Archive for April, 2008

The slightly more wired church

April 30, 2008

According to Barna’s latest study, churches are utlizing some technology — especially large screens in worship — but not others.

Among the findings:

  • Two-thirds of Protestant churches (65%) now have a large screen projection system in their church that they use for services and other events. However, that number is barely higher than the 62% identified in Barna’s 2005 study.
  • Overall, 57% of churches show movie clips or other video segments during their services and events. That represents 88% of the churches that have a big screen in place – up from 76% of the churches who had big screens in 2000, but a slight decrease from the 99% of churches with large screens who showed such materials in 2005.
  • Sending e-mail blasts to large groups of people or to the entire church body is common to a majority of Protestant churches (56%). Surprisingly, however, the prevalence of this practice has not budged since 2005.
  • Back in 2000, just one-third of Protestant churches (34%) had a church website. That exploded to 57% in 2005, and has inched upward since then to 62%.
  • One out of every four Protestant churches (26%) now has some presence on one or more social networking sites (such as MySpace and Facebook)
  • Blogging is also invading the ministry world. One-eighth of Protestant churches (13%) now have blog sites or pages through which people can interact with the thoughts posted by church leaders.
  • One technology that has not shown any discernible expansion in the past several years is that of satellite broadcasting. In 2000, some 7% of Protestant churches had a satellite dish for receiving programming and training.

What technology are you finding effective in your church? How are you using things like e-mail blasts or social networking sites?

What are you trying to figure out how to use? Maybe as a group we can help you out a bit with it.

Side note: I was saving this for Thursday’s Randles’ Rambles post, but it may fit great here. This makes me laugh out loud. There are two Facebook groups around our own Jon Randles. I’m not even sure he knows they exist. They were started by college students.

The first one I found was The Jon Randles Club of Dangerous Disciples. The second is I’d have turned out a lot different if Jon Randles was my dad. Go ahead, you know you want to click at least one of the links.

Ah, those crazy college kids. They make me laugh.

Out and about with Randel Everett

April 29, 2008

Randel Everett, our BGCT executive director, is in the midst of visiting pastors, DOMs, institutional leaders, the media and others around the state. Everyone knows Texas is big, and visiting Baptists in the state is no easy task.

Randel is finishing his first month on the job, and he already has met with more than 1,000 Texas Baptist leaders, mostly pastors, in small settings. He’s sharing a vision for reaching every person in this state with the hope of Christ by Easter 2010. This is a broad vision that you will hear more about in coming days, but it gives room for churches, associations and institutions to pursue whatever efforts God lays on their hearts.

Please begin now to pray for Texas Hope 2010. It will emphasize prayer, caring and sharing.

These are the kinds of things that have always been important to Texas Baptists because they come right out of the pages of Scripture. People around the state seem to be excited again about our future of ministry together as they listen to Randel speak, and I think this is the reason — Randel shares a vision that resonates deeply with who we are and what we need to be doing as followers of Christ.

And Randel is not just talking; he’s hearing about what God is doing in our churches and through the ministries of the BGCT. Quite simply, God is at work and that is always exciting.

Please pray for Randel as he travels, speaks and listens. Pray that he will have strength and stamina and that his heart and the hearts of Texas Baptists will be lifted to a new level of kingdom service together.

Six ways to pray

April 29, 2008

I just left a breakfast meeting in Beaumont, and Danny Gilliam talked about a six-pronged approach to prayer at McDonald Memorial Baptist Church in Orange, where he is pastor.

They have a “strategic prayer focus.” They ask every member to pray for six things.

1) Ukraine (global)

2) San Diego (national)

3) Rio Grand Valley (state)

4) City and region (people, churches, city and school leaders)

5) A street (each person “adopts” a street for which to pray)

6) A non-believer (each person prays for one lost person)

During each Sunday’s worship service, a person shares about one of those six efforts, and that sharing rotates so that, for instance, Ukraine gets talking about every sixth Sunday.

While the prayer is critical, Danny said they’re not stopping there. They’re now pushing “let’s become part of the answer to our prayer.”

A Ukraine trip is planned for September to explore working with an International Mission Board missionary. They’re also trying to plan a San Diego trip with the prospect of participating in the North American Mission Board’s Vision San Diego effort. Both of these trips will be “vision trips” to establish relationships and to develop means for an ongoing relationship.

This is such a great, practical approach. It could be duplicated in any church in Texas. Thanks Danny and McDonald Memorial for doing missions with a biblical approach that takes into account the missions challenge and home and beyond.

Looking for some new music?

April 29, 2008

Check out Dutton. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

Worship community

April 28, 2008

Last weekend while attending the Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas Annual Meeting, I met a pastor from Wisconsin. As I listened to him, it dawned on me that he never referred to his congregation as his church. He used several different terms to refer to it, but never church.

The one that I really picked up on was “worship community,” which he used to describe what most us would call his church.

What do you think of the term “worship community”? I’ve heard some people in Texas refer to their church as a “community of faith.” What do you think of that?

Are we playing semantics or is there a valid reason for using a word other than church?

Buckner in Egypt

April 28, 2008

Ken Hall’s spent the last little bit in the Middle East looking at ministry possibilities for Buckner. He’s been blogging during his trip and has some interesting thoughts. Check them out over on his blog.

I know churches are getting into blogging but …

April 28, 2008

It seems more and more churches are trying blogging. Pastors are posting their sermons each week. Sunday School teachers are using blogs to keep in contact with their classes throughout the week.

But this is the first time I’ve seen this. Deacon, the cat mascot of FBC Decatur, “writes” the church’s blog. It looks like Deacon started blogging this month. And he’s pretty good at it, considering he has no opposable thumbs. It’s another way to engage the congregation.

So I guess that makes FBC Decatur’s blog the cat’s meow. Sorry. Couldn’t resist one pun.

Josue from Venezuela

April 28, 2008

Josue sent this report on Saturday. Sorry for the delay. It got lost in my inbox.

The story today is about a national leader who is making a difference in her community as well as in the Baptist work in Venezuela. Her name is Beatriz Alcala and she is a pastor, seminary professor at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Venezuela and a member of the Executive Board of the National Baptist Convention of Venezuela. She is currently teaching Old Testament Theology and Hebrew. Also, she is finishing her Master in Theology. She is passionate about teaching and missions but her calling is to the pastorate. Beatriz is the pastor at Iglesia Bautista Dios es Amor. 

She has been in this church as a member for seven years. Beatriz has been on the pastoral staff for three of those years as associate pastor and senior pastor. Beatriz has a vision for church planting and social ministries. Currently, Iglesia Bautista Dios es Amor is very involved in church planting and mission work in a region of Venezuela called the Amazon. Some of the church plans include to move to a more central location in order to reach a larger number of people in their part of Caracas. 

They are structured through cell groups for evangelism and discipleship. They also use Sunday School to assimilate people into their church. Beatriz states that the Lord called her to pastor Iglesia Bautista Dios es Amor, ¨God calls men and women to the ministry and He empowers them through spiritual gifts. This has nothing to do with a person´s gender or legal status (single or married). My authority as a pastor comes from the Lord and is directly related to my response of obedience to Christ.¨ Beatriz wants to encourage BGCT churches to partner with churches like Iglesia Bautista Dios es Amor in Caracas in reaching the lost in this great city and country through sports clinics, personal evangelism, music, mime, agriculture projects, family conferences, and conferences designed for young people in Venezuela. 

Let us pray for Beatriz and Iglesia Bautista Dios es Amor and seek the Lord´s leadership to help our brothers and sisters in Venezuela in the fulfillment of the Great Commision.

The future of Venezuela Christianity

April 24, 2008

Josue shared this from Venezuela this afternoon. Please continue to pray for the team. For mission opportunities in Venezuela, contact Steve Seaberry at 888-244-9400.

Today it has been a good day. However, about noon it started raining in Caracas and tonight is the first night of the evangelistic crusade. So we are praying for a good turn out in spite of the rain. 

Here’s a couple of stories of Baptist young people in Venezuela who are living out their faith in a committed and powerful way. Their names are Maribela Gil (20 years of age) and Yusbely Gallardo (28 years of age). Both of them came to help with thie evangelistic effort in Caracas from San Felipe. Their city is about five hours from Caracas. They are members of Primera Iglesia Bautista in San Felipe. Their church has a membership of about 60 and an attendance of over 100 people. They love their church and told me that even though it is a small church every member is personally involved in some type of ministry.

Marielba and Yusbely are the only committed Christians in their nuclear families. Some of the ways they are living out their faith includes a soup kitchen ministry. They serve in a soup kitchen every week ministering to the homeless. Yusbely shares that she loves serving and ministering to people who live in the streets. They are also involved in jail ministries. Marielba volunteers at a juvenile detention center evey week and Yusbely at an adult prison. They are very aware of the Lord’s protetion every time they go to minister in jail because they have often found themselves in very dangerous circumstances. 

Another ministry they have started is to young people who live alternative lifestyles in the plazas of their town. They have been ministering to this group of people and have seen God at work in different ways. They concentrate in building relationships with this group of people believing that God works through relationships. One of the young persons that has been reached through this ministry is Alexandra who is a young mother and has made a commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ. Both Marielba and Yusbely are very grateful to the Lord for every opportunity to minister to those who do not know Him. 

They are also very involved through their church. Both of them teach SS and are involved in discipling new believers. Marielba plays guitar and Yusbely leads worship during the regular church service. Yusbely also preaches and teaches during the midweek church service. Marielba and Yusbely are college students who are daily living out their faith in their communities, their country, and their church.  During this week in the capital of their country, they have been sharing the good news and leading people to Christ every day. 

I have learned a lot from people like them who came to be a part of this evangelistic effort in Caracas.

A National Guard member now also a member of God’s army

April 24, 2008

Here’s another story from Josue in Venezuela.

Members of the Texasa team met a 25-year-old man who is in the National Guard. His name is
Luis Alfredo Azabache. He was working at a plaza when he was approached by Mateo Rendon, who gave him an invitation and an evangelistic pamphlet. He started reading the pamphlet when David Tamez came and called him by his name (as it appears in his name tag). 

He was very receptive and had questions about God. David answered his questions and presented the gospel to Alfredo. One of the questions that Alfredo asked David is “How do I know that God has forgiven me?” David read the Scripture to him from 1 John 1:7-9. David told him that Christ paid for our sins and that He is faithful to his Word. Alfredo broke down and asked Christ into his life in a very emotional moment.

At the end, Alfredo took off his military hat and gave it to David in a plastic bag and told him that it was in appreciation for having come all the way from Texas to share the gospel with a Venezuelan soldier.

David and Alfredo exchanged email addresses so that they can keep in touch. We are happy to be the Lord’s instruments along our Venezuelan brothers and sisters in sharing the message of Christ with the people in Caracas. Please keep us in prayer as we continue to invite and share the good news with people here in preparation for the evangelistic crusade Thursday through Sunday.