john hall

Youth ministry: A calling well worth it

ARLINGTON - Youth ministry isn't easy. It requires long hours, unending energy, incredible patience and deep commitment.

That's precisely why it requires a calling from God. No matter the trials those who minister to youth face, they must continue, said speakers during Texas Baptists' Conclave, made possible by gifts to missions through the Texas Baptist Cooperative Program.

"Our business is kingdom business, and our gaze should always point true north," said Mike Satterfield, teaching pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington.

As youth ministers interact with young people, their parents and church leaders, there will be... [continue]

Students to help communities 'Bounce' back after disasters

DALLAS - Texas Baptists are turning to students to help communities "bounce" back after disasters.

This fall, the convention is launching Bounce, a pre-packaged missions experience through which students minister in the wake of disasters. Bounce makes taking youth teams on mission easy, working out logistics for leaders such as where a group will stay, what they will eat and what they will do on mission.

Students will serve communities through debris removal and cleanup, construction and other ministry projects that will accelerate the bounce back recovery process.

"A lot of folks have a sense of hopelessness after disasters," said... [continue]

A world away, a single bag in hand

DALLAS - The world is coming to Texas, landing at the airport with a single bag.

Texas is the leading point of arrival for refugees, who often land with all of their belongings in an issued bag. With this small cache of items, a family will begin a new life in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar customs.

"There's gold in those bags," said John Parsons, World Relief regional director. "Actually, what's in there is worth more than gold."

Beyond the sentimental value of the objects, the bags contain the paperwork needed to live and work in the United States. As refugees settle in a land where little is like the society they fled, those... [continue]

Texas Baptists' chaplaincy releases guidelines regarding same-sex issues

DALLAS - Texas Baptists' Chaplaincy Relations Office issued guiding principles to its endorsed chaplains regarding same-sex issues in the wake of the military repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and the U.S. Supreme Court's striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Supervisors have asked many of Texas Baptists' approximately 200 military chaplains for guidelines from their endorser regarding how they can minister to same-sex couples.

Chaplains must follow military regulations, but also are bound to the guidelines set forth by their endorsing body, which the military has pledged not to infringe upon. The Baptist General... [continue]

Fight rages beyond battlefield; chaplains on frontline

WAXAHACHIE - Military personnel's fight rages well beyond the battlefield, and chaplains are on the frontlines.

In 2012, military suicides hit a record high since the armed forces began tracking such tragedies. Self-inflicted military deaths outnumbered deaths that took place in combat. The rate is down slightly in 2013 - 161 potential suicides happened this year - but a military suicide takes places about every 18 hours.

Many times, chaplains are the first wave of defense against suicide, said U.S. Navy Chap. Fred McGuffin, who is assigned to the Marine Corps in New Orleans. Junior chaplains "deal with it often."

Military personnel... [continue]

Executive Board approves 2014 convention budget

DALLAS - The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board approved a $40.4 million 2014 budget for the convention.

The budget reflects essentially flat church giving through the convention's Cooperative Program, $2.29 million in investment income and $1 million less to be raised by the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation.

Total Cooperative Program from Texas Baptists for 2014 is forecast to be $48.95 million, including $11.3 million to the Southern Baptist Convention, $1.0 million to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and $1.8 million for worldwide portion of the Texas Baptist Cooperative Program. The Board also approved the... [continue]

'The Art of Black Preaching'

SAN ANTONIO - The energetic call and response style of African American preaching garners the attention of those who have witnessed its finest practitioners.

But "the art of Black Preaching" is found in the heart of its message: transformation is possible through Christ.

Pastors call African American churches to cling faithfully to Christ, no matter how difficult circumstances become, Kinney said. Historically, African American preachers have done this well through trials and struggles.

"The black preacher never loses focus that I am to take what's broken and provide a word to bring it back together," John W. Kinney, dean of the... [continue]

Baby Boomers: A harvest waiting to take place

ALLEN - The largest cohort of Americans also happens to be the one that's living longer than all those who came before it.

That's no coincidence, claims Amy Hanson, the featured speaker at a conference entitled "Catching the Baby Boomer Wave," sponsored by Texas Baptists' Bible Study/Discipleship Department, First Baptist Church in Allen, Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, LifeWay Christian Resources and the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

"I don't think that's by accident," she said. "I think God is up to something. He's raising up a generation."

As Baby Boomers continue entering their retirement years, they have the time to serve in... [continue]

ISAAC Projects opens center to directly minister to immigrants

SAN ANTONIO - The Immigration Service and Aid Center opened its doors on the Baptist University of the Américas campus Aug. 30 to directly help people with their citizenship issues.

The ISAAC center is Texas Baptists' first effort to directly help immigrants work within the law and navigate the complicated path toward citizenship. In addition to helping people resolve their citizenship status, the center will serve as a training institute for people who desire accreditation to help immigrants.

In recent years, the ISAAC Project, a collaborative ministry of BUA and the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, has focused on training... [continue]

Church baptizes 85 in Guadalupe River

BOERNE - The waters of the Guadalupe River stirred Aug. 17, gathering hundreds. Only this time, floating the river was the last thing on visitor's minds.

Nineteen:ten Church in Boerne baptized 85 people that day as roughly 350 witnesses lined the shore as part of the congregation's annual end of summer celebration.

Children, teens and adults entered the water for the ordinance. Fathers baptized sons. Husbands baptized wives. Bible study leaders got to see people they're discipling take a public step of faith. The event provided an opportunity for those who made the decisions during the church's various camps and outreach effort to... [continue]

Executive Board votes to sell Glorieta Texan Lodge

The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board unanimously voted to sell the Texan Lodge at the Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico and invest the revenue in convention-sponsored youth camps.

The board voted to sell the lodge for $100,000 to Glorieta 2.0, a Christian camp group that is buying the conference center from LifeWay Christian Resources. The BGCT will then create a "quasi-endowment" with the funds, which will produce $4,000-5,000 year to support BGCT youth camps such as Camp Exalted and Camp Fusion.

Texas Baptists' Treasurer Jill Larsen said the endowment would continue the type of work the funds were... [continue]

Mobberly Baptist declares 'I am not ashamed!'

LONGVIEW - In a pair of jeans and a black and green t-shirt, Pastor Glynn Stone asked people participating in Mobberly Baptist Church's worship services to proclaim one simple yet powerful message through action: I am not ashamed.

They did it in droves.

Eighty people were baptized Aug. 18 after the pastor explained the significance of the ordinance and provided biblical examples of getting baptized as a public display of a decision to follow Christ.

"Baptism is a sermon of you committing your life to Jesus Christ," he said. "Today, we get to celebrate that."

The church attempted to remove all barriers that may make people postpone... [continue]

Truett Elementary: God still cares

More than 96 percent of the students at George W. Truett Elementary School in Dallas are economically disadvantaged. Many of them come from refugee families who come to the area with very little. As a result, nearly 70 percent of them are considered "at-risk."

In many ways, the more than 1,000 students - above what other public elementary schools serve - who attend school there have been ignored. Until recently, the school buildings had become dilapidated. Portables meant to help the situation also became run down.

The start of the school year opens an opportunity for Texas Baptists to show these students that they have not been... [continue]

FBC Dripping Springs brings foreign missions home

DRIPPING SPRINGS - To share the gospel overseas, churches do construction projects, prayer efforts and service initiatives.

First Baptist Church wondered: Can't it do something very similar in its own community?

Out that spirit, the congregation birthed Mission Drippin', a weeklong effort to invest in their community. This July 28-Aug. 4, mission teams met in homes across the area to pray for their neighbors and neighborhoods. The next day, they prayed specifically for the schools their children attend.

Then they took to the streets, cleaning up part of the Dripping Springs from which the city's name is derived. They cleaned up a... [continue]

Lay cowboy church pastor, wife save two drowning children

GARNER STATE PARK - Rebecca Strange prays for God to use her and her husband "for your will."

On Aug. 6, it was God's orchestration of small events that led them to be exactly where God wanted them, the couple said. Visiting Garner State Park on their honeymoon, Richard and Rebecca decided to stay a day beyond their initial plans. They were enjoying the trip, and one more day would be wonderful, they thought.

The extra time gave them a chance to go fishing that evening. They hadn't caught or seen anything of significant size, and the couple was about to pack up for the night. Then Rebecca spied "biggest bass I've ever seen in my... [continue]

Uniforms: They're elementary

DALLAS - Join Texas Baptists, Dallas Baptist Association and First Baptist Church in Dallas as they partner to provide uniforms and Bibles for every student of George W. Truett Elementary School.

The three partners are working together to raise $15,000 to provide a uniform and Bible for each of the more than 1,000 students enrolled at the school, which is named after a legendary Baptist statesman and former pastor of First Baptist Church.

The uniforms would be a significant to help to area families, said Texas Baptists Executive Director David Hardage. More than 96 percent of Truett Elementary students are economically disadvantaged... [continue]

Texas Baptists give more than $230,000 for hungry through Mother's Day offering

Texas Baptists gave more than $230,000 to help the hungry through last Spring's Mother's Day offering.

Congregations donated $234,164 through the Mother's Day emphasis for the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, which feeds and assists hungry people through 210 projects including 115 in Texas.

Texas Baptists' Executive Director David Hardage thanked Texas Baptists for their generosity, believing this was a great first step toward the convention's goal of eventually raising $1 million for the hungry on Mother's Day.

Texas Baptists willingness to give throughout the Spring shone brightly as churches not only gave to the Mother's Day... [continue]

Texas Baptists set to help tornado victims by

Texas Baptists are preparing to help people affected by last Spring's tornados through "Loving Oklahoma," five-day concentrated service effort to assist those around Oklahoma City.

Volunteers and teams will be working Aug. 5-10 on projects identified through local long-term disaster recovery officials. The ministry will vary from cleaning up debris to working distribution centers to light construction.

The mission opportunity is made possible by Texas Baptists' Disaster Recovery, through a partnership with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Disaster Response. Officials aim to bring aid, encouragement and the hope of Christ to tornado... [continue]

Texas cooking draws people in - even in Italy

The smell of Texas barbecue tickles noses, makes mouths water and attracts a crowd.

Even in Italy.

A mission team from Coastal Bend Fellowship in Kingsville discovered Texas barbecue is an ideal way to bring Italians together. Partnering with Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board missionaries Charlie and Shannon Worthy, the Texans held two barbecues during a June 7-17 trip.

The team held a barbecue for the missionaries in their neighborhood, where as many as 150 curious people - at least half of whom were non-Christians - came to experience a taste of Texas. The missionaries were in the process of relocating from... [continue]

Unified, Texas Baptists seek to carry out Great Commission

SAN ANTONIO - Fulfilling the Great Commission requires Texas Baptists to work united for the cause of Christ, according to presenters in the final worship service of the Texas Baptist Family Gathering.

The Great Commission is Christ's command to His followers, said Michael Evans, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield. They are to be doctors for the sick, people who bring the ill to a place of healing.

"I believe that's our mandate," he said, preaching from Romans 12:3-4. "I believe that's our call. I believe we must be passionate about bringing men and women into the kingdom of the most high God."

There are people in every... [continue]

God has called Texas Baptists to a mission

SAN ANTONIO - Texas Baptists have been called to reach the state for Christ - a task that must be completed.

Featured speakers from the second evening worship service of the Family Gathering, reminded meeting participants that God has called Christians to reach their communities, their state and beyond.

To do that requires believers to have an intense focus on the mission at hand, said Bedilu Yirga, pastor of Ethiopian Evangelical Baptist Church in Garland. Each action they take, every work of ministry they perform must help expand God's kingdom. To maximize their impact, Christians must work together in a spirit of unity.

"Even... [continue]

Hardage: Thank you, Texas Baptists

SAN ANTONIO - The breadth of Texas Baptists' ministry is wide, and its commitment to sharing the gospel is deep.

For all that they are doing, Texas Baptists' Executive Director David Hardage gives thanks. Because congregations are generous with their resources in their communities and through Texas Baptists, ministry is possible.

"You make a difference, Texas Baptists," he said. "On behalf of the lives you touched and the lives you helped, let me just say 'Thank you.'"

Speaking during the Baptist General Convention of Texas business session of the Family Gathering, Hardage shared glimpses of what Texas Baptists are doing throughout... [continue]

God's power shown through His church, people

SAN ANTONIO - God's plan for expanding His kingdom entails working through the lives of people in His church in such a way that they testify about Him, according to Victor Rodriguez, pastor of Life Church of San Antonio.

The former Baptist General Convention of Texas president was the featured preacher during the Hispanic rally that kicked off the Family Gathering, a bringing together of the diverse body of Texas Baptists.

The rally was filled with energetic worship and Rodriguez's poignant preaching, which encouraged Texas Baptists to share the gospel in their communities. God desires a relationship with every person. To do that, He... [continue]

Senator cites BGCT letter in arguing for stronger abortion restrictions

AUSTIN - A senator cited a letter from Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Director David Hardage as lawmakers passed stronger restrictions on abortions across the state.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, shared three paragraphs of a letter that Hardage wrote to every Texas legislator that presented Texas Baptists' affirmation of life. The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission staff delivered the letter early in the Texas legislature's discussion of bills that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Senate passed the provision July 12 by a vote of 19-11, with Lucio as the sole Democrat to vote for the bill... [continue]

Depression in a world of faith

Across this state, ministers are smiling on the outside while withering inside. Many don't know what to call what they're experiencing. They struggle even to put it into words.

Related articles: Symptoms of depression | Minister burnout and depression: Proactive steps

Counseling professionals know precisely what to call it: depression. Research indicates as much as 68 percent of ministers are dealing with symptoms related to depression.

Ministers and depression has been the topic of increased discussion in recent months following the suicide of the son of Rick Warren, possibly the nation's most prominent evangelical leader. Warren... [continue]

Symptoms of depression

Related articles: Depression in a world of faith | Minister burnout and depression: Proactive steps

Wondering if your suffering from depression? If you're feeling several of these symptoms, you may be fighting depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Changes in appetite -- depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Agitation or restlessness -- for
... [continue]

Minister burnout and depression: Proactive steps

Related articles: Depression in a world of faith | Symptoms of depression

Burnout or depression can happen to any minister under certain circumstances. Katie Swafford, director of Texas Baptists Counseling Services, suggest ministers and churches look at the following proactive steps to ensure ministry - and ministers - remain strong.

  1. Set boundaries. Ministers believe they must be accessible at all times, but it simply isn't realistic. Rotate who is on call between staff members. In smaller churches where the pastor is the only staff member, encourage deacons to pick up evening calls several days a week. Rotation patterns enable
... [continue]