NASHVILLE (BP) — As politics, scandal and terrorism dominated the headlines this year, two stories related to the budget shortfalls of the Southern Baptist Convention’s international missions entity were the most-read articles of 2015 on Baptist Press’ website. It was the second consecutive year the entity accounted for the top story on the list.
Google Analytics, which tracks web traffic, also showed stories related to the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, the Kansas City Royals’ Ben Zobrist and a 101-year-old man’s salvation made the Top 10.
The following Top 10 list for 2015 includes a brief description with each headline.
BP most-read stories
1. “IMB’s Platt sends open letter to SBC family.” In September, International Mission Board President David Platt sent an open letter to Southern Baptists regarding the organization’s financial plan announced in August. Addressing the entity’s budget shortfalls, Platt noted several concerns and criticisms raised related to the plan, specifically the announcement that IMB planned to reduce its missionaries and staff by 600-800 people over the next six months. Platt wrote in the letter, “When we stepped back and looked at IMB finances since 2010, we realized that IMB has spent a combined $210 million more than people have given to us.” Platt called on Southern Baptists to “pray that God will provide grace, wisdom, strength, and unity across the IMB family as we navigate the various challenges” in the coming months. http://bpnews.net/45432/
2. “Platt unveils reset of IMB strategy, structure.” In February, IMB President David Platt announced a streamlined strategy and structure for the missions entity during a board of trustees meeting in Houston. Trustees, meeting Feb. 24-25, unanimously voted to approve the plan. “We want to empower limitless missionary teams to make disciples and multiply churches among unreached people,” Platt said. “We need a strategy that doesn’t cap our number of missionaries merely based upon how much money we have.” Platt noted the IMB operated “in the red” last year, with the entity’s operating expenses exceeding income by nearly $21 million. http://bpnews.net/44286/
3. “Missionary remembered as godly mother, wife.” On Aug. 13, the evening before she and her family had planned to return overseas, Kyra Lynn Karr, a Southern Baptist missionary to Italy, was killed in a tragic traffic accident. News reports indicated a tractor-trailer driver exited his vehicle to conduct a safety inspection but the safety brake was not engaged and the truck began to roll. The vehicle hit the pickup in which Karr was traveling on U.S. 41 in Bartow County, Ga. Karr, 30, died at the scene. Her husband Reid and their two youngest children were transported to nearby hospitals, where they were treated and released. Their oldest child was not with them at the time. The tractor-trailer driver was arrested and charged with DUI, police said. http://bpnews.net/45321/
4. “Royals’ Ben Zobrist a missionary to teammates.” In October, Baptist Press ran a story on the Kansas City Royals’ Ben Zobrist. Zobrist, the son of an Illinois pastor, played college baseball at Dallas Baptist University before entering the Major Leagues. In the article, Zobrist’s pastor called him “a missionary” in pro sports. “Ben, by virtue of the providence of God, has ended up being a missionary in a very difficult mission field of professional sports,” said Byron Yawn, senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville, where Zobrist and his wife Julianna are members. Zobrist played second base for the Royals in the World Series against the New York Mets. The Royals won the series 4-1. http://bpnews.net/45729/
5. “First-Person: How 50 Shades of Grey harms women and Jesus saves them.” In February, seminary professor and author Owen Strachan countered the claim that the Bible is oppressive to women in his critique of the controversial movie “50 Shades of Grey” that was released in theaters that month. Strachan writes that the movie, based on The New York Times best-selling book trilogy, tells the fictional story of Cristian Grey who enters into a relationship where he sexually abuses and uses a woman, who finds herself drawn to the man despite his actions.
Today’s secular culture aims to “entice young men to sexually abuse women while exhorting young women to engage in harmful sexual practices,” Strachan writes. “Honestly, what kind of twisted, deviant culture is this?” [URL/http://www.bpnews.net/44203]http://www.bpnews.net/44203[/URL]
6. “Floyd and former SBC presidents take marriage stance.” In June, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and 16 former SBC presidents issued a statement on biblical marriage and same-sex marriage. Their statement was a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling to declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right in all 50 states. “What the Bible says about marriage is clear, definitive and unchanging,” they said in the statement. “We affirm biblical, traditional, natural marriage as the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” http://www.bpnews.net/44950/
7. “5-4 marriage decision: Christians will stand fast.” In June, Baptist Press ran a story including reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide. Among those evangelical leaders who responded to the court’s 5-4 ruling were Ronnie Floyd, Russell Moore and Frank S. Page. “We must rise up like never before with great urgency, to forward the message of Jesus Christ to every person in America and across the world,” Floyd said. http://bpnews.net/45036/
8. “Royals GM: Character key to team’s turnaround.” In July, Baptist Press featured a story on Kansas City Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore. Building godly character in players, coaches and front office personnel has been key to the Royals’ success in recent seasons, Moore told Baptist Press. In 2014, the Royals made it to the World Series but fell short against the San Francisco Giants in Game 7. This year, The Royals returned to the Fall Classic to defeat the New York Mets. http://bpnews.net/45231/
9. “Preaching through Bible has risks, pastors say.” In June, Baptist Press posted a story on a panel discussion sponsored by The Gospel Project, a curriculum series of LifeWay Christian Resources. The panel was held during the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Panelists urged a balance between verse-by-verse exposition and sermons on specific topics. While some pastors may believe tackling Scripture verse by verse from the pulpit is the only acceptable approach, people in the pews may have a different view, the four panelists agreed. http://bpnews.net/45024/
10. “101-year-old’s salvation caps wife’s 24-year prayer.” In October, Baptist Press ran a story on George Warshaw’s decision to follow Christ at the age of 101. His wife Lou prayed for 24 years that her husband would accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. After years of refusing to give up on the hope that he would become a Christian, God answered her prayers when George made that decision and followed through with believer’s baptism. http://bpnews.net/45623
Other noteworthy stories in 2015 were related to the Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention’s unified giving channel to ministry and missions. The SBC ended its fiscal year $1.1 million over its 2014–2015 budgeted goal and $2.5 million over the previous year’s CP allocation budget gifts. Twenty-three state conventions voted this fall to increase the portion of CP receipts forwarded to SBC missions and ministries in the coming year. Florida Baptists made the largest shift by approving a 2016 Cooperative Program budget of $29 million that will send 51 percent to the SBC and retain 49 percent for missions and ministries in the state.