THE “NEW METHODISTS,” Part 1:
The History of Evangelism in the SBC
This is the first of a four part series of articles taken from Dr. Kelley’s presentation on how Southern Baptists could become the “New Methodists.” In this first part, he walks us through the history of evangelism in the SBC. In part two, he will examine the current state of evangelism in the SBC. In the third part, he will explain where we’ve gone wrong. And in the final installment, Dr. Kelley will present a way to fix the problem.
Part 1: The History of Evangelism in the SBC
For the last several years, following the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, I have been immersed heart and soul in the recovery and restoration of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. An invitation to address the SBC evangelism directors at a recent meeting in New Orleans came as a breath of fresh air, giving me a reason to return to the passion of my adult life: the study of Southern Baptist evangelism. I used the opportunity to take a deep look around and for some time have been digesting what I saw. I have drawn some conclusions I feel I must share. Along the way, the preparation of this presentation became the preparation of my soul for seeking a stirring of God’s Spirit in my heart and across the Southern Baptist Convention. May it be so for you as well.
The road we will walk begins with the amazing story of how Southern Baptists became the largest non-Catholic religious body in America.
The best snap shot is this. In 1945 Southern Baptists baptized approximately 257,000 people into their churches. In 1955, only ten years later, they baptized approximately 417,000 people, almost doubling in just ten years. To quote an ancient Hebrew expression: Wow! That is amazing, phenomenal growth. How did we do it?
Theological Terminology Thursday:
The Study of Specialized Words Relating to Theology
Conversion and Regeneration
By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
A Personal Application of the Words
I was born into a lost and sinful world; weren’t we all!
Sin messed up the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and the mess has been growing like a blazing inferno. Sin’s power to destroy, distort, and devalue will never change. It is seated in the very soul of sinners. Immorality and corruption, prejudice and pride, iniquity and evil, out of which grow wars and rumors of war will continue unless the hearts of men are changed.
By the age of nineteen, I was the youngest man in my state to acquire a license to sell alcohol and was part-owner and manager of a 500-seat nightclub in my hometown. The business grew. It was sort of the happening place in our city and the largest dance club between Memphis and Nashville. I was messed up and helping people make a bigger mess of their lives.
Something happened to me that changed the course of my life, family, and the lives of others. According to John 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:17, I was born again by the regenerating power of God; the old was gone and the new had come! In Christ, He brought about a new spiritual, volitional, moral, and intellectual change. Thirty-five years later, God continues cleaning up the mess in my life through His life-changing power.
How did this change come about in my life? Did God zap me with a bolt and jolt of regenerating power? Did I say the right words of righteousness or do something to gain God’s favor? Was it God? Was it me? What happened?
Bivocational Ministry, Part 6:
Bivocational Pastors Must Learn to Delegate
Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.
This series looks at the importance of bivocational ministry and bivocational ministers in today’s church. The previous articles in this series are:
Part 1: Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry.
Part 2: Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors – But Only If They Are Trained.
Part 3: Rethinking Our Perception of Bivocational Ministry.
Part 4: Bivocational Ministry is Normal.
Part 5: Bivocational Ministry Is More Common Than Most People Realize.
There are an increasing number of pastors experiencing burn out. Bob Wells has done extensive research on the health of American clergy. In a 2002 article in Pulpit and Pew, Wells concluded that “doctrinal and theological differences aside, North American churches have in common not only the Cross and a love of Christ, but also a pastorate whose health is fast becoming cause for concern.” Pastors are not as healthy as they should be. This lack of health contributes to the higher burn out rates currently being experienced by pastors.
Though all pastors are prone to burn out, bivocational pastors, who work secular jobs in addition to serving churches, are even more likely than fully funded pastors to experience burn out. Bivocational pastors seldom have as many resources at their disposal to help them recover from burn out, so it is particularly important that they avoid this syndrome altogether. One of the best ways for bivocational pastors to avoid burn out is for them to delegate some of their duties to others. It is simply not possible for a bivocational pastor to work full time at the church and also work a full time secular job without paying the price physically and emotionally. As bivocational pastors learn to share the burdens of ministry with an entire team, they will no longer feel as overwhelmed. Building pastoral leadership teams can help pastors avoid feeling burned out.
Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 3: Theological Presuppositions
Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the third of a four-part series by Eric Hankins entitled “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology.” This series attempts to frame Baptist soteriology in a different structure than the traditional “TULIP” comparisons with the doctrines of Calvinism or Arminianism.
The Theological Presupposition in a Reformed Soteriology:
Both Arminians and Calvinists assume a “Covenant of Works” between Adam and God in the Garden of Eden, even though there is no biblical basis for such. The Covenant of Works, they assert, was a deal God made with Adam whereby Adam would be rewarded with eternal life if he could remain morally perfect through a probationary period. Failure would bring about guilt and “spiritual death,” which includes the loss of his capacity for a good will toward God. Adam’s success or failure, in turn, would be credited to his posterity. This “Federal Theology” imputes Adam’s guilt and total depravity to every human. In Calvinism, actual guilt and total depravity are the plight of every person. Free-will with respect to salvation is, by definition, impossible, and with it, the possibility of a free response to God’s offer of covenant through the gospel. The only hope for salvation for any individual is the elective activity of God. In Calvinist soteriology, election is privileged above faith because regeneration must be prior to conversion. In Arminianism, the effects of Federal Theology and the Covenant of Works must be countermanded by further speculative adjustments like “prevenient grace” and election based on “foreseen faith,” a faith which is only possible because prevenient grace overcomes the depravity and guilt of the whole human race due to Adam’s failure. All this strays far beyond the biblical data. Such speculation does not emerge from clear inferences from the Bible, but is actually a priori argumentation designed to buttress Augustine, not Paul.
Monday Exposition Idea:
I Met God There
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
Dr. John Ervin Huss (1910-1987), former pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, confesses,
It was so beautiful in Bellingrath Gardens I wanted to stay. I met God there. I can better understand now that if one goes to the Holy City, never would he have a desire to return to this world. Yes, I wanted to stay. God said, “John, I need you to preach My Word.” Yes, I realized again that life’s “Ridgecrest experiences,” and life’s “Glorietas” and visits to gardens has as their real purpose enduing of greater power to serve God in the hard places.
According to the LifeWay website, “Ridgecrest Conference Center, near Asheville, North Carolina, and Glorieta Conference Center, located near Santa Fe, New Mexico, have ministered to millions of guests during their many years of ministry.” For more information, click here.
Dr. Huss further recalls his memorable visit to the palatial home and garden paradise near Mobile, Alabama, envisioned by Mr. and Mrs. Walter D. Bellingrath in his book titled I Met God There (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1956).
Noting a sign in the gardens that simply reads, “Look,” Dr. Huss comments,
Sad to say, the sign is necessary. We can live in a paradise and never look. . . . People live near Niagara and have yet to see its awesome beauty. . . . We can have at our disposal the Word of God, and yet keep its pages closed and never see the Christ the Bible tells about.