Unexpected snow began covering the muddy ground at Camp Spofford. It accumulated as students and campus ministers trickled in to the dimly lit sanctuary for the first worship gathering. Slowly the room filled and conversations filled the space.
A couple of years ago we were pursuing a partnership with a ministry serving among the urban poor. This ministry was tied to an active church doing real discipleship and seeing real fruit among the people in the community. From what we could see, this was one of those unique churches where the majority of those doing the work of the ministry were the members of the body. Still, I was struck by the number of people on staff at this small urban church. They had raised money to hire more staff members than a church three or four times their size.
There are two main reasons why I am Southern Baptist: biblical doctrine and the Cooperative Program. There are other denominations and church groups that are doctrinally sound. Yet there is no other church or group of churches that offers a more comprehensive means for every church to participate in work focused on the King’s mandate to reach the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are many qualities about God's character I find deeply comforting: His omni-ness (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent), His justice, His mercy, His wisdom, His patience, His faithfulness. On and on it goes. These attributes and a thousand more draw my heart to the throne with a profound sense of wonder.
But I keep forgetting He's a Dad — a really, really good one. Which means there's a new characteristic I need to add to my list of what I love about this fascinating God the angels never tire of extolling. Are you ready for it?
Daisy Santiago didn’t know what to expect out of her first mission trip.
“I had never talked about the Lord to anyone before,” she said.
Still, the Worcester State University student was the first collegian to sign up for a spring break mission trip to serve hurricane victims in Puerto Rico with Send Relief, a branch of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.
Will God be faithful? Will He provide for us? Is He going to save us? Where is He?
These questions must have been in the mind of every Israelite during the time of Esther. They had been taken into captivity and were living under Persian rule. Unlike the rest of their brothers and sisters, they had not yet returned to their homeland (Ezra/Nehemiah) and continued to live in a foreign land under a foreign ruler. To make matters worse, on the eve of the Passover, a decree had gone out that all of the Jews would be destroyed within a year. The future did not look bright for God’s people.
Recently I wrote about the need to eliminate unnecessary structure so churches and ministry organizations can focus on accomplishing their mission more effectively. This requires a lot of prayer and discernment to know what to eliminate and what to keep. Tightening up the mission is critical to a ministry’s success. But is it possible to over-tighten one’s ministry focus so that it becomes too narrow? I believe it is.
“Everyone has to have a job,” a church growth guru told our group. Throughout the three-hour seminar, he repeated these instructions in many different ways: everyone in the church should have a position of some sort, even if it is only serving on a committee. In his opinion, would make everyone feel valued and help them take ownership in the church. It sounded like a great idea. It wasn’t.
Approximately 50% of BCNE churches in Greater Boston are ethnic churches. And God is at work among them. In fact, some of the largest churches in Boston happen to be Asian, African-American and Haitian! Very impressively, most of the pioneers who planted these churches did so without the benefits of special training, financial support or church partnerships that many church planters receive today. Ethnic churches in Greater Boston are robust, and continue to multiply. I love attending the worship gatherings and enjoy having fellowship with the gifted pastors who lead these churches. Yet there is a unique, life-or-death challenge that virtually every ethnic church pastor faces: the challenge of reaching second-generation Americans.
It’s hard to be teenage girl! There is so much advice out there, it can be overwhelming! Still, I believe the best resource in counseling, supporting, loving and challenging young ladies lies in God’s Word.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from Scripture and personal experience. In fact, most of these lessons I’ve learned the not-so-easy way. In many ways, I lived the exact opposite of this list and have found the consequences to be less-than-pleasant and totally avoidable.
Today is my 40th birthday. As I sit here with my feet firmly planted in middle age, I find that I am joyful rather than fearful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a stoic. The other day I typed “my forties” for the first time and I felt sick to my stomach. But as I reflect on God’s goodness in my life and on what I have to look forward to in Christ, my soul is full and content, and I can’t wait for the future, gray hair and all. Here are 3 reasons.
Sharing the Gospel with students on campus is one of the personal highlights of ministry. The collegiate missions team is ministering to a generation that has minimal Christian background and is biblically illiterate. Reactions to the Good News are myriad: anger, indignation, rejection, acceptance. But perhaps the two common responses to the Gospel are doubt and confusion.
My ministry requires me to do a lot of driving around New England – and in some places that means dealing with heavy traffic. Recently I was driving through intense traffic and was stuck behind two semis driving next to each other on a two-lane road. I noticed in my rear view mirror a SUV quickly darting back and forth between lanes.
"To be, or not to be?" "What's love got to do, got to do, with it?" "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"
Questions have always held a deep fascination for me. I'd be doing just fine, marching along to everybody else's drum, when that dang inquisitive streak—the one that made Sunday school teachers constantly run for cover—would raise its hand. Little me figured out that periods bring relief, while question marks bring consternation, so pretty early on I learned to stick to what’s known and acceptable.
Small groups are very important to the health of any church. They are places for individuals to grow in their faith and to build relationships with others. One important aspect of any small group should be prayer, but many small group leaders share their concern that prayer time sometimes becomes stale.