage” a neighbor or friend with the gospel. In preparation for that day, senior pastor Drew Landry teaches a three- to four-week series to encourage and equip their people to confidently engage in gospel conversations.
On the week following the event day, the church culminates the experience with a service dedicated to sharing stories of people throughout the church who shared the gospel. This year Landry and other church leaders have already begun preparing the congregation to participate in this one-day intensive effort again.
Southern Baptist collegiate ministry leaders from around North America launched Engage 24 in 2012 in an effort to move students who had never shared the gospel into becoming people who share regularly. Through Engage 24, churches and student ministries encourage all participants to share their faith once during a 24-hour period. Participating churches can use whatever evangelism training or methods they prefer. This year’s national efforts will focus on Oct. 15, although collegiate ministries and churches can set aside any day for their evangelistic emphasis.
“Instead of setting huge goals for the number of people who came to Christ or for baptisms, we decided that our goal would be to get as many students as possible to share the gospel with one person on a single day,” said Brian Frye, the North American Mission Board’s national collegiate strategist. “We’re creating a time where there’s this collective focus on evangelism with a tangible goal.”


NAMB file photo by Susan Whitley
College students have led the way in expanding Engage 24, a one-day evangelism challenge, to go beyond campus and into the mainstream. Churches have picked up on the observance, this year set for Oct. 15, and are using it to encourage their members in personal evangelism.

In that first year alone, Engage 24 mobilized students to make more than 8,000 gospel presentations on campuses throughout North America. More than 2,000 students shared the gospel for the first time that year. The goal, Frye insists, isn’t just to focus on a single day but to develop a culture of evangelism within ministries. In fact, he added, many of the churches who championed the day early on aren’t doing it any longer because, thanks in part to Engage 24, they have developed an evangelistic culture in their collegiate ministries.
For the past four years the effort has caught on to such a degree that the initiative has moved beyond student ministry into the broader church body. Last year Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., and other churches throughout North America, began challenging their entire church families to participate in the effort. See related column by Cross Church senior pastor and Southern Baptist President Ronnie Floyd.

Al Gilbert, NAMB’s vice president of evangelism, noted, “Pastors are looking for ways to move their people into action. Engage24 is a great first step.”
“The movement started on the college campus but has moved into churches across North America,” Gilbert said. “Some churches have used this first step to launch an ongoing emphasis to encourage believers to share their faith.”
Churches and student ministries that want to participate in Engage 24 can visit The website includes stories from previous years and videos that can be shown in public worship services.
“Our call is to make disciples,” Frye said. “For every pastor or collegiate leader it’s our call not to just teach the content of the Scripture but to model the content of the Scripture. What Engage 24 gives you is a fail-safe way to model gospel sharing and call your people to it. It’s a win-win-win scenario.”
Churches or individuals looking for evangelism tools are encouraged to explore 3 Circles; Life Conversation Guide, a simple way to engage in gospel conversations
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.)

10/2/2015 12:33:41 PM by Tobin Perry, NAMB | with 0 comments

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