Posts Tagged ‘Ministry’

One Church, Two Languages

May 5, 2009

For many years, Southwayside Baptist Church in Fort Worth sought to reach the growing Hispanic community around them, but without any success. Mission after mission, attempts to plant a Hispanic church in their neighborhood failed. Meanwhile, the congregation’s membership continued to dwindle as members moved to other neighborhoods, became homebound or went to be with the Lord.

In 2000, under the leadership of its Senior Pastor, Dr. Alvin Southerland, the congregation began to study their options for the future as they sought to continue reaching out to their community in spite of the cultural and language barriers that existed. The only options at that point were to start another Hispanic mission or to share the church’s facilities with a growing Hispanic congregation. After much consideration, sharing facilities became the best option.

In 2002, Southwayside leadership began conversations with a growing Hispanic church in the south side of Fort Worth and invited them to consider sharing facilities with them. The plan was that as Southwayside decreased in membership and presence, the Hispanic congregation would continue to grow, own the property and carry on with the ministry. But when the time came for the Hispanic church to vote, they didn’t have the majority required to make the move. 

This came as a major blow to the people at Southwayside, but also to some families from the Hispanic congregation that had come to love the Southwayside family, had grasped their vision and had come to love the Hispanic community around them as their own.  As a result, in August 2003, several families, couples and young adults from the Hispanic church came and joined Southwayside as members, following God’s call upon their lives. 

Wow!  Southwayside had plans, but God had slightly different ones.  It wasn’t a mission. It wasn’t a department. It wasn’t another church. It was Southwayside, but with the ability to minister in two languages!  Southwayside Baptist Church now looked like the community it longed to reach! Soon, a Spanish worship service and a Spanish Sunday School were started.  English classes began to be offered at no cost to people in the community.  Children and youth ministries began to grow.  Community outreach events and Vacation Bible School now had a greater impact than before.

Shortly after the new members arrived, in the fall of 2003, Southwayside began to strategically place Hispanic members in key church committees. Many were asked to serve as leaders in different ministries and as children and youth teachers. When the time came for the church to elect new deacons, Hispanics came to serve as part of the deacon body. The commitment to reach the community for Christ grew even more.

After several months of holding Spanish worship services in the church fellowship hall, and realizing that this was hindering the service’s growth, the church decided to move the traditional English service in the sanctuary to 9 a.m. and moved the Spanish service to the sanctuary at the 11 a.m. time. This was an unprecedented decision that made an immediate impact in the church’s ministry to Spanish speakers. But an even more unprecedented decision would come five years later when the church elected a Hispanic as its Senior Pastor.

In December 2008, Dr. Alvin Southerland, Southwayside’s Senior Pastor for nearly a decade, was called to pastor Sandy Plains Baptist Church in Georgia. After three and a half months of prayer and consideration by the deacons and the congregation, on April 19, 2009, Southwayside Baptist Church called Rev. Rubén Martínez as its Senior Pastor, a critical step in the congregation’s vision to become a church that effectively reaches the community around it. What a great milestone to celebrate!

Many churches in our state are where Southwayside Baptist Church was almost 6 years ago. I am not saying that this needs to be the experience of every church. But I wonder, what would happen if more of our congregations saw ministry to Hispanics/Spanish speakers in a whole different way?

Retreat from What?

July 1, 2008

By Royce Rose, BGCT director of theological education

Growing up Baptist in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s (okay, I am still growing up), retreats were a staple means of, well, retreating.  Baptists weren’t big on reflection in our normal activity packed church schedules and content and action focused programs…worship, Bible Study, missions.  We were pretty much a “breathing-out people” more than a “breathing-in people.”  For us Acts 1:8b was possible without Acts 1:8a. 

It was in retreats that I had time to think, to reflect, to ask questions.  God always spoke to me at retreats, whether as a participant or a leader; they were special times in my journey, major markers of discoveries and commitments.

I have been drawn back a number of times to retreats at Laity Lodge in the Texas Hill Country, a gift to the spiritual growth of the laity from the Howard E. Butt Foundation.  Because I am in the middle of planning a Laity Institute retreat this August, I am even more drawn to my retreat experiences in that special place.  I started dating my wife of 40 years during a Christmas retreat in ’65 and made decisions about turning my life back toward Christ after watching “In His Steps.”

The impact of retreats at Laity Lodge during Baptist Laity Institute retreats over the past few years has been equally significant.  God has renewed in me a passion for the ministry of the laity, a powerful ministry often lost in our collective Baptist mind.  I have recalled the passion I had 25 years ago that caused me to take a “road less traveled” in my ministry journey.

As I began to plan with retreat leaders Gordon and Jeanene Atkinson (, Gordon asked, “What is the radical idea?”  The radical idea is that the calling of every Christian is a sacred calling and the most important callings, vocations, are lived out in the secular world by the men and women who God has called and gifted for just such salt and light work in the world.

So I am hoping for retreat…from the daily routine…for time to think…to reflect…to hear from God through those who show up and share their sacred callings.  I am anxious to be a “breath-in” Baptist.

Every one’s invited…to retreat.

What have retreats meant to you?

Coming law change creates significant ministry opportunity

June 23, 2008
Starting Sept. 1, Texas will begin waiving the $60 fee for marriage licenses for couples who have gone through a state-certified premarital education course, including those conducted in churches.
This law change could send significant numbers of people to churches looking for premarital counseling.
On Wednesday, June 25, Keith Lowry, BGCT family ministry specialist, and the Alliance for North Texas Healthy Effective Marriages will help church leaders understand how to get get their programs certified by the state and take advantage of this law change to share a Christian word of hope for today’s marriages.

This conference will be broadcast online via the BGCT stream starting at 11:30 a.m. To view the broadcast, click here at the appropriate time. 

Sweet Spot: FBC Big Spring sends 100 dozen cookies to Iraq

May 20, 2008

FBC Big SpringKen Coffee, of Strong Coffee fame (among other things), sent me this photo today. Members of First Baptist Church in Big Spring, where Coffee is serving as intentional interim pastor, made and sent more than 100 dozen cookies to a BGCT-endorsed chaplain serving in Iraq.

That chaplain will use the cookies to minister to troops in Iraq. For more information on how or where to send cookies, call 888-244-9400.

That is a LOT of cookies. I know the church prayed over the cookies as they made them. I pray they have a significant impact in Iraq.   

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.

Is your church doing enough to help the poor?

April 22, 2008

Chances are, your members think so. At least according to a recent report.

A national survey, released Monday, showed 67 percent of Americans – over half of whom attend church at least once a month – agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “My church already does enough to help the poor in my community.” Less than half (42 percent) said their church spends more money on itself than on the community.

Despite most Americans thinking they’re doing enough, poverty is on the rise. I can’t help but think with rising fuel and food costs, the number has risen even further this year.

Jesus clearly had a heart for the poor and hurting. Are His churches doing enough to help the impoverished around them?

If not, why not? Are Christians ignorant of the problem, simply disconnected from the issue or is it something else?

FBC Urbandale sends cookies to Iraq

April 16, 2008

Earlier this month I wrote I’d post photos people sent me of church members sending cookies to the BGCT-endorsed chaplain in Iraq who is running a coffee shop there.

Here’s some members of FBC Urbandale. From left to right: Lorene Puyear, Mary Lou Cummings, Jo Crain, Anna Lee Anderson, Mary Baty, Mary Stroud, Carolyn Boone, and Joye Kayler. Others that brought cookies (not pictured) were Ann Dibler and Barbara Smith. 

Cookies for soldiers


They sent some cookies. Will you? Have you already? Send me a photo at I’ll post it.

Want more information on the ministry or how to send cookies? Call the BGCT at 888-244-9400.

Ever felt this way?

February 25, 2008

Jeff over at the Dallas Morning News religion blog points out this article from a reporter who has been covering the crisis in Darfur for more than four years. Among the things she writes are these words:

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – An elderly Darfuri woman stood in front of the charred remains of her house. She tapped me on my shoulder and held out a wizened hand full of seeds.

“How am I supposed to eat this?” she pleaded.

Totally humbled, I was speechless, unsure how to help.

Now her face haunts my nightmares.

It will be five years on Tuesday since war broke out in Darfur, since rebels seized a town and prompted a Sudanese counter-insurgency reckoned by foreign experts to have killed 200,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes.

I have been writing on Darfur for 4 1/2 years.

More than ever, I am wondering how much difference my reporting can make.

Despite the world’s largest aid operation and global media attention, people are still dying, foreign peacekeepers have not been fully deployed and the woman in my nightmares cannot eat.

While Jeff rightly links to the story in an effort to raise awareness about Darfur in hopes of changing the situation, it struck me in a different way. I couldn’t help but think of the ministers out there who may be feeling the same way. How many Christians are serving long days and nights, only to feel they are making little difference?

If that’s you, I want to encourage you tonight. You aren’t alone. People around the globe are praying for you on a regular basis. I’m praying for you as I write this post. God has strengthened and will strengthen you in what He has called you to do. He already is working through you to change people’s lives. All He asks of you is that you remain faithful.

Tonight, Dr. Wade said something that still is sticking with me that seems to fit nicely in this vein. Let me share that in closing tonight. Tuesday, we’ll post as much as we can during the Executive Board meeting.

“All God asks of us is we give Him what we have for the time He needs it.”

The Ruth Project

February 21, 2008

The Ruth Project is the immigration center in Waco. ISAAC, a joint venture of Buckner and the BGCT, helped the leaders of the Ruth Project gain the training they needed to open the center.

Clint Brown recently met Carmen, one of the Ruth Project’s organizers. He has a well thought out post about it here. Check it out. I look forward to reading how his church partners with the Ruth Project in the future.