Serve day in New Orleans neighborhoods yields salvations
By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS
NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Three professions of faith resulted as more than 160 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College students, staff and faculty went into New Orleans neighborhoods to serve and share the Gospel on Serve Day, Sept. 22.
Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, and former SBC president, preached in chapel that morning, then led an evangelism team sharing the Gospel in the seminary’s neighborhood.
“Serve Day is one of our favorite days each semester,” said Tara Dew, wife of President Jamie Dew. The couple and their four children helped at City Life Nola, a multi-faceted ministry with an outreach to the homeless community.
The seminary teams prayer walked, fed the homeless, cared for nursing home residents, and shared the Gospel.
At a grocery center next to the seminary, a prayer walking team led one person to faith in Christ and prayed with others who shared prayer needs. Two came to faith as a result of door-to-door evangelism.
“When God brings us out of our normal routines or comfort zones, He reminds us of His faithful love and the need for hope in a hurting world,” Tara Dew said. “There is something so sweet about watching your kids love those who are often overlooked and marginalized, passing out water bottles and bagged lunches to those experiencing homelessness.”
In chapel that morning, Jamie Dew reminded listeners of the importance of living out the faith through service to others. Dew said, “We have an opportunity today ‘to put our money where our mouth is.’”
Gaines drew from Ephesians 6 in his chapel address and said the church today faces a spiritual battle as evidenced by culture’s “anxiety, hatred, anger and discouragement.”
“You can’t defeat the forces of darkness in your own strength,” Gaines cautioned. He added, “You can’t do anything – and I can’t either – apart from the power of Christ.”
Blake Newsom, director of the NOBTS Caskey Center for Church Excellence, said the evangelism teams saw a community hungry for hope as they encountered grieving families and those impacted by crime.
“[Going door-to-door] was pastoring,” Newsom said. “We got to share the Gospel and hope with lost people and provide a word of encouragement and comfort for those who needed it on a rough day.”
The Caskey Center trains students to share the Gospel weekly and provides scholarships so students have the financial freedom to serve on church staffs and engage in intentional evangelism while in seminary.
Newsom said his team shared with a five-man construction crew working in the neighborhood.
“To a person, every single one of them said, ‘This didn’t happen by accident; God sent you here to talk to me,’” Newsom said.
At the Baptist Friendship House (BFH), directed by Send Relief missionary Kay Bennett, team members organized and sorted supplies and goods. The ministry near the French Quarter serves women and children in transition, provides backpacks of personal items to the homeless community, and partners with other agencies to aid those trapped in human trafficking.
Pursuing healthy churches: 9Marks at Southeastern returns to campus
By Chad Burchett/SEBTS
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – On Sept. 23-24, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) welcomed 508 registered attendees to the 9Marks at Southeastern Conference, which featured an overview of all nine marks of a healthy church.
Returning to campus for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the 9Marks at Southeastern Conference featured speakers familiar to the 9Marks circuit and other first-time speakers – all representing a commitment to establishing healthy churches. “What we are aiming to do over these two days is help our churches be sounder and healthier,” said 9Marks President Mark Dever during his opening remarks.
In Friday’s first session, Danny Akin, President of SEBTS, addressed the topic of expository preaching, challenging pastors to reflect on the place of God’s Word in their ministries. “What is your foundation for life and ministry?” Akin asked. “There is only one sure foundation: that is the Word of God.” Highlighting seven reasons why pastors should preach expositionally according to 1 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Akin reminded attendees that God has inspired His Word and appointed it not only to lead His people to Christ but also to mature, encourage and convict them by His Spirit. “We preach expositionally, allowing the Word of God to do its work,” Akin said. “The preacher has one assignment: to be a mouthpiece for the text.”
In the second session, H.B. Charles Jr., pastor and teacher of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., charged attendees from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 to hold fast to a robust biblical theology, grounded in the person and work of Christ.
“There are many churches that will readily affirm that the Bible is the Word of God, yet they deny the Bible in their practice,” said Charles, warning that biblical theology must permeate every aspect of a Christian’s life and confession.
“Gospel doctrine matters above all else and should shape everything else. Healthy churches know what they believe, and healthy churches know why they believe it.”
Charles reminded attendees that the only proper place to stand is under the Scriptures, declaring unwaveringly the authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God, the exclusivity of Christ and the centrality of the Gospel message.
Addressing regeneration, conversion and evangelism in the third session, Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Durham, N.C., shared how unbiblical perspectives on these three distinctives leads to grave spiritual disease in local churches. Instead, healthy churches understand God’s sovereign agency in regeneration and conversion and the privilege to join in His work through evangelism.
“Healthy churches believe that God alone can regenerate a sinner; therefore, they pray to the Lord to enable people’s conversion,” Davis said. This reliance on God’s sovereign work does not excuse Christians from evangelizing, he said, because God commands the Church to evangelize and uses them to spiritually and strategically induce people toward conversion.
“Healthy churches have a durable culture of evangelism,” he said.