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Published by the SBC Executive Committee

Encouraging Cooperation . . . for a Great Commission Advance!

“In the Lord we have protection,” Gaines tells Executive Committee by Diana Chandler



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od protects Chr istians facing contemporary turmoil and troubles just as He protected the apostle Paul in the first century, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines said in his address to the SBC Executive Committee February 19, 2018, in Nashville. In the months before he spoke, a gunman slaughtered twenty-six people attending worship service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on the heels of a massacre that killed fifty-eight concertgoers and injured five hundred more at an outdoor venue in Las Vegas. More recently, a teenage student who had been expelled from a Florida high school returned, killed seventeen students and teachers, and wounded fourteen others, although Gaines didn’t mention any specific tragedies.

“In light of everything that has happened and is happening in our nation and our world, you have to ask yourself does God really protect people,” Gaines said. “Well He does, but how does that work?” Gaines’s sermon during the first plenary session of the SBC EC meeting was drawn from Acts 23, where God encouraged Paul and protected him from certain death after he had been taken from the Temple and beaten by Jews who objected to his ministry. “The Apostle Paul needed protection,” Gaines said. “Everywhere he went, there would be a revival and a riot,” usually simultaneously.

God Protects Christians from Past Sinful Deeds

Pointing to Acts 23:1­— I have lived my life before God in all good conscience to this day—Gaines asked “How could Paul say such a thing? Had he forgotten what he had done?” Recounting Paul’s persecution of the early church (Acts 8) and citing Paul’s admission of perpetrating such persecution (Acts 22), Gaines noted that “[Paul] was not sinless.” “How can he say this? It’s very simple. He had repented of his sins and Jesus had forgiven him,” Gaines, who also serves as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, said. “Jesus’s blood and Jesus’s righteousness protected Paul from his sinful past,” he explained. “The only way to have a clear conscience is to have a cleansed conscience,” he said. “But once you have a cleansed conscience, aren’t you grateful that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin?” Gaines observed that most pastors preach to people every Sunday who are “getting beat up every day by the devil by things they have repented of.” He exhorted EC members, staff, SBC entity leaders, state convention leaders, spouses, and other guests to be encouraged by God’s protection and to resist the devil’s temptations and accusations. “If you have repented of your sins, if you have forsaken your sins, and you’re still feeling beat up, that is not conviction from the Lord,” he said. “That is condemnation from the devil. . . . “Jesus Christ sets us free and forgives us when we have repented of our past sins,” he said. Further, when we resist the devil, he has to flee, Gaines said. “The order is clear— submit to God, resist the devil, he flees.” He acknowledged that some people choke on the words “resist the devil,” choosing instead to ignore Satan’s schemes.

God protects Christians facing contemporary turmoil and troubles just as He protected the apostle Paul in the first century, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines said in his address to the SBC Executive Committee February 19, 2018, in Nashville. photo by morris abernathy

“The only way to have a clear conscience is to have a cleansed conscience. But once you have a cleansed conscience, aren’t you grateful that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin?”

Steve Gaines, pastor Bellevue Baptist Church president Southern Baptist Convention

You’ll never get out of this jail alive. You’ll never preach again. You’re washed up. You’re too old. Your ministry is over.”—Gaines noted that such psychological discouragement is one of Satan’s favorite tactics. “All Paul wanted to do was to take the Gospel to people who had never heard. Instead, he is in jail,” he said. It is noteworthy that in the midst of this psychological warfare from the devil, Jesus showed up and stood by Paul, Gaines said. He speculated what Jesus may have said to Paul to counteract the accusations of the devil: • I’ve seen you on those missionary journeys. • I’ve seen you being beaten. • I saw you and Silas there at Philippi singing hymns at midnight with your backs bleeding. • I saw you when you rebuked those demons. • I saw you when you were praying and no one else saw you. • I want you to know, son, I saw you. “Discouragement is when courage leaves you,” he said. “The Bible says over and over, ‘take courage’—you have to take it by faith!”

“If you have repented of your sins, if you have forsaken your sins, and you’re still feeling beat up, that is not conviction from the Lord. That is condemnation from the devil. . . . Jesus Christ sets us free and forgives us God Protects Christians from when we have repented of Psychological Discouragement who are not being harassed by Satan can God Protects Christians from our past sins.” Pastors be assured that people in their congregations are Physical Danger Steve Gaines

suffering, Gaines said. Imagining some of the lies Satan may have used on Paul­— things like “You’re a failure.

Being protected by the Lord from physical danger does not mean Christians will not experience troubles and tragedy, Gaines said.

“But I want to give you a word of promise from the Scripture: If you’re living for Jesus Christ, if you love the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s not over on this earth until God says it’s over.” “God will protect you from physical danger until its time for you to go home if you’re living for Him,” he said. Gaines listed ways God’s protection is on full display in this story—God placed Paul’s nephew in the right place at the right time to expose a plot to kill Paul; He prompted governmental leaders to provide a protective detail of soldiers and safe passage for Paul; He sent Paul to Rome to share the Gospel; and, He had Rome pay for the trip! “Do you want the SBC to look like the Book of Acts, or will we settle for less?” Gaines asked. “Dare we operate in God’s power instead of our power? Do you want to see the world turned upside down? Are you tired of seeing what man can do?” he asked. Gaines closed by encouraging Southern Baptists to repent of their sins, rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and walk courageously in God’s presence. Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press and is a member of First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. This article first appeared in Baptist Press. SBC LIFE staff contributed to this report.




DFW, TEXAS photo by matt pasant

Welcome to DFW, SBC by Berta Delgado


hey say everything’s bigger in Texas. Well, that’s certainly the case when it comes to Dallas-Fort Worth—a large landscape of cities that have inched so close together it’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins. In fact, it’s been noted that the twelve counties that comprise the DFW Metroplex are larger than the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. What were small farm towns just a few decades ago are now booming suburbs. DFW is one of the hottest housing markets in the country; it’s a location destination for many companies; it’s now

SBCLIFE SBC LIFE is published by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention 901 Commerce Street Nashville, Tennessee 37203 615-244-2355 E-mail:

home for thousands of Californians who were attracted to the area by jobs and lower cost of living; and the population has soared to 7.2 million. With a burgeoning number of transplants, Crossover 2018, the evangelistic event to be held June 8–10 prior to the SBC annual meeting, is an amazing opportunity for Southern Baptists to make a lasting impact. Although DFW is often referred to as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”—with myriad churches, including some of the most dynamic in the country—there are many people who have never heard the Gospel. For Crossover, the North American Mission Board is partnering with Harvest America 2018

and more than 350 local churches for an evangelistic event on June 10 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, which began cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention last year, has led crusades for nearly three decades. Harvest America 2016, also held at AT&T Stadium, was deemed the largest one-day, live evangelistic event in American history. More than eighty-two thousand people packed the home of the Dallas Cowboys, but including remote site attendees and webcast viewers, the number of participants climbed to more than 357,000. Most importantly, 25,557 professions of faith were reported! While preaching at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano recently, Laurie called Harvest America 2016 “one of the greatest moments of our history.” He asked for prayer—that churches would come together to invite those who do not yet know Jesus to attend the one-day crusade. And he joked that he is coming to Texas to evangelize Californians. Certainly, the many transplanted Californians have already learned a great deal about

Texas. Here’s a crash course—DFW is incredibly diverse. Consider that you can go from the artistic atmosphere of the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff to the cool vibe of Deep Ellum in urban Dallas to the rustic feel of the Stockyards in Fort Worth to The Star in Frisco, the world headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys and bustling entertainment district. First, decide what you want to do. If you find temperatures in the upper eighties to be uncomfortable, you may want to stay indoors. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. One of the most popular tourist sites is the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, with captivating exhibits chronicling the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It is a somber but important historical experience. Make sure to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum for a look at the life and presidency of the forty-third leader of our country, including a stirring reflection dedicated to the events of 9/11. Also in Big D, head to the Arts District to visit the Dallas Museum of Art, the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

D. August Boto Interim President

Roger S. (Sing) Oldham Executive Editor

Andy Beachum

Art Director/Designer

Rebecca Manry

Communications Specialist SBC LIFE is published three times per year: PreConvention, Summer, and Winter. It is distributed to pastors, ministers of education, ministers of music, full-time denominational workers, chaplains, missionaries, and vocational evangelists of the Southern Baptist Convention. Workers retiring from any of these groups may continue to receive the magazine upon request. Subscriptions are free of charge. Bulk subscriptions are available at reduced prices. For SBC LIFE subscriptions, call 866-722-5433 (toll-free). * All Scripture is from the Christian Standard Bible unless noted otherwise. * Any article without attribution is by SBC LIFE staff.

SBC LIFE (ISSN 1081-8189) Volume 26, Number 2 ©2018 Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee

Pioneer Plaza in downtown Dallas.

Encouraging Cooperation . . . for a Great Commission Advance!

© dallas convention and visitors bureau



Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza © dallas convention and visitors bureau

Dealey Plaza © dallas convention and visitors bureau

George W. Bush Presidential Library | photo by raul santillan

© dallas convention and visitors bureau

Dallas Zoo

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

© dallas convention and visitors bureau

© dallas convention and visitors bureau

If you have children, the Dallas Zoo is a wonderful option. Established in 1888, it was the first zoo in the southwest and today boasts as the largest zoological experience in Texas. The Dallas World Aquarium is a must-see with the sights and sounds of a rainforest and vibrant aquariums. And they will love the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, not only for the gigantic dinosaur display but for the interactive learning exhibits. Heading west to Fort Worth, visit the Kimbell Art Museum, considered one of the finest small museums in the world. Within minutes you can go from Monet and Picasso at the Kimbell to cowboys and cattle drives at the Stockyards Museum. Which brings us to the outdoors. The Stockyards are a great place to start! There’s nothing more authentic (as a tourist) than stepping into the Old West, purchasing a pair of boots, and experiencing a cattle drive. From there you can head to Sundance Square for a bite to eat, or Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant. You can also take in the beauty of Fort Worth Botanic Garden. And your children will love the Fort Worth Zoo, ranked among the top in the country. On your way back to Dallas, you can spend a few hours at Six Flags Over Texas, a place your kids won’t want to miss! If you enjoy the national pastime, take in a Texas Rangers baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. You can also catch the up-andcoming Rangers—the Frisco RoughRiders (AA).

The games are always entertaining and the park is fun for the kids. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is beautiful, with much to offer even the youngest of visitors. And award-winning Klyde Warren Park is considered one of the best urban parks in the country—a five-acre park built over a freeway in the heart of Dallas. There’s plenty for the kids to do and a variety of food trucks. Speaking of food, don’t leave without experiencing a taste of Texas—from Tex-Mex to BBQ. But, DFW has so much more to offer the taste buds. Just look around, you’ll find everything from gourmet doughnuts to fine dining! If that’s not enough for you, Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Market in Waco is a mere ninety miles south on Interstate 35! Of course, DFW is also home to two of our SBC entities—GuideStone Financial Resources in Dallas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. So come join us this summer and experience all the Dallas-Fort Worth area has to offer. Come see the sights, participate in Crossover, and celebrate with your Southern Baptist family how God is working in and through our Convention. Most importantly, come to share the love of Jesus with people in DFW who need to know Him. Berta Delgado is editor in the Communications Ministry at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

SUNDAY, JUNE 10—SBC LEADERSHIP PREACHING IN DALLAS AREA O. S. Hawkins, president GuideStone Financial Resources

First Baptist Dallas


Ken Hemphill, founding director Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church 8:00a Center for Church Planting & Revitalization 11:00a North Greenville University SBC Presidential Nominee J. D. Greear, pastor Prestonwood Baptist Church The Summit Church SBC Presidential Nominee


Russell Moore, president Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission


Village Church

Kevin Ezell, president North Richland Hills 8:00a North American Mission Board 9:30a 11:00a Paige Patterson, president Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Birchman Baptist Church


Steve Gaines, president Southern Baptist Convention


David Platt, president First Baptist Church, Euless International Mission Board

8:30a 11:00a

Jason Allen, president Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


First Baptist Church Mansfield

Information communicated to the Executive Committee as of April 13, 2018.




PERSONAL EVANGELISM Our actions toward others become the platform upon which our verbal witness will have (or not!) credibility. When we let our light shine before others, we reflect glory on the Lord who dwells in us. Steve Gaines (right), pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, prays with a resident of Laveen, Arizona, as part of Crossover 2017. He was on a team with his wife, Donna (second from left), and Jordan Joyner (far left), a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. photo by kathleen murray

What Kind of Witness Will We Leave in Dallas? I by Roger S. Oldham

t has been said that if you scratch a Southern Baptist, he or she will bleed missions and evangelism. We love to study and apply sound doctrine. We love meaningful, biblical fellowship with other believers. We love meeting people at their greatest point of physical and spiritual needs. But, the foundational framework upon which we build these ministries of education, service, and compassion is the love of Christ that constrains us to usher people into the heavenly Kingdom through missions and evangelism.

Witness as Priority When Paul gave his grand definition of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15, he made it very clear

that sharing the Gospel was his highest order of priority (15:3). His entire ministry was built on introducing men and women to the fact that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He fully believed that the Gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). To that end, he pledged himself to “ambassadorize” for Christ (a verb in the original text), fully embracing the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14–21). No matter where he went, telling the Good News was the overarching priority of his life.

Witness as Presence People in the hospitality industry are trained to treat their clients (Southern Baptists, in this case) with dignity, courtesy, and respect. Though many of these workers do not know the Lord



Jesus Christ and are not indwelt by the precious Holy Spirit, they have been instructed that nothing communicates like kindness. Their training has led them to mimic the very traits that are the natural expression of the Holy Spirit in us (see, for example, Galatians 5:22–23). When we leave town, what those who serve us will remember is whether we treated them with respect, addressed them as persons of dignity, engaged them in meaningful conversation at appropriate times, and tipped them as servers worthy of honor. Our actions toward others become the platform upon which our verbal witness will have (or not!) credibility. When we let our light shine before others, we reflect glory on the Lord who dwells in us (Matthew 5:13).

As important as a positive ministry of presence is, every instance of Gospel proclamation recorded in Scripture is through the use of words. Reading through Acts we find a host of verbs that describe witnessing encounters— addressing, answering, confounding, debating, declaring, explaining, expounding, giving testimony, persuading, preaching, proclaiming, proving, reasoning, refuting, replying, saying, speaking, teaching, telling, testifying, urging. The one thing each has in common is that words were used to share the Gospel with others.

Witness as Personal Nothing is more fulfilling for a Christ-follower than to present a winsome witness and watch in awe as the Holy Spirit uses your words to persuade a new believer to enter the Kingdom. What a joy it would be if each messenger asked the Lord to provide such an opportunity. Would you begin praying even now for your opportunity to share the Gospel in Dallas? Roger S. Oldham is vice president for Convention communications and relations of the SBC Executive Committee and is a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.



Sunday, June 10 // 6:00p Monday, June 11 // 9:00a, 1:30p, 6:00p

PRESCHOOL CHILDCARE (infants to 4 years)

See page 6 for more information.

JUNE 12–13, 2018

Witness as Proclamation


MESSENGER & INVITED GUEST PRE-REGISTRATION is now open. All registrations must be completed in advance—there will be NO on-site registrations. Register soon as space is limited.

GIANT COW MINISTRIES will again provide activities for children

ages 5–12 Sunday through Wednesday. A special thanks to WMU for providing missions education as part of the curriculum.

YOUTH ON MISSION for those children who have completed grades 7–12 will be provided again by WMU Tuesday and Wednesday. Space is limited to 106 youth and pre-registration is REQUIRED—there will be NO on-site registration—deadline for registration is May 7 or when capacity is reached (whichever comes first).

“SBC ANNUAL MEETINGS” APP Updates are being made as

information becomes available—stay connected by downloading the 2018 “SBC Annual Meetings” app from the Play or App Stores.

HOTEL RESERVATIONS can still be secured. NO SHUTTLE SERVICE will be offered due to the close proximity of many hotels, and the availability of local transportation options.

SPECIAL NOTE: To ensure the orderly flow of attendees and

enhance security of the convention hall, each MESSENGER, EXHIBITOR, and INVITED GUEST must be registered and properly badged for entrance into the general sessions on TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12–13, 2018.





Opening Worship—Mark Blair, Convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee


Welcome and Call to Order—Steve Gaines, SBC president; senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee

Announcement of Committee on Committees, Credentials Committee, Tellers, and Resolutions Committee


Scripture and Prayer—Kevin Smith, executive director, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, Columbia, Maryland

8:35 Registration Report and Constitution of Convention— Don Currence, SBC registration secretary; minister of children and administration, First Baptist Church, Ozark, Missouri

Special Guest—Dave Ramsey, personal finance expert; CEO, Ramsey Solutions, Brentwood, Tennessee


Election of Officers (First)


International Mission Board Report—David Platt, president, International Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia


Executive Committee Report (Part 2)—D. August Boto, interim president; executive vice president for Convention policy, SBC Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee


Evangelism Task Force Report—Paige Patterson, chairman; president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas


Election of Officers (Second)

9:46 Worship—Mark Blair


Committee on Order of Business Report (Second)— Grant Ethridge, chairman; senior pastor, LibertyLive.Church, Hampton Roads, Virginia



North American Mission Board Presentation—Kevin Ezell, president, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Georgia


Election of Officers (Third)


Introduction of New Motions (Last Opportunity)


Committee on Committees Report—Emir Caner, chairman; president, Truett-McConnell University, Cleveland, Georgia


Committee on Nominations Report—James Freeman, chairman; 11:55 Closing Prayer—Zac Reno, pastor, The Summit Church, Country Meadows Baptist Church, Kansas City, Missouri Benton, Arkansas


Election of Officers (Fourth)



Election of Officers (Fifth)



Committee on Resolutions Report—Jason Duesing, chairman; provost, associate professor of historical theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri

Closing Prayer—Danny Sinquefield, pastor, Faith Baptist Church, 2:45 Bartlett, Tennessee

Appreciation of Volunteers—Steve Gaines


Welcome to Dallas—Greg Abbott, governor, State of Texas



Honoring America and Recognition of Veterans


The Pledge of Allegiance


Committee on Order of Business Report (Third)— Grant Ethridge, chairman; senior pastor, LibertyLive.Church, Hampton Roads, Virginia

The National Anthem: “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Worship—Mark Blair

Election of 2019 Convention Preacher, Alternate Preacher, and Music Director


An Evening of Prayer and Worship—Mark Blair, Convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee


GuideStone Financial Resources Report—O. S. Hawkins, president and CEO, GuideStone Financial Resources, Dallas, Texas


Introduction of New Motions (First)—Steve Gaines

10:12 Introduction of Past Presidents—Steve Gaines 10:17 Introduction of the President and Family—Randy C. Davis, president and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, Brentwood, Tennessee

North American Mission Board Report—Kevin Ezell, president, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Georgia



Executive Committee Report (Part 1)—D. August Boto, interim president; executive vice president for Convention policy, SBC Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee


Scripture and Prayer—Bob Davis, evangelist; pastor, Beulah Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia

Committee on Order of Business Report (First)— Grant Ethridge, chairman; senior pastor, LibertyLive.Church, Hampton Roads, Virginia.


Woman’s Missionary Union Report—Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director/treasurer, Woman’s Missionary Union, Birmingham, Alabama



9:10 Crossover Report—Joel Southerland, executive director of evangelism, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Georgia



Special Guest—Ravi Zacharias, president, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Alpharetta, Georgia International Mission Board Commissioning Service— David Platt, president, International Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia

9:15 Closing Prayer—Rick Lance, executive director/treasurer, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, Prattville, Alabama

Convention Sermon—Paige Patterson

10:35 Prayer of Response—Bob Pearle, senior pastor, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas 10:40

Joint Seminary Presentation and Reports—Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina; Jason K. Allen, president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri; Jeff Iorg, president, Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ontario, California; Charles S. Kelley Jr., president, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

Opening Worship—Mark Blair, Convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee

2:40 Scripture and Prayer—Noah Sidhom, pastor of leadership development, web and social media, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee Previously Scheduled Business—Steve Gaines, SBC president; senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee


Special Guest—Jonathan Evans, author; speaker; chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas, Texas


Presentation of Officers—D. August Boto, interim president; executive vice president for Convention policy, SBC Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee


LifeWay Christian Resources Report—Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee


LifeWay Christian Resources Presentation—Thom S. Rainer


President’s Panel on Stewardship


The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Report— Russell D. Moore, president, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Nashville, Tennessee


The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Presentation— Russell D. Moore


Opening Worship—Mark Blair, Convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee


Closing Words and Dallas Hand-off to Birmingham— Steve Gaines


Scripture and Prayer—Sonny Tucker, executive director, Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Little Rock, Arkansas


Closing Prayer— David Hankins, executive director, Louisiana Baptist Convention, Alexandria, Louisiana

10:35 President’s Address—Steve Gaines


Committee on Order of Business Report (Fourth)— Grant Ethridge, chairman; senior pastor, LibertyLive.Church, Hampton Roads, Virginia

11:45 Closing Prayer— Trent Gann, pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodville, Florida


Previously Scheduled Business—Steve Gaines, SBC president; senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee

10:22 Prayer for the President—Bill Street, minister of evangelism and discipleship, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee 10:27 Worship—Mark Blair

The Committee on Order of Business may recommend adjustments to the foregoing program as needed.

SBCLIFE Pastors’ Conference Fulfill Your Ministry! (2 Timothy 4:5a) June 10–11

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Twitter: @SBCPastorsConf Registration: This event is free to all who wish to attend. No registration is required.

Session 1: Sunday, June 10 (6:00–9:00p) Speakers: Juan Sanchez, James Merritt, and Tony Evans

Session 2: Monday, June 11 (9:00a–12:00p) Speakers: Bryan Carter, Cameron Triggs, and Jack Graham

Session 3: Monday, June 11 (1:30–4:30p) Speakers: Ray Pritchard, Robert Smith, and additional speaker TBA

Session 4: Monday, June 11 (6:00–9:00p) Speakers: Daven Watkins, Charlie Dates, and J. D. Greear Worship Led by: Joe Pace with Shiloh Church choir

Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders June 9–11

The Adolphus Hotel Registration Cost: $99 (before May 1); $109 (after May 1) Wives may attend at no additional cost. DOM Wives workshop track offered.

Saturday, June 9

Pre-Conference for New and Prospective DOMs


WMU® Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting Unshakable Pursuit June 10–11

Pre-registration is required for Sunday: $34 (includes dinner on Sunday; and lunch on Monday, along with charter bus transportation to area ministry sites)

Sunday, June 10

Eddie Deen’s Ranch 3:00p

WMU Missions Celebration— General Session

Welcome 35th Anniversary of Baptist Nursing FellowshipSM Missionary Speakers: A & K (IMB) and C & S (IMB)

President’s Address: Linda Cooper, national WMU

Election of Officers


Missions Activities Around the Tables


BBQ Dinner & Idea Rodeo


WMU Missions Celebration— General Session

Dellanna West O’Brien Leadership Award

Testimonies: 2018 National Acteens® Panelists Missionary Speakers: A & K (IMB) and C & S (IMB)

Monday, June 11

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

9:00–11:00a Missions Options • Conferences at the Convention Center • Refugee Simulation in the Exhibit Hall • Tour Area Ministry Sites (pre-registration required) 12:00p

NAMB Send Luncheon, Omni Hotel (WMU participants pre-registered for Sunday are invited to lunch, compliments of NAMB) Missions Options (see above)


Session 1: Greetings, Introductions, Healthy Associations



Session 2 (choose one): “How to Prepare and Become a DOM” “Best Practices the First Two Years”

No pre-registration is required. Admission is free.


Session 3: Strategic Missional Leadership Roundtable

Sunday, June 10 9:00–9:30a

Check-in/Ministry Fair/Networking

9:30–10:45a Worship Service Speaker: Eric Geiger 11:15a–12:45p Catered Lunch 1:05–1:50p Plenary 1 Speaker: Tom Billings 2:15–3:00p

Business Session & Study Team Report


Workshops 1


Workshops 2

6:00–7:30p Banquet Speaker: Paige Patterson

Monday, June 11 7:30–8:45a

Executive Team Breakfast


Workshops 3

10:20–11:20a Plenary 2 Speaker: Ed Stetzer

Monday, June 11 (Evening)

Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, Bruton Theatre 6:45p

Pre-session music: The Sounds of Southwestern’s School of Church Music directed by Leo Day, dean, School of Church Music, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


A Night at the Theatre—Missions Style

The Sounds of Southwestern’s School of Church Music

David Platt, president, IMB

Kevin Ezell, president, NAMB

David Melber, vice president, NAMB Send Relief

Prayer Features: NAMB Send Relief Centers, IMB and NAMB missionaries

Visit for more information and to register for Sunday.

Pastors’ Wives Session of the Pastors’ Conference

Tuesday, June 12

Monday, June 11


Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Ballroom A Featured Guest: Lisa Harper Tickets: $15 in advance; $20 at the door


National African American Fellowship, SBC 2018 Annual Meeting and Banquet Monday, June 11

4:00p NAAF Annual Meeting Omni Dallas Hotel, Trinity Ballroom 3 Devotional Preacher: Terry Turner

6:30p NAAF 24th Anniversary Banquet Omni Dallas Hotel, Trinity Ballroom 1/2/8 Speaker: Byron Day, president Banquet Tickets: $65 per person RSVP for Banquet:

Asian-American Baptist/ 2nd Generation Fellowship Monday, June 11


Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Room A122/A123 7:00p

Welcome: Tra Xiong, president, Asian-American Fellowship

Opening Prayer

Word of Greeting

Presentation of Appreciation Award: Sing Oldham and Ken Weathersby

Annual Report: Tra Xiong

Annual Report: Thomas Wong, president, 2nd Generation Asian-American Fellowship

Appointment of New Officers: Carter Tan

Entity Sharing: Minwood Jang, SEBTS

Closing Remarks/Prayer: Paul Kim

Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists Friday, June 8–Saturday, June 9 Retreat and Business Meeting

(for Southern Baptist Evangelists and their guests) Hyatt Regency Dallas, Gaston Room

Sunday, June 10

10:00a Worship Celebration (free event, open to the public) First Baptist Church Grapevine

Speakers: Rick Gage and David Stockwell Worship: Russell and Kristi Johnson, Terry Veazey, and Amy Stockwell

Monday, June 11

4:30p Southwest Supper Sing-A-Long (free event for pastors and Convention attendees) Missionary Speakers: A & K (IMB), C & S Food, fun, and fellowship featuring (IMB), Kempton and Caryn Turner (NAMB) music evangelists Linda Cooper, president, national WMU Omni Hotel, Trinity Ballroom 5/6 Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director, More information: national WMU Hmong Choir

SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon Restored



Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Ballrooms A2–3 Speakers: Lisa Harper, Beth Moore, Amanda Moore Jones, Sherri Pomeroy The Pastors’ Wives Expo will be in the foyer outside the ballroom on Monday, June 11, and Tuesday, June 12.

Messenger Orientation Monday, June 11


Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, D221 There will be a free orientation regarding messenger participation in the annual meeting for anyone wishing to attend. The session will include an explanation of “high interest” times, program personalities and processes, how and when messengers may use the floor microphones, how to use the registration materials, etc. There will also be a “Q&A” time. Interested messengers are encouraged to register at the registration desk prior to attending and bring their registration materials to this session. Convention attendees who are not messengers are also welcome. No advance registration or reservation for this session is required. Information communicated to the Executive Committee as of April 13, 2018.




SBC ANNUAL MEETING CONFERENCE SCHEDULES *All event listings are accurate according to the Executive Committee’s information at press time and are subject to change. Please refer to the “SBC Annual Meetings” app for updates and to plan your schedule.

SBC Evangelists’ Worship Celebration Sunday, June 10, 10:00a First Baptist Church Grapevine


SBC Senders Monday, June 11, 7:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C144/C145

Gateway Seminary Alumni and Friends Luncheon Wednesday, June 13, 12:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom D4 Midwestern Seminary Luncheon Wednesday, June 13, 12:00p Omni Hotel Dallas Ballrooms F/G New Orleans Seminary Alumni and Friends Luncheon Wednesday, June 13, 12:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballrooms C3–4 Southeastern Seminary Alumni and Friends Luncheon Wednesday, June 13, 12:00p Omni Hotel Dallas Ballrooms C–E Southern Seminary Alumni and Friends Luncheon Wednesday, June 13, 12:00p Omni Hotel Trinity Ballrooms 1–8 Southwestern Seminary Alumni and Friends Luncheon Wednesday, June 13, 12:00p Omni Hotel Dallas Ballrooms A/B/H

OTHER ALUMNI EVENTS Luther Rice Alumni and Friends Tuesday, June 12, 11:45a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C145 Mid-America Seminary Alumni and Friends Luncheon Tuesday, June 12, 11:45a Omni Hotel Dallas Ballrooms F/G Mississippi College Alumni and Friends Tuesday, June 12, 5:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C141 OBU Alumni and Friends Night Tuesday, June 12, 9:30p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C142 Samford University Alumni and Friends Wednesday, June 13, 2:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C143

AFFINITY/MINISTRY GROUPS 9Marks@9 Tuesday, June 12, 9:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom D Asian American Fellowship Monday, June 11, 7:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center A122/A123

B21 Luncheon Tuesday, June 12, 11:30a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom D To register: Christian Women Who Work Tuesday, June 12, 7:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C144 Church2Church Hispanic Fellowship Sunday, June 10, 10:00a Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida CBMW Pastor’s Panel Breakfast Tuesday, June 12, 6:40a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C146 To register: Connect 316 Celebration Monday, June 11, 9:00p Omni Hotel Dallas Ballroom H To register: ERLC/9Marks Monday, June 11, 9:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom D Fellowship of Baptist World Ministries Monday, June 11, 7:00a Omni Hotel Deep Ellum A Hispanic AVANCE Meeting Monday, June 11, 8:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center A309/A310 Hispanic Fellowship of SBC Monday, June 11, 1:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center A306/A307 Life Action Ministries Revival Forum Tuesday, June 12, 11:30a Omni Hotel Dallas Ballrooms A/B National African American Fellowship Business Meeting Monday, June 11, 4:00p Omni Hotel Trinity Ballroom 3 National African American Fellowship Banquet Monday, June 11, 6:30p Omni Hotel Trinity Ballrooms 1/2/8 To register: SBC Evangelists’ Retreat and Business Meeting Friday, June 8–Saturday, June 9 Hyatt Regency Dallas Gaston Room SBC Evangelists’ Southwest Supper Sing-a-Long Monday, June 11, 4:30p Omni Hotel Trinity Ballrooms 5/6

Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders Saturday, June 9–Monday, June 11 The Adolphus Hotel To register: Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship Annual Meeting Sunday, June 10, 12:00p TGIFridays 1713 N Market St For more information:


Pastors’ Conference Sunday, June 10–Monday, June 11 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Hall F Pastors’ Wives Session Monday, June 11, 9:00a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballrooms A2–3 SEBTS Women’s Leadership Breakfast Wednesday, June 13, 7:00a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballrooms D1–2 Send Luncheon Monday, June 11, 11:30a Omni Hotel Dallas Ballroom To register:

Bivocational Luncheon (NAMB) Wednesday, June 13, 11:30a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom D3

Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia Reception Monday, June 11, 8:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center A302/A303

Cooperative Program Stage Monday, June 11–Wednesday, June 13 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Exhibit Hall For more information:

Southern Baptists of Texas Reception Monday, June 11, 8:30p Omni Hotel Dallas Ballrooms B–C

For the Church (MBTS) Tuesday, June 12, 11:00a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballrooms C1–4 To register:

Text-Driven Preaching (SWBTS) Sunday, June 10, 4:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom C4

Global Hunger Relief Run Wednesday, June 13 To register:

Tea at 3 (SWBTS) Monday, June 11, 2:30p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom A

The Gospel and the Future of the Church (ERLC Pre-Conference) Friday, June 8–Saturday, June 9 The Village Church Flower Mound Campus To register:

Tennessee Baptist Messengers Fellowship Monday, June 11, 8:30p Omni Hotel Trinity Ballroom 4

LifeWay Breakfast Tuesday, June 12, 7:00a Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom C

Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting Sunday, June 10–Monday, June 11 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Theater

LifeWay Movie Screenings Monday, June 11, 9:00p Tuesday, June 12, 9:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballrooms C2–3

Women’s Expo Monday, June 11–Tuesday, June 12 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Foyer—Ballroom A

Messenger Orientation Monday, June 11, 4:30p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center D221 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon Tuesday, June 12, 12:00p Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Ballroom A To register: ministers-wives-luncheon NAMB Church Revitalization and Replant Lab Saturday, June 9–Sunday, June 10 Criswell College To register: NAMB Race Relationships Within the SBC Tuesday, June 12, 8:00p Omni Hotel Dallas Ballroom F

CHILDCARE/YOUTH Preschool Childcare (birth–4 years) Sunday, June 10–Wednesday, June 13 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C147 Pre-registration is required: Giant Cow Ministries (ages 5–12) Sunday, June 10–Wednesday, June 13 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Hall C Pre-registration is required: Youth on Mission (completed grades 7–12) Tuesday, June 12–Wednesday, June 13 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center C149 Pre-registration is required:

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Cooperative Program Stage by Ashley Clayton


he Cooperative Program Stage and Platform provides an opportunity for messengers to the SBC annual meeting to hear firsthand reports about a variety of SBC missions and ministries, and “listen in” on hard-hitting and relevant panel discussions which orbit around important issues for Southern Baptists. At the upcoming meeting in Dallas, messengers will have an opportunity to hear from SBC presidential candidates J. D. Greear and Ken Hemphill on Monday, June 11, at the CP Stage and Platform (as of this printing). Don’t miss this opportunity to hear both candidates share their vision for the SBC. Additionally, messengers will hear from current SBC President Steve Gaines, NAMB President Kevin Ezell, and many other SBC

pastors and leaders. These interviews and panel discussions will touch on topics such as church planting, Send Relief, Send Puerto Rico, adoption, women in ministry, diversity within the SBC, racial reconciliation, unreached people groups and international missions, and many other relevant topics. Programming will run Monday through Wednesday throughout the day, beginning at 8:30 am. A complete interview and panel discussion schedule will be available on the SBC mobile app, in the SBC Bulletin, and at The CP Stage and Platform is easy to find. Look for lights, cameras, and crowds of people gathered in the exhibit hall, positioned between the NAMB and IMB displays. So, grab a cup of coffee and join the discussion!

Left to right: Jonathan Howe and Amy Whitfield moderate a panel discussion with Keelan Cook, Kevin Smith, and Jared Parks called “On Ramps for Engagement: How Southern Baptists Can Be more Involved in the Process.” This was one of twenty-one panels that was featured at the CP Stage and Platform during the 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

The 2018 CP Stage and Platform will have a similar presence as shown here from the 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. photos by andy beachum

Jon Akin (left) moderates a discussion on “Reaching College Towns” with Dean Inserra (center) and Vance Pitman.

Jonathan Howe (left) and David Platt discuss global missions.

2018 SBC App


ttendees to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting can stay up to date with our mobile app, which includes more than a dozen features, including schedules, maps, alerts, speakers, newsfeeds, the Book of Reports, the SBC Bulletin, and much more. Developed by Core-Apps, the app will include: • Push alerts that give users up-to-date news, such as changes in the meeting schedule should the posted schedule change.

A newsfeed of Baptist Press news stories and photos covering Crossover, the SBC annual meeting, and related meetings that take place during the week.

• PDF versions of the Book of Reports, the SBC Bulletin, and SBC LIFE. • Scheduled times for seminary luncheons and other affinity groups meeting in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting. • Twitter stream discussions about the SBC annual meeting. Use the hashtag #sbcam18 to join the conversation.

• The programs for the SBC Pastors’ Conference and the SBC annual meeting.

• A list of exhibitors, including contact information for each exhibitor and an interactive map showing directions to the exhibitor’s booth location.

• A list of Pastors’ Conference and SBC annual meeting speakers, including their scheduled speaking times.

• A “friends” icon where users can keep up to date with their friends and send them notes (users are required to fill out a brief profile).

• Downloadable copies of Meet Southern Baptists and The Southern Baptist Conven tion: A Closer Look, two brochures produced by the SBC Executive Committee for use in church member training classes. The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android users. It can be downloaded by searching for “SBC Annual Meetings” in the App Store or Google Play and then installing the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting within the app.

Come hear Dave Ramsey’s heart for the local church. For 25 years, Dave Ramsey has hosted The Dave Ramsey Show, which is heard by 13 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations. Dave founded Ramsey Solutions in 1992 to provide financial guidance to anyone struggling with money. The mission and vision of Ramsey Solutions is to provide biblically based, commonsense education and empowerment that give HOPE to everyone in every walk of life. The impact of his radio show, books and business aside, Dave defines success by the number of lives changed through the message of the gospel of Christ. Come hear Dave speak at the upcoming SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas on Tuesday, June 12.

Dave and his team are looking forward to seeing you there!




ASSOCIATIONAL MISSIONS EMPHASIS WEEK, MAY 21–28 “Nobody can understand the director of missions role like someone else who is doing it— iron sharpening iron. Associations will be what churches want them to be. This study team desires to help churches do what they need to do.”

Rick Wheeler lead missional strategist Jacksonville Baptist Association Jacksonville, Florida photo by morris abernathy

At its March 1, 2018, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders Study Committee reviews survey results of church leaders’ perceptions of associational work, conducted and facilitated by Jason Lowe (standing), director of missions of Pike Association of Southern Baptists in Kentucky. photo by roger s. oldham

Associations Address Ministry Needs, Plan for Future by Roger S. Oldham


ike Carlisle, director of missions for San Diego (California) Southern Baptist Association, noted that “the association is the closest organization to the local church in Southern Baptist life.” This comment resonated with participants at the 2017 Associations in Mega-Cities (AIM) meeting and helped precipitate three surveys, a director of missions (DOM) study committee, a two-day facilitated strategy meeting of DOMs, and focused conversations about the changing shape of associational work at each of the four Southern Baptist directors of missions’ organizations in the year since.

Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders Study Team

Meeting annually in concert with the SBC annual meeting, the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders’ mission and vision statements are “to assist associational leaders in advancing the Gospel through leadership development, ministry partnerships, and networking” and “to see increasing numbers of healthy churches—existing and new—making disciples and transforming communities through Christ.” With that aim in view, Ray Gentry, executive director of SBCAL, appointed a study group at its June 11–12, 2017, conference in Phoenix. The team is charged with submitting a report at the SBCAL 2018 meeting in Dallas. “We feel like it’s time for a new name for the new century and the new demands upon us and the new opportunities before us,” Gentry told Baptist Press at the time. “There really is no commonly accepted job description for a DOM,” he said. “We want to come up with a profile with competencies for search committees and for purposes of coaching and helping new DOMs.” Gentry hopes such a profile will help raise the credibility and effectiveness of DOMs.

Rick Wheeler, lead missional strategist from the Jacksonville (Florida) Baptist Association, has led the team during the year. “Nobody can understand the director of missions role like someone else who is doing it— iron sharpening iron,” Wheeler said, referencing Proverbs 27:17. “Associations will be what churches want them to be. This study team desires to help churches do what they need to do.” The study committee has conducted two surveys, one with directors of missions and one with church leaders; held videoconference meetings; and met in Atlanta as it has conducted its work. It is finalizing the report it will bring to SBCAL in Dallas on June 10–11, 2018.

Associations in Mega-Cities

Meeting at Gateway Seminary, Associations in Mega-Cities (AIM) participants pledged to read four books on managing transitions in leadership in preparation for their meeting. Convener Donnie Simpson, executive director of missions of Kansas City Baptist Association in Kansas City, Kansas, characterized the gathering as “a working/brainstorming/planning meeting.” The February 8–9, 2018, meeting included a presentation by Gateway President Jeff Iorg on managing transitions in leadership; two facilitated sessions on “dynamics of change in systems,” led by Pat MacMillan of Triaxia Partners and Bob Reccord of Total Life Impact Ministries; and an interactive process of identifying issues, formulating solutions, and developing action steps, facilitated by Bob Bumgarner, executive pastor of Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, Florida. MacMillan shared the results of a survey his firm had conducted for the group that included an overwhelmingly positive view pastors and church leaders have of associational work. He told the DOMs his research indicates that Baptists generally view the local Baptist

Associational directors of missions from mega-cities (AIM) enjoy fellowship with one another during a banquet hosted by Gateway Seminary in Ontario, California, during the group’s annual meeting at the seminary on February 8–9, 2018. photo by roger s. oldham

association as the “load-bearing beam” in the structure of Southern Baptists’ work. Reccord, former North American Mission Board (NAMB) president, expressed regret that he had failed “to recognize the value of associations” during his years at NAMB. He affirmed DOMs and their work, saying he has come to see the tremendous value of the association. Reccord echoed MacMillan’s observation that Baptist associations are, indeed, the loadbearing beam for cooperation in Convention life. He encouraged participants in their work of revitalizing churches and connecting them with one another and with state and SBC ministries.

Network of Baptist Associations

The Network of Baptist Associations (NOBA) holds an annual training summit led by fellow DOMs and provides web-based networking and

training to assist directors of missions. The theme for Summit 2018 was Thrive, with plenary sessions devoted to self-leadership, healthy church development, collegiate church planting, and cultural awareness. Steve Stroope, lead pastor of LakePointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, led participants through a self-leadership grid he has developed in his almost forty years of pastoral leadership at LakePointe, during which the congregation has grown from fifty-three in attendance at its inception to more than twelve thousand each week at six metro-Dallas campuses. Brian Frye, national collegiate strategist for NAMB and collegiate evangelism strategist for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, introduced fellow collegiate church planters to the DOMs and challenged them to lead their churches to engage hundreds of college campuses with the Gospel.

Pat MacMillan of Triaxia Partners told directors of missions his research indicates that Baptists generally view the

local Baptist association as the “load-bearing beam” in the structure of Southern Baptists’ work.



Mitch Martin, executive director of missions for Mid-South Baptist Association in Memphis, addresses fellow directors of missions during the Century Associations Network (CAN) meeting at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Georgia, March 8–9, 2018. photo courtesy of mid - south baptist association in memphis, tennessee

Associational directors of missions from mega-cities (AIM) participate in a strategy planning session facilitated by Pat MacMillan and Bob Reccord during the group’s annual meeting at Gateway Seminary on February 8–9, 2018.

Network of Baptist Associations (NOBA) Executive Director Eddie Miller (standing right), honors retiring NOBA chairman Sid Hopkins during the organization’s January 22–23, 2018, meeting at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Georgia.

photo by deryl lackey

photo by roger s. oldham

In the concluding session, Dave Travis of Leadership Network encouraged DOMs to lead their churches to leverage the fact that we live in a post-Christian age to equip their churches to engage people with the Gospel in fresh ways.

Century Associations Network

The newest of the associational groups, Century Associations Network (CAN) is a forum for

associational directors of missions who serve one hundred churches or more to share best ministry practices with one another. The format differs from other annual DOM gatherings in a couple of ways. While other associational groups meet for a combination of inspiration, fellowship, and training, CAN is singularly focused on DOMs sharing replicable models of ministry they are

observing in and among the churches they serve. With numerous resources available through other organizations these DOMs participate in, no outside guests are enlisted to provide training. Since there are no costs associated with bringing in guests, CAN has no annual dues or other fees associated with their gathering. In addition to discussions on best ministry practices, this year’s meeting, hosted at

NAMB in Alpharetta, Georgia, on March 8–9, included presentations on technology opportunities for associations by Todd Robertson, Louisville Regional Baptist Association; associational finances by Bob Dean, Dallas Baptist Association; and a tool for developing a matrix of church health and engagement within associations, by Roger Yancey, Tryon Evergreen Baptist Association in Conroe, Texas.









ASSOCIATIONS “Our association loves and admires the work J and his wife are doing in Feather River. It is amazing to us how much they accomplish with limited resources. We admire their people skills, work ethic, and genuine enthusiasm for the work and area God has called them into.” Deryl Lackey director of missions Inland Empire Baptist Association Ontario, California Inland Empire Baptist Association in Southern California conducts an annual training in Spanish for worship teams. photos courtesy of inland empire baptist association

In-state Associational Partnership Benefits Both by Karen L. Willoughby


nland Empire Baptist Association in Southern California has forged a new path in the concept of Southern Baptist partnerships. Ministry, encouragement, and inspiration flow in both directions when Southern Baptists cooperate. This has been noted for years in partnerships between strong Southern state conventions and those in “new work” areas, and even between strong Southern associations and either churches or associations in “new work” states, as well as in global missions. “You get more done when you cooperate together, when you partner together,” Inland Empire’s Director of Missions (DOM) Deryl Lackey told SBC LIFE. “We figured that if state conventions have done this, why not us? “Yet we wanted it to be another association in California,” Lackey continued. “That way we can be close enough to send teams and maintain regular contact at various state meetings.” Lackey had seen J Ballard at DOM gettogethers and was impressed with what he saw and heard from the DOM of the Feather River Baptist Association in the far northeastern corner of California. A year later, in September 2016, Inland Empire added $500 a month support for Feather River to its budget, with additional resources as needed, and the possibility of mission trips flowing in both directions. It’s an open-ended partnership, dependent on Feather River’s needs and the ability of Inland Empire to help meet those needs. “Our association loves and admires the work J and his wife are doing in Feather River,” Lackey said. “It is amazing to us how much they accomplish with limited resources. We admire their people skills, work ethic, and genuine enthusiasm for the work and area God has called them into. “Once you meet J and Nicky, you know they are the type of people you want to be a blessing to,” the Inland Empire DOM continued. “They are a great investment of our resources, and we are honored to partner with them.”

Empire. While four churches run more than five thousand in Sunday morning worship, and twenty churches average between five hundred and one thousand, most Sunday morning congregations number no more than 125, the DOM said. It’s an association that majors on church planting, church health, and leadership development, and yet, “One of our desires in the last few years is to be involved in ministries outside our area,” Lackey said. “We ask that our churches not keep all their income, but share that with Great Commission causes. We felt it was only right that we do the very same thing.” In addition to its partnership with Feather River Baptist Association, Inland Empire partners with Transformation City Church plant in Vancouver, Canada. This allows the association’s churches to participate in an international mission trip over a weekend, and yet stay in the same time zone, the DOM said. In-association ministries include an annual pastors’ wives retreat, quarterly get-togethers for pastors’ wives, and an annual marriage retreat for vocational ministers and spouses. This year’s annual pastors’ retreat for the first time is to be in English Monday through Wednesday, and in Spanish Thursday through Saturday, in a new partnership with the nearby Orange County Baptist Association. Churches in Inland Empire have sponsored twenty-six church plants in the last four years, and nineteen existing churches have also joined the association and California Southern Baptist Convention within the last five years. “The most common reason: missions,” Lackey said. “Also, some are really impressed with our disaster relief ministries, and the resources we have for spiritual leaders. “In this day and age, especially with the laws changing in California, it’s not wise to be on your own,” the DOM continued. “It helps to have the resources, expertise, and strength of a larger church family.”

Inland Empire

Feather River

Inland Empire is an association of about 230 churches east of Los Angeles. California Baptist University and Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention both are in Inland

Located in a 115-mile-wide, 325-mile-long strip of mostly rural mountain roads between Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and the timbered land near the Lassen volcano, Feather River Baptist Association

Inland Empire Baptist Association in Southern California hosts an annual retreat for pastors and wives. About eighty couples participated this year.

is home to seventeen small congregations, including seven new since J Ballard was named DOM in 2009. It’s in a part of California where, in the sixty years since logging and timber industries withered, the area has become dependent on government jobs—dams, prisons, power plants, and forest service—for its economic base. Churches that once averaged fifty to one hundred in Sunday morning worship today might have a couple of dozen. “Each of the churches in Feather River is uniquely planted where it can be used by God,” Ballard told SBC LIFE. “Going forward, we want to raise up the next generation of leaders and be a lighthouse of the Gospel in each of our communities.” A sense of missions awareness permeates the association, which responded to that by informally renaming itself the Feather River Missions Network. “The amount of world missions impact these churches have is amazing,” Ballard said. “Almost all of them are doing something: a Mexico orphanage, West Africa, South America, South Asia, and more.” In 2008, J’s wife Nicky started a missions summer camp in the association where previously there had been no summer camp for Southern Baptist children and youth. “We figured we’d make missionaries,” Ballard said. “I think every Christian should be a missionary.” At Missions Camp, “we teach them to do Bible stories and make Gospel presentations with bracelets and face-painting, and in the afternoons, the youth go into town and do a

missions-related service project,” the Feather River DOM said. “Last year we had four salvations, six rededications, and seventeen surrendered to Christian service.” Missions Camp is an idea that is spreading. This year, Sierra Butte Baptist Association is joining with and sending campers to the camp. Disaster Relief is one way Feather River church members work together in ministry. The association received a Send Relief trailer from the North American Mission Board last summer, which association churches have stocked for mud-out ministry, and with which seven people from the association traveled to Houston in January to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief. Ballard is a one-third time director of missions. He supplements that with the church he planted in Reno five years ago, Faith Ministry. Five miles east of the California state line, Faith Ministry last year committed to replant First Baptist Church of Truckee, California. “Feather River is so blessed by the assistance from Inland Empire,” Ballard said. “Much of the field support is a direct result of their mission partnership. Our pastors are a long way from each other and from bigger towns, and pastors can feel isolated. “The funds from Inland Empire send guys to conferences, pay for fellowship dinners twice a year, and simply pay for some needed items to encourage them and their wives,” Ballard continued. “We work together with Inland Empire. That’s the Southern Baptist way.” Karen L. Willoughby is national correspondent with SBC LIFE and is a member of First Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove, Utah.



Steve Ayers (center, red hat) baptizing believers during Godstock 2017. Godstock is an annual two-day evangelistic outreach event held at Barren River State Park in Lucas, Kentucky, and it is hosted by Hillvue Heights Church. photo courtesy of hillvue heights church

Warren Association: Reversing the Trend in Baptisms by Todd Gray


ith a few exceptions, annual baptisms reported by Kentucky Baptist churches have been in decline since at least 1980. In that year, Kentucky Baptist churches reported 20,457 baptisms with approximately 213,000 people attending worship services in those churches. Based on these numbers, Kentucky Baptists were baptizing at a very healthy rate of just over a 10:1 ratio of worshippers to baptisms. In 2016 those numbers had dropped to 13,802 baptisms with 222,641 worship attenders—a ratio of 16:1. While there are many reasons for a decline in baptisms by Kentucky Baptist churches, there are also many ways to try and reverse the trend. One of these ways involves the seventy local Kentucky Baptist associations. Warren Association in Bowling Green, while not the largest association in the state, has led the way in baptisms. In fact, each year Warren Association churches fill up several slots in the top twenty baptizing churches and the top twenty baptisms per capita. What is their secret? Several years ago, an effort was started by then-DOM Jeff Crabtree, and continued by current DOM John Mark Toby, to try and impact baptisms in the association. They started praying for the churches in the associations who had not baptized anyone in recent years. They also asked some of their leading pastors to reach out to, and encourage, those pastors who had not recently seen people receive Christ and follow in believers’ baptism. They started tracking baptisms throughout the year by asking churches to report on their baptisms not just once a year through their ACP report, but also every month or so. The biggest difference-maker was when they began to celebrate those smaller churches who started seeing people trust Christ and become baptized. Large church pastors would call pastors in smaller churches and rejoice with

them over baptisms. They shared baptism numbers at their annual meeting and celebrated those who had not baptized the previous year but who had done so in the current year. What happened in Warren Association is that the pastors became a team working together, instead of individuals competing. When they realized they were on the same team, then they began to celebrate together and work together. How can Baptist associations, and associational directors of missions, take the lead in their associations to help churches reach and baptize more people? Here are five actions to consider: 1. Assemble an association evangelism team: The team should consist of three to five evangelistic pastors in the association. The reason to use pastors is because of the principle of example: “As goes the leadership so goes the followship.” This team must be made up of, and led by, evangelistic leaders who are being used of God to reach others. 2. Schedule and promote evangelism training events: The association evangelism team should be involved in scheduling and promoting the type of events that can help other leaders be more intentionally evangelistic. 3. Pray for churches: The team can assemble a prayer list to distribute to all local church leadership, especially WMU, to begin to generate prayer for outreach and baptisms through the association’s churches. Pastor Richard Baxter, who lived in the 1600s, said, “The first task of the minister is to preach the Gospel to unbelievers for their conversion. Nothing must be allowed to thwart this great obligation. The second task is to baptize those who solemnly covenant with the Triune God” (Richard Baxter and Conversion, by Tim Beougher). Pastors need prayer so that they become focused and stay focused on this vitally important work of evangelism.

Warren Association of Baptists Annual Meeting at Bowling Green First Baptist Church. photo by ralph dillihay

4. Celebrate baptisms in the association: The same team can engage other leaders to reach out to pastors regularly to encourage them in their evangelism efforts and celebrate with them when souls are saved and follow Christ in baptism. The association can also make a practice of receiving baptism pictures from churches who have recently baptized people and showing those pictures at their associational meetings. We tend to replicate what we celebrate, and if associations begin to celebrate baptisms more frequently, we may see an uptick in evangelism activity that results in more salvations and baptisms. 5. Set a baptism prayer goal: The association evangelism team can work with all associational church pastors to set a prayer goal for baptisms

for the association. This can be done by dividing the number of churches by the members of the evangelism team. Then have team members reach out to each pastor to ask if they will set a prayer goal for baptisms for the year. Once the goal is set by each church, compile and publish it as the associational baptism prayer goal. Since this is a prayer goal, the entire association can pray together for the goal and celebrate each baptism along the way. Todd Gray is director of evangelism and church planting with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and is a member of Simpsonville Baptist Church in Simpsonville, Kentucky. This article was first published in the Western Recorder, January 23, 2018. Used by permission.

What happened in Warren Association is that the pastors became a team working together, instead of individuals competing. When they realized they were on the same team, then they began to celebrate together and work together.





Jordan Easley (center left), pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee, which hosted the Summit, joined host evangelist Jerry Drace (center right) during lunch and fielded questions from participants at the Evangelists’ Summit ’18 about the state of evangelism in the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Easley also serves as chairman of the SBC Executive Committee Young Leaders Advisory Council which is scheduled to present its final report to the Executive Committee in June. photo by roger s. oldham

Evangelists Meet for Summit 2018


by Tim Ellsworth

hen Jerry Drace thinks about the state of evangelism across the Southern Baptist Convention, his heart is often grieved. Revival services are no longer common. Baptisms are declining. Full-time evangelists are rarely invited to speak in Southern Baptist churches. Those concerns were the topic of conversation among a group of fifteen evangelists in Jackson, Tennessee, in early March as part of the Evangelists’ Summit ’18, sponsored by the Jerry Drace Evangelistic Association. “Since churches aren’t using evangelists anymore, what can we do to help the pastors?” Drace, a former president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE), said. “That was our big concern.” Following the summit, the evangelists— including the current president, vice president, and four former presidents of COSBE—spread out across West Tennessee on March 4, speaking in Sunday services in fifteen different churches. Drace said the responses to the Sunday services were overwhelmingly positive, with more than one church reporting professions of faith. “We have some great pastors in this area,” Drace, who has conducted seven hundred revivals and crusades nationally and internationally and three hundred Hope for the Home conferences in the US and Great Britain, said. “When I shared with them who could come and who was available, they snapped at it.” Three people made professions of faith at Mercer Baptist Church in Mercer, Tennessee, where evangelist Frank Shivers spoke. Shivers has been a vocational evangelist for more than forty years. Carl White, pastor of the church, said the professions of faith came from a grandmother, her daughter, and a young man in his 30s. The man was baptized the following week, while the two women will be baptized soon. “We’re always a supporter of the role of the evangelist within the body of Christ,” White said. “We think that’s still a very needed part of the body, so we were very honored to be able to host Frank and would love to do it again.” At Parkburg Baptist Church in Pinson, Tennessee, evangelist David Burton from Florida was the preacher. Pastor Danny Rachel said he wanted to participate in the event as a way of supporting evangelism and evangelists. “I share the concern with many that our evangelists are not being utilized,” Rachel said. “They have the gift that God has given them, and it appears [many] churches aren’t utilizing them. I wanted the people here at our church to hear from an evangelist.” Burton, former director of evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention, spoke during

Sunday school on ways Christians can share their faith and engage in Gospel conversations with people on a daily basis. During the worship service that followed, Burton shared the Gospel and the Christian’s responsibility to evangelize. The church’s youth attended a youth evangelism conference a few days later, and Rachel said he thought Burton’s message prepared their hearts for that event. “Our youth really, really liked him,” Rachel said. Evangelist Jerry Drace, who is also serving as the bivocational pastor at Friendship Baptist Church in Friendship, Tennessee, reported that as a result of evangelist Marion Warren’s sermon on “The Need for Prayer,” forty-seven members responded with the pledge to pray daily for their family, their church, and their nation. In the weeks which have followed a family of three made professions of faith and were baptized on Easter Sunday along with Drace’s grandson, Noah. Three others have made professions of faith and are awaiting baptism At Madison Baptist Church in Jackson, where Greg Gilbreath is pastor, evangelist Gary Bowlin extended the invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A seventy-one year old man and a sixtyfour year old woman responded to the invitation and told Gilbreath they wanted to make their commitment to trust Christ. Bob Connerley, pastor of Brownsville Baptist Church in Brownsville, Tennessee, said his church enjoyed hearing from evangelist Glenn Sheppard that day. Connerley has been emphasizing prayer with his congregation, and the week before he set up stations where his people put the initials of unbelieving friends and family members for whom they committed themselves to pray. Sheppard spoke to Brownsville Baptist Church about the movement of God in revival. “At the end of the service we had opportunity for people to come forward and pray,” Connerley said. “It was a really refreshing time. So many people commented about Glenn, how much they enjoyed him, and how much his message meant in their life.” About fifteen people responded to the call to pray at the altar. Sheppard, the first director of the office for spiritual awakening at the SBC Home Mission Board (now NAMB), leads an evangelism ministry that has planted more than 275 churches in Nepal, Thailand, Egypt, and Sierra Leone, and has built five overseas training centers for pastors and a home for girls in Nepal. Like Drace, Sheppard is concerned with what he sees as a “de-emphasis” in the Southern Baptist Convention on the office of evangelist.

Evangelists’ Summit ’18 participants toured the R. G. Lee House on the campus of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, during their March 2–3 meeting. Left front to right: Bob Smith, Phil Glisson, David Stockwell, Gary Bowlin and wife Norma, Richard Hamlet, Sammy Tippit, Keith Cook, David Burton, Marion Warren and wife Judy, Frank Shivers, Glenn Sheppard, Jerry Drace, Michael Gott, and Ron Herrod. Not pictured are Jay Lowder and Steve Hale, who joined music evangelist Bob Smith for the local church ministry on March 4. photo courtesy of jerry drace evangelistic association, inc.

“We’re called. We’re evangelists. Our desire is to strengthen the church, never to take away from the ongoing primary emphasis of what the body is, and that’s a collected group of believers who walk together in love. We want to strengthen that.”

Glenn Sheppard vocational evangelist former special assistant for spiritual awakening SBC Home Mission Board

“We have put a major emphasis on church planting at the expense of evangelism, and that greatly disturbs me,” Sheppard said. “I’ve been concerned about the fact that there are very few churches that use evangelists.” When evangelists are used, Sheppard said, they often have to speak as revivalists seeking to call God’s people to a renewed commitment, since few unbelievers are coming into churches. “We need revival in the church,” Sheppard said. “Revival is the work of God among his people. Evangelism is the overflow that begins to take place when, culturally, society begins to be awakened by the presence of God—not by the methods of man.” Drace and Sheppard both acknowledged that evangelists have been tainted by abuses and lack of integrity by some who use manipulative methods and, in some instances, have harmed churches more than they’ve helped them. That was one of Drace’s motivations in hosting an event like this and facilitating the fifteen evangelists to speak in area churches—so the churches would be exposed to godly evangelists who only want

Jerry Drace reads a letter from Evangelist Junior Hill expressing regrets that his health kept him from attending the March 2–3, 2018, Summit in Jackson, Tennessee. photo by roger s. oldham

to help pastors and churches. Sheppard said the evangelists at Evangelists’ Summit ’18 would welcome the opportunity to rebuild relationships and “re-dig those wells of the great dimension of evangelism with integrity.” “We’re called,” Sheppard said. “We’re evangelists. Our desire is to strengthen the church, never to take away from the ongoing primary emphasis of what the body is, and that’s a collected group of believers who walk together in love. We want to strengthen that.” Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and is a member of Cornerstone Community Church in Jackson. SBC LIFE contributed to this story.




Executive Committee to Recommend National Day of Prayer on SBC Events Calendar


he SBC Executive Committee voted to recommend adding the National Day of Prayer back to the SBC Events Calendar beginning in 2018–2019 and into the future. This is a return to previous SBC action to include the National Day of Prayer on the SBC Calendar. The National Day of Prayer has been an annual occurrence since a joint resolution of the US Congress establishing it was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. The specific day was set from year to year until 1988 when the law was amended under the Reagan administration, designating the first Thursday of May as the date for the annual observance. From the outset, Southern Baptists have participated in the National Day of Prayer in various ways, at times petitioning the US president to set the National Day of Prayer to coincide with specific events prior to 1988; attending signing ceremonies for the National Day of Prayer; serving as honorary chairmen of the National Day of Prayer; organizing local and regional National Day of Prayer events across the United States; and speaking at National Day of Prayer breakfast events at the White House. Following the 1988 amendment to set the National Day of Prayer to a fixed date, the Executive Committee recommended that the National Day of Prayer be added the SBC Calendar of Activities from 1989 until 2000. That year, the SBC adopted a new name for its own day of prayer—Day of Prayer for Revival and Spiritual Awakening—and moved the annual observance to March. The SBC day of prayer was changed to January following the adoption of the Great Commission Task Force report in 2010. Former SBC President Ronnie Floyd, elected in 2017 to serve as president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, has asked the SBC to return the National Day of Prayer to the SBC Calendar and to encourage Southern Baptists to join other Christians across the nation in prayer each May.



he modern law formalizing the annual observance of a National Day of Prayer was enacted in 1952, although earlier days of fasting and prayer had been enjoined by the government. The first Continental Congress called for a national day of prayer in 1775. The Second Continental Congress continued this as an annual event from 1775 until 1783. President John Adams declared national days of prayer in 1798 and 1799 and, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of prayer in 1863. In 1952, by a joint resolution, Congress established the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May (36 US Code §119). The constitutionality of the law was upheld by the Seventh Circuit in 2011 in Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Barack Obama. According to the National Day of Prayer website, since 1789 there have been 146 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting, and thanksgiving by the President of the United States, with sixty-nine presidential proclamations for a National Day of Prayer since the adoption of the 1952 law. Thirty-five of the forty-five US Presidents have signed proclamations for a National Day of Prayer, including every President since 1952. Presidents Gerald Ford [1976], George H. W. Bush [1989–1991], and Barack Obama [2012] signed multiple National Day of Prayer Proclamations in the same year. Articles on this page compiled by Roger S. Oldham, vice president for Convention Communications and Relations with the SBC Executive Committee and a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.


MOBILIZING UNIFIED PUBLIC PRAYER FOR AMERICA The National Day of Prayer mobilizes unified public prayer for America. “Our vision is to be a multi-church, multi-denominational, multi-ministry, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual movement of prayer for America.” Therefore, I am asking you to become part of our task force for the National Day of Prayer and help us mobilize millions of people to pray for America on Thursday, May 3, 2018. There are three ways you can join us: • Participate in an existing observance of the National Day of Prayer in your community • Create a new observance in your community that will mobilize more people to pray for unity in America • Begin to pray now for Thursday, May 3

Engage with us, pray with us, and get involved! Save Thursday, May 3, 2018, on your calendar for the National Day of Prayer.

“We are calling all pastors, churches, denominations, and ministries to join us in praying and forwarding unity in our nation on Thursday, May 3, 2018.” This year, we also celebrate the 30th anniversary of Congress and President Ronald Reagan amending the 1952 law, and establishing the National Day of Prayer as The First Thursday of May.

“This is encouraging because we know that no great movement of God has ever occurred without the extraordinary prayer of God’s people.” Now is the Time to Lead and Pray for America,

Dr. Ronnie Floyd President, National Day of Prayer Task Force Senior Pastor, Cross Church

w w w. n a t i o n a l d a y o f p r a y e r. o r g








What to Expect for Crossover Dallas •

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is facilitating connection points for churches to do intentional personal evangelism in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as part of the Crossover outreach before the June 12–13 SBC annual meeting.

• SBTC invites mission volunteers to consider opportunities to serve other areas of Texas as well, offering vision tours throughout June for pastors, mission leaders, and church members.

Veteran Alva Stout (right) talks to a volunteer from Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, at a cookout June 10 at the US Vets Center in Phoenix. The group encouraged the veterans as part of Crossover 2017.

• Seminary students will spend a week assisting churches with home visits and personal evangelism as part of Crossover outreach. •

photo by matt jones

At the invitation of the North American Mission Board, Greg Laurie will host his Harvest America outreach in Arlington on Sunday, June 10 as the culmination of Crossover. Volunteers will share the Gospel and spread the word about the event.

• SBTC has developed the 1Cross app as an evangelistic tool to share the message of the Gospel in multiple languages. • “Personal evangelism still works because the Gospel still works.” –Shane Pruitt, evangelism director, SBTC This information was taken from “Crossover 2018 Incorporates Personal Evangelism” in the Winter 2017 issue of SBC LIFE ( Compiled by Rebecca Manry.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) students leave an evangelism class June 8 at Arizona Christian University to use what they have learned throughout the city as part of Crossover 2017. The group witnessed door to door near Phoenix prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13–14, 2017.

Volunteers from Harvest Community Church in Riverside, California, and other Southern Baptist churches helped with a variety of structural and cleaning needs at the Phoenix Dream Center, a center that provides social services to the homeless.

photo by kathleen murray

photo by matt jones

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Gift of Building Sparks Growth of Kentucky Church Plant by Tobin Perry


ost pastors wouldn’t consider it a landmark day when a fire destroys a church’s office space and future ministry hub. But Kenny Rager does. In May of 2016, a fire ravaged the storefront offices that Life Community Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, had hoped to turn into a space for local student ministry efforts. Although the four-year-old church plant met at a local community college for worship services, the loss of office space could have been devastating. “It felt like our future was taken from us,” Rager said. “Little did we know that God was going to use a fire not to take away our future but to give us a future.” Churches throughout Owensboro contacted Life Community to see how they could help the four-year-old church plant. One of those churches was Hall Street Baptist Church, which offered to let Life Community use part of their building as temporary office space. Hall Street was clearly in decline. For three months, the gifts Life Community gave to the church in gratitude literally kept the lights on. That’s when Hall Street leaders came to Rager with an offer. The 108-year-old Hall Street Baptist Church was dissolving and wanted to give its building to Life Community at no cost. At first, Rager turned it down. Instead, he wanted to help Hall Street restructure and restart. But the Hall Street leadership was ready to pass on the building and move on. Not only did Hall Street give the young church plant a sanctuary that held six hundred people but also a fifteen-year-old Christian Life Center that included a full-size basketball court. After a little more than a year in the building, the church has grown from two hundred regular attendees to three hundred. Mark Clifton, the senior director of replanting for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), says Life Community’s story illustrates a larger trend in Southern Baptist life. “The story of replanting churches in North America is an answer to the prayers of so many Christians,” Clifton said. “For years, we’ve been praying that God would resurrect dying churches. That’s what we’re seeing as dying churches like Hall Street hand off their buildings to new church plants like Life Community. In my lifetime I’ve never seen growing, healthy churches demonstrate such a passion for helping struggling churches. It has to be an answer to prayer.”

Life Community Church worships in the gymnasium given to them by Hall Street Baptist Church. The church is in the midst of renovating the sanctuary and hopes to worship in it soon. photo courtesy of life community church

Last year alone, NAMB identified 135 churches involved in a replanting process, but that number is likely just a fraction of the real total. Clifton says NAMB doesn’t have a complete picture of how many churches are involved in replanting today. In fact, Clifton didn’t hear about Life Community’s story until early 2018. Nearly one thousand Southern Baptist churches drop off the SBC database each year, many because they are closing their doors forever. Without a strategic replanting process in mind, many of these congregations would give or sell their properties to other local establishments—from worship halls for other faiths to bars and restaurants. Clifton believes this is tragic. “The church is today, more than ever, a bulwark of truth,” Clifton said. “We need every church. We can’t lose them. God is using replanting to make sure this happens.” This is why Paul Chitwood, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC), helps churches like Life Community throughout the replanting process. “Our KBC staff was also blessed to assist when the growing Life Community congregation began conversations with Hall Street Baptist Church about the Hall Street property being given over to Life Community,” Chitwood said. “It was a beautiful picture of the kind of sacrificial generosity that allowed the resources of a struggling church to remain in the Baptist family and be used to richly bless a young, growing church. Now in the hands of Life Community, the Hall Street property has once again become a thriving force for the Gospel in Owensboro. We hope to see more sacrificial gifts like this one rather than church buildings being abandoned or sold.” Local associations, state conventions, and NAMB all play a role in helping dying churches either find new life as a congregation, merge with a healthy church, become a campus of a larger church, or, as in the case of Hall Street Baptist Church, pass on their building to a new church plant. But no matter which avenue a church goes down, replanting begins with a struggling church making a courageous decision. “Replanting starts with a church’s realization that they can no longer do ministry as they’ve been doing it and expect new results,” said Bob Bickford, NAMB’s associate director of replanting. “It’s not about a program or a study or a new promotional piece sent out to the community.

“Replanting starts with a church’s realization that they can no longer do ministry as they’ve been doing it and expect new results.”

Bob Bickford associate director for replanting North American Mission Board

It’s not about inviting people to come to a church for a program or a service or an event. It’s about a church being honest before God and saying what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working.” NAMB provides a number of resources to help raise the visibility of replanting throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, including a new podcast hosted by Clifton and LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer. Each episode of “Revitalize and Replant” focuses on a different issue facing those involved in the replanting process. Past topics have included the characteristics of an effective church replanter, unseen signs of a declining church, and how to organize a replant.

“Our role nationally is to connect all the dots,” Clifton said. “We’re showing what God is doing through replanting and changing the old narrative—that dying churches are bad places to avoid. Dying churches are great places to go to and great places for God’s glory to be seen. We also do what we can to train state conventions and local associations to contextualize replanting in their area.” For more information about NAMB’s church replanting efforts, visit church-replanting. Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board and is a member of Center of Hope Church in Evansville, Indiana.

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GUIDESTONE—100TH ANNIVERSARY “Give yourself wholeheartedly to the work. We’ll stand back of you. If you fall in the work, we’ll care for you; if you die, we will not allow your family to suffer. If you grow old in the work, we’ll comfort you in your declining years.” William Lunsford pastor, Edgefield Baptist Church Nashville, Tennessee excerpt from an address to messengers at the 1918 SBC annual meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas

O. S. Hawkins, current president and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources (left), and William Lunsford (inset) photos courtesy of guidestone financial resources

Entering the Second Century of Service GuideStone Marks Its Centennial with a Nod to the Past and a Focus on the Future by Roy Hayhurst


he story of GuideStone ® could be told in time: one hundred years of ministry. It could be told in dollars: A $100,000 gift from the Baptist Sunday School Board that kicked off its ministry in 1918, followed by $1 million in gifts from John D. Rockefeller Sr. and John D. Rockefeller Jr. during the early days of the ministry. Not to mention the more than $15 billion in assets under management* today. It could be told in real estate: twelve homes during its first one hundred years and a new home coming this August. It could be told in presidents: Seven men whose lives and ministries crossed three centuries. It could be told in award-winning** mutual funds: twenty-six across various asset classes and risk profiles that make up the nation’s largest Christian-screened mutual fund family. But GuideStone is about more than just facts and figures. Our story is really the 250,000 pastors and professors, ministers and missionaries, hospital workers, college faculty and staff, children’s home employees, and others who work in ministry and church life. And serving each of them are more than four hundred employees who seek to live out a vision that reminds them that “GuideStone Financial Resources ® exists to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security.” In that vision, GuideStone President O. S. Hawkins regularly reminds staff of the organization’s mandate and the motivation to achieve it. The mandate: enhance participants’ financial security. The motivation: honor the Lord.

A Charge to Keep At a pastor’s conference one Monday morning in 1916, Dr. William Lunsford—the pastor of Nashville’s Edgefield Baptist Church—noted that the government was providing pensions and care for injured and dying soldiers returning from World War I. Industries were providing pensions to their older employees. Even other

denominations had formed organizations to care for their workers; yet no similar program was at work among Southern Baptists. But then in May 1918, as the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, messengers established a Board of Ministerial Relief and Annuities in Dallas, Texas—the only board to exist west of the Mississippi River. Lunsford stood before the messengers and offered this charge: “Give yourself wholeheartedly to the work. We’ll stand back of you. If you fall in the work, we’ll care for you; if you die, we will not allow your family to suffer. If you grow old in the work, we’ll comfort you in your declining years.” That call has never strayed far from the hearts of GuideStone’s subsequent leaders, Hawkins, president since 1997, said. “I am a firm believer that as we care for this ministry, we should never stray far from Lunsford’s original vision—and that’s true for any leader of any organization,” Hawkins said. “We are stewards for a small snapshot in time until we pass it on.” GuideStone maintains its commitment to our original charge through Mission:Dignity ®, a ministry that ensures retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows living near the poverty line can receive financial assistance—up to $600 each month for the neediest couples with at least twenty-five years of paid Southern Baptist ministerial service—so that they don’t have to choose between food and fuel or medicine and mortgage. Over the last twenty years well over $100 million has been paid out for retired pastors in need. An established endowment covers the ministry’s operational costs—no raised funds pay for these expenses—meaning 100 percent of gifts are used for helping a retired minister, worker, or widow. Additionally, all author royalties and proceeds from Hawkins’s best-selling Code series of devotionals—The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code, The James Code, The Daniel Code, The Christmas Code, and The Believer’s Code, as well as VIP: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose— benefit Mission:Dignity.

“We’re on a mission to provide dignity to some men and women who have not been forgotten by the Lord who called them to serve,” Hawkins said. “It’s our joy and humble duty to serve them in their sunset years.”

Come, All Who Labor Meeting the needs of pastors and other ministry workers is another important task and one that keeps GuideStone focused on its future, Hawkins noted. “For the most part, the next two generations who are coming to retirement are going to have twenty or more healthy and productive years to serve the Lord after they ‘vocationally retire’ from their churches or places of service,” Hawkins said. “If we can partner with them to help them reach that place of vocational retirement with adequate financial security and dignity, we are going to help unleash the greatest force of volunteers on mission our world has ever seen.” Two other key components of GuideStone’s ministry today are to ensure that pastors have best-in-class options for investing their retirement savings and have access to health care options that meet the unique needs of pastors and churches. “We are indeed a ministry that adopts best business practices for the benefit of those we serve,” said John R. Jones, chief operating officer of

GuideStone. “We are thankful to have assembled so many best-in-class advisors and employees to ensure our participants and investors can achieve their goals and provide for their families’ needs.” Meeting the needs of churches with health care coverage for their staff and with property and casualty coverage—through an alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company—to protect their people and property are other ways GuideStone is committed to caring for pastors and their churches. As GuideStone arrives at the start of a second century of service, we remain committed to the church and its people. “All of our sister entities in Southern Baptist life are focused on the message of the Gospel, and we are thankful for each of them,” Hawkins said. “We are the only entity, though, that is focused on the messenger of the Gospel. It is our sincere hope and heart that as we close out our first century and embark on our second that we do so with a fleeting glance to honor the past and learn from it but a focused gaze to the future and what the Lord will do through us for those whom He has called to serve Him.” Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and is a member of the First Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.

Risk: Investing involves risk, including potential loss of principal. *As of December 31, 2017. **Best Overall Small Fund Group (U.S.) in 2012 for the entire GuideStone Funds Family out of 182 eligible fund families with up to $40 billion in assets over the three-year period ending November 30, 2011. Awards honor funds for their consistently strong riskadjusted performance relative to their peers. The Fund may experience negative performance. Lipper designates award-winning funds in most individual classifications for the three-, five and ten-year periods and fund families with high average scores for the three-year time periods. The Lipper Fund Awards are represented annually and are not a ranking of performance. Performance based methodology. The Lipper Fund Awards are part of the Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence, a global family of awards that celebrate exceptional performance throughout the professional investment community. The Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence recognize the world’s top funds, fund management firms, sell-side firms, research analysts and investor relations teams. The Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence also include the extel survey awards, the starmine analyst awards and the starmine broker rankings. For more information, please contact or visit You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the GuideStone Funds before investing. A prospectus with this and other information about the Funds may be obtained by calling 1-844-GS-FUNDS (1-844-473-8637) or downloading one at It should be read carefully before investing. GuideStone Funds shares are distributed by Foreside Funds Distributors LLC, not an advisor affiliate.



NEW ORLEANS BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY—100TH ANNIVERSARY Establishing a seminary in turn-of-the-century New Orleans was a Godsized, Great Commission endeavor. New Orleans bore little resemblance to the rest of the South. The diverse city had more in common with foreign mission fields than it did with other US cities. Only six Southern Baptist churches existed in the city at the time. A group of New Orleans Baptist Theological students walks through the Quad in front of the iconic Leavell Chapel on the Gentilly campus. photos courtesy of new orleans baptist theological seminary

New Orleans Seminary Celebrates One Hundred Years by Gary D. Myers


nswering God’s call requires absolute trust—an “all-in” faith that seems daring or even risky to the outside world. One hundred years ago, bold obedience resulted in the creation of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Walking across the campus today, one could easily downplay the improbable nature of the school’s founding. It is easy to underestimate the boldness needed to plant roots in the nation’s most unique city or disregard the grit required to stay in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In May of 1917, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans voted to establish Baptist Bible Institute (BBI). The goal of the school was to help plant the Gospel in New Orleans and to utilize the urban environment as a Gospel-training laboratory. Establishing a seminary in turn-of-thecentury New Orleans was a God-sized, Great Commission endeavor. New Orleans bore little resemblance to the rest of the South. The diverse city had more in common with foreign mission fields than it did with other US cities. Only six Southern Baptist churches existed in the city at the time. Despite the unique challenges, Southern Baptists did not shy away from New Orleans. They put their money and support behind the new school and it thrived. Within a year of the vote, Byron Hoover DeMent was named president, a faculty was assembled, a campus was purchased, and BBI was ready to open. Classes began in October 1918, but due to an influenza outbreak the semester was suspended until mid-November. Evangelizing New Orleans was a prime motivator behind the SBC decision to start BBI and the students and professors at the fledgling school embraced this task from the start. Busloads of BBI students shared the Gospel throughout the city and region in the early years. Evangelism in the city remains a high priority even today. Seven other men served as president following DeMent and each made significant contributions to the school. The NOBTS presidents were W. W. Hamilton (1928–1942);

Duke McCall (1943–1946); Roland Q. Leavell (1946–1958); Leo Eddleman (1959–1970); Grady Cothen (1970–1974); Landrum Leavell II (1975–1995); and Chuck Kelley (1996–present). From the moment Hamilton took office in 1928, the school faced a fight for survival. Already in debt from the costs of starting the school, the Great Depression exacerbated the economic stress. During this dark time, BBI could only afford to pay five faculty members. Many who lost their jobs during the economic struggle continued to teach without pay. Churches in the area often paid their BBI student-ministers with food. Each Sunday evening the student body met to divide the food they had received that day. They survived one week at a time. During McCall’s brief presidency, the economy improved and the school paid off its debts. Trustees requested a name change from SBC messengers. On May 17, 1946, just days after Ronald Q. Leavell was elected as president, BBI was renamed as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. By the late 1940s, the original campus was crowded and offered no room for growth. Roland Q. Leavell secured a former pecan orchard in Gentilly and developed an ambitious campus plan. By 1953, the move to the new campus was complete. The academic profile advanced and the seminary received accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools during Leavell’s tenure. The school continued to grow under the leadership of Leo Eddleman and Grady Cothen. Cothen was the first NOBTS graduate to assume the presidential role at his alma mater. On September 9, 1965, the new campus faced its first major weather challenge when Hurricane Betsy roared through the city. One third of the campus flooded and many trees were lost; however, the damage was minimal and Eddleman’s team restored the campus. In 1975, trustees selected Landrum Leavell II as the next president. Landrum was the second Leavell to lead the school, and only the second NOBTS graduate to serve as president. NOBTS became innovators in distance theological

Baptist Bible Institute students gather in front of the Garden District campus (circa 1920s). Students were bused to preaching and evangelism points throughout the city and the region.

education by establishing a network of extension centers. These centers allowed students serving in churches throughout the southeast to retain their church positions while completing a seminary education. Leavell expanded the main campus, purchasing a former department store and turning it into the Hardin Student Center. Shortly after Chuck Kelley was elected to follow Leavell as NOBTS president, serious termite damage was discovered throughout the campus. The trustees considered relocation, but in the end, approved a massive campus restoration effort. A few years after the campus rehabilitation effort, Hurricane Katrina ripped through the region and inundated the campus with flood water. Recovery was no small task, but the campus was rebuilt and the seminary community renewed its commitment to the city. Now, almost thirteen years after the storm, NOBTS remains deeply engaged in ministry and evangelism in New Orleans. The Kelley tenure has been marked by faithfulness to biblical doctrine, a commitment to high academic standards, and a dedication

to the practical aspects of ministry needed for church service. Intentional efforts to build a diverse student population have resulted in a growing African-American, Hispanic, and international student population. The school’s prison education program is making a Kingdom impact in prisons throughout the southeast and the model is being used by other seminaries throughout the US. Today, the students, faculty, and staff at NOBTS benefit from the bold commitment of SBC messengers one hundred years ago. The current generation of students continues the seminary’s evangelistic and missional legacy in New Orleans and beyond. President DeMent once remarked that the school was “pre-eminently the child of providence and prayer.” Dement’s remark seems like an appropriate way to describe the seminary’s first one hundred years. Gary D. Myers is director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is a member of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana.




Resources to Help You Tell the Southern Baptist Story

Meet Southern Baptists is designed to introduce

The Southern Baptist Convention: A Closer Look is a wonderful resource to help your

newcomers to the common convictions and farreaching ministries of Southern Baptists. It explains: • Who Southern Baptists Are • What Southern Baptists Believe • What Southern Baptists Do • How Southern Baptists Advance the Gospel • Why Southern Baptists Do What They Do

church members better understand the organization, structure, and activity of the Southern Baptist Convention on local, state, and national levels, as well as how autonomous local Southern Baptist Convention churches partner together in ministry and mission.

Meet Southern Baptists is available for download in six languages at


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STEWARDSHIP—RAMSEY SOLUTIONS When people struggle with debt, their money has no opportunity for the future because it’s already obligated to the past. But nurturing a culture of biblical stewardship changes individuals and congregations.


Chris Brown photo courtesy of ramsey solutions

Creating a Stewardship Culture in Your Congregation W

by Chris Brown

hen you look out at your congregation on any given Sunday morning, you probably see familiar faces in their familiar seats and some visitors scattered throughout the crowd. But here’s the thing: You’re not just looking at people. You’re seeing stories, and many of those stories include financial stress. Nearly four out of every five people (78 percent) live paycheck to paycheck, 1 while the average American carries a credit card balance of close to $16,000. 2 That’s why I believe debt—and not some other congregation—is the number one competition for most churches today. Truth is, only about 12 percent of believers tithe on a regular basis. 3 In fact, most evangelical Christians give less than 3 percent of their income to their local church body. 4 Why? Oftentimes, it’s not that they’re selfish. They’re just shackled with a load of debt that leaves them no margin to give. That’s a huge problem! But real change can happen. People can find freedom. Marriages can be healed. Family trees can be changed. It all happens when a stewardship culture takes hold of your church. And here are five tips to help you start building that culture today.

1. Remember the Owner. Psalm 24:1 says that the earth—and everything else—belongs to God. He’s the Owner and we manage His resources for His glory. Understanding that simple truth is what makes stewardship work in your congregation. Biblical stewardship challenges believers to handle the 100 percent well, not just the 10 percent off the top. When we remember that God really owns it all, managing the other 90 percent becomes easier. 2. Don’t Just Tell People—Show People. I absolutely believe pastors should talk about stewardship from the pulpit. But I also believe that telling people to do something without showing them how to do it misses the mark. It convinces people that we want something from them instead of wanting something for them. But you can turn the tide, starting with your own example. Take the lead by not only talking about giving, but also by setting the standard for giving.

Another way to show people the power of stewardship is by offering classes that will teach them to manage money God’s way. I work with a program called Momentum, which challenges churches to send 80 percent of their members through Financial Peace University. And I’ve found that when churches really dig in and teach their members about getting out of debt, living on a budget, and giving generously, they move the needle in big ways. 3. Encourage Intentionality. Honestly, not everyone can give 10 percent right away. So, encourage them to create a plan for giving what they can as soon as they can. That will get them into the rhythm of giving regularly. Then, as their situation improves, they can increase their giving. Eventually, they’ll be solid in their tithe and looking for ways to go above and beyond with special offerings. Again, it’s a matter of helping them first transform what they believe and then letting that affect their actions.

kids about stewardship at home. Biblical stewardship sets families up to win for generations to come. Once one generation gets out of debt, they’re eager to pass that legacy to their kids. As you’re teaching the topic in church, encourage parents to do “homework” with their kids! My friend Rachel Cruze often says that “more is caught than taught” in a parent-child relationship, so remind parents to live out what they say they believe each and every day. Kids are watching to make sure their parents’ words match their actions—even when it comes to money. 5. Go Beyond the Walls. If every church member actually gave 10 percent of their income, an extra $165 billion would open up for Kingdom work! 5 That’s incredible—but people need to make the connection between a church’s giving and its vision. They want to see the money being used for something bigger than themselves. So, give your members opportunities to serve their community. Remind them that they can steward their time and talents, along with their money. And help them see how their generosity makes a difference for the Kingdom. When people struggle with debt, their money has no opportunity for the future because it’s already obligated to the past. But nurturing a culture of biblical stewardship changes individuals and congregations. When people learn to manage God’s resources God’s way for God’s glory, hope becomes more than just a wish— it becomes a reality! Chris Brown is a pastor, speaks on intentional living nationwide as a Ramsey Personality, and hosts the Life, Money and Hope podcast; he is an active member of a local church. 1 Paycheck-is-a-Way-of-Life-for-Majority-of-U-S-Workers According-to-New-CareerBuilder-Survey 2 household/ 3

4. Bring It Home. While you’re teaching stewardship at church, challenge parents to teach their

4 5 happen-if-church-tithed

STEWARDSHIP TESTIMONIES Momentum and Financial Peace University have helped leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention create a culture of stewardship and generosity within their congregations. This is what some Southern Baptist pastors have to say about these tools: “In 2014, First Baptist Church took the major step of encouraging our entire church to go through Financial Peace University at the same time. We offered twenty-one different classes—touching nearly every day of the week, mornings, evenings, weekends—and 87 percent of our church members participated. But one additional thing I like about FPU is that every time we offer it, at least half of every class comes from the community around us. This allows us to help them financially—but, more importantly, we get the opportunity to encourage them toward a more personal and meaningful walk with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus!”



JULY 2018 CITIZENSHIP AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY SUNDAY July 1 LOVE LOUD SUNDAY (Proposed name change: Send Relief Sunday) July 22



—Jeff Rasnick, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tennessee

“In 2015, Bellevue trained over 4,200 people in Financial Peace University. The results have been life-changing. Momentum will set you and your people free, both financially and spiritually. I highly recommend it.”

—Steve Gaines, pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee; president, Southern Baptist Convention

“I encourage you: Do what we at FBC Woodstock have done and buy into Momentum and Financial Peace University. See the difference in your giving and—better yet—in the mind-set, attitude, and humility of your members.”

—Johnny Hunt, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia

For more information on Momentum, visit






T he Power of One

t by Donna Gaines


an one person really make a difference? Can one person—you—be used by God to impact the world for Christ? Yes, you! Has God been tugging at your heart? What might He want to do in and through you? I am only one. And not a very significant one at that. I grew up in Frayser, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. My parents were Christians, devoted to the Lord, His church, and their family. I had an aunt and uncle who were career missionaries in Taiwan. Growing up, I heard about the progress of the Gospel around the world and dreamed of becoming a missionary myself one day. As a female in the SBC, I had always thought my only option for ministry was missions. It wasn’t until I entered my sophomore

year of college at Union University and met a former college football player who felt called to ministry that I considered the role of a pastor’s wife. To be honest, I felt disqualified from the role because I neither played the piano nor sang. But as Steve and I prayed, we believed the Lord had brought us together to partner in life and ministry. After we married and moved to Fort Worth for Steve to attend seminary, I completed my Masters in Special Education at Texas Woman’s University. During this time Steve was called to be the senior pastor of our first church. It was in my newfound role as a pastor’s wife that I developed a fear of speaking in front of adults. I attributed it to my elementary education degree and established

boundaries that made me feel somewhat safe. But as you know, as a believer, the Lord will not allow you to erect barriers when He died to set you free. When my husband was serving in our second church, I was privileged to get to know a very godly prayer warrior. Mrs. Elizabeth talked with God. But she was also one of those rare people to whom God spoke. The Lord prompted me to ask Mrs. Elizabeth to pray over me for freedom from fear. Through this meaningful time of prayer the Lord granted me the courage and faith to face and overcome my fear of speaking. I have always been an avid reader. That, combined with my love for God’s Word, prepared me for the door of ministry God opened for me to teach and disciple women. When our children entered high school, particularly our girls, I also discipled them and their friends. But as our last child left the nest, God called me to a new ministry—a ministry to which I felt He had been preparing me my entire life. He wed my two passions, missions and education, when He birthed ARISE2Read in my heart. God was calling me to recruit churches to adopt inner city schools and focus on literacy and the Gospel. The past six years have been a delight and

Donna Gaines reads to two ARISE2Read students at Treadwell Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee. photo courtesy of arise2read

adventure that I could never have imagined. The statistics and realities related to the poverty in our inner cities are difficult to face. But face them we must! God created every individual, every “one” in His image, and each “one” is a person for whom Christ died. Our motto at ARISE2Read is: Save a child. Save a family. Save a city, in Memphis and beyond. We are accomplishing this by focusing on second grade literacy as we recruit churches and businesses to adopt inner city schools and tutor their students so that they enter third grade reading on grade level. We use a simple sight word approach that anyone can do. ARISE2Read has experienced tremendous success. At the end of the 2016–17 school year, the post-testing results at our pilot school revealed that 78 percent of the students who had been tutored were reading on grade level (compared to 30 percent system-wide). And the success goes beyond literacy. The relationships developed between the volunteers and their students cause students to blossom and to begin to believe that they can achieve and succeed. We encourage our volunteers to pray for their schools and their students, and to speak words of life over them. In addition, we partner with Child Evangelism Fellowship and encourage volunteers to start “Good News” clubs at their schools. The mission of ARISE2Read is crucial because the average graduation rate in our fifty largest urban centers is 53 percent. Children in poverty are six times more likely to drop out of school and are on average three grade levels behind their more affluent peers by the fourth grade. Alarmingly, dropouts commit 75 percent of the crimes in the United States. But there is HOPE! Children in poverty who are reading proficiently by the end of third grade have an 89 percent graduation rate. We are now partnering with Send Relief of our North American Mission Board. ARISE2Read is a ministry anyone can participate in. By volunteering only one hour a week, a tutor can alter the trajectory of two children’s lives. Not only that, this ministry will help your church develop relationships with community churches and families in the neighborhoods. And the ripple effect can impact families for generations. This past year, I befriended a single mom and had the joy to recently see her receive Jesus as Savior and be baptized in our church. Her oldest son prayed to receive Christ two weeks later. What would happen if your church began to reach the inner city with literacy and the Gospel? What if each family would befriend just one inner city family and share Jesus with them? If each one of us would just reach one, our cities could be changed! One person really can make a difference. God sees the one. God knows the one. God goes after the one. Will you? Donna Gaines is an author, a frequent speaker at women’s events, and is the wife of Steve Gaines, SBC president and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee.

SBC LIFE - Pre-Convention 2018 (Vol. 26, No. 2)  

SBC LIFE is the official news journal of the Southern Baptist Convention

SBC LIFE - Pre-Convention 2018 (Vol. 26, No. 2)  

SBC LIFE is the official news journal of the Southern Baptist Convention