Monday, July 31, 2006

"Seven Questions with Guy Muse"

1. What were some of the key issues that lead you to serve with the International Mission Board?

My parents, Jim and Pat Muse were missionaries serving with the Foreign Mission Board of the SBC. Growing up overseas as an MK (missionary kid) I always had a great admiration and respect for my missionary “aunts and uncles.” When it became clear to us that the Lord was calling us to serve Him overseas, there was never a question that the IMB was the way to go. I feel our Board is on the “cutting edge” of missions and has an excellent grasp on the issues surrounding the bringing in of the worldwide harvest being prepared by God’s Spirit.

2. What is your greatest passion?

To see the the fulfillment of the Great Commission in my lifetime. I believe it can be done. I believe it is the Lord’s will. I believe God has already provided every single resource and provision to make this a reality. We need to get our act together and join Him in what He is clearly doing amongst the nations.

3. What is one barrier that you are experiencing in your ministry at this time?

Without a doubt it is the disunity within the Body of Christ. There are many competing agendas and we seem to be divided on every front: theologically, strategically, in priorities, missiologically, denominationally, in our church traditions/practices, even in what we think the major task is for the church.

4. What is one thing you would want every Southern Baptist to know about your ministry?

There are several things that come to mind. Here are a few of them:

• How important your specific, focused praying for us is. Only eternity will reveal to us all the role prayer has had in everything God is doing in our midst. Join our prayer team by sending a blank email to

• How grateful we are for the support of Southern Baptists, both in prayer, interest, and in faithful giving, that make it possible for us to be here. The Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering are two channels of financing world missions that have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of lives for the Kingdom.

• That churches planted overseas don’t look or feel like churches most of us are accustomed to. They are much closer to the first-century churches that met in homes with lay leadership under the Lordship of Jesus.

5. What has been the biggest culture change that you have experienced since leaving the States?

Having spent most of my life overseas, for me the biggest culture changes are when we go back to the States for visits. The materialism of Stateside Christians, the way churches spend so much on themselves is truly amazing.

6. There has been a lot of blogging about pressure from the IMB towards missionaries to produce converts.

Do you feel pressure from the IMB? What type of ministries are you doing to reach people and start churches? I recently blogged on this very question of pressure from the IMB and can be read in its entirety at Should Missionaries feel Pressure. In short, yes I do feel pressure to “produce converts” but that pressure is not coming from the IMB or our local leadership; rather, it is coming from an inner sense that we have an open window in time to bring in the harvest. As stated above in #3, we are bogged down and not bringing in the harvest as fast or as effectively as I feel we should be doing, given the resources and personnel the Lord has amply provided. What are we doing to reach people and start churches? We understand our task as one of mobilizing the existing church into the harvest fields. We believe that every believer is full participant in the Great Commission. Our job is to train believers to go out and win their family/friends, baptize them, disciple the new believers in newly planted local house churches.

7. What are two or three things that you hope to accomplish in the next year and are there some prayer needs that we could begin lifting up in prayer?

We feel the Lord has given us the vision of seeing 500,000 new disciples of Christ meeting in thousands of newly planted house churches in the coming five years. Everything we do is focused on this vision and passion. We would appreciate your prayers for the Lord to mobilize (call out) his church to be active participants in this great harvest.

Guy Muse is a Southern Baptist Missionary working through the International Mission Board in Guayaquil, Ecuador. For more information about Guy or to keep tract of thier ministry, visit his blog at The M Blog.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Question on the Oklahoma Baptism Issue

Let me first start by saying that I have friends on both sides of the current dialogue over baptism and church membership. I love our Oklahoma churches and pray for God to give His wisdom to all involved. In this article I want to address a question I don't see being discussed. Maybe the reason it isn't being addressed is because it isn't important. I will ask the question anyway.

I believe that baptism is a believer's first public profession of faith. What is the first sign that a person has truly become a believer? They are willing to be baptized. I believe baptism is by immersion, and I agree that a person can't be a church member without being baptized. My question is, "can a person be baptized without being a church member?" The reason I ask this question is because there is a division among Southern Baptists on this issue.

Several years ago at Falls Creek, the preacher for the week got the idea to go ahead and baptize the kids that had received Christ up to that point. So they did. There was a big uproar by some pastors who said that was unbiblical and that the youth would have to be rebaptized in their church once that got back from camp.

We also have the situation in Iraq. One of our troops gives his life to Christ and wants to be baptized and is. Does this baptism count since it wasn't for church membership, but as a testimony that he belongs to Christ?

Did anyone notice that a big deal made about it at the SBC Convention this year. Surely everyone remembers that before each baptism a person announced over the intercom, "The person baptizing them represents the church they will attend." Did it matter?

Now I do feel that 99% of Christians that get baptized in a church want to be members of that church, so this may be a very small issue. Would your church receive someone into church membership who hadn't been baptized into church fellowship, but had been biblically baptized?

Hope this discussion continues to bring baptism to the forefront and sheds some light on my question, "Can a person still be Baptist and believe that you don't have to be a church member to be baptized?" or "If a person wasn't baptized in a church should they be rebaptized?"

One last word, this article isn't meant in anyway to be political. I want to start a dialogue that brings light to these questions. Share what you believe and do, so that we can learn from one another.

Friday, July 28, 2006

"Seven Questions with Ken Sorrell"

Pic of Ken and his wife.
1. What were some of the key issues that lead you to serve with the International Mission Board?

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church and participated in all of the SBC missions education opportunities growing up. When we felt called into missions it was just a natural step to seek appointment through the then, Foreign Mission Board. It is no secret that the IMB is the premier missionary sending agency in the world. I am not just speaking of financial support, but in terms of preparation, training, and ongoing opportunities for learning. In our opinion, the IMB is second to none in every aspect of supporting missionary service. I am a Southern Baptist and it felt very natural to be sent and supported by Southern Baptists through the IMB.

2. What is your greatest passion?

This is an interesting question because I always struggle with how to answer since I feel that I have multiple passions rather than just a singular passion. However, even with this said, my passion first and foremost is to bring honor and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in everything I do. In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase but I must decrease.”

After this my passions are my family and being part of the missionary task in a cross-cultural setting. God has blessed me with an incredible wife and we both are blessed with two great kids who love the Lord. I really believe that our time on the mission field as a family really bonded us closer together than if we had remained in the states. Our time working and serving among the K’ekchi’ of Guatemala was an incredible experience. We went to teach them and in reality they may have taught us more about what it means to live a life of sacrifice for God. All of our lives reflect these lessons learned today.

Now, it’s my passion to see other missionaries, volunteers, and national partners experience the joy of bearing lasting fruit through seeing new believers come to Christ, planting multiplying churches, and developing servant leaders. I receive a great amount of joy by being involved in the training of others so that they may more effectively fulfill the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment. It is my prayer that lostness will impact everything we do so that everything we do will impact lostness.

3. What is one barrier that you are experiencing in your ministry at this time?

Probably the one greatest barrier I face in ministry is that of maintaining consistency of balance in my life. Being sure that I am doing what I should, spiritually, physically, and emotionally consistently is tough for me. My job requires me to travel a lot! I have yet to find a way to maintain a disciplined schedule when traveling and having to adjust to the schedules of so many others.

4. What is one thing you would want every Southern Baptist to know about your ministry?

Obviously, there are many things that I wish Southern Baptists knew about our ministry. However, to distill it down to one is that I wish every Southern Baptists could know in more detail is what it really means to be involved in missions and the missionary task from a biblical perspective. Southern Baptists have big hearts and are some of the most giving people I know of on the face of the earth today. So it is not the intent of their heart that is the struggle, but it is how this big-heartedness sometimes expresses itself in action around the world. It is possible to do for others what on the surface may look and sound great, but in the long-term, does in fact hinder the spread of the Gospel. I wish Southern Baptists would take the time to learn more about mission principles and strategies as they are praying, giving, and going. Part of my ministry today is to help provide this training to those who desire to know more in order to effectively do more and have a greater spiritual impact.

5. What has been the biggest culture change that you have experienced since leaving the States?

I look at the world and world events through different lenses now. It is fascinating to see the world from another culture’s perspective. There many things about my home culture that I would never wish to change. At the same time, I do believe that there is much that we can learn from other cultures that would make us better. For example, in Latin America, relationships are always more important than time or money. It is amazing how this one difference can change how you live your life.

6. There has been a lot of blogging about pressure from the IMB towards missionaries to produce converts. Do you feel pressure from the IMB? What type of ministries are you doing to reach people and start churches?

I obviously cannot speak for every missionary serving with the IMB so this is just one missionary’s opinion and perspective. The pressure to produce converts is not felt from Richmond but hearing the cries of the millions of lost people in the world today that still do not know Jesus. We should feel pressure to see more new believers and more new churches. I live in a quaint little town of 6 million people. Less than 2% claim to be evangelical Christians. If the IMB is turning up the pressure it can never match the pressure I feel when I walk outside our home and know that 98 our every 100 people I see will die and go to hell if we do not give each and every one an opportunity to hear, understand, and respond to the salvation message. I do feel challenged on a regular basis from our IMB leaders to seek more effective ways to impact lostness. If I worked for Ford, I assume there would be pressure to produce cars. If I worked for McDonald’s, I assume there would be pressure to produce hamburgers. If there is not an expectation by the IMB for missionaries to implement strategies that will produce new believers, new churches, and new leaders, then what is it exactly that they are to expect?

Space does not permit me to share all that we are doing in our region and locally to see new believers and new churches. What I can say is that I do believe that church planting is a critical element in the spread of the Gospel. When we study the 3 missionary journeys of Paul he always left behind new believers, new churches, and developing leaders. Everything we do works to see the same results.

We base all of our work on prayer. Prayer is a key component impacting the effectiveness of our efforts. Then using Gospel saturation strategies we are always looking for people of peace with whom we can start evangelistic Bible studies that will be the foundation for new churches. What we have learned is that there is no silver bullet answer. Missions is messy and it is hard work. As a colleague of mine says, “If it were easy, it would have been done by now”.

7. What are two or three things that you hope to accomplish in the next year and are there some prayer needs that we could begin lifting up in prayer?

As a region, we are praying and working so that we might break the 1,000 new church plants in one year mark. If we do this it will be the first time in Southern Baptist history that this has happen in our part of the world. We had almost 900 this past year.

In-between trips, I still hope and pray that I can be part of starting multiple new churches working with local believers who have a passion for seeing the lost saved and new churches planted.

Related to question number 4, we have several opportunities to be in front of U.S. volunteers in a missions training and education setting each year. It is my hope and prayer that we can find new and creative ways to enhance this missions educational process for SBC churches. The U.S. church sending volunteers around the world is a tremendous resource. Our desire from a field perspective is that we or someone equips them to have the greatest impact possible.

Ken Sorrell is an SBC Missionary to Guadalajara, Mexico. If you want more information on thier ministry please visit "Middle America and Caribbean Missions". If you would like more information about Ken or just keep up with his journey, visit his blog at "Returning to Biblical Missions".

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Dan Morgan"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve a professor at a Southern Baptist Seminary?

I understand my calling to be the equipping of young leaders, especially to extend the Kingdom through starting new churches. The Nehemiah Project provided a unique opportunity to use my Ph.D and continue to equip, train, and coach young Southern Baptist leaders for this important initiative. It seemed a good fit to who I am, my training, experience, and calling.

2. What is your greatest passion?

Seeing young leaders come alive as they realize that God has equipped and called them to start new churches. Often, those God equips for starting things from scratch are easily bored by the routines of church ministry, making them quickly restless in most jobs. They think that the problem is them, when actually the issue is finding the appropriate place of service. Church planters tend to think, “Why not try this new way of doing things?” when their pastor or other leader is thinking, “Just do the job and stop making waves!” They often are seen as too chaotic and difficult to lead – not a desirable staff member. I love to help them discover their calling, and challenge them to go to the frontier and start something new.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

I think one of the key issues we face is how to hand off the stewardship of our theological and denominational heritage from the current generation of leaders to the younger leaders who, in my opinion, have a good understanding of how to reach their generation and extend the Kingdom in a post-Christendom North America. Much of the “handoff” will occur, if it occurs at all, in the next five years.

Another issue I feel strongly about is the expansion of efforts to plant new churches. From information I glean off of Barna’s studies, in the 1990’s evangelical Christianity lost ground compared to net population growth by over 1,000,000 souls per year. Many of those people live in places where there aren’t many SBC churches, so it is not just a matter of reviving the 75% of our churches that are plateaued and declining. We must revitalize our will to plant more, and a variety of kinds, of churches. We may debate the “how” and I have my own ideas on that, but the need is clear.

4. In your opinion, should a person feeling called to the pastorate consider first church planting before considering serving in a tradition church? What are some signs that God may be calling a person into church planting?

I think effective church planters have a special call to start churches. I do think everyone needs to be assessed to help them find their proper role in extending the Kingdom of God. The kinds of spiritual gifting that often show up in people who turn out to be effective church planters include faith, apostleship, evangelism, teaching, prophecy. This doesn’t mean others can’t plant, but I have observed that when a person is working outside their gifting and leadership style it drains them rather than refreshes them. It is difficult to sustain this energy draining experience long enough to stabilize a church without the planter getting “burned out” Some indications we look for when we assess for church planters are a history of starting things (clubs, Bible studies, new organizations or initiatives), and a history of faith-based risk taking that resulted in positive spiritual fruit. We look for people with a strong prayer life and answered prayers. We look for people who consistently lead others to faith in Christ. We recognize people with a “holy restlessness” that keeps them moving on to the next thing. These are a few.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

Don’t let the pressures of the day keep you from spending time with the Lord and showing his kindness to people (who probably don’t deserve it.) His redeeming grace is all I have to give and all I need to live.

6. If you were consulting a church on how to do a church plant, what advice would you give them?

The critical issue is always the leader. Their character first, then their aptitude for the job, then the adequacy of their training, and the experience of their coach. When you have the right man, who has the right plan in writing, trust him to his coach to get the job done.

7. What are some books or resource that you would recommend for a person or church considering church planting?

I suggest they go to and search books on the topic of “church planting” There are great “how to” books by Dr. Ed Stetzer, Dr. Aubrey Malphurs, and Dr. Daniel Sanchez that deal with planting in a North American context. There are specialty books dealing with House Churches, Cell Churches, Purpose-Driven Churches, Seeker-focused churches, Team-led churches, etc. I would not agree with all of their perspectives, but I have learned more about my craft by reading and reflecting on a variety of authors.

Dr. Dan Morgan is the Associate Professor of Missions and Director of Nehemiah Project at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Seven Questions with Ernest Goodman"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve with the International Mission Board?

Every summer through high school and college I served as a summer missionary through the NAMB Sojourners and Summer Missions programs. God used those experiences to give me a taste of ministry outside my comfort zone, and to show me that He wanted me to do some sort of career cross-cultural ministry. I was raised Southern Baptist, from Mission Friends on, so it made sense that I'd go through the IMB.

2. What is your greatest passion?

My greatest passion is exploring ways to live out my faith that make sense to me. I am grateful for my heritage, but I've really yet to see an expression of Christianity that isn't heavily influenced by human religion and American culture. In a lot of ways, I feel like it doesn't fit. I'm really excited about re-asking those questions that everyone already knows the answers to, in order to find the edges of religion and relationship with God. I think that working out my faith publicly, sharing life with people, is the sort of thing that God uses to show others what life in Him would be like for them.

3. What is one barrier that you are experiencing in your ministry at this time?

I guess that would be me. Any time I start believing lies, I disqualify myself from service. Yet I find myself losing God's perspective on a daily basis. I start to think that I'm somehow needed here on the mission field, or I go to the other extreme and feel worthless for not producing more fruit. Both are lies, and these really get in the way of my obedience.

4. What is one thing you would want every Southern Baptist to know about your ministry?

That missions is about obedience, and obedience is not a finishable task. We've created this concept of missions as a finite, manageable project, and we've planned out just how many people and how much money will be needed to "get the job done." That's a misconception that I come across all the time when talking with the people that send and support us. They want to know why I would waste time going to Western Europe instead of somewhere in the "10/40 Window." I say, if God continues to call people to a place, that's a pretty good indication that He's working there.

5. What has been the biggest culture change that you have experienced since leaving the States?

Returning to the States! I guess I hadn't noticed how much I had changed until the first time I went home on Stateside Assignment. Even the most familiar things seemed so foreign. It was hard to go from informal house church to highly-structured congregational church. And I was frustrated that no one seemed to really care about what we were doing overseas. It seemed that Christian subculture in the U.S. has really made it easy for believers to get caught up in things that don’t really matter.

6. There has been a lot of blogging about pressure from the IMB towards missionaries to produce converts. Do you feel pressure from the IMB? What type of ministries are you doing to reach people and start churches?

To a certain extent, the Board's current strategy brings with it some pressure to “perform.” In our pursuit to facilitate “rapidly reproducing church planting movements,” we’ve kind of been caught in a pattern of looking for “what works.” When you sit through conferences and seminars on the latest methods and strategies, and you’re asked to report back numbers of salvations and churches planted, it’s hard not to feel some “pressure.” That said, I think we all agree that it doesn’t really make any sense to measure our success by numbers, since God is the one who saves and He alone can build the church.

Personally, the fact that I am a professional missionary, that I am paid to minister to people, is something I struggle with. Sometimes I resent my calling, and other times I have a whole life-crisis because we’re not seeing the “results” we had expected. Through the process, however, God has really redefined success for us. We are successful when we are obedient to what He leads us to do.

Our team is always looking for creative ways to enter and engage the culture through relationships with nationals. God has recently brought us into some opportunities to participate in existing activities within the arts community in our city. We’ve put together a team of artists who are church planters, and we’re excited to see how God is going to allow us to share life with the creative people around us. God has really given us a vision to share our faith through personal, intentional relationships. We believe that the naturally existing social structure we find in so much of Western Europe can be a highway for the spread of the gospel.

7. What are two or three things that you hope to accomplish in the next year and are there some prayer needs that we could begin lifting up in prayer?

We’ve noticed that God isn’t necessarily calling people to a lifetime of career service anymore, and that there are more and more Southern Baptists that really want to be part of what God is doing in Western Europe, but not as paid, professional missionaries. I think this is great- it’s certainly more reproducible and culturally appropriate to have church planters who have real jobs and the natural network of relationships those jobs bring. Over the next year, we’re looking for new and creative ways to build our team with people that are not dependent on IMB financial support.

Our greatest prayer request is that God would move mightily in the lives of the people of Western Europe. That He would do something so great, that people wouldn’t be able to help but recognize its Author.

There’s been some discussion recently about the morale of our missionary force. As politics and petty religious debates have taken center stage in many Southern Baptist circles, many of our people have become discouraged by the lack of interest in what is actually happening on the field. I would certainly consider this a matter of prayer, and I would encourage everyone to get involved in the lives and ministries of our missionaries by reading their blogs and praying for them regularly.

Ernest Goodman is a Southern Baptist Missionary. Ernest isn't his real name and he must keep his identity hidden because of where he serves in the world. To find out more about this missionary go to his blog.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Rick Lance"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve in a denominational position?

As a pastor for almost thirty years I felt a distinct call to missions. That is how I view my role in Alabama Baptist life. For ten years I served on what is now called the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. As a trustee on that strategic board, my view of missions was expanded and enriched. In 1998 I felt the call to state missions in Alabama. I feel strongly that our state is a mission field. Even though we are in the so called Bible Belt some 40 percent of our people have not been reached for Christ.

2. What is your greatest passion?

My greatest passion is to be faithful to the Lord in whatever He calls me to do. I believe Paul’s challenge to the Corinthians is ours today. We need to be found faithful in the details of life, both large and small.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

As Southern Baptists we are poised to really make a kingdom difference in the 21st century. Our main challenge will be to stay on mission with the Great Commission. It is easy to be sidetracked by good goals and miss the major focus on the biblical mission we have as His people.

4. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program and how does it impact your area of ministry?

The Cooperative Program represents the opportunity for followers of Christ in the local church to be on mission in all the world, all the time, with the all important message of Jesus. Other methodologies have their place, but the genius of the Cooperative Program in terms of effectiveness is without parallel.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

My word of encouragement is very simple and almost too obvious, stay faithful! Keep your eyes on the prize of the high calling of Christ. Faithfulness to Christ has no substitute in the Christian life.

6. What do you believe is the biggest obstacle keeping believers from seeing a revival sweep across your state?

The sin of selfishness is the most gigantic obstacle to the moving of God’s Holy Spirit among us. Having things our way is the absolute wrong way to live.

7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I be praying for you?

Pray that I will keep my agenda simple. I want to be a Great Commission Christian who models faithfulness in following Christ. This simple focus sums up my concern as a believer. In a day of technological driven lives I want to be sure that my agenda is His agenda.

Dr. Rick Lance is the Executive Director of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Find more information about Dr. Lance at his blog, Rick

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Fermin Whittaker"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve in a denominational position?

Complete obedience to the call of God to reach the lost and make disciples was the only issue.

2. What is your greatest passion?

To see that every man and woman, boy and girl have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel and be a part of a church to grow in Christ.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

Personal commitment to sharing the Gospel with a lost world.

4. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program and how does it impact your area of ministry?

Together we can do more to impact the world for Christ. Our State has been the recipient of Southern Baptists resources (funds, prayers, etc.) to impact our State for Christ.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

Remember who called you to ministry. “The future is as bright as the promises of God”. His presence and power is still available. You are not alone.

6. What do you believe is the biggest obstacle keeping believers from seeing a revival sweep across your state?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chron 7:14 (KJV) Revival will only come when we repent of our sins and live holy lives before the Father.

7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I be praying for you?

Assist churches to start 300 new churches.

Dr. Fermin Whittaker is the Executive Director for the California Southern Baptist Convention. For more information about thier convention visit the CSBC Website

Thursday, July 20, 2006

OKpreacher's Evalutation of the Seven Questions

I started the "Seven Questions Series" with the hope of creating a learning lab. I thought it would be interesting to find out what characteristics God places in a person before He uses them, what methods are leaders using to reach people, and what issues do they need prayer for. I have received answers from Pastors, Missionaries and Denominational Leaders. I appreciate each person who has been willing to join the discussion by answering my, "Seven Questions".

My plan is to continue the "Seven Questions Series", but I felt like I needed to evaluate and share what I have learned from the answers already given. So here are the seven truths I have learned from my "Seven Question Series":

1. God show no favoritism. God doesn't use a man because he is popular, talented, or wealthy. God uses men and women who are passionate about Him, His work, and His people. This passion isn't something that can be worked up in a fleshly way. Each person that responded to my questions had a passion that found it’s source in spending time with the Lord through study of the Word and prayer. Our hearts are set afire when we spend time with the Lord.

2. God uses people who have made evangelism a priority in their lives. Each person stated in some way that obedience to the Great Commission is the greatest need facing Southern Baptists.

3. God uses people that are committed to cooperation. I asked most leaders about the reason churches should support the Cooperative Program and everyone stated that the Cooperative Program promotes cooperation. Don't be surprised if your desire is to be the Lone Ranger in ministry, that God doesn't use you much. God will use men and women who will cooperate together to do His work.

4. I was surprised by this next observation. The people I sent questionnaires to are successful leaders, but most of them either didn't see themselves as successful or as leaders. I expected the opposite, but I believe it goes to show three truths about successful leadership. First, a leader must be humble. A true leader never seeks the glory that only belongs to God. Second, a leader must never be satisfied. A leader always wants to improve and get better. Lastly, a leader always serves. A leader puts others first. Their goal isn't to be number one, but to put themselves last so that they may minister to others.

5. God uses people that have vision. God doesn't use people who are just trying to survive in ministry. He uses people who are pro-active in ministry. These men have a mission because they have a clear vision from the Lord. Each of these men has goals that they are working to complete. Their greatest desire to be faithful to the vision and mission that God has given them.

6. God uses people that have integrity. You can tell in the way the men answered my questions that they were being transparent. It is foundational for every leader to understand the need for integrity and transparency in their ministry.

7. Every leader needs prayer. Some times we forget that we only accomplish what we do by the power and moving of God. Each leader realizes their need for prayer. I encourage each reader to lift up in prayer the men who answered my "Seven Questions" and their ministries.

As I continue to send out my questionnaires it will be interesting to see if these seven truths hold up and also to see what may need to be added.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Seven Questions with Pastor Dennis Newkirk"

1. In a day and time where there seems to be so little vision and leadership in the church, what has been the key to your leadership?

I believe in humble, servant, shared, and biblical leadership. Jesus set the example for all of these. Humility is a rare but necessary characteristic of pastoral leadership. I have witnessed so much arrogance in the ministry. What a shame! Servanthood is a key to influencing people toward godly ends. When we ask, "What can I do for you?" instead of "What can I get from you?" we earn the right to be heard. By shared leadership, I am talking about the biblical pattern of eldership. The model we find in the New Testament is that church leadership is spoken of in plural terms. "Elders" are mentioned in Acts 20, Phil 1, 1 Tim 3, and Titus 1. The only time "elder" is used is in referring to a particular elder. Finally, I believe in biblical leadership, meaning that the goals and methods we muse must be biblical. I do feel a little funny about answering this question because I have so much to learn about leadership.

2. What is your personal philosophy of ministry?

Someone said, "Spiritual ends are accomplished by spiritual people who use spiritual methods. I guess that is a pretty good summary of my philosophy. However, I might be a little more specific in saying that I believe that the primary calling of the pastor is to preach/teach the Bible. Before he is an administrator, visitor, counselor, strategist, or anything else, he must be a preacher of the word.

3. The Southern Baptist Convention is in the midst of an evangelism campaign called, "Everyone Can, I'm It". How does your church stress the importance of evangelism? In your opinion what is the key to being an evangelistic church?

First, let me say something that is controversial. (Oh no, here I go again!) I don't believe that evangelism is best accomplished through campaigns or revival meetings. In fact, the numbers associated with the current campaign seem to prove that point. Ephesians 4:11-18 tells us that pastors are called to equip the people of God to do the work of ministry. And 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that it is the Word of God that equips us. If we teach believers to be responsible, Spirit filled followers of Christ, whose aim it is to glorify Him, they will do the work of evangelism. I realize that it seems counter intuitive but I think we emphasize evangelism through encouraging the growth of believers.

4. Most churches use either Sunday School, small groups, or cell groups as their means of discipleship for believers. In your opinion what is the best method of disciplining new believers?

I think disciple making belongs first to the pulpit. I also believe that small groups of many kinds should be used to facilitate growth. We call these groups FLOCKs, standing for Fellowship, Leadership, Outreach, Caring, and Knowledge groups. (I don't remember where I first read that term, but it isn't original with me.) When they do all five of these assignments, the work of making disciples goes forward. Finally, every believer is responsible for becoming an expert student of the Bible.

5. Your church has been facing lots of criticism over the last couple of months over the issue of baptism and church membership. Why has your church decided to deal with this issue? What would you like for the average Baptist laymen to know about your church that they may not know yet?

We have faced criticism. One of my deepest pains about this is the name calling, insults, and threats we are receiving from our fellow Baptists. It is amazing to me that Christians can seek to defend what they believe through clearly unbiblical means. That being said, there are some issues I'd love for our brothers and sisters to know.

I've been asked to write an article on this subject. Since my objective in this article is to get to the heart of the subject with the fewest possible words, let me restate what I've written.

First, the Henderson Hills Elder Council believes in baptism. Our conviction is that the New Testament commands every believer to be baptized by immersion, subsequent to salvation, as the public identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This commitment to baptism is quite evident from the number of people we baptize each year. Furthermore, we believe that in order to be good examples to the church and to fulfill the biblical qualifications of leadership, everyone in the senior leadership or the teaching ministry of the church must be baptized.

So, if we support baptism, what is the question? There are two concerns driving our consideration to stop using baptism as an initiatory rite of church membership. First, we do not find clear biblical evidence for using baptism as a prerequisite. We have read and reread the New Testament searching for one. Some will use Acts 2:41 as a proof. However, the notable Baptist theologian Dr. John Gill and a host of others reject that interpretation of this verse. Others suggest that because many biblical characters were apparently baptized immediately after salvation, it proves that baptism is a prerequisite for membership. Yet, it does not seem logical to demand that immediacy necessarily establishes baptism as a membership requirement. Paul did not join the church in Damascus where he was baptized. He went back to Jerusalem and attempted to join with the believers there (Acts 9:18, 26). Philip baptized the Ethiopian in the middle of the desert and there evidently was no church to join (Acts 8:38, 39). We are concerned about using the ordinance of baptism in any way that seems foreign to Scripture. (Please read the complete study of our findings at, or call 405-341-4639 to request a mailed copy).

Secondly, if there is no clear biblical command requiring baptism as a prerequisite for membership, then each local church has the right to decide whether or not baptism should be used as a prerequisite. We are concerned that needlessly withholding church membership hinders the progress of those whom we deny. It is a frightening thing to deny membership from those Christians who believe that God is calling them to join us, especially when there seems to be a lack of clear biblical authority for withholding membership.

One of the most common questions regarding this proposal is why we would want a member who refuses to obey the command to be baptized. In 31 years of ministry, I have never met a believer who adamantly refused baptism. Our proposal is not intended to excuse people from the sin of refusing baptism. Instead, our concern is for Christians in two categories, those who physically cannot experience immersion due to a disability, and for those who are under the mistaken conviction that sprinkling is baptism. We often sacrifice our opportunity to teach and influence those mistaken Christians by rejecting them or we unintentionally promote an unbiblical motive for baptism, making it little more than a rite of initiation into church membership. Why not allow them the blessings, responsibilities, and protection of church membership, and then teach, pray, and influence them towards biblical baptism?

At HHBC, our primary passion is to be a thoroughly biblical church, and we desire to be distinctively Baptist and remain in fellowship with Southern Baptists. We hope that our affirmation of the inerrancy of scripture, deity of Christ, justification by faith alone, the priesthood of the believer, the autonomy of the local church, the two offices of pastors (elders) and deacons, baptism by immersion, the Lord's Supper as a memorial, the separation of church and state, and well over $2 million of gifts to Baptist causes during my tenure as pastor, demonstrate that we desire harmony with other Southern Baptists.

6. What is your greatest passion?

Almost nine years ago, I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Following surgery, I experienced a time of significant depression what essentially immobilized me. I was cancer free but imprisoned by depression. After a year of struggle, I began to experience the Lord as my sufficiency and life. It was the best thing I never want to happen to me. Since then, the Lord has become more to me that I ever would have dreamed possible. He is my greatest passion.

7. With all that is going on in your life and church, what are some things that my readers and I could be praying for you about?

Thank you for asking. There are a number of things I'd appreciate you bringing before the Lord. First, please pray for the Lord's will to be done in the decision that is before our church. The last thing I'd want is for this to pass if we, the Elder Council, have made a mistake. Secondly, please pray that I would not allow personal attacks and insults to sway me from offering a soft, kind, gentle, and godly response. Finally, pray that the Baptist community would be willing to allow us to make this decision as an autonomous body and find us worthy of being Southern Baptists regardless of what we decide.

Dennis Newkirk is the pastor of Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. You can visit his blog at Dennis Newkirk.

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Randy Stone"

1. In a day where there seems to be little vision and leadership in the local church, what has been the key to your success as a leader?

I have found no substitute for investing time in other people. Helping others discover the joy of following and serving Christ with abandon is essential to building an organization or ministry team. I have come to understand that if I can help those in my charge see the greatness of God, the significance of their work in the kingdom, and their value to colaborers many are willing to follow. Providing direction, resources, and encouragement are a leader’s primary tasks. I try to do those things and leave the rest to the work of the Spirit in the life of each individual.

2. As an Education Minister, what is one thing you would want every pastor to know that would make your job easier?

The pastor should have a clear and concise process for reaching the lost, discipling new believers, and equipping the members for ministry. The process that the church will embrace will be consistent with the approach and strategy that flows out of the pastor’s life. If a pastor is uncertain or unclear it is impossible for staff members to “program” appropriately. The pastor should take time to write it down, speak of it often, share it with the staff, and communicate with the Minister of Education (or whatever title) about the progress in these areas.

3. What do you believe is the key to developing an educational system that leads people into Christ-likeness?

Educators can only create an environment for spiritual nurture to occur. Certainly, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer to form “Christ in us.” Obviously, Jesus taught his disciples in the context of relationships. As the disciples walked together, daily Jesus was careful to take advantage of the “teachable moments,” rebuke and correct when necessary, and model always. A quality education system should place the responsibility for spiritual direction in three places. First is the home. Parents are charged with the instruction of their children. Second is a caring group of believers. In a “spiritual” family environment, believers are guided by older father figures and encouraged by brothers and sisters who are on the journey. Finally, the leaders of the congregation are to be equippers for ministry. The pastoral and professional staff should assist believers in developing and doing ministry, which results in unity, knowledge, and spiritual maturity.

4. What is your greatest passion?

To see believers accept the revelation of the finished work of Christ and embrace personal ministry that unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

5. When most churches think of an educational program they think Sunday Morning Sunday School Classes that are divided by age groups. What suggestions do you have for a church that wants to rethink their educational program?

Sunday School and organized Bible study classes are excellent for information and instruction, but life transformation happens in the context of small group life. When we are expected to live out the truths of God’s word and receive feedback (correction, encouragement, exhortation, and rebuke) we change and modify our behavior to emulate that of Christ. We also must have a deep commitment to the family as the primary conveyor of spiritual truth. If we teach men and in turn the men teach their families the whole church is built up. Sunday School was established to teach those who had no families… not a substitute for the family and especially the father as spiritual guide. The model of educational organization has reflected the public education design and has fallen woefully short in the last part of the last century. The transfer of true spirituality built on an intimate knowledge and relationship with Christ does not happen in an institutional structure.

6. Southern Baptists are involved in the “Everyone Can, I’m It” evangelism campaign. How does your ministry seek to emphasis outreach and baptism?

Our focus is in two arenas. First, we seek to build relationships outside the church family and respond to opportunities to share the claims of Christ with neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Second, we intentionally engage in community ministries that present Christ through hands on service and proclamation in the non-church setting. We are also concerned about the number of members and attenders who may not have experienced the new birth so we find ourselves “fishing in the aquarium.” We offer ongoning evangelism training and planned opportunities for personal evangelism.

7. What are some books that you recommend a minister reading when they are considering implementing an educational program?

How People Grow by Cloud and Townsend
Beyond the Box by Easum and Travis
Cultivating a Life for God by Neil Cole
The Church of Irresistible Influence by Robert Lewis
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman
Pouring New Wine into Old Wineskins by Aubrey Malphurs
7 practices of Effective Ministry by Stanley and Joiner

Dr. Randy Stone is the Education Minister at Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"God the Holy Spirit"

“He saved us not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7

We who believe in the reality and truth of the Trinity realize that God is three in one. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The problem with many believers is that they no longer see the Holy Spirit as God. The Holy Spirit has no place or role in their everyday life. I believe that if we will return to surrendering to the Lordship of the Holy Spirit in our lives then we will be filled afresh with God’s power.

The key to surrendering to the Lordship of the Holy Spirit is to understand the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit involves 4 areas. The first area is the work of the Holy Spirits around the world in convicting and bringing lost men and women to faith in the Lordship of Jesus. John 16:8 says, “When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.” No person comes to faith in Christ outside of the work of the Holy Spirit.

The second area of work that God the Holy Spirit does is baptizing every believer. This baptism is proof that they belong to God. This is a one time event. When a person professes Christ Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit immediately creates His home in their heart. He baptizes the believer with Himself. Ephesians 1:13, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in Him when you believed, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Then again in Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Every believer has the presence of God the Holy Spirit in them.

The third area of work that God the Holy Spirit does is filling every believer. According to Ephesians 4:30 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19, the Holy Spirit can be quenched and grieved. God the Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched when we are disobedient to His leading, when we don’t surrender to His control, but most of all when we don’t see Him as Lord in our lives. Dr. Stephen Olford use to say, “Until you are willing for the Holy Spirit to be dominant in your life, He will be dormant. Until you are willing for the Holy Spirit to be President of your life, He will only be present.”

Paul challenges every believer in Ephesians 5:18, when we writes, “And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit.” It seems that most Baptist live out the first part of the verse, but how many are living out the second part of the verse. We need to be filled moment by moment by the Holy Spirit. Moment by moment, I need to surrender to His Lordship. Titus 3:5 tells us the key to sanctification. The Holy Spirit regenerates us and renews us. As I surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit, He transforms my life into the image of Christ. As I surrender, the Holy Spirit lives Christ out in my life. The Holy Spirit’s job is to live out Christ in us and transform us into Christ’s image. This is done by surrendering to the Lordship of the Holy Spirit. I have been guilty of praying, “Holy Spirit help me to surrender more of me to You.” Then I remember what I really need to pray is, “Holy Spirit help me to surrender all of me to You.” Here is the good news. You can’t live like Christ and you can’t make yourself into His image. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. You are to surrender and follow Him.

The last area of the Holy Spirit’s work is He empowers every believer for the work of God. This power is called the Anointing. The Anointing is always given for the purpose of accomplishing God’s work. The anointing comes upon us as we surrender afresh to the Lordship of the Holy Spirit and we ask for God’s Power through prayer. There are two main texts that give an example of the anointing of the Holy Spirit to do ministry. One is Jesus at His baptism. The Holy Spirit came as a dove and anointed Christ as He began His three year ministry. The other example is the anointing of the church in Acts 2. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” To do God’s work God’s way you need God’s power. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to empower the believer who is surrendered and seeking Him.

Many churches are powerless today. The reason they are powerless is because the Holy Spirit isn’t at work in them. He isn’t Lord over their church. They haven’t sought Him or surrendered to Him. Nothing a church can do without the Spirit will equal what they can do with Him. My encouragement is for every believer to acknowledge the Lordship of the Holy Spirit, to surrender to His control, to follow His leading, and to seek His power. Our hope is found in God the Holy Spirit.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Anthony Jordan"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve in a denominational position?

I know this sounds very cliché but first and foremost I received a clear call from God that I could not escape. As a part of that call there were some specific things to Oklahoma. First, the Lord spoke clearly to me about the future of Falls Creek. Second, the need to restore church planting and evangelism to the center of our convention gripped me. Third, the need to take the convention to the churches rather than waiting for the churches to come to us. Fourth, I sensed a deep need for the BGCO to become extra-ordinarily strategic and intentional in the way we did our work rather than just reacting to the times.

2. What is your greatest passion?

My greatest passion is to abide in Christ and thus produce fruit that remains. As to my work it is to lead Oklahoma Baptists to be Acts 1:8 people who will not rest until we have carried the gospel from the end of our nose to the ends of the earth.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

Set aside politics and restore the focus and passion of our churches on evangelism and missions.

4. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program and how does it impact your area of ministry?

The answer is simple. We can do more together than alone. No church could touch the tip of the iceberg of missions and ministry that is accomplished through the Cooperative Program. Every church whether large or small can be a part of the vast kingdom work through the Cooperative Program. There is no better, more effective and efficient system for missions and ministry known to man. You get the biggest bang for your buck!

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

Abide in Christ and other things will come to you. Get a vision for your ministry for your church and do not try to duplicate what others have done. Learn from others but allow God to shape and create in you a ministry unique to your ministry setting.

6. What has been the secret to your success as a denominational leader?

I am humbled that you would ask such a question. While I could say it in a lot of ways it boils down to the fact I love God and his people. People will follow when they know you love them. In the end because I have sought the face of God for direction the Lord has allowed me to lead with boldness and faith that stretches all of us to go beyond our abilities. What he accomplishes on the basis of faith far outstrips our own abilities.

7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I be praying for you?

1. I hope to see the Acts 1:8 vision capture the hearts of Oklahoma Baptists.

2. We must raise an additional $7mil. for Falls Creek over the next 14 months.

3. I long to see our churches return to their passion to reach Oklahoma with the gospel. We have lost our edge and need to refocus. Too many of us spend too much time focused on how to make the saints comfortable rather than how to reach the lost. It isn’t about us it is about them.

4. Please pray that my preaching will remain fresh and I can be used to challenge people everywhere I go to walk with Christ.

Dr. Anthony Jordan is the Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Dr. Jordan also served as the chair of the Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Seven Questions With Dr. Alvin Reid

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve in a denominational position?

I would have to say first of all that I was led, because serving in a denominational position was never a goal of mind. When Dr. Roy Fish talked to a few of us years ago about doing a PhD in evangelism he mentioned that denominational service would be a great way we could use our education. I remember thinking, “Who would want to do that?” Well, God has a sense of humor, because from 1989 till now I have served in a denominational capacity, as a home missionary, then state director of evangelism, then teaching at a Baptist university, to now at a seminary.

I suppose I was led to do so because God prepared me educationally and other ways, and then someone asked me back in 89. Once I stepped into that world I learned one could actually make an impact without being a victim of the bureaucracy. And now, almost 20 years later, I can say God has been very good to me, so I now encourage my students to consider denominational service as well.

2. What is your greatest passion?

To know Christ and make Him known. That is pretty general, so I can narrow that a bit to say my great passion is to help believers see that Christianity is not a ho-hum, once-a-week life, but a radically changed, spiritually charged adventure! I long to see Christians lose a domesticated, institutional conception of Christianity and realize instead we are part of a movement of God. That is probably why I so love to teach and study great awakenings, because those times demonstrate what happens when believers get it, that being a Christian does not mean we have Christ in our lives, but that Christ is our life. I also love to study church and the culture and see what we are missing. Most of the books I write are a meager attempt at dealing with that.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

That is a bit like defining the universe and giving two examples. At the risk of sounding like a pathetic self-promoter, my website ( has some info on that, but in articles and messages I have preached called “Join the Movement” and “Things Must Change.”

In a nutshell we must build on the foundation of an unashamed conviction that God’s Word is both inerrant and sufficient. From that foundation we must realize that there must be intentional, strategic changes made in how we DO Christianity if we are going to reverse the baptism decline and truly impact America and the world. David Dockery wrote years ago that 2 problems the SBC developed a generation ago were: 1) buying into higher criticism in our schools, thus developing a less-than-confident attitude toward the Scriptures in our colleges and seminaries, and 2) buying into a programmatic approach to ministry. I would submit we have largely corrected the first through the conservative resurgence, but have hardly touched the second. It is time.

4. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program?

Because it pays my salary of course. Just kidding. I actually have an endowed chair so it doesn’t pay my salary. But a church should support the CP because of the simple principle that we can always do more together than alone. No approach in the history of man has done more to help train, engage, and enlist missionaries and other leaders than the CP.

At the same time, I am burdened that the great passion for CP is not matched currently by a similar passion for souls. If CP giving had declined four out of the last five years as have baptisms we would see the most dramatic campaign in history to raise CP. I see no similar grassroots burden for the lost. I realize CP stands for missions, and I know baptisms are not the only measure of evangelistic impact. I also know by writing this I am probably making a few enemies, but the Scripture teaches one soul is worth more than all the accumulated wealth of the earth. I believe in the CP, but I believe we measure by money more than by people, and that disturbs me. My friend Thom Rainer noted that 53% of one group of pastors he surveyed stated that they had not shared Christ in the previous six months with a single person. That is a much bigger concern to me than any monetary figure, although both matter and are related.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

I would only tell you what I tell my students. Every week just mention to your people someone you shared Christ with that week. That alone over a short period would do more to encourage believers to witness than anything else. Ministry is caught more than taught! Second, God is still on the throne. We live in a critical time of needed change, but we can be confident in the future, because our God reigns.

6. In a day and time when so many ministers are struggling with having their devotional time, what is your habit and how have you kept it consistent?

Interesting question in that I am about to go speak to a group of college students at my church on this issue. Obviously the daily time with God is vital. But I am increasingly concerned that we have made the “quiet time” a compartmentalized kind of checklist not always directly related to our daily life. Psalm 1 is helpful at this point. Does my devotional life cause me to avoid walking, standing, or sitting with (i.e. being influenced by) sinners? Is my time with God taking me deeper, developing a hunger for God, like a tree planted by a stream?

In other words, can people see the impact of my devotional time in the way God is changing me, or has it become a pagan mantra that I do with no impact? For me to be consistent, I have a few things that fit who I am. I need a rule, a regular schedule. My wife is more laid back in hers but she is probably closer to God than I! I read the Scriptures, typically reading the entire Bible annually. I keep a journal and key prayer requests. And recently I have begun walking for 30 minutes every morning, listening to music as I walk, which really invigorates me spiritually. I also try to read a biography or two of a great Christian every year.

7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I pray for you?

I want to get some books written so I can keep my word on the contracts I signed. I want to see my kids grow deeper in their passion for Jesus. I want my wife to feel like the queen of the world as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. I want to see my students broken for a lost world and equipped to do something about it.

Pray that I would be a good steward of the amazing students I get to teach. I get to tell the greatest news on earth, and I get to teach people how to do that. And they pay me! God is good.

Dr. Alvin Reid holds the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. Learn more about Dr. Reid by visiting his blog or his website.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Christian Women Targets For Rape."

In America, we sometimes forget that we live in a world where Christianity is heavily persecuted. We need to be burdened to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are testifying to the glory of Christ by their suffering and even their death. This article called, "Chin Christian women targets for rape, claims new report" by the Asian Tribune helps to bust our safe baptist bubble. I encourage everyone to start praying for this area and these people.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Michael Dean"

1. In a day where there seems to be little vision and leadership in the local church, what has been the key to your success as a leader?

I really can’t talk about my “success as a leader,” but I do believe that in any church, the key is faithfulness. Jesus is the Head of the church, and the pastor and people must honor Him as such. He speaks by His Spirit and His Word. When we are faithful to hear and heed His Word, God blesses. God has something unique He is calling each individual and church to do. Vision is defining that unique thing God is calling us to do at this time. It requires discipline on the part of the pastor and the people to use their resources to accomplish what God has given them to do.

2. Current statistics show that pastors have a hard time of managing their time and therefore their devotional time suffers. Please share your method or habit of daily devotional time.

My general habit is to get into my study the first thing every morning. The first order of business in my study is my own personal time alone with God. I seek to be refreshed in the Word of God and prayer each morning. I alternate between reading through the NT and reading through the entire Bible every other year. During the time in the Word I journal insights and prayers.

3. In your opinion, what is the key to developing relationships with your membership?

Integrity. Quality relationships are built upon trust, and trust grows from integrity. I try to be real with my people. I try to keep my commitments to them. I strive to show genuine interest in their lives.

4. Southern Baptists are involved in the “Everyone Can, I’m It” evangelism campaign. What does your church do to emphasis outreach and baptism?

We are constantly looking for better ways to do this. In my opinion, evangelism and outreach must go on the shoulders of the people in their circle of relationships. In the course of their everyday lives they must be equipped to have a burden for the salvation of their loved ones and friends. Beyond that, we must help them build relationships outside of church so they can introduce others to Christ.

5. What is your greatest passion?

For people to experience God.

6. If you could tell a person beginning a new pastorate one key to a successful ministry, what would that be?

Let God show you the unique thing He wants to do in that church. Then spend the time loving the people and sharing the vision with them.

7. Many churches struggle because there is unresolved conflict in the church. What has been your method of maintaining peace or dealing with conflict?

When I become aware of conflict in some part of our church, I try to determine the level and the intensity of it. The staff member closest to the situation needs to handle the resolution. If it is something that I need to be involved in I try to call the person(s) involved to understand the situation. Dealing with the matter quickly is important. The longer something festers, the more potential for harm there is to the Body of Christ.

Dr. Michael Dean is pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. For more information on the church or Dr. Dean check out Travis Avenue's Website.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Seven Questions With Dr. Thom Rainer"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve in a denominational position?

Simply stated, the move to LifeWay Christian Resources was a total and unexpected move of God in my life. I never desired nor anticipated that it would happen. In hindsight, I am now able to see how God has used many events and experiences in my life to prepare me for this position.

2. What is your greatest passion?

I am passionate about the Southern Baptist Convention becoming evangelistic again. Our denomination is distracted on so many issues. I am passionate about personal evangelism. And I am passionate about my family: my wonderful wife, my three great sons, and the three incredible daughters-in-law that I have received in my life.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

Leaders, particularly pastors, must set the example for their members in personal evangelism. Also, we must become a people of prayer for awakening and for the conversion of the lost.

4. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program and how does it impact your area of ministry?

The Cooperative Program is one of the greatest mission mechanisms in the history of the Church. It allows a congregation to be a part of something greater than her own local ministry. LifeWay Christian Resources does not receive any CP funds, but I was blessed to be the beneficiary of the CP when I was a seminary student.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

Be a soul winner. Be accountable to someone for your own endeavors as a personal evangelist. And be a man of prayer.

6. What has been the secret to your success as a denominational leader?

I think it far too premature to call my leadership successful.

7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I be praying for you?

Pray that LifeWay Christian Resources will be used of God to be a leading force in the evangelistic renewal of our denomination. And pray that our new entity, LifeWay Research, will be used of God to help us better understand the times and the world we are trying to reach.

Dr. Thom Rainer is President of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also the co-author of "Simple Church".

"Rick Warren Talks About Wife's Cancer"

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, author of "A Purpose Driven Life, Rick talks about new insights that he has gained since learning that his wife has cancer."

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body--but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal of God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good for which you can thank God.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

(Let's remember to pray for Rick Warren's wife, Kay.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

“Seven Questions with Mr. T”

1. What were some of the key issues that lead you to serve with the International Mission Board?

First, God called us to be set apart by our local church for His mission full-time overseas. Since our local church is Southern Baptist, we naturally went with the IMB as our first option. If we served in a secular job here in the states, we would still be on mission through our local church.

Second, we believe Southern Baptists through the IMB are on target, for the most part, in obeying all of the Great Commission. There are many groups out there doing good things, but we believe most IMB missionaries are doing some of the best things to fulfill the Great Commission. The SBC, IMB and our church have faults for sure, but most of us are sincerely trying to follow the Lord’s will.

2. What is your greatest passion?

To become like Jesus and to do His will.

3. What is one barrier that you are experiencing in your ministry at this time?

Extra-Biblical Tradition and Legalism. Most overseas indigenous partners are infected with extra-biblical thinking and practice. We are our own worst enemy. We follow “the tradition of man” in areas such as baptism, ordination of leaders, definition of church, etc. that put up barriers to reaching the lost and multiplying results.

4. What is one thing you would want every Southern Baptist to know about your ministry?

At one time Southern Baptist Ms did missions on behalf of SBC churches. Then times changed and we did missions with the help of our churches. We continue to be on mission with our churches, but now we are taking it one step further – to help you be on mission to the ends of the earth.

5. What has been the biggest culture change that you have experienced since leaving the States?

Like the proverbial frog in the slow boiling pot of water, we gradually become accustomed to the heat and do not notice that we are burning up! Cultural changes? What cultural changes? Maybe the language, living quarters, dress, climate, food, transportation, communication … and the list goes on.

6. What are two or three things that you hope to accomplish in the next year?

Follow-up on the initial harvest among our people group so that they will continue to reproduce and multiply. Help two new couples called to be on mission where we serve. Become more like Jesus and do His will.

7. Are there some prayer needs that we could begin lifting up in prayer?

That God will confirm His calling in our life and that we will obey whatever He tells us to do. That more laborers will listen and respond to God’s call to the uttermost. That more of our SBC churches will worship God by going, praying and giving sacrificially to reach the hundreds of unengaged peoples on this side of the planet.

Mr. T is an International Mission Board Missionary. Because of where he is serving, he must conceal his identity and his location. If you want to follow along with his journey please read Mr. T's Blog

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Superman = Superdad?"

Spoiler Warning: Parts of the "Superman Returns" plot revealed.

After seeing Superman, I was surprised there wasn’t an outcry by the Christian community. In the new Superman movie, he finds out that he is the father of Lois Lane’s 5 year old son. Before Superman takes off in his spaceship to travel back to Krypton, he and Lois have a one night stand. Without telling Lois good-bye, he gets on his ship and leaves earth. Louis is left pregnant and alone. Five years pass before Superman shows back up. Once Superman/Kent finds Lois, he realizes that she has a son. At the end the movie he realizes that he is the boy’s father. We see a scene where he is in the boys room talking over the child as he sleeps. He then flies down from the boy’s room and talks to Lois. Lois asks him if they will see him again. Superman responds that he will be around.

What type of hero is Superman suppose to be? What type of morals does this movie support? You might be thinking, “OKpreacher, relax! Superman is just a comic book story.” You’re right when you say that Superman is a comic book, but what was the purpose of comic books? They were a tool for teaching morals. Superman always stood for something. He stood for truth, justice, and the American way. Every superhero stood for something. They would use their powers to protect innocent people. Comic books were illustrations of people, when choosing to do something wrong, having to pay the consequences. Superheroes were good role models because they didn’t use their powers selfishly, but sacrificially. Growing up I use to pretend to be Superman and Batman and my parents didn’t care because they knew what they stood for.

Now that I proved that I was a superhero nerd, I still believe that Superman brings the wrong message to children. You can't be a deadbeat dad and still be a superhero. The plot of the movie is that Superman is the savior of the world, but he neglects his family. Any person can tell you that the greatest influence a man can make is his influence with his family. Better to be a Superman to my wife and my kids then to the rest of the world.

In closing you don’t have to be Superman to be a Superdad. All you have to do is be committed to your family. Show your child that you love their mother and are committed to her. If that isn’t an option then communicate and work with her in raising your child. Spend quality time with your child. Play games and do things that allow them to know that you value them. If the quality time you spend with them is while they are sleeping, like Superman from the movie, you are missing it. Spend time talking to them and loving on them. What a child needs most isn’t your money, but your time. Commit to being a Superdad because that will make you a Superman.

Monday, July 03, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Morris Chapman"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve in a denominational position?

With the Lord’s help, I attempted to be faithful in the ministry opportunities God gave me, and He graciously opened greater doors of opportunity. Coming to lead the Executive Committee was simply the result of following the sovereign call of God on my life and for His ministry.

2. What is your greatest passion?

My greatest passion is Jesus’ passion – to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10) and to see them become Great Commission Christians who make disciples, baptize disciples, and teach disciples (Matt. 28:18-20).

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

We must harness our passion and resources toward the single priority of the Great Commission, we must do it individually and collectively, and we must do it in the power of the Spirit of God. Unfortunately, we are masters at getting distracted by politics and peripheral issues and even finding good things with which to occupy ourselves, but we need to put first the call of Christ to take the Gospel across the street and around the world.

4. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program and how does it impact your area of ministry?

The Cooperative Program is the most efficient and effective funding method for accomplishing the Acts 1:8 mandate to be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. Since no one individual or single church can fully realize this mandate alone, our predecessors wisely decided that we can do far more together by pooling our collective resources and strategically distributing them through the Cooperative Program.

Because of the faithful giving of Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program, together we are able to:

• launch disaster relief teams to places of desperate need
• dispatch medical missionaries to AIDS-ravaged Africa
• repair inner-city homes all across America
• offer hope to hardened hearts in our nation’s prisons
• speak on behalf of righteousness in the halls of government
• train, equip and send out armies of pastors, chaplains, ministers and missionaries from our seminaries
• start 63 new churches every day
• baptize 1 person every 37 seconds

The Cooperative Program enables Southern Baptists to participate in all of this, and much, much more. Yet everything we do has the same goal, aim and mission -- to show and share the love of Jesus Christ with every person in every part of the world.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

Love the Lord, love your family, love your people, and lead out of that love (John 10:14-15; 1 Peter 5:2-3). Preach the inerrant Word of God, in season and out of season; preach the whole counsel of God, but preach His truth in love (2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 20:27; Eph. 4:15). Do the work of an evangelist and be a personal soul-winner (2 Tim. 4:5; Prov. 11:30). Be faithful to the ministry to which God has called you, no matter the size (Luke 16:10) . Too many pastors spend their lives dreaming of a bigger and better church, and too few give themselves to the church God entrusted to them to serve. Bloom where you are planted, and God will take care of your promotions (Gen. 39-50).

6. What has been the secret to your success as a denominational leader?

If there is anything praiseworthy about my service, it should go to the one who loved me and who gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20). He is the one who gives me the wisdom to lead and the courage to do what is best for the Southern Baptist Convention. Apart from Him, I could do nothing (John 15:5).

7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I be praying for you?

I plan to continue to call Southern Baptists to the priority of the Great Commission and promote the ministries and missions supported through the Cooperative Program. Pray with me that all Southern Baptists will not only take pride in what we are able to accomplish through the Cooperative Program, but also feel a renewed sense of urgency to give systematically and sacrificially so that together we might do more than ever to advance His Kingdom.

Dr. Morris H. Chapman is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. You can visit his website at