All Rights Reserved: Guidelines for Super Evangelism Sunday
by John Litzler on January 29, 2016 in feature
Sunday, February 7, the Denver Broncos will take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. The Super Bowl is not only the most watched sporting event in North America, it is the most watched television broadcast in America of any kind. According to Variety, last year's Super Bowl was the most watched television event in American history. Even those who don't regularly watch sports find interest in the halftime show or the creative advertisements that cost an immense $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. Americans consume more food on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year, with the exception of Thanksgiving. It's been...
It's all in a name: names and descriptions that work for Sunday School classes
by Keith Lowry on January 28, 2016 in great commission
I responded to a question from a pastor recently asking about how to select a name for and describe a new Sunday School class they were about to start for young married couples. The principles which informed my answer are universal, and may be of interest to anyone thinking about starting new units or renaming existing units in your Sunday School in order to help guests or newcomers be able to find a class that fits them.
"Pastor, regarding your question about a new class you're wanting to start targeting young married couples, and asking for some guidelines for describing and naming it."
First, unless your church has an active and...
In Search of Common Ground: Grand Jury Reform, Black Lives Matter and Pro-Life Advocacy
by Kathryn Freeman on January 28, 2016 in christian life commission
Our criminal justice system is broken in regard to grand juries.
Many people are familiar with the roles of law enforcement, judges, and lawyers in the criminal justice system. Most people are decidedly less familiar with the important, but often hidden role of the grand jury.
A grand jury is a group of 12 citizens of the county where the grand jury sits, able to read and write, not under indictment, etc. The most common role of the grand jury is to listen to the facts of a case and determine if probable cause exists for charges alleged against a defendant.
While both grand juries and trial juries are made up of lay people who must...
Ministers, church employees invited to participate in 2016 SBC Church Compensation Survey
by Guest Author on January 27, 2016 in church office
DALLAS — GuideStone Financial Resources, along with LifeWay Research and Baptist state conventions, have opened the biennial SBC Church Compensation Survey for 2016. Ministers and church employees are invited to participate in the survey, a resource used by churches of all sizes to determine fair wages and benefits. Survey participants will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win an iPad®. The survey and complete contest rules are available at GuideStone.org/CompensationSurvey.
The survey's results will be made available in the early fall, in time for many churches considering their 2017 budgets. The survey is the...
Experiencing God’s call in Moldova
by Guest Author on January 25, 2016 in great commission
Going into the mission, I did not know what to expect. I knew we would be working with orphans and giving them shoes, but this mission was so much more than that. God used this mission to open my heart to what He calls us all to do - bring others to Christ.
I went into this trip feeling as though God would use me to make a great impact on the children in need, but He surprised me and used the orphans of Moldova to have a huge impact on me. In working with these children, I faced an incredible amount of joy and sadness. Some of the kids were ecstatic, while others were in despair. Seeing the light some of these children had in the...
Jamaica: Building Faith While Building Houses
by Guest Author on January 22, 2016 in great commission
I am convinced God has a sense of humor; He takes the most entertaining situations and uses them to build His character in us. Our first experience was the three-hour bus ride from Montego Bay to Harmons. Many in our group were very apprehensive of the narrow roads and steep exposure and trusted the experience and ability of the driver. I was struck with the similarity that life is sometimes like a bus ride: exciting in the beginning, but as we get into the twists, blind turns and hills of life, we realize our need for dependence upon God to guide us safely to our destination. By the end of the ride, we are grateful to have arrived...
Jamaica: Laying Foundations Physically and Spiritually
by Guest Author on January 20, 2016 in great commission
I spent the first week of 2016 in Harmons, Jamaica, serving with the Won By One to Jamaica project.
During the week, I got to live out what I believe is God's calling for my life. I helped build a house and lay a foundation alongside Jamaicans while investing in their lives in order to show them who Christ is - the true foundation.
Little did I know that I would be changed as much as I was and in the way I was. God changed my heart by the joy of the people. The people, who I went to with the intention of helping, showed me Christ's heart in a new light.
What amazes me is this is too often the case with mission trips. The missionary...
It is good to stand with God in valuing life
by Ferrell Foster on January 20, 2016 in life health dying
Walking into the airport. Approaching the first security checkpoint.
Officer: Final Destination. Me: Washington. Officer: Purpose of your trip. Me: Evangelicals for Life meeting. Officer: Keep up the good work. (fist bump)
All of us who care about the sacredness of life from conception to natural death need to keep up the good work. We have shown over the past 43 years that the Supreme Court does not determine right and wrong even though it may determine what is constitutional and unconstitutional.
Quite simply, it is wrong to take another life simply because it is inconvenient to someone for the life...
The button on my coat
by Kathleen Hardage on January 20, 2016 in ministers spouses
On the lapel of my winter coat is a button-type pin. You know, those little metal buttons that have a slogan written on them? Oh, how I want to take it off sometimes.
At a Texas Baptists conference a year or two ago, I stopped at the Texas WMU booth to say hello to the delightful ladies there and to see what kind of goodies they were giving away. One can generally count on seeing a bowl of candies, sometimes a tote bag, and maybe a free book or t-shirt. This particular time, the WMU of Texas had among its doo-dads these little buttons, black with white and red lettering.
The slogan said, "I WILL LIVE THE DIFFERENCE"....
Walking in the fire, continued
by Guest Author on January 19, 2016 in faith
Part One closed with this scripture: Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
You may not realize it but this is a major part of dealing with stress and burnout.
I gave you a list of symptoms to look for. Could you see yourself in that list? Perhaps over the holidays you have been more aware of the pressures put on you by others. Many people experience chronic depression during the...
Seeing God at work in Oregon
by Guest Author on January 19, 2016 in great commission
God was abundant in His faithfulness and provision over this past week. We got to meet and interact with so many University of Oregon students and create relationships with those who were intrigued at being called to the Lord's hands; all while working with an awesome team at the university.
We handed out flyers and explained the intentionality found in Northwest Collegiate Ministry to students and why God's Love is such a bigger deal than all else. We also prayer walked and evangelized to students during our work times.
Getting an idea of what ministry and evangelism looks like in the Northwest was incredible and something I am...
MLK: God and God's people confront evil together
by Ferrell Foster on January 18, 2016 in ethical living blog
We Christians still have a problem faced by the first disciples of Christ. We have a hard time, a very hard time, casting out evil.
In the New Testament, this is recorded in Matthew 17:19-20. The disciples could not heal a boy, and they did not understand why.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it [an evil spirit] out?"He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of amustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you" (NRSV).
Martin Luther King, Jr., preached a...
Hundreds baptized at cowboy church crusade
by Leah Reynolds on January 15, 2016 in feature
Filthy white towels lay soaked on the concrete floor. Dirty water filled the tin trough. Food crumbs were sprinkled all around the worship center.
The time had come to clean up after the Jan. 10-13 Main Event Crusade at the Cowboy Church of Corsicana (CCC). Church volunteers and leaders were tired. But most would say the spiritual excitement far outweighed the physical exhaustion.
"A crusade means bringing in the lost and helping them find Jesus, and that's what we hoped to do." said Derek Rogers, pastor of CCC, about the four-day event.
The cowboy church, located off highway 31 in Corsicana, held its first service in 2011 with 39...
The ultimate harvester at work in East Asia
by Guest Author on January 15, 2016 in great commission
This past winter break I spent Christmas in East Asia meeting university students and spreading the Gospel to more than 100 people who had never even heard the name Jesus. Going to East Asia during Christmas opened a huge window of opportunities to share with students the true reason that we celebrate Christmas. Our outreach included meeting students on campus, inviting them to meet up for lunch and to attend the Christmas parties we had during the two weeks we were there.
My biggest concern for this trip was meeting students. I figured it would be impossible to actually meet someone willing to have lunch or come to a Christmas...
Nonviolence became MLK's defining method of seeking justice
by Ferrell Foster on January 14, 2016 in ethical living blog
Many people know of Martin Luther King, Jr., as a champion of nonviolence. This was not new to African American churches.
William D. Watley said King's theological and ethical perspective, including the belief in nonviolence, "was founded on the bedrock of black religion and then shaped by his formal theological education."
King's first speech of the Montgomery bus boycott illustrates that the principle he espoused was not rooted in a secular or non-Christian philosophy. He did not use the word "nonviolence" in the speech, but he eschewed violence from of distinctly Christian perspective. King said:
And I want to say that we are not...
MLK saw community as essential
by Ferrell Foster on January 14, 2016 in ethical living blog
Love was critical in the thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr., and it relates directly to the importance of community.
In King's treatment of love in Stride Toward Freedom, he connects love to community. He repeats "community" 13 times in one paragraph, thus pointing to the importance of community in his thinking. To cite most of the uses of the word and reveal how King viewed community, here is a portion of the paragraph:
Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community. It is insistence on community even when one seeks to break it. . . . Agape is a willingness to go to any length to restore community. It doesn't stop at the...
New Testament love stood at foundation of MLK's work
by Ferrell Foster on January 14, 2016 in
The New Testament concept of agape love informed the civil rights work of Martin Luther King, Jr., as he became the voice of the movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
"Along the way of life," King wrote, "someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives."
King clarified that he was not speaking of "some sentimental or affectionate emotion," but rather as a connection that "means understanding, redemptive goodwill." He went to the Greek language to make his point, explaining the meaning of agape.
Agape . . . is an overflowing...
MLK offers insights that can still help Christians confront injustice
by Ferrell Foster on January 14, 2016 in ethical living blog
Every adult American can hear in their minds the voice, rhetorical skills, and moving words of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. He had the ability to move people with his spoken words in a manner possible of few people in history. He made the phrase, "I have a dream," forever a part of the American experience.
Behind King's powerful spoken words lay a theological and philosophical grounding that shaped him while growing up in the segregated South. The 1955-1956 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, pushed King into the limelight at age 26. The particular talents and skills of King died with him in 1968, but today we can build on the...
Even the smallest gesture of obedience
by Guest Author on January 13, 2016 in great commission
Over Christmas break, Go Now Missions mobilized student missionaries around the world, including to New York, where a team served Chinese churches. Eliud Valle, student from University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, tells a testimony from one of the unique encounters he had on the trip:
I wasn't very excited about going out to random streets and handing out bags that contained old newspapers and a card with the church's information on them. My group and I walked for about an hour and a half and we had yet to come across someone to talk to.
On our walk back, I decided to go up to a house and knock on the door. No one answered at first...
Waco ministry digging in the dirt with students
by Ali Hearon on January 12, 2016 in christian life commission
"In the garden you learn a lot about identity," Kaley explained, as we discussed World Hunger Relief's School Garden Project.
WHRI, in Waco, is a "Christian organization committed to the alleviation of hunger around the world" through sustainable farming. While WHRI, supported by multiple Baptist churches, has agricultural programs internationally, such as in Liberia, El Salvador, and Haiti, they also have projects here in Texas.
The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering is a long-time partner of WHRI. Currently, the offering supports the ministry's School Gardening Project in three local schools. The project is an afterschool...
Becoming New York street sweepers
by Guest Author on January 12, 2016 in great commission
It was Christmas day. My bags were packed and my heart was ready to serve on the mission field in New York City. I left Texas the following morning, arriving in New York City with the anticipation of my team concentrating our efforts solely in the Chinatowns of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Flushing. Although I was sent by Go Now Missions to work with Chinese churches in the first-ever "Christmas in Chinatown" project, God orchestrated my week much differently than I had initially expected.
After two full days of ministry with Chinese churches in Brooklyn, I had already been humbled and stretched far out of my "Christian comfort zone...
TBDR mobilizes 450 volunteers to N. Texas tornado relief
by Leah Reynolds on January 12, 2016 in news
ROWLETT: Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) mobilized 450 volunteers over the past two weekends to Rowlett and Garland in response to the tornadoes which rattled several North Texas communities Dec. 26.
Willing volunteers transported bricks, mangled furniture and tree limbs from the disaster zones to the street curbs, working a combined total of 1,100 man-hours.
In Rowlett, the city government requested TBDR organize a Volunteer Reception Center at First Baptist Church. Though TBDR traditionally steps in during the long-term recovery phase, they chose to accept the request to aid the city with immediate relief.
God’s perfect timing revealed in a subway food court
by Guest Author on January 11, 2016 in great commission
The first couple of days [in New York] were trying because not many of the community people seemed to respond to our attempts to have intentional conversations. I was having a difficult time finding the opportunity to share the Gospel with anyone even though I did have a few nice conversations with people on the subway about what our team was doing in New York.
However, my conversations never really went any further than that and asking if those people needed prayer. As the week went on, I began contemplating whether or not I was wasting or missing opportunities to serve the Lord well in New York. I wanted to so badly share the...
New York and a hope worth talking about
by Guest Author on January 8, 2016 in great commission
In the months leading up to my trip one word seemed to keep surfacing in conversations with friends and family. As I sit down and began to process the events of this past week, I began to see how that same word seemed to lace itself through the week. That word was hope.
Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
What does it mean for us to have hope, what do we hope in? We have hopes, or expectations for our futures, we find ourselves constantly hoping for or expecting something better than what we have. As Christians we have hope in, or expectations that God will fulfill his promises. This isn't a new...
How Moldova changed the way I see missions
by Guest Author on January 7, 2016 in great commission
This winter I served in Moldova where I got to fit needy children with a new pair of shoes and share the Gospel with them. I went in not knowing what to expect, sure I had prayed and I researched the country but I still didn't know what would happen or how the children and people from the country would receive us.
During the week we spent in Moldova, the south team – the team I was on – gave out over 1300 pairs of shoes, and that is from one team alone. I believe collectively we gave out around 3,000 pairs of shoes. From the various orphanages and churches we visited, there were two children who engraved their names in my...
God: The “New Thing” Maker!
by Joanna Jespersen on January 6, 2016 in ministers spouses
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5: 17
This past summer, Ryan and I were given a used dining table from a relative. It was beautiful, simple and had "good bones." But I thought it could use a little updating, like a new stain color on top and maybe a little paint on the bottom. I was happy to get this table home, a table that had been at the center of so many past family memories and had the potential to become a new gathering place where many more memories could be made.
As I began this long process of re-doing the table, I couldn't help but think about...
It's January, but March 1 is coming
by Ferrell Foster on January 5, 2016 in church state
Things are about to get crazy in Texas – or crazier. It is less than two months before the Republican and Democratic primary elections here (March 1), and early voting begins Feb. 16.
No party speaks for God. There will be committed Christians, as well as others, running in both parties. Some of them will actually use language that connects deeply with those of us who seek to follow Christ.
Language is a powerful tool for good or evil, right or wrong. As a result, we Christians need to listen with all the intelligence and wisdom we can muster through the help of the Holy Spirit. We listen with the ears of Texans and Americans, but we...
The week that changed my life
by Guest Author on January 5, 2016 in great commission
I was given an amazing opportunity to serve in Arlington at Mission Arlington, and my view on people changed entirely. I am not used to working with people in general and it came to be an issue, but with God's help, I made it through. God brought me to Arlington, so I can connect with these people. I am going through a financial issue in my family right now, so connecting with these people was not an issue. God used me in so many more ways that I could ever imagine Him doing. I'm such a shy person, but that shell completely broke down with speaking to these people. I normally don't talk to strangers, let alone have a spiritual...
UPDATE: Volunteer teams needed for N. Texas tornado damage
by Leah Reynolds on January 4, 2016 in feature
Volunteer teams are needed! If your church group would like to assist in debris clearing and clean-up, see the information below:
Volunteer in Rowlett:
Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery is coordinating volunteers for the City of Rowlett.
- Call 214-537-7358 for hours of operation before you depart and to discover your team's work assignment.
- Click Here for the Liability Waiver and Personal Information form. A parent or guardian must sign the form for minors. To save time, teams will need to download and complete the waiver form before arriving at the church.
- Bring the items listed in the supply list below
- Go to the