Archives For St. Louis

The BriefingEvangelical leaders quiz Trump
The event with as many as 1,000 social conservative leaders – mostly evangelical – starts at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday and ends around midday. There isn’t a poll or endorsement coming at the end and participants say they are coming with an open mind. However, polls show a majority of white evangelicals – and social conservatives in particular – leaning towards Trump. The question is how strongly.

Inside today’s Trump meeting with evangelicals
What started as a closed-door gathering of 400 social conservative leaders to test Trump’s values has grown to a daylong conference of 1,000, involving nearly all the traditional political influencers of the religious right. For some, it is an effort to get Trump to better understand their policy positions.

Baptists go beyond conservative politics
The Southern Baptist Convention has been closely associated with conservative politics for years, but at its annual meeting this week the denomination showed that its concerns are becoming more diverse along with its membership. Where 20 years ago the convention voted to boycott Disney for promoting homosexuality, last week delegates passed a resolution extending love and compassion to the victims of the recent shooting at an Orlando gay night club.

Chicago’s deadly weekend
On Father’s Day weekend in Chicago, 12 people were murdered in 54 different shootings across the city. Among the dead is a 16-year-old boy. The youngest of the injured is just 3. This weekend is unfortunately not atypical in Chicago, where shooting deaths this year are on track to be the worst in two decades.

Refugees arrive in St. Louis
This time of year is when refugee resettlement is the busiest in the U.S. And with President Barack Obama announcing in September that he would bump to 85,000 from 70,000 the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. this year — 10,000 of them from Syria — St. Louis is seeing a higher-than-usual number of refugees.

Sources: Washington Post, Time, Washington Post, CNN, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Messengers, exhibitors, and guests to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis must be registered and properly badged for entrance into the general sessions June 14-15. Messengers and guests can register online by clicking on the Messengers/Guest tab at
sbcannualmeeting.net.

The SBC constitution and bylaws were amended last year to broaden messenger representation. Each cooperating church that contributes to convention causes during the preceding fiscal year now automatically qualifies for two messengers; previous rules allowed for one messenger.

Additionally, the convention will recognize 10 additional messengers from a cooperating church under one of the following options:

  • One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Executive Committee for convention causes, and/or to any convention entity.
  • One additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributes in the preceding year through the normative combination of the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes, or to any SBC entity.

My history attending the annual Southern Baptist Convention is not as long or as deep as many. Occasionally I meet someone who will tell me, “This is my 40th SBC,” or “I haven’t missed a convention in 25 years.”

Though my father was a pastor and then director of missions, I didn’t attend my first SBC until 1992. That year the convention came to Indianapolis, as close as it had been in many years to the Chicago suburbs where we lived. A friend from church suggested going, “because it’s rarely so close.” Indeed, the SBC would not come within 500 miles of Chicago for another 10 years. So we went and took my dad along with us.

Little did I know that only five years later I would be flying to only my second SBC in Dallas, to be voted on as a vice president with the newly formed North American Mission Board. I haven’t missed an annual SBC meeting since then. This year, Lord willing, will be 20 in a row.

If you haven’t been to the convention before, or can’t go often, this is the year.

I share this personal history to say that I really do understand why the average person may not regularly attend the annual SBC. Unless there’s a controversy or crisis of some kind, the SBC is often left primarily to professionals who have travel budgets, and pastors who may direct part of their family vacation time there. Perhaps that’s why attendance at the SBC has only topped 10,000 three times in the last 15 years. Peak attendance during the conservative resurgence of the mid-1980’s was over 40,000.

But now, let me challenge you to attend the June 14-15 SBC in St. Louis this year. As my friend said, it will be years before it’s this close to Illinois churches again. If you haven’t been before, or can’t go often, this is the year.

More importantly, this year’s elections and other actions will be significant. It was announced just last week that Illinois’ own Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist, O’Fallon, will be nominated as First Vice President. I’m really excited about that. I hope hundreds and hundreds of Illinois Baptists will be there to support this outstanding Illinois pastor for this national role.

The election for president this year also presents a significant choice between pastors with notable differences, not just in ministry experience, but in the areas of doctrinal conviction and missions cooperation. Illinois messengers will want to study these in advance of the convention, and arrive prepared to support the nominee who best represents not only their own churches’ practices and convictions, but also the direction that they feel is best for our Great Commission cooperation as Baptist churches in the future.

Normally Illinois ranks about 15th of 42 state conventions in the number of messengers it sends to the national SBC. But the last time the convention was in St. Louis (2002), Illinois ranked 5th, with 611 messengers from 193 churches. And in 1987, the previous time the SBC was in St. Louis, Illinois churches sent 1,373 messengers. Yet last year only 139 messengers from Illinois churches attended the SBC in nearby Columbus.

To encourage messengers to turn out in record numbers this year, IBSA will be hosting a reception for Illinois Baptists at the St. Louis convention center, on the Monday night following the Pastors’ Conference and just prior to the convention’s start on Tuesday morning.

Whether this year is your 40th SBC, or your very first, I hope you will make the SBC in nearby St. Louis a priority this year. What happens at the SBC is really up to folks like you and me.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Reported IMB baptisms drop sharply; lowest since 1969
The Louisiana Baptist Message reports overseas baptisms by the International Mission Board 2015 dropped to 54,762 from the 190,957 reported for 2014, according to information submitted by the International Mission Board in response to a request by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. Likewise, the number of new churches fell from 13,824 to 3,842 over the same one-year period.

Groups urge NCAA to end ties to Title IX waiver colleges
As March Madness started, a homosexual advocacy group began pressuring the NCAA to exclude from its membership all schools with federal government approval to “discriminate” against transgender individuals on religious grounds. Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. predicted the NCAA eventually will succumb to pressure from activists and grant the request to ban schools with a biblically orthodox view of human sexuality from America’s most prominent college athletics association.

Wheaton names first female provost
For the first time in Wheaton College’s over 150-year history, the Illinois evangelical higher education institution has named a woman to be the school’s provost. Wheaton College President Philip Ryken announced Seattle Pacific University assistant provost and Wheaton alumna Margaret Diddams will take over as provost after current provost Stanton Jones steps down later this year.

Tchividjian fired over prior affair
The grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, Tullian Tchividjian, has been fired by another church after confessing to another affair that he previously had. The news broke when Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, FL, explained that the 43-year-old pastor admitted he had an affair with another woman, which he had not previously mentioned.

Billboard: Nuns are sticking with St. Louis
Racial tensions and severe floods have rocked St. Louis in recent months. Then, the city’s NFL team announced it’s move to Los Angeles. But the Catholic nuns of the metropolitan area want the city to know that they are sticking around and they have launched a billboard campaign to show their commitment, featuring the message “We have faith in you, St. Louis.”

Sources: Louisiana Baptist Message, Baptist Press, Christian Post, One News Now, Religion News Service

Crossover makes a difference in host city and back at home

Uptown_Crossover

COLUMBUS – Mission volunteers from Uptown traveled to Columbus, Ohio in 2015, where they worked for two days training and encouraging local believers in prayer walking and evangelism.

The words of an old praise chorus aptly describe the effect missions can have in a local church:

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going…”

Once church members who have engaged in missions start “passing on” their experiences to their friends, it can ignite a missions fire of sorts, causing a church to look in their own neighborhood and beyond for ways they can reach more people with the gospel.

That’s how IBSA zone consultant Steven Glover describes the impact of Crossover, an annual outreach event held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention. This year’s Crossover initiative in St. Louis is planned largely for Saturday, June 11, although some projects start earlier (see planning checklist below).

Last year, Glover and his family participated in Crossover with a team from Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago. The volunteers worked with a church in urban Columbus, Ohio, to prayer walk their community and share the gospel with people they met. Glover and the team also helped train the Ohioans in prayer walking and evangelism, equipping them for the ministry they did together.

Once they got back to Chicago, they shared with the rest of the congregation what had happened in Columbus. As with any mission trip, the resulting benefits could have stopped there, Glover said.

“But if you have people who have participated in and are excited about it, they’ll continue to talk about it,” he said. That’s why the key is getting as many people involved as possible.

This year, Uptown will take a team to St. Louis to work with a church in a similar ministry setting as their own inner-city church. In Columbus, said Uptown’s missions coordinator Doug Nguyen, the church worked with “an urban congregation that ministered to Muslims and immigrants, as well as families around the neighborhood in downtown Columbus.
“And we’re looking to do the same in St. Louis.”

Uptown_Crossover_2014

BALTIMORE – Members of Uptown Baptist’s Crossover team share the gospel prior to the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention.

 
After Uptown partnered with a Baltimore church for Crossover in 2014, they were able to pray for the congregation specifically when rioting broke out in the city the next spring. “We’re all praying for them right now, for churches to really step up and be the salt and light in that community,” Nguyen told the Illinois Baptist at the time.

When mission volunteers help other Christians reach their community, they’re bearing each other’s burdens, Glover said. They’re energized by helping fulfill the Great Commission, by doing what God has called his people to do.

They’re also more likely to come back home and find ways to do the same in their own city.

“It’s a good investment,” Glover said, “because it’s an ongoing thing.” Iron sharpens iron, he said, referencing Proverbs 27:17. “Getting next to someone who has gone out and done that has such an impact.”

Crossover checklist

Making plans to join Uptown and hundreds of other churches at Crossover prior to this year’s Southern Baptist Convention? Start now by working through this checklist of questions:

Who’s going?
As you recruit volunteers for your Crossover team, think about who they are. What are their ages, ministry skills, and spiritual gifts?

View the list of Illinois Crossover projects at meba.org/crossover-st-louis- 2016, and look for those that fit your team. For example, if you have Spanish speakers in your group, consider joining Iglesia Bautista Maranatha in Granite City for prayer walking and door-to-door evangelism in their community.

Interested in sports outreach? Help Sterling Baptist Church host a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

What time can they give?
Most Crossover projects happen the Saturday before the Convention begins—this year, that’s June 11. But some initiatives cover a longer span of time:

  • A church plant in Fairmont City needs help with a home makeover
    project June 6-11.
  • Two congregations in Hartford and East Alton are working together on a week-long canvassing project, capped off with a community block party.
  • A new church in Collinsville will utilize volunteers for community surveying and sharing the gospel on  Saturday, and then will host a preview worship service Sunday.
  • Check the full project list at meba.org for more multi-day opportunities.

What’s next?
Start thinking now about how to share your ministry experiences with the congregation back at home.

Which stories best illustrate how God worked through your team to increase your partner church’s influence and favor in their community? Did anyone accept Christ? What spiritual needs can your church pray for over the next year?

Also, how might you extend the relationship with your Crossover partner church? Uptown kept in touch with Baltimore pastor Ryan Palmer, who they worked with in 2014. He visited Uptown when he was in Chicago the next year. As you plan your Crossover project, consider how it might spark a ministry partnership that goes beyond one day.

St. Louis skylineCOMMENTARY from BPNews.net | Ronnie Floyd

Coming off our largest convention meeting since 2012 in New Orleans, our Southern Baptist family begins to dream and cast the vision for our next gathering in 2016 in St. Louis. More importantly than the size of our gathering in Columbus this year, our great and mighty God met with us powerfully.

Save the date: June 14-15, 2016.

Will I see you in St. Louis on June 14-15, 2016, for our Southern Baptist Convention? Please mark your calendar now for this upcoming and dynamic experience with our Southern Baptist family. Make these dates non-negotiable and decide now to be in St. Louis for our 2016 Southern Baptist Convention and bring people with you.

See the vision: Get St. Louis on your heart

Metropolitan St. Louis needs the saving message of Jesus Christ. Our nearly 2,000 Southern Baptist churches in Missouri need the encouragement of our greater Southern Baptist family.

Why should we see the vision of metro St. Louis?
-2.73 million people live in metro St. Louis
-1 out of 7 Missourians live in metro St. Louis
-50.9% of the population is unaffiliated with any religious body
-Only 17.9 percent of the population of metro St. Louis is affiliated with an evangelical church
-St. Louis is one of the North American Mission Board’s SEND focus cities. Watch this video to learn more.

Southern Baptists, how do we not go and make a difference in metro St. Louis? You see, when we speak of metro St. Louis, we are also talking about East St. Louis, Ill. Two states will be impacted by our gathering next year.

How can your church participate in Crossover St. Louis a few days ahead of our convention? They will be able to assist new church plants or help established churches. This leads up to the major Crossover event on Saturday, June 11. Then, your church members can stay and attend our convention on June 14-15. Please strongly consider this.

Stand together with us to reach the world

When you fly or drive into St. Louis, you will notice the Gateway Arch as you enter the city. It stands 630 feet tall and 630 feet wide. This remarkable structure has been known as America’s gateway to the West, with St. Louis the Gateway City.

In 2016, Southern Baptists need to converge on this city from all over the world and see it as our gateway to reach the world for Jesus Christ. Stand with us!

7 reasons to come to St. Louis on June 14-15, 2016
1. We need to be with our family, our Southern Baptist family.

2. We need to be inspired to believe again that God can awaken America spiritually and the world can be reached for Christ.

3. We need to hear the Word of God proclaimed, pray and worship together by the thousands, and have our spiritual lives set on fire again.

4. We need to hear the wonderful testimonies and reports about what God is doing across America and the world through our work together.

5. We need to hear how our churches’ financial investment in the Cooperative Program and mission offerings is being used to share the Gospel.

6. We need to be encouraged to know that when we are together and working together there is hope in America and this world.

7. We need to join together by the thousands as we pray for our nation at this critical time, calling out to God to revive His church and awaken America so we can reach the world for Christ.

Now is the time for Southern Baptists to lead. Let these words encourage your life today as you lead others into the future:

“An awakening can bring about the evangelization of the world in our generation” (American evangelist Billy Graham).

“The one who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history” (South African pastor Andrew Murray).

God is not finished with Southern Baptists, America or the world.

Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention. This column, reprinted from Baptist Press, first appeared at his website, www.ronniefloyd.com.

Jim Breeden, director of missions for the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, accepts the hand-off for the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention.

Jim Breeden, director of missions for the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, accepts the hand-off for the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention.

Columbus | Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd officially closed the 2015 annual meeting this afternoon, but not before calling to the platform leaders from St. Louis and Missouri who will carry the torch for next year’s meeting in the Gateway City.

Ohioans and Missourians stood with one another on the stage, celebrating the evangelistic outreach done in Columbus through Crossover, and appealing to Baptists to come to St. Louis June 14-15, 2016. (Crossover Saturday is June 12).

Thank you for following the news from Columbus this week! You can read more in the next edition of the Illinois Baptist, online at http://ibonline.IBSA.org.

THE BRIEFING | A group of church planters worked together Aug. 13 to help clean up Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis suburb rocked by rioting and protests since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

The_BriefingJoe Costephens pastors The Passage Church on the border of Ferguson and Florissant. “We bring in anywhere between 8 to 15 mission teams every summer to serve the cities of Florissant and Ferguson—putting on block parties and reaching out to the community,” he said. “So when this came up, I called some church planting buddies, and said, ‘Hey we want to bless our city, let’s do a cleanup day.’”

Costephens and other church planters mobilized between 100 and 200 people to pick up trash and clean up looted storefronts. The group also attended a citywide prayer service at First Baptist Church in Ferguson. According to a Baptist Press report, Pastor Stoney Shaw said the interracial prayer service exuded a spirit of reconciliation, with participants recognizing the need to love and understand one another. Read more at BPNews.net.

 

Nigerian cities threatened by terrorist group
A Nigerian relations expert said the crisis precipitated by the Boko Haram terrorist group has reached a “new dimension.” Adeniyi Ojutiku told Baptist Press the group has started using tactics associated with ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), the militant group responsible for recent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. Boko Haram’s takeover of the town of Gwoza has resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths, rather than the 100 reported by some sources, Ojutiku said.

 

“They attack, they occupy, they hold the town,” he said. “Now that they have started adopting ISIS methodology, they should be receiving the type of treatment that ISIS is receiving.”

 

Read more about the persecuted church in the August 18 issue of the Illinois Baptist, online now.

Pew: In 30 nations, specific religious affiliation is requirement for head of state
Analysis by Pew Research found that 15% of the world’s countries require their head of state to be affiliated with a certain religion. In 17 of those nations, the head of state must be a Muslim, while two countries (Lebanon and Andorra) require the person who holds the post to have a Christian affiliation. Interestingly, Lebanon also requires its prime minister to be a Sunni Muslim.

 

Gay songwriter urges church to rethink views on sexuality
Vicky Beeching, author of popular worship songs like “Glory to God Forever,” told culture writer Jonathan Merritt that “the church needs to become more comfortable with people not being on the same page about everything.” Beeching, who came out as gay in an interview with The Independent Aug. 13, told Merritt, “God loves us unconditionally, so we should aim to model that to those who see things from a different angle, even if that’s really hard to do. I’m trying my best to keep extending that love today to all the conservative Christians who are telling me I am ‘siding with the devil’ because they are still my brothers and sisters in Christ.”

 

Blogger and professor Denny Burk responded to Beeching’s comments, referencing Matthew 12:46-50. “Jesus draws a line between those who are his brothers and sisters and those who are not. The line runs between those who are allied to God’s will and those who are in open defiance against it.”

LifeWay exploring sale of corporate offices
LifeWay Christian Resources is studying the advantages and disadvantages of selling part or all of its property in downtown Nashville, President Thom Rainer told staff in an Aug. 1 letter. Citing demand for property in the area and fewer employees working at the downtown location, Rainer said, “…It would be poor stewardship for the organization not to explore the possibilities this situation could present for our ministry.” About 1,100 employees currently work at LifeWay’s corporate offices, Baptist Press reported. LifeWay spokesman Marty King estimated nearly one-third of the building is vacant or leased.

HOUSTON | A luncheon hosted by the North American Mission Board today had one foot planted in the past – celebrating Southern Baptists’ Conservative Resurgence of the 1970s and 80s – and one foot in the future, highlighting church planting as the most effective way the denomination can penetrate spiritual darkness.

“We feel like this is a strategic moment for Southern Baptists,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said to the crowd gathered for the Send: North America lunch. But this strategic moment wouldn’t be possible without other moments from Baptist history, he added. Ezell invited Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, knwon as the architects of the SBC’s return to conservative doctrine, to join him on the stage and thanked them on behalf of church planters and younger Southern Baptists.

The presentation that followed mixed old-school sleight of hand with modern technology. Illusionist “Harris III” took the audience through a timeline of Southern Baptist history, emphasizing landmark moments like Annie Armstrong’s leadership of Woman’s Missionary Union. The multi-media journey also pointed to the trends, specifically mass urbanization, that are driving NAMB to plant more churches all over the continent, but particularly in cities.

NAMB President Kevin Ezell (right) recognizes Judge Paul Pressler (center) and Paige Patterson at a luncheon for Send: North America.

NAMB President Kevin Ezell (right) recognizes Judge Paul Pressler (center) and Paige Patterson at a luncheon for Send: North America.

Illusionist Harris III presents a history of Southern Baptists, while a ticker moved through the years from Baptists' beginnings to the year 2013.

Illusionist Harris III presents a history of Southern Baptists, while a ticker (in this photo, set at 1845) moves through the years from Baptists’ beginnings to the year 2013.

Banners representing metro areas designated as "Send" cities by the North American Mission Board. Chicago and St. Louis are among the 30 cities.

Banners representing metro areas designated as “Send” cities by the North American Mission Board. Chicago and St. Louis are among the 30 cities.

 

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.”