Month: July 2009 (page 2 of 2)

A Video for Christmas in August

twoguys

Two of the 6.5 billion people who need the Gospel

June 29 I sat in my black recliner responding to email on my MacBook Pro. I received an email through Facebook from a former student asking for prayer as they tried to raise support to go overseas. I didn’t ask if this student had been affected by budget shortfalls or even if they tried to go through the International Mission Board. But I knew that this was the primary purpose of the Cooperative Program and our mission sending agency. The churches gather their support so that our missionaries can focus their efforts on reaching the world for Jesus Christ and not fund raising.

Many thoughts rushed through my head. What if every Southern Baptists gave just $2? What if the majority of Southern Baptists gave what they would spend on their Sunday lunch? What could I do to help with the problem?

I could give, and I plan to do so. I could encourage my own church to have an offering, and I plan to do so. But could something more be done to solve the problem. I have many current and former students willing to die for Jesus if that is what it takes, and they may not be able to go to the mission field because of a few green pieces of paper… I know great friends and great men of God who may have to come home from the field if we do not give to support missions.

More importantly 6.5 billion people around the world will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Every penny we give to support missions helps reach one more of those eternal souls. Our money affects eternal destinies through the work of our missionaries to bring glory to God.

In this context, a crazy idea emerged. I am blessed to work with some of the most talented people in the world at Southwestern Seminary. The best thing about these people is that we share a passion to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I began to send emails and make phone calls collecting ideas on how we could use our resources to support the call of Johnny Hunt and others to have a Christmas in August offering to support our missionaries. As I understand it, this offering will be a unique Lottie Moon Christmas Offering taken in August and again in December to help offset the budget shortfall resulting from the economic crisis.

Through conversations, approval of the concept, and the input of some wise co-laborers, we determined the best way we could help would be to produce a video to spread the news. With me leaving for a week long vacation at noon the next day, everything had to come together perfectly. In what I can only believe was the confirmation of God, I witnessed cooperation and agreement across the denomination quicker than I thought was possible.

The idea was finalized. I sat down with the staff to plan how we could gather the needed resources on such short notice to produce this video. I thought our team might be weary just returning from the Southern Baptist Convention, but instead they expressed excitement at meeting this impossible challenge.

As I write this, video footage, photos, and design elements are being gathered along with great cooperation from others who have agreed to let us use their footage. The goal will be to provide a resource that churches or anyone for that matter can use during the month of August to compel attenders to support the IMB through a Lottie Moon offering–Christmas in August. The video will be kept short enough that churches could show it at strategic moments in their services.

If all goes well, the video will be available for download on July 24 or at the latest July 31. A press release will be sent and an email to our Southwestern alumni encouraging them to use the video to get the word out about the Christmas in August offering. I expect a great response. As you know, Southwestern has a history of supporting missions. Robert Naylor said, “The Sun never sets on Southwestern” because it has alumni missionaries spreading the Gospel all over the world. It is my hope that others will send emails to their various contacts so that as many churches as possible will utilize this tool to encourage support for the Great Commission.

Please pray for the production of the video, and that God will use this to garner large cooperation and support across our denomination. More importantly let’s pray for a world wide movement of God that sees millions saved.

I hope that students like the one who emailed me can spend their time sharing the Gospel among unreached people groups rather than starting Facebook groups to raise funds here in America. The eternal destinies of over 6 billion people depend on it.

SWBTS students hear from GCR Task Force leaders

Rotundaby Keith Collier

Jul 08, 2009

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) — More than 40 students and pastors in a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) seminar at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary participated in a panel discussion, July 6, discussing the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force, which was appointed by SBC president Johnny Hunt at the annual meeting in June; its role as a continuation of the Conservative Resurgence; and how Southern Baptists can be involved.

Panel members included Ronnie Floyd, GCR Task Force chairman, an alumnus of Southwestern, and pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark.; Al Mohler, GCR Task Force member and Southern Seminary president; Nathan Lino, an IMB trustee and pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church; and David Allen, dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern. Steven Smith, associate dean for the D.Min. program at Southwestern, moderated the panel with Floyd and Mohler participating via telephone.

Reflecting on the approval of the task force, Floyd said, “I believe that day was one of the great days in my life as a Southern Baptist pastor … because I saw a denomination really rally around the cry of the Great Commission. Let’s put everything on the table, and let’s see what we can do to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. And that’s how Dr. Hunt and I are looking at it.”

When asked what church leaders could do to help, Floyd called on pastors to inform their congregations that the SBC is doing an in-depth study to get more resources toward fulfilling the Great Commission. He also encouraged pastors to point their people to the GCR document online at www.greatcommissionresurgence.com.

Floyd admitted that the assignment the task force has been given cannot be accomplished without God’s help. The task force’s first two meetings are scheduled for August, and Floyd requested prayer for them as they embark on this undertaking.

“My goal is to try to get 5,000 Southern Baptist Christians to walk alongside us in this with prayer,” he said.

Mohler said involvement in the SBC by younger pastors is an issue of stewardship and cooperating to accomplish something greater than themselves. He expressed gratitude for the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence and excitement about the “new generation rising to responsibility in the SBC.”

“This is the generation produced by the Conservative Resurgence,” Mohler said. “Without the Conservative Resurgence, we would have no hope of seeing a generation of those who are now on our seminary campuses, young men who are now planting churches, younger pastors who really are rising to the moment of denominational leadership. I think it comes as we understand that we have inherited patterns for which we are grateful, in terms of the stewardship of the mission entrusted to the SBC, but even more pressing questions about what kinds of structures, processes and all will really fit a missional approach to the 21st century. What we’re looking at here is a generation that, to its credit, is disinterested in the older kind of patterns of Baptist cooperation. …

“The denomination will either be the answer to what they seek to be the responsibility of the church to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, to see the nations exalt in the name of Christ, to see God-honoring, biblical congregations formed in the United States or this generation will find another answer to that question. I want the Southern Baptist Convention to be the answer to the question ‘How best do Southern Baptists do that together?’ A tribal identity just is not going to work. …

“When I talk about the tribal identity, I’m talking about the Southern Baptist Convention produced particularly in the 1950s and the 1960s–a generation that had a very corporate mindset. … They sublimated theological conviction to an institutional, tribal ethic. The leaders of the Conservative Resurgence were not only willing to break that tribal ethic, they basically became outlaws in the old denominational infrastructure.”

When asked if the IMB needs a Great Commission Resurgence, Lino replied, “Absolutely. I think a lot of this GCR groundswell has come out of a need at the IMB.”

He explained the $30 million shortfall in the 2008 Lottie Moon offering, resulting in suspension of critical missionary endeavors and cutbacks on missionary appointments. Because of the shortfall, the IMB only has the funds to appoint 200 missionaries to the mission field in 2009, and as of May, 191 have been appointed.

“So, from May until December of 2009, are you as a Southern Baptist satisfied with the fact that we can afford nine missionaries?” Lino asked.

“We have missionaries right now who are fully trained, appointed, ready to go, that we cannot send to the field, and we have people who are dying and going to hell over this.

“Here’s the sad factor: In 2008, if you count the money given to buildings, missions and budget giving, Southern Baptists gave $12 billion to our churches. Of that, 2.5% got to the IMB, and only 5% of the world’s population lives in the United States. I think we need a Great Commission Resurgence. I think we’ve lost our focus, and we’ve got to get back to valuing the people overseas who are dying more than we do the programs that satisfy our happiness here in the states.”

Later in the panel discussion, Lino said the IMB is “very efficient in its spending.”

“There’s this perception out there among some that the IMB is not as focused as they should be about spending. I can tell you as a trustee that is simply not the case. Upwards of 70 percent of our income goes to personnel salaries. We invest Southern Baptist dollars in the people that God has called to go there and do the work. There is not all this fat slush fund sitting around that is being misspent.”

Allen was asked questions about his views on the GCR document and its relationship to the Conservative Resurgence. He expressed both excitement and concern over the GCR document, mentioning questions about the scope of article nine in the document and the extent of the phrase “methodological diversity.” Regardless, he signed the online document.

“Like all documents, no document is perfect,” Allen said. “I’m in basic agreement with what the GCR document is all about. We’ve got to focus on the Great Commission, no doubt about it.”

As for the first generation of those in the Conservative Resurgence–including Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines, who Allen is closely associated with–Allen noted that everything in the GCR document is “exactly what they were pushing.”

“A Great Commission Resurgence, if it is done biblically, is exactly what we need,” Allen said. “So, from that standpoint, I am optimistic about where it could go and what could happen. Cautious but optimistic would be my way of viewing the document and why I’m supporting it. “

Allen said he is excited about those who have been appointed to the task force, and Southwestern is proud to have Southwestern graduates serving on it. Of the 18 members appointed, nine attended Southwestern.

Both Floyd and Mohler encouraged pastors to contact them and other task force members with questions, concerns and suggestions.

Great story on positive dialogue

Southwestern Seminary just released a great story on a gentleman’s dialogue between Malcolm Yarnell and Michael Haykin. There is also information on an upcoming conference. It is good to see such cooperation and dialogue in the SBC.

Check out the story here.

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