Our church just recognized our sesquicentennial. That is a dandy of a word that means we were formed 150 years ago. By the standards of Europe it isn’t so much, but Illinois isn’t Europe. So, a sesquicentennial (that really is a dandy of a word!) is not as common here.
150 years ago, First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, IL was formed at what was then just a small railroad stop. Over the years we have had some ups and downs. The church nearly closed in 1973. But for the last 40 plus years the church has grown steadily and has become a rather large congregation.
We aren’t perfect as we are made up of people. We have had imperfect leaders as they, too, have been people. But God has had his hand on this congregation and has blessed the church in ways that are difficult to explain apart from God.
Since I’ve been more immersed in our history than usual, I want to reflect on some lessons we have learned Continue reading
Preaching is, for me, like swimming in the ocean. It is an awesome experience if you don’t die!
Nothing is more exciting and nothing is more intimidating. Preaching both charges me up and wears me down. It invigorates and it frustrates. It brings me the agony of labor and the joy of birth. It keeps me up at night and gets me up in the morning. Preaching is big and I know it.
If you are involved in preaching you know something of the dilemma we face. We are tasked with bringing God’s word to man. We are to speak sacred things to sinful listeners. This great responsibility can be a bit overwhelming. But here is what makes it even bigger. We need to preach for transformation.
Nothing is worse than boring people with the greatest news known to mankind. How terrible to think that I can make the gospel sound like average news rather than good news. How Continue reading
Posted in preaching, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, church, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, leadership, pastor, preaching, Religion and Spirituality
The Southern Baptist Convention is organized through state conventions. (Though some of the “state” conventions combine multiple states.) I suggest to you that these state conventions play a helpful, but underappreciated role in the work of our faith and denomination.
I’ve heard people predict or even advocate the demise of state conventions for years now. Are they necessary? Do they add a level of redundancy? That sort of thing. While I always appreciate efforts to make our work more effective and efficient, there are some benefits to the work of our state conventions that ought to be considered. Here are just a few.
1. They keep us locally focused. I appreciate a big picture approach to SBC life. But that big picture is made up of many smaller portraits. State conventions have the pulse of churches in their region that national entities can’t. No one knows more about the needs of my state better than my own state convention staff. The very fact that they live and worship here allows them to understand our needs in church planting and revitalization and discipleship in a way that is difficult for others. Continue reading
Posted in sbc, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, IMB, International Mission Board, LifeWay, local church, North American Mission Board, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, seminary, southern baptist convention, state convention
I just got back from attending the Southern Baptist Convention. It was an unusual and interesting and exciting meeting.
My wife served as the president of the Ministers Wives Conference with about 1,200 ladies attending the luncheon. It was awesome but she is worn out. (Shout out to all who helped her- we love you!)
I was elected the 1st Vice President of the SBC. Don’t you have some suspicions about an organization that would do that?
But I noticed some people who weren’t there. In fact, several Continue reading
Posted in missionaries, missions, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, God, IMB, International Mission Board, missionaries, missions, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention
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
Posted in baptist, International Mission Board, missions, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, church, IMB, International Mission Board, missions, Religion and Spirituality, southern baptist convention
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
Posted in baptist, cooperative program, encouragement, International Mission Board, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, IMB, International Mission Board, missions, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention
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
Posted in baptist, cooperative program, missions, southern baptist convention, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, church, cooperative program, International Mission Board, local church, missions, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, seminary, southern baptist convention
The world of pastors and other vocational ministers is a different world. It can be wonderful, fulfilling, frustrating and discouraging all in the same day. It is fantastic because we get to work with people and it can be challenging because… well, because we get to work with people.
The majority of ministers do it because they believe God has called them to this important task. They want to make a difference in this world and in eternity. They care about people and love the message of the gospel. Their motivation, if they are what they need to be, is to honor the Lord, teach His word and help others to join them in following Jesus.
But, like all people, they have needs. Let me mention four things pastors need from their churches.
1. They need Continue reading
Posted in encouragement, minister, pastor, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Blessing, Christian, Christianity, church, God, Jesus, local church, minister, minister appreciation, pastor, pastor appreciation, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention
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
Posted in baptist, Church, International Mission Board, missions, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, church, church staff, IMB, International Mission Board, ministry, missionaries, missionary, missions, pastor, pastor search committee, pastorate, southern baptist convention
A friend of mine advises pessimism so that life is full of pleasant surprises. (Doesn’t that sort of defeat the point?) But I can’t help myself. I am hopelessly hopeful. (And I like a good oxymoron on occasion.)
When it comes to the Southern Baptist Convention we can certainly point to difficult challenges- and I have. But, there are many reasons to be “hopelessly hopeful” about our convention and I want to name a few just to put our future into perspective.
1. The emphasis on Continue reading