Category Archives: baptist

Sharpening our Focus, Renewing our Passion

(This is an article I wrote for the Illinois Baptist.)

Sharpening our focus, renewing our passion

This past June, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines put together a task force charged with recommending how we might deal with the alarming decline in baptisms in our Convention. What a daunting task it is. Baptisms have declined precipitously for the past 17 years. We have gone from more than 400,000 baptisms per year, to less than 300,000. The needs in America are greater than ever, but our effectiveness in meeting those needs has plunged. This ought to greatly concern all of us who care about the Great Commission and this land in which we live.

The task force’s first meeting, held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, was both disquieting and encouraging. We stared the terrible Continue reading

#SBC17 Our Greatest Need

If programs were our greatest need, the Southern Baptist Convention (and Evangelicals as a whole) would have accomplished all the Lord asks of us long ago. Programs are fine, even good. We need the practical application of our faith. But programs and methodology are not our deepest need.

If behavioral changes were our greatest need, we might whip people into obedience and call it a day. Right behavior is good, even critical. We need to do the things God asks us to do and avoid those he tells us not to do. But this is not our deepest need.

If cultural battles were our greatest need, we could Continue reading

The Cooperative Program Rediscovered

One of the the things I want to do in my time of service with the Southern Baptist Convention is to encourage greater support for the cooperative program (CP). Oddly enough, more attention than ever has been paid to the CP through some recent dust ups with churches and the ERLC- one of our SBC agencies. Perhaps the CP is being rediscovered.

Every church in the SBC can decide how much- if any- they give to missions through the cooperative program. Every state convention can decide how much they forward on to national agencies. Every convention can debate the percentages that each agency should receive. But, I contend, the CP remains a marvel of opportunity. Here are some of the blessings of this method of mission giving.

First, the CP has been remarkably Continue reading

Encouraging Missions

I want to encourage the members and churches of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to be involved in missions. Not only do I encourage cooperative missions and support of the Cooperative Program (see my last post), I encourage every church and every member to be directly involved in missions. Here are two ways to do that.

1. Get involved by encouraging our International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Never have they needed encouragement as they do now. With hundreds of our most experienced missionaries leaving the field, those who remain need Continue reading

Encouraging the Southern Baptist Convention, part 1

A series of seven blogs on the Southern Baptist Convention? I’m not sure many will read one and I’m doing seven? Well, hope springs eternal in the blogger’s heart. These are seven areas or people that I think need some special attention and encouragement in the years ahead- seven areas that I want to encourage especially.

#1.  I want to encourage Cooperative Mission and support for the Cooperative Program.

I love missions of all sort. I’m not against societal missions in any way. But I do think our denomination’s method of cooperative missions with the International Mission Board has a special brilliance. Missionary Continue reading

Whither the Cooperative Program?

Whither? At least I didn’t say “ye olde Cooperative Program”. But sometimes it feels as though the Cooperative Program, the primary means by which Southern Baptists have funded their missionary and educational responsibilities for decades, has been relegated to an unnecessary relic of the past. Is that a good thing?
The percentage given by the average SBC church to the Cooperative Program (CP) has dropped over the years to just over 5%. Is that a good thing?
Some churches have, instead, adopted a more societal approach to missions. They tend to do direct mission work (or support those who do) instead of the more cooperative work of the CP.
There are several reasons given for this. “There Continue reading

Hire a Missionary

With the downsizing of the International Mission Board by up to 800 people, many long time missionaries will be looking for ministry opportunities in the States. While they will be leaving the mission field (after some difficult and painful decisions) they still want to serve the cause of Christ in ministry. Might Southern Baptist Churches strongly consider them when looking for pastors and church staff members? Might they give them preference just as some businesses give preference to military veterans?
Here are three reasons to consider hiring a missionary as a pastor or church staff member.
1. They are willing to Continue reading