GREENSBORO — Milton Hollifield reemphasized the Baptist State Convention’s commitment to church planting and declared the health of existing churches is equally in his sights during his annual executive director’s address.
Hollifield, BSC executive director-treasurer, also said denominations have a future because churches naturally seek affiliations. That doesn’t mean, he said, that current denominational bodies will survive.
BSC photo by K Brown
Milton Hollifield addresses messengers Nov. 11 at the Baptist State Convention annual meeting.
He pledged that the Convention will be a “Christ centered, gospel focused ministry that is grounded in the local church.”
During a time of change and uncertainty in America, Hollifield said the Convention is “working to seize the opportunity of this moment.”
That requires, he said, “new ways of accomplishing old goals.”
Hollifield visited a hospital emergency room in severe pain caused by kidney stones Monday morning. He told doctors he was not going to miss the annual meeting.
Efforts that are simply “a new version of the past” will be insufficient. He said Convention leadership is working to “rework, streamline and refocus the energies of this Convention to the needs of the churches.”
He said many churches, which need to “contextualize ministry in the culture of their communities,” are “unoriginal in their design for ministry.”
He said the fastest growing churches today are those which preach the Bible “as grand redemptive narrative,” and which “show God as He truly is, mighty, powerful and majestic.”
He lauded Embrace, the new women’s ministry officially introduced several hours after his address. He said women’s ministry is one of the most critical areas of ministry today, as active church women often carry multiple burdens of family, church and work.
Because of their multiple responsibilities, many women limp into church "defeated and overwhelmed" and needing encouragement, he said. Embrace will work with churches to “bring the finest speakers and seminar leaders to strengthen our churches to reach out to a very hurting world.”
Hollifield, who has been in his position since April 2006, defended the vitality and importance of the Baptist State Convention. He reminded messengers that the BSC is not the church, but exists to help churches “in ways that extend the vibrancy of each local congregation.”
Church planting is an essential element of North Carolina Baptist common life. “If North Carolina Baptists are going to impact this state with the gospel — and we will — we must be serious about church planting,” he said.
Perhaps as an unspoken word to those who think missions occurs only outside the state, Hollifield reminded messengers that “church planting is missions.”
He said church planting is a primary growth strategy of the International Mission Board. “Church planting in North Carolina is doing missions in North Carolina,” he said.
Yet the Convention is not choosing between church planting and the health of existing churches. The Convention is committed to both, he said.
He told young pastors, who were not highly represented among the 1,930 messengers registered at the time of his address that “denominations are here to stay.”
“I did not say the Southern Baptist Convention or the Baptist State Convention is here to stay,” he said. But he believes denominations are here to stay because in scripture “believers denominate together.”
Believers have always agreed to key ideals and cooperation in ministry. He pointed out that the churches in Corinth and Jerusalem helped other churches.
To denominate “is at the heart of what it means to live in a community of faith,” Hollifield said.