Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Jim Richards and David Rogers

With the announcement that David Rogers would be nominated for the position of 1st. Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I thought it would be helpful to reprint two articles of mine from last summer. Both Jim Richards and David Rogers answered my Seven Questions Series. Personally, I have a great deal of respect for both men and how God is using them in our convention. There should be no fear in voting for either one of these men. I encourage you to allow your choice to be a matter of serious prayer. Only God knows which man should hold this office, because both are qualified. I have listed Jim's answers first because his name came out first for this position.

"Seven Questions with Jim Richards"
1. What is your greatest passion?

Since Jesus saved me at 17 years, He has been my passion. Pleasing Jesus on a daily basis is my desire. I have failed Him many times but He has never failed me.

2. 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.

A strong focus on church planting and evangelism is the greatest need in SBC life. The IMB has been consistent with a strategy. We need that type of strategy in North America. Starting churches that are committed to reaching the lost and reproducing while supporting the SBC giving method will impact Kingdom growth more than anything I can think of.

3. What type of relationship does the state convention have with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? Why should someone who feels called to ministry think about attending seminary?

a. The SBTC is a full partner with SWBTS. Southwestern is supported through the Cooperative Program. The SBTC sends on 53% of all CP operating dollars to the SBC. The seminaries receive about 23% of SBC allocation. SBTC has a scholarship fund for Hispanic Ph.D. students helping to raise more leaders for the next generation.

b. I was told as a young preacher that you can cut more wood with a sharp ax. While you might be able to get to the woods quicker if you don’t sharpen the ax, you will eventually be overtaken by someone with a sharp ax. Preparation for ministry is important.

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

Find your strength in a personal walk with Jesus and stay close to your family. God’s work may take different forms but your personal spiritual development is where His power begins. Every pastor’s wife needs her husband to be her friend, lover, and co-laborer not just her pastor. The children need a dad. Remember the church or ministry is always secondary to those two priorities.

5. As an Executive Director of a state convention, in your opinion, what are some ways a pastor can lead his church to become more evangelistic?

Leadership by example is the best. Being a personal soul-winner is absolutely essential. A church will never rise above the pastor. Use both proven and innovative methods to reach people. Be intentional. Churches do not grow by conversion without a plan. Get a plan (from God) and work the plan.

6. What is one trend in Southern Baptist churches that has given you reason for concern? What is one trend in Southern Baptist churches that has given you reason for excitement?

“Younger leaders” is the answer for both of these.

a. Cooperation on a large scale is loosing ground. Getting and keeping a “big” partnership for missions and ministry is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, some do not see the value in the Cooperative Program.

b. Many of the newer churches have a true desire to make a difference in their areas for reaching people with the Gospel. I see commitment, fervency, and sincerity in many who are beginning in ministry. On a visit to a “20- something” church, I experienced the preaching, singing and ministry. If that is an indicator of the future, I believe Kingdom work will be fine.

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

An important opportunity is before us. We are told that 75-85% of SBC churches are plateaued or declining. We can turn this around. Under God, we must turn this around. A plan is being formulated to help these churches reverse this trend. It can happen. Pray that God will give us insight and resources to make a difference in the thousands of churches that need to be vibrant again.

Dr. Jim Richards is the Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Please visit the SBTC's Blog

"Seven Questions with David Rogers"

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

At various stages in my youth, I felt God’s “tug at my heart” whenever the subject of missions would come up. I had several opportunities for short-term missions experience, first with my church youth group, then through several summer campaigns with Operation Mobilization (OM), and, then through a life-changing 2-year experience on board OM’s missionary ship, the M.V. Doulos, ministering in various countries throughout Europe and West Africa. I finished this time sensing God’s confirmation in pursuing a career ministry in Spain. Shortly after this, I met my wife, Kelly, and we began to pray together about the best vehicle for serving Him as missionaries in Spain.

At that time, we actually decided to go to Spain through another mission organization other than the IMB. After our first term in Spain, however, various circumstances led us to conclude the Lord was leading us to return to our denominational roots, and pursue appointment with the IMB.

2. What is your greatest passion?

My greatest passion is seeing the Great Commission fulfilled among all the people groups of the world. Serving in Spain, I am particularly interested in seeing a viable Christian witness established in all of the approximately 7,400 cities and towns of Spain which still have none. I am also passionate about the Body of Christ coming to maturity and unity (per Ephesians 4), and working together towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

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

The biggest barrier I see in Spain is the stranglehold sin has over the Spanish people, and their reluctance to consider any life change that would imply turning their back on their sinful lifestyle.

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

God is working in different ways in different parts of the world, and at different times in history. But God is still at work. In Spain, and in our ministry, we believe He is doing something new through the arrival of many evangelical Latin American immigrants, new models of church, and greater cooperation throughout the Body of Christ.

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

In Western Europe in general, and Spain in particular, the cultural changes are perhaps more subtle than in some other parts of the world. On the surface, things seem quite similar. But, underneath, basic cultural core values are often very different. Things like individual vs. community rights, the importance of enjoying life and spending time with others as opposed to getting things accomplished efficiently, etc.

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

A. Begin our first on-going “lay” evangelist and church planter training classes

B. See significant spiritual and numerical growth in the church plant in Toledo

C. See some good spiritual growth in all four members of my immediate family

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

A. Long-lasting fruit from special evangelistic efforts this summer all around Spain.

B. That God would raise up some Spirit-filled Spanish and Latin American men and women who are willing to be mentored and trained in evangelistic and church planting ministry.

C. Protection for our family against the attacks of the Enemy.

David Rogers is a Southern Baptist Missionary serving in Spain. He has his own blog at love each stone.


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