Archives For November 2012

No more Twinkies?

Meredith Flynn —  November 29, 2012


Hostess Brands, the baker of sweet treats that include Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Ding Dongs, recently announced its intent to go out of business and lay off its 18,500 workers. Executives blamed a labor strike by two key unions, which they said compounded already high labor and pension costs. Union leaders countered that mismanagement had kept the company in bankruptcy for all but three of the past eight years, and that executives received large pay raises while asking for 30% wage and benefit cuts from the other workers.

I’m not in a position to judge which side bears more responsibility for the company’s failure. But as a consumer, I simply find myself thinking, “What? No more Twinkies?”

And I’m not alone. Texas-based Hostess has about $2.5 billion in annual sales. So if something’s not done, there could be literally millions of people bemoaning the loss of their Hostess Cupcakes, Susie Q’s, and Sno Balls.

And then of course there are the thousands of workers in 33 plants across the United States that face unemployment. At least from the outside, we can’t help but wonder, “Couldn’t this have been avoided? Couldn’t the leaders and the workers have worked out their differences, and in doing so protected the mission of the organization, the value of its products, and the very livelihoods of their families?”

Sadly, we sometimes see the same tragic dynamic at work in churches today. A pastor insists that the people he leads are apathetic, or unwilling to change or sacrifice. Or leaders in a congregation assert that the pastor isn’t effective, or isn’t listening to the right people. They find themselves in conflict over direction, or style, or who should make what compromises or sacrifices.

I guess it’s no longer shocking to me that those kinds of disagreements can arise in a church. What does surprise me is how much the pastor, or congregation, or both are often willing to sacrifice to hold their position. And what sometimes surprise me even more are the words or behaviors that can flow from God’s people in those circumstances.

Recently I talked to two different pastors whose wives were urging them to leave not only their churches but also the ministry. I simply asked them how things were going at their church, and agony, disappointment and disillusionment flowed freely from their hurting souls.

Not long before that a lay leader lamented to me that his pastor had led the church in decline down to practically nothing before leaving. Another said that the pastor had left with most of the younger members to start another church nearby.

As with the Hostess Brand, I’m not always in a position to judge which side bears the greater responsibility in these church conflicts. But in every case, the loss is so much greater than Twinkies. The loss is often the effective Gospel witness of the church, at least for a while.

I’m told that some other company is almost sure to step in and rescue Hostess. Even though the current executives and many of the laborers have probably forfeited their roles, the brand and the product line continue to have incredible value. Someone will continue to make Twinkies.

And by God’s grace and providence someone will continue to deliver the Gospel. Whether it’s Hostess or the local church, leaders and workers who are willing to risk the mission and the health of the organization itself for the sake of their preferences or personal benefits always make the wrong choice. Those who submit lovingly to one another in the spirit of Philippians 2 make the right choice. And in the case of the church, they protect the wonderful privilege of delivering the Gospel.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

Cynthia Barbee from Maplewood Park Baptist Church in Cahokia, Ill., washes dishes in a Disaster Relief kitchen trailer stationed on Staten Island, N.Y.

THE BRIEFING | Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers deployed after Hurricane Sandy have prepared more than 1.2 million meals for families affected by the super storm. The volunteers also have assisted with chainsaw and mudout jobs, and have reported 56 individuals who have made professions of faith in Christ as a result of SBDR ministry. Next on the horizon: The North American Mission Board will coordinate church-to-church partnerships in the region and will mobilize student volunteers for long-term ministry and service in the Northeast. Read more at

Other news:

84 new missionaries commissioned by IMB
The International Mission Board appointed 84 new missionaries Nov. 15 at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo. Among them: a former deer meat processor, a doctor, a nanny and a nurse. They’re going to the ends of the earth not to settle down, but to press forward to the ends of the earth, said IMB President Tom Elliff. Read more at

Most voters support traditional marriage
Despite victories by gay marriage supporters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota on Election Day, a majority of voters nationwide still believe marriage is between one man and one woman, according to a new survey by the Polling Company. The research found that 60% of voters in this year’s election agreed that “marriage is between one man and one woman.” Of those surveyed, 34% disagreed with the statement. Read more about the survey at

Barna launches Hispanic research division
Barna Research has launched a new division and web page to focus on trends among Hispanics. The site,, currently includes articles and infographics specifically related to the Hispanic population’s views on marriage, family and youth. For example, Barna found 66% of Hispanics agree with a traditional definition of marriage, and 60% agree that sex should take place within the context of marriage. For more findings, go to

LifeWay launches new digital resources
To keep up with the growing demand for digital content and mobile-ready resources, LifeWay Christian Resources has launched a new ebookstore and mobile ebook reader app. The free LifeWay Reader app allows users to build a digital library, access some previously purchased LifeWay content, and link quickly to Bible references in their books. The app also comes with a free pre-loaded copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Read more at

HEARTLAND | Excerpted from Baptist Press

Thanksgiving in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has prompted new reflections on life and faith among those who were impacted and those who came to their aid:

“God used the fury and destruction of Hurricane Sandy to give this pastor, our church, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and others the opportunity to walk the talk, get outside the walls of the church and be Jesus to those in need,” said Don Knotts, pastor of Wayside Southern Baptist Church in Buckhannon, W.Va. His church hosted Southern Baptist feeding units in the aftermath of a crippling snowstorm connected to the hurricane.

“This year as we give thanks to God for His many blessings, many West Virginians, me included, will remember things often taken for granted. Things like electricity, hot water, hot meals and the people who work hard to make sure we have them. And a special thanks for selfless volunteers who came to minister, in the name of Jesus, in a time of great need.”


“… We live in a community that often appears to have no real tangible needs. By in large, people in our community have what they need and more,” Sterling Edwards, pastor of Ecclesia Church of East Islip and Crossroads Church in Farmingdale, wrote. “People in our community work hard. They fight to make ends meet. But all in all, the majority of people in our community are quite comfortable.

“So when something like Hurricane Sandy comes along, it reveals a vulnerability. It reveals that there are needs. But this storm has provided us an opportunity to share with our community that food, shelter, clothes and gasoline are not the only needs that we have. We have been able to share that Jesus Christ has met our absolute greatest need.”


Ray Parascando, pastor of Crossroads Church on Staten Island, was among the first responders in a community hit particularly hard by the hurricane. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I’ve been reminded how easy it is to take for granted the comforts of home like food, electricity and phone. More impactful is the sobering realization that every day of life which God gives is truly a gift,” Parascando wrote to Baptist Press.

“In just one wave, everything that is dear to your heart: people, possessions and property can be destroyed. These are facts that all of us know well but these same facts easily get lost in the grind of life. I’ve been challenged once again to make every day count and to wisely number my days with family, friends and the faith.

“Thanksgiving this year will be more significant than in past years for sure. I’ve been convicted to live with an attitude of gratitude regardless of the many storms that life may bring my way.”

For more Hurricane Sandy reflections, go to

HEARTLAND | Church planter Marcus Randle started Resurrection House Baptist Church with broken people in mind. A Chicago native and former social worker, Randle had never pastored a church before he started Resurrection House in 2009. Since then, the church has been reaching people in Chicago like Deidre.

“Life was a mess,” said Deidre, who was heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol. But she met Christ and people who cared about her at the church, and “I never in a million, in a zillion years, dreamed that I would be in the space that I am now,” she said.

See Deidre’s story in the video below, and go to for more.

Marcus Randle: Worth It All After All from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.

DECATUR, Ill. | The photos below depict just a few highlights of the IBSA Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church. Read the November 26 issue of the Illinois Baptist for more in-depth coverage, and go to to watch videos of Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting messages.

Chris Vieth and the choir from Tabernacle Baptist Church lead in worship during the IBSA Pastors’ Conference.

Kenny Qualls, Ronnie Floyd, Wes Feltner and Phil Hunter preached impassioned messages on the theme “Renew” during the Pastors’ Conference.

At IBSA’s Young Leaders Forum, attenders snacked on hot wings while Charles Campbell (right) led a panel discussion featuring experienced leaders (from left) Tim Lewis, Don Sharp and Kenny Qualls.

Women at the Ministers’ Wives’ Conference listen to Penny Weaver, director of New Life Pregnancy Center in Decatur, Ill., as she describes how the center meets the very real needs of new moms.

IBSA’s Rex Alexander talks with Carol Stewart at the Illinois Disaster Relief exhibit.

Shoppers peruse the resources available at the LifeWay bookstore, run by representatives from the LifeWay store in Carterville, Ill.

Childcare volunteer Nancy Russell shares a pretend snack with one-year-old Lucy Kreuter. Illinois Disaster Relief workers provided free childcare during the Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting sessions.

Chris Cutsinger, pastor of Center Baptist Church near Marion, Ill., is this year’s IBSA Bivocational Pastor of the Year. He was presented with the award IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams and Bob Carruthers (left), director of missions for Sandy Creek Baptist Association.

Jonathan Peters, president of the Illinois Baptist State Association, preaches his president’s message on “taking the Gospel to the streets.” Peters urged listeners to consider Illinois’ largest metropolitan areas as their mission fields.

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page told Illinois Baptists they had embraced more than any other state, percentage-wise, the Cooperative Program 1% Challenge.

Nate Adams invites Illinois Baptists to choose to partner, choose two cities (Chicago and St. Louis), and choose two people to pray for during Wednesday evening’s Mission Illinois celebration and commitment service.

Don Sharp (left) of Faith Tabernacle Church in Chicago and Tim Lewis of Bethel Baptist, Troy, entreated meeting attenders to engage in ministry in their cities, Chicago and metro St. Louis.

Meeting attenders hold their hands out in the directions of Chicago and St. Louis, praying over each region that God would continue to send leaders and draw people to Himself.

Tim Sadler (right) interviews Mindy Burwell and her husband Mark during the Mission Illinois celebration. Mindy received Christ after her pastor’s wife, Vickie Hayes, began praying for her through the Choose2 evangelism emphasis.

Illinois Baptists commit to ‘Choose2’ and pray for two lost friends or family members.

The choir from Broadview Missionary Baptist Church leads in worship before their pastor, Marvin Parker, preaches the annual sermon.

Marvin Parker closes the 2012 IBSA Annual Meeting with a plea for Illinois Baptists to reach out to their families, friends, and neighbors with the Gospel.

DECATUR, Ill. | Where would Paul be if he were around today, asked IBSA President Jonathan Peters in his message during the IBSA Annual Meeting. He’d be at Starbucks, or in a college campus cafeteria. “He’d be anywhere where somebody is talking about something that he believes could point them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ,” Peters said.

And Paul would definitely in the cities. “He wouldn’t discount the towns,” Peters added, “but he would spend most of his time in the cities. And he wouldn’t apologize for it.”

He posed another question to the crowd: Where do the majority of lost people in Illinois live? The answer is obvious, and crowd members called it out to Peters: Chicago. “We need to reach our cities for Christ. We need to be selfless in our churches and not view ourselves as those who demand services from denominations, or to place unrealistic expectations on people to get the job done for us.

“Every believer in Illinois is responsible to reach the people of Illinois. And the people of Illinois, for the most part, still live in large urban centers.”



If you [lose heart], be a basketball, not a football.

A football is built to be unpredictable. Not a basketball. It can bounce. It is predictable.

Don’t stay down long. Bounce.

Phill Hunter, pastor of West County Community Church, Glencoe, Mo.

Heard at the IBSA Pastors’ Conference

Some people read about God, sing about God, talk about God. But how radically different it is to know we have the privilege of living every moment of our lives in the presence of God?

Kenny Qualls, pastor of FBC, Arnold, Mo.

Heard at the IBSA Pastors’ Conference

DECATUR, Ill. | When we get offended and stay offended, we’re dangerously close to allowing unforgiveness to take root, said Ronnie Floyd during the IBSA Pastors’ Conference at Tabernacle Baptist Church.

We have high expectations of people, Floyd said. “When our expectations are not met, we take offense and we stumble, and [it] becomes the foundation for unforgiveness in your life.”

Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas, encouraged pastors to let go of the things that offend them now and have offended them in the past, whether it was other people, life’s circumstances, or God’s activity. He spoke from Luke 7, where Jesus said, “And anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed.”

“Ministry can be mean, ministry can be tough…When we are in even the best of conditions, offense occurs. We stumble. At times, you have to deal with stuff relating to unforgiveness. And just like a bad tooth, you’ve got to get it out of your mouth.”

But there’s good news, too, Floyd said. “God wants to use everything in your life for good. Everything in your ministry for your good.

“Some of your stories today are messy and curvy. I’ve got good news. God wants to use you.”


DECATUR, Ill. | Pastor Wes Feltner of Tabernacle Baptist Church kicked off the annual IBSA Pastors’ Conference with a message from Genesis 50.

“Do you believe in the reality that your life and circumstances of your ministry [are] absolutely working toward a divine purpose that maybe you can’t see right now,” Felter asked the audience of pastors and their families. Teaching on the life of Joseph, who was betrayed by his own family, sold into slavery, and wrongly accused and imprisoned, Feltner exhorted his listeners to remember that ministry brings a mix of blessing and bitterness.

“Church life is a carousel of victory and defeat. That’s Joseph’s life, that is his ministry and I daresay many of us can relate to that.”

But Joseph’s example says we can stay faithful despite the worst persecution and frustration, Feltner said. Here’s what Joseph knew that you and I must know if we’re going to remain sane in this thing called ministry: God always works it for good.”