Three billion people, a burgeoning mass which makes up 40% of the world’s population, use Facebook. I’m a persistent viewer and periodic poster myself. Yet, as I suspect is the case with many of you, I often grow weary of scrolling through digital reams of pictures and text. And though I enjoy keeping up with the good and exciting things going on in the lives of family, friends and others, I’m tired of the political bickering, religious ranting, and selfies of feet on the beach. Nevertheless, I don’t plan to abandon Facebook. I can’t! I won’t! Why?
LAS VEGAS – I recently spent time in Southern California with 600 church planters and their wives during a Send Network Gathering. They are all planting churches in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. If you could have been there in that room with those men and women of God who are joining in the mission of God, you would be so encouraged by what God is doing in North America and among our Southern Baptist family of churches.
The average pastor in America is fifty-seven years old, which is thirteen years older than it was just three decades ago. Yet, many pastors find themselves put out to pasture or placed on the shelf once they turn 50. This means an unknown number of average-aged preachers await phone calls and emails that never come, while search committees look to fill pulpits with younger pastors.
Administrators at one of the largest hospitals in America researched the reason for their overcrowded emergency rooms. Parkland Hospital of Dallas, Texas, made a startling discovery as they looked for ways to unclog the system. They analyzed data and found eighty patients who went to four emergency rooms 5,139 times in a twelve-month period, costing the system more than $14 million. They sent teams to meet with them and determine the reason. Their conclusion? Loneliness.
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — “Buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in the newness of life.” These words, and others like them, have been declared by pastors thousands of times across North America in the last few years as people who have placed their faith in Christ for salvation have been baptized. This act of obedience and public proclamation of faith in Christ is a blessing to behold.
The Christian Index is so excited to play a part in helping Georgia Baptist churches find pastors when their pulpits are vacated. We’ve heard heartwarming stories of how the Lord has matched pastors to churches via our classifieds section. An important part of that has been a classifieds newsletter we started about a year ago that lists churches looking for pastors or other staff members.
Camp ministries provide campers, and pastors, an important experience that can become a defining part of their Christian lives. The Georgia Baptist Mission Board operates Camp Pinnacle and Camp Kaleo, as well as hosting camps for youth at other locations. Last year alone, Camp Pinnacle in Clayton, Ga., hosted nearly 500 girls at missions camps on its scenic property in the north Georgia mountains. Hundreds more youth visited Camp Kaleo or participated in “Impact,” “SuperWow” and “Surge150” camps. Many of them were called to faith in Christ or to a life of ministerial service through those experiences.
It seems that everywhere I turn these days for information and inspiration, the emphasis is on leadership. Books on leadership make up a sizable portion of the Christian non-fiction market. Blogs, podcasts and seminars on the subject abound. A recent Facebook post screams: "The church is desperate for good leaders.” No doubt that's true; yet I submit to you that the church stands in greater need of good followers.
I encountered this eye-catching quote from a book by Charles Martin entitled Chasing Fireflies which has been part of my bedtime reading to relax the mind after a busy day: “It’s the bad that let’s you know how good the good really is.”
For most believers, the phrase “mission field” evokes images of an isolated village in Kenya, an indigenous people group in the Amazon, or an underground church in China. But did you know that most Christians in the United States can reach the mission field in just a few steps from their home? A mission field exists in their own backyard: their neighborhoods.
February 24 marks one year since the start of the war in Ukraine. It’s been one full year of loss of life, liberty and land. Our hearts grieve with Ukrainians and long for an end to the war. Will you join missionaries serving in Europe with the International Mission Board in a 24-hour time of fasting and prayer for Ukraine?
One of the privileges of serving in the ministry is the opportunity to be "pastor" to people in times of joy and in times of adversity. Having that "ministry of presence" and simply being there are greatly appreciated by parishioners in need. I may be slightly biased, but I strongly believe every person needs a pastor and church family to support and walk with them during life's critical moments: weddings, births, hospitalizations and surgeries, deaths, family crises, celebrations and losses.
I’ve always been keenly interested in famous people, inhaling scores of articles, books, and documentaries to see what makes them tick. Candidly speaking, for much of my life I wanted to be among them. As a young boy on the Little League diamond, I dreamed of playing in the majors. Maybe I’d even hit the game-winning, walk-off home run to win the World Series.
I remember when I was a young preacher in North Carolina. I was going to seminary, supporting a family, and preaching at a country church in Johnson County, North Carolina. The little church that called me to be their pastor had been started in 1916 and it had never been full time. I told them I would come and be their pastor if they would commit to going full time with Sunday A.M. and P.M. services as well as a Wednesday evening time for prayer and Bible study. They agreed and I went to be their Pastor. They are still full time and I left there fifty-two years ago.
Here at the Georgia Tech BCM, we are extremely excited to share how we’ve been seeing God move in the lives of our students this year. Specifically, we’re privileged to have the opportunity to share about the transformative journey of one of our freshmen, Heath Dorn. Heath had been introduced to the BCM through a previous internship. Since he went to high school with a few of our BCMers, he already had plans to visit when he started college in August 2022.
Because friends have asked for my opinion, among them, former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students of mine who studied and participated in revival meetings with me, I have written the following related to the current “revival” at Asbury University and beyond.
As a pastor, you don’t have to know everything about the immigration issue, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid preaching on the topic. Immigration is a political hot potato. There are not many issues surrounded by such intense debate. But no matter how much of a hot a topic it is politically, the bigger question for the follower of Jesus is: “What does God’s word say about immigration?”
Never in my three-plus decades of being a senior pastor have I known those in my profession to be more battered and beleaguered. Thousands leave the ministry annually. Rarely a week goes by that I don’t hear of another church conflict or forced termination. Statistics back this claim, as a recent Gallup Poll revealed that the clergy has fallen to a favorable rating of only 42 percent of those surveyed. At least we still rank above lobbyists, car salesmen, and members of Congress. Despite the decline and doom, I contend that being a pastor is the best job in the world.
Georgia Sen. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, along with more than 25 other senators, introduced SB 180, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act today at the Capitol. This bill provides people of faith the same protections from state and local government actions that they now have from federal government actions. This legislation is very simple – it merely provides that the RFRA protections from federal law will also apply to religious-liberty questions arising under Georgia law.
Our church member Syble Elliott turned 99 the other day. She is one year away from joining an extremely elite club. Only about one in every 5,000 people in the US reach the century mark. What’s the secret? Genetics plays a major part, but these people manage stress, eat right (keeping meat consumption to a minimum), don’t smoke, and exercise regularly. Syble’s secret? “The grace of God! You’re blessed with some things and you don’t know why. You just say, ‘thank you, Lord!’”
I was inspired to ask and answer this question when I could not perform a wedding for a relative who is marrying a young lady that has yet to believe in Jesus Christ. How do we help such a person believe in Christ?
Effective leaders consistently prepare for the future, and that includes providing quality spaces for ministry. One Lifeway article highlights the importance of having a plan that renovates the space without wrecking your ministry. Is it possible to create more space and still have money for ministry? Can we find better ways to utilize the space we already have without spending excessive amounts of money (which can be about as hard to find as a dad serving in childcare on Sunday)?
On February 1st, new gambling legislation was introduced in the Georgia Senate. Senator Billy Hickman authored Senate Bill 57 to legalize sports betting and horse racing through the Georgia Lottery. This bill is not a constitutional amendment, but rather a legislative bill that will only require a majority vote in the Senate to pass.
My favorite major league baseball team since childhood has been the Cincinnati Reds. One reason is because Cincinnati is located along the same river I grew up near in Western Kentucky – the Ohio. Another reason is that they were a great team. In the 1970’s, the Big Red Machine won six division titles, four National League pennants and back-to back World Championships (1975-76). One of the key players in that run was Pete Rose, who once said, “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” And play he did.
My dad did the grocery shopping for our family. For him, it was a social thing. He loved running into friends and visiting in the aisles. He must have influenced me. I do most of our grocery shopping and still go inside the store. No outside pickup for me. I do some of my best ministry inside when I run into church members, prospective members, and other friends.