Archive for April, 2009

Swine flu precautions for churches

April 30, 2009

In the wake of Swine Flu fears that are swirling, the BGCT’s Diane Lane and Karen Fowler have offered some precautionary meausures churches can take in their nurseries and mother’s day out programs to help prevent the spread of the disease in those environments.

Joshua has been nice enough to post the first pages of these tips on the BGCT web site. Check them out by clicking here. Even the smallest actions, such as repeated hand washing, can cut down on the risk of spreading disease.

If you would like additional help, e-mail Diane Lane at diane.lane@bgct.org.

Hispanic Baptist leaders gather at capitol

April 30, 2009

On April 21, roughly 24 Hispanic Baptist leaders gathered in Austin to speak with legislators about steps that could be taken to help hei-at-the-capitol-004Hispanic students attain their educational goals. The effort was the first action of the BGCT’s Hispanic Education Initiative, which is led by Gus Reyes. Gus shared the other day that the time in Austin was outstanding:

I believe that this group gave the Christian Life Commission help providing legislators with information and an understanding of the priority placed on Hispanic Education as a priority for our Executive Board. I believe that the voices of  these Texas Baptists regarding their concern for education was heard by our legislators. Baptist church leaders from across the spectrum of the 5,600 BGCT churches came to Austin. The group included laity and clergy from five regions of the state, from Anglo and Hispanic churches and from urban and rural congregations.

While the effort focused on the needs of Hispanic students, I am pleased to say that progress made on the bills supported will help African American, Hispanic and all students needing academic opportunities.

 If you’d like more information about the BGCT Hispanic Education Initiative, call Reyes at 888-244-9400.

Unfashionable ch. 1

April 30, 2009

Chapter 1: A Cry for Difference

Tchividjian talks about his upbringing in a Christian home that goes beyond his maternal grandparents, Billy and Ruth Graham. “The gospel, according to my parents, needed to be understood with our heads, felt with our hearts, and worked out with our hands.” He states that his six brothers and sisters followed this better than he.  At 16, he dropped out of school and was escorted out of his parents’ house by police  officers due to his disruptive lifestyle. “I’ll never forget sitting in the back of that police car and looking out the window at my crying mother. I felt no grief, no shame, no regret.”

After this, he began chasing things of this world until one day he woke up after passing out the night before in Miami’s South Beach and went to church – as disheveled as he was before he woke.

“I didn’t understand everything the preacher said that morning, and I didn’t like all the songs that were sung,” he said about the service. But what made an impression on him was the fact that the people of God were simply honoring God. “God was on full display. It was God, not the preacher or the musicians, who was being lifted up for all to see…(which, believe me, I would have seen right through).”

Tchividjian’s experience led him back into a relationship with Christ and to realize that seekers today aren’t looking for something appealing and trendy. They’re looking for something deeper than what’s currently in fashion.

“Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same.” This is the key point of Unfashionable, “because in our trend-chasing world it’s tempting for Christians to slowly lose their distinctiveness by accommodating to culture.”

“Only by being properly unfashionable can we engage our broken world with an embodied gospel that witnesses to God’s gracious promise of restoration, significance, and life.”

Have you encountered a Christian group that was so radically different from the world that it caught your attention, made you think of God in a new way? Have you encountered a Christian group that was so similar to the world that it roused little interest? (No need to post names…) Do you agree or disagree with Tchividjian’s key point that Christians must be different to make a difference?

State Bible Drill finals postponed

April 29, 2009

The Baptist General Convention of Texas has postponed its state Bible Drill finals, which were to be held this weekend.

The convention has moved the competition in the wake of the Swine Flu issues that have been swirling in the state. The move comes as other Texas agencies have postponed or cancelled events due to the Swine Flu. The state University Interscholastic League has postponed or cancelled many extracurricular activities.

“Our children are our greatest asset,” said BGCT Discipleship Specialist Dickie Dunn. “We’ve decided to push back the Bible Drill finals to a later date when we know our children can gather in a healthy environment. At that point, we look forward to coming together and celebrating the hard work these young people have put in all year in preparation for this competition.”
 
The event tentatively has been rescheduled for May 15-16 at the Baptist Building in Dallas. Future updates will be found at www.bgct.org.
 
For more information, contact Dunn at 888-244-9400.

For those of you who are tired of hearing me ramble

April 29, 2009

Soon some new voices joining those of who have been regulars on this blog. Some of the people you may recognize. Others you may not. We hope you find all of them interesting. They’ll bring their unique perspectives to ministry and reaching people for Christ. We hope their writing will encourage and assist you in your efforts to reach others for Christ.

We know there are a lot of blogs out there. We hope you read some of them. We hope you grow in your faith because of what you read. And we’re honored that you spend a little of your time in our plot in cyberspace.

Christian media campaigns

April 28, 2009

The post this morning about I am Second got me thinking. Historically, Protestants have seen technology as a way to spread the gospel. They utilized radio. They used television. Now we’re using the internet. Clearly a lot of people have heard God’s word as a result of these efforts.

In the metroplex lately, it seems like I’ve noticed several “media” efforts, the largest of which is I am Second, which has been on billboards, television and the internet. The group may also have used radio, but I can’t remember hearing a plug for it there. I know a large Dallas church rents out a billboard along a main highway. A suburban church does the same. I imagine some churches locally televise their services, I just don’t know because I’m at church as well.

I’m curious. The quality of material produced by I am Second and these churches is outstanding, top-notch even. The stories and personalities they use are greatness. But given the amount of messages that bombard us today via all forms of media, how effective do you believe Christian media campaigns are? Do people come to faith through them?

If you’ve done this kind of campaign in your church, what have you found to be the results of your efforts?

I have some thoughts, but I’m curious what you think.

Hope leading to growth at Lone Oak

April 28, 2009

Every once in a while I find myself drawn to a church for one reason or another. Lone Oak Baptist Church is one of those congregations. This church keeps coming to my mind. You may remember, this is the congregation that has taken Texas Hope 2010 to heart, dubbing the church’s effort Lone Oak 2010.

One of the church’s first goals was to try to invite the entire community to Easter service. When I first encountered it, the church had 59 active members. It was hoping to fill the sanctuary on Easter. Pastor Don Nichols said they did just that. Despite bad weather, attendance to the sunrise service doubled. In the later service, the church had more than 20 visitors. All the visitors’ cards weren’t turned in.

Great news. God is at work at Lone Oak. I trust He is at work in your congregation as well.

I am second at UTD

April 28, 2009

One of the ways the Baptist Student Ministries at the University of Texas in Dallas is trying to share the hope of Christ with its campus through Texas Hope 2010 is by conecting with I am Second. I am Second is an evangelism campaign that launched a few months ago in Dallas that included television ads, billboards and some other media-driven efforts. In the second wave, the campaign appears to be starting to put some feet on the ground.

Robert Hooker tells me that 25 UTD BSM students were part of the 125 UTD students from seven religious organizations who were trained to use the I am Second campaign to share their respective testimony about the hope Christ has given them. This month, the students are handing out Bibles, booklets and copies of the Jesus film.

May God work through the students’ efforts at UTD. If you haven’t seen the I am Second spots, I’m glad to share the Josh Hamilton story with you. I haven’t watched all the I am Second pieces, but there’s something about Josh Hamilton’s story that is captivating.

God’s people share Christ in Lubbock

April 27, 2009

In the weeks leading up to Easter, God’s people were sharing about Him throughout Lubbock.

Seventy-seven area Baptist congregations worked together to attempt to share the hope of Christ with the entire city leading up to Easter. Volunteers from congregations canvassed the area handing out bags with gospel presentations and fliers for local churches. The effort is part of the pilot project of the Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board’s GPS: God’s Plan for Sharing.

Lubbock was one of six cities across the nation that participated in the pilot effort. The Baptist General Convention of Texas helped support the effort by providing funds to print the materials as well as leadership training through its Engage XP Evangelism Conference in Lubbock. NAMB’s GPS campaign and the BGCT’s Texas Hope 2010 initiative to share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010 dovetail well together.

Robert Storr, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church, said his congregation multiplied its outreach efforts tenfold for the pilot project, distributing 3,000 bags of items that shared the gospel and promoted the church in one zip code. The congregation typically passes out 300 fliers near Easter.

“Our attendance has picked up,” he said. “Our giving has picked up. It has been exciting to see the commitment of our people.”

Steve McMeans, pastor of Indiana Baptist Church, encouraged the church’s volunteers to pray as they walked the streets of Lubbock. God needs to move in order for this effort to be effective.

“What we are trying to do is make some sort of effort to reach out to our community,” he said.

Scott Willingham, BGCT local church evangelism specialist, praised the work of Lubbock Baptists.

“God’s people, working together collaboratively, effectively shared the hope of Christ to Lubbock,” he said. “The pilot project in Lubbock, along with five other cities across the nation, paved the way for the gospel to be presented to every home in Texas and the United States. These are exciting days!”

Ed Sena, director of church services and plants for the Lubbock Area Baptist Association, said participating churches are now being surveyed for feedback about the project. What worked and what did not work will be considered and forwarded to NAMB representatives who will use the information before launching the evangelistic initiative throughout North America next year.

“We are receiving e-mails daily from our pastors,” Sena said. “All in all, it’s been a home run. We’ve developed unity of spirit and unity of mind in our efforts.”

Reporting from Baptist Press was used in this report.

unfashionable intro

April 27, 2009

In the next few weeks, let’s discuss our way through the book Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson who stepped out of and back into a relationship with Christ) to explore ways to make a difference in the world. If you’d like to read the book and discuss, great. If you just want to discuss by reading the posts and discussions, great. Either way, let’s talk.

I’ll post highlights and topics from a different chapter each Monday and Thursday morning until we’re through.

Unfashionable‘s intro holds 10 points in a Letterman Top 10 format that “in an uncomfortably fun sort of way” help us understand what is meant by “unfashionable” as Tchividjian uses in his writing. Some on this list are funny, some hit a little too close to home.

10. You can look around at church and notice that everybody is basically the same age as you are, and they look and dress pretty much like you do.
9. You think it’s very uncool to sing a worship song that was ‘in’ five years ago – much less sing a hymn from another century.
8. It’s been a long time since you disagreed with anything said by Oprah.
7. You’ve attended a ‘leadership conference where you learned more about organization and props (structural renovation) than proclamation and prayer (spiritual reformation).
6. Your goal in spending time with non-Christians is to demonstrate that you’re really no different than they are, and to prove this you curse like a sailor, drink like a fish, and smoke like a chimney.
5. You’ve concluded that everything new is better than anything old or that everything old is better than anything new.
4. You think that the way Jesus lived is more important than what he said – that his deeds are more important than his doctrine.
3. You believe that the best way to change our culture is to elect a certain kind of politician.
2. The church you’ve chosen is defined more by its reaction to ‘boring traditional’ churches than by its response to a needy world.
1. The one verse you most wish wasn’t in the Bible is John 14:6, where Jesus says, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ That’s way too close minded.

This book is a great look at making a difference in our world by being different. If Christians aren’t different, what do we have to offer? If you’ve already read the book, are going to start reading it, or just following along with these posts, I’m anxious for the conversation to start. Leave a comment and let us all know your thoughts about how this relates or doesn’t relate to how you, your church, churches, Texas Baptists and other Christ followers engage the world.


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