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FROM THE STATES: Wash., Fla., Texas evangelism/missions news; ‘We’ve got to give them a mission that’s compelling’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Northwest Baptist Witness
Florida Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist TEXAN

Collegiate ministry on
rise in Northwest

By Cameron Crabtree

VANCOUVER, Wash. (Northwest Baptist Witness) — After losing personnel funding 10 years ago following a Northwest Baptist Convention staff reorganization and change in ministry priorities, leaders of Northwest Collegiate Ministries have been regaining ground in campus-based evangelism and discipleship, according to NCM director Ken Harmon.

Throughout a significant part of the Northwest Baptist Convention’s history, ministry to students on college and university campuses played an important part in overall evangelism, discipleship and leadership development ministries. At one point, more than 50 full-time and part-time leaders worked with campus-based ministries across the Northwest, Harmon noted.

Today, a cadre of young men and women has been rebuilding the scope of the ministry and are reaching students on about a dozen Northwest campuses. The work is largely located in the greater Portland metro area, but it also includes other areas in central Washington.

The leaders raise personal financial support for their ministry efforts and work other jobs in order to stay engaged with their respective ministries. “The mission and the call is important enough to keep doing it,” said Harmon.

After the NWBC’s reorganization, along with reduced organizations support and fewer resources from national Southern Baptist agencies, local Baptist associations were crucial to helping maintain the ministries until further support was in place.

“The reason we are able to be where we are today is because Interstate Baptist Association stepped up and partnered with us to reach college students in our mission field.” He also noted the importance of Willamette Valley Baptist Association in supporting collegiate work in the areas around Eugene, Ore.

“I’m grateful for associations that committed to prioritizing and valuing ministry to college students,” Harmon said. “College students are among the most readily available groups that can be mobilized for the Gospel and for missions.”

Another important partner in sustaining NCM has been the collegiate ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The NWBC’s executive board last November affirmed a formal partnership with the BGCT that includes a significant effort to bolster collegiate ministry in the Northwest, especially in the Seattle metro area.

In recent years, the NWBC has renewed some direct support for NCM ministries, offering financial support in its annual budget and including collegiate evangelism in the convention’s annual missions offering.

“The convention has found ways to re-engage its involvement with collegiate ministry, morphing the relationship,” Harmon noted. “I’m grateful.”

An important part of the ministry’s growth, Harmon added, is connecting students to local NWBC churches.

“If we’re going to be successful, we need to develop strategies that help churches find ways to reach college students and find necessary ways of engaging them,” he said. “We’re an arm of the church. I’ve always believed that.”

Churches offer the ongoing relationships and a ministry vision that help develop students, according to Harmon. “Our groups will not be enough for the people we’re reaching,” he said. “I want students to be engaged in the churches, but we’ve got to give them a mission that’s compelling.”

Part of the ministry efforts to disciple students also involves enlisting them as participants in mission trips. Currently, NCM is seeking to mobilize students for summer trips in Texas, Utah, Montana, U.S. National parks, Central Asia and East Asia. In recent years, students and leaders have taken part in relief efforts with Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief and the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief program.
This article appeared in the Northwest Baptist Witness (gonbw.org), newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Cameron Crabtree is editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness


700+ aim for excellence
at Haitian conference

By Keila Diaz

HIALEAH, Fla. (Florida Baptist Convention) — The Haitian Sunday School and Leadership Conference at the South East Regional Center on March 2nd drew more than 700 Florida Baptists from all over the Sunshine State for a training day themed “Aiming for Excellence.”

The Saturday started with attendees arriving as early at 7:30 a.m. and coming from as far as Delray Beach and Ft. Pierce. The Hialeah block which is usually quiet on weekend mornings was alive as the attendees arrived in cars and church buses and filled the air with chatter and song.

After a short worship session, prayer and introductions, pastor Erik Cummings of New Life Baptist Church in Miami Gardens shared a message out of 2 Thessalonians 1. Cummings, who is also serving as president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, encouraged participants to aim for excellence in their service by growing in their faith, “having a growing love for our Savior, our brothers and sisters and the lost,” and “remaining steadfast in the midst of challenges, passionately conveying the Gospel.” He ended his message telling those gathered (as his father use to tell him), “I love you, I thank God for you, I’m proud of you. Let God use you.”

Al Fernandez, Southeast regional catalyst of the Florida Baptist Convention, greeted everyone on behalf of the FBC and encouraged them to continue to work together. “We are in a war, in a battle but together we are better. That’s what being Southern Baptist is about … We are autonomous churches who realize we are better when we work together.”

During the two hour-long breakout sessions participants had the opportunity to choose from among 16 different classes covering topics like Sunday School administration, church security and safety, church multimedia ministry among many others. Most classes were full and some even ran out of seats.

“I’m pleased with the turnout and happy to see how far some of our churches have come,” said John Voltaire, Haitian church catalyst of the FBC. “And that shows,” he continued, “how much they desire to do ministry more effectively.”
This article appeared on the website of the Florida Baptist Convention (flbaptist.org). Keila Diaz writes for the Florida Baptist Convention.


D.A. Horton issues challenge
at Texas missions luncheon

By Jane Rodgers

IRVING, Texas (Southern Baptist TEXAN) — Church planter D. A. Horton spoke to a full house at the mission luncheon of the SBTC’s 2019 Empower conference Mon., Feb. 25, challenging the audience to embrace generosity, diversity and partnerships in spreading the gospel among rising generations increasingly unaware of Scripture.

Horton, 38, is pastor of Reach Fellowship, a church plant in North Long Beach, Ca. He formerly served as a national coordinator of urban student ministries at the North American Mission Board.

Horton spoke from Philippians 4:14, where the apostle Paul commends the Philippians church for its generosity.

Calling the passage “a thank you note” from the apostle Paul to the Philippians for their “faithful, constant support,” not only in the city itself but in sponsoring Paul’s ministry, Horton stressed that not all were called to accompany the apostle on the field. Some were called to support the work while staying behind and experiencing the “reciprocal blessing” of involvement in spreading the gospel.

“God blesses both the gift and giver,” Horton said. A “culture of generosity” results in “flourishing” churches and Christian homes that will “turn the world on its head,” he added.

Horton summarized his experiences as a church planter with the acronym ABC: attitude, Bible, context.

Regarding a church planter’s attitude, Horton recalled doing evangelistic outreaches in his native Kansas City, where the question, “Where do I go to church?” often arose from new believers.

Horton said he often saw “red flags” regarding churches typically within walking distance of new urban converts to Christianity who could seldom distinguish between orthodox, Bible-teaching churches and Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslim or even Nation of Islam congregations.

The Kansas City experiences also made Horton realize that many urban dwellers had never heard of Jesus, that they were not “post-Christian,” but “pre-Christian” in theological awareness and knowledge.

“They don’t know the Sunday school narratives,” Horton said. Even fifth and sixth generation Americans have not been taught Scripture.

“There has not been the passing down of God’s Word from generation to generation,” Horton said, admitting that his wife and he began realizing the need to start churches.

Horton confessed his initial arrogance as a church planter in Kansas City until he began to engage with other pastors and God “began to break me.” The result was a “flourishing” revitalization work in the inner city.

Called to plant a church in Long Beach, Horton said he entered that work in a more humble manner, recognizing the need to depend upon the wisdom of others and seek supportive partnerships with other churches.

Today’s church planter probably cannot expect to be “full time with benefits and a retirement plan,” he said, noting that planters must “learn to be co-vocational, learn to integrate our faith with our passion, our talents, our gifts and the jobs that God provides us with.” Contemporary church planting must be team effort, since the pastor cannot “do all that and fundraise” while costs of living rise.

Planting must also include an emphasis on the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.

“In this new generation rising up that is pre-Christian in America, speaking to them in a way that is introducing Scripture for what it is, God’s love letter and God’s story, allows us to naturally explain the Gospel,” Horton said, calling the Gospel “the bridge that connects our personal stories to God’s story.”

It is also essential to remember context, Horton added, challenging partnering churches to allow church plants the “freedom” to minister with a view to local culture.

Among his closing challenges, Horton called for reliance on the authority of God’s Word, awareness of the business or economic realities of a community, and the development of biblical responses for movements now “snatching people of color out of the church.”

Horton also urged institutional engagement — evangelizing in schools, prisons and elder care facilities. Lastly, he called for the development of a “biblical theology of beauty” amid human brokenness.

In a Q & A with SBTC Director of Missions Doug Hixson that followed, Horton discussed the changing demographics of California and, by extension, of the U.S., cautioning that “an American philosophy of ecclesiology is not going to go very far in a majority world context” and calling for the engagement of majority world scholarship, pastors and missiologists to see what is working.

Audience member Patrick Knowlton, director of missions for the F.I.R.M. Baptist area in Central Texas, concurred with Horton’s emphasis on cultural context.

“Cultural context is important,” Knowlton told the TEXAN. “We are right in the middle of a dying part of the state … the rural area … there are still cultures in our area that haven’t been reached.”

Travis Leamon, pastor of Eleventh Street Baptist in Shamrock, Tx., echoed Horton’s encouragement to minister to the elderly. Leamon’s church conducts monthly services in two area nursing homes and only last week, a patient accepted Christ.

“It’s easy to assume older folks are saved. The gospel is relevant to all people,” Leamon said.
This article appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN (texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Jane Rodgers is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, typically published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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