BP Ledger, Dec. 1
EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.
Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
Oklahoma Baptist University
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
World News Service (2 items)
Meador, Pastor of FBC Euless, Addresses OBU Chapel
SHAWNEE, Okla. (Oklahoma Baptist University) -- John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas, spoke during chapel services at Oklahoma Baptist University Wednesday, Nov. 5. Meador spoke on the "Parable of the Widow and Unjust Judge" from Luke 18:1-8. The theme of his message was, "Don't Lose Heart."
Meador, a 1979 graduate of OBU, opened with fond memories of his college days on Bison Hill. He recalled learning Ka-Rip, a spirit chant yelled by the student body, as well as meeting his wife. Yet, he also shared about the powerful way God impacted him during school.
"I came to OBU to play basketball, and in coming here, I found God," he said. "God encountered me in so many ways here. He changed my life so dramatically."
Meador showed that in Luke 18:1, Jesus said that we should always pray and not lose heart. "Some of you have incredible dreams and visions about what the future holds for your life," he said. "Some of you are going to be world changers. Some of you are thinking about all of the things that will happen in business life, in professional life, in academia, whatever it may be. Some of you are creative geniuses. All of you have a desire to make a huge impact in the world, and let me just share with you, apart from persevering prayer, that won't happen. You won't change anything. In fact, you yourself will not be changed without persevering prayer."
"What God is going to do with someone's life is not based on their limited abilities, but is based on whatever He wants to do in their life," he said. "He cares more about your today, more about your tomorrow, more about your future than you could ever imagine."
Meador has served as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, since 2006. Under his leadership, First Euless has become an intergenerational, multi-ethnic and mission-focused church. His heart and vision have shaped a church that reaches into the community and a church that reaches out all over the world, impacting nations such as Cuba, Columbia, and India. Last summer, he was chosen to preach and present the convention message at the 2014 Southern Baptist Concention Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
Meador lost the majority of his hearing at the age of six due to a fever and illness. Out of that adversity, he has found a powerful testimony, showing how God uses us in all circumstances.
To listen to or view Meador's chapel message, or for more information on the fall chapel series, visit www.okbu.edu.
Evangelical leaders urge faithful and worshipful preaching at Southern Seminary's Expositors Summit
By Andrew J.W. Smith
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) –- Leading evangelical pastors John MacArthur and H.B. Charles Jr. joined Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. to emphasize the primacy of preaching at the Expositors Summit at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oct. 28-30. The plenary addresses were expository sermons with focused application for the pastors' preaching ministry of the gospel.
"For those who are the disciples of Christ, there is one thing we simply can't do without," Mohler said. "And that is the teaching of Christ, the teaching of the Word."
In the opening session of the summit, Mohler preached on "The Binding of Isaac" in Genesis 22, reading the story through the lens of gospel revelation. Mohler highlighted elements of the narrative pointing to Christ in the New Testament -- the son Isaac carries the wood up the mountain himself, the sacrifice comes just when it is needed, and God Himself provides the offering at the story's climax.
Mohler also emphasized the historicity of Genesis 22 despite numerous narrative reconstructions that dismiss the story as representative of "divine child abuse." Mohler argued that reading any part of Genesis as mere myth ultimately undermines the authority and integrity of the entire Bible.
"If it's just a story, it's a terrible story," he said. "On the other side, if it's the truth, then we're saved."
Mohler also offered a fresh reading of the Mary and Martha story in Luke 10:38-42. Rather than seeing Martha as the less faithful sister, Mohler observed that Jesus does not rebuke Martha, so her hospitality is not condemned but encouraged. Yet Martha lacked the more necessary thing, according to Mohler: the teaching of Jesus.
Christian ministers need to be watchful about how their busyness and anxiety distracts them, Mohler said. While both Martha and Mary are doing the right thing, the "one thing necessary" is to preach the Word. This story is not a morality tale, but a story about the Bible: preachers and teachers of God's Word should not let other necessary things distract them from that important task. The apostles' appointing of deacons in Acts 6 demonstrates the primacy of the preacher's task -- people who serve the church like Martha allow those like Mary to sit under teaching.
"The church needs a whole lot of Marthas so the Marys can demonstrate the importance of the preaching of the Word," Mohler said.
Charles, pastor at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, presented Paul's prayer from Ephesians 3, identifying how prayer is a reflection of God's glory, and is only worthwhile when it is rooted in God's worthiness. After demonstrating how Paul's instructions for Christian living flow from detailed teaching about Christian truth and doctrine, Charles turned to the purpose of prayer. Prayer works because of God's absolute sovereignty, he said, not because of anything intrinsically valuable about prayer itself.
"You don't learn how to pray by studying prayer," Charles said. "You learn how to pray by studying God."
Charles also urged preachers to delight in the glory and plan of God in the final address of the Expositors Summit. Using Ephesians 2:4-7 as his text, he walked through the story of each believer that text presents, emphasizing the unilateral and effective work of God to bring his people from spiritual death.
"The bad news is, you cannot save yourself," he said. "The good news is you don't have to."
The whole salvation program, Charles argued, finds its ultimate purpose in the broad display of the "immeasurable riches of [God's] grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." God's plan is chiefly designed for his glory through Christ, Charles argued, but believers in the church reap the benefits of the deep love and mercy of God.
"Christianity is not about your best life now," he said. "It's about your best life forever."
During a panel discussion, Mohler asked Charles and MacArthur about the highlights, difficulties, and overall influence of expository preaching in their ministries.
MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, highlighted the uniqueness of being at one church for 40 years, identifying both the challenges and benefits of rarely being able to preach from the same text twice. Charles noted the positive long-term effect expository preaching has had on his congregation, and Mohler observed how much more sensitive to biblical theology his preaching has become over the years.
MacArthur's session was the culmination of a four-part series on the parables he began during the Mullins Lectures the day before. During his opening address, MacArthur laid out Jesus' purpose for the parables: hide the truth from those who rejected his teaching.
MacArthur challenged preachers to be faithful stewards of their task to maintain and cultivate the vineyard of God's church in his message from Mark 12, the parable about the stewards of the vineyard.
He said each element of the parable in Mark 12 represents a figure in redemptive history: the vineyard owner is God; the vineyard stands in for the people of God; the stewards of the vineyard are the Jewish religious leaders; the servants sent by the vineyard owner reflect the Old Testament prophets who are rejected and killed by the stewards; and the son of the vineyard owner is Jesus, the Messiah.
At the climax of the story, the son is killed by the stewards and the vineyard is taken from them and "given to others," meaning the disciples. The stewardship of God's people has passed to us, who are called to boldly and unapologetically preach the Word.
"You are the new stewards of the kingdom of God," he said, addressing pastors. "This is a monumental calling for which you must be faithful."
Audio and video from the Expositors Summit will soon be available at sbts.edu/resources.
Christian publisher splits conservative, progressive imprints
By Lynde Langdon
NEW YORK (WORLD News Service) -- A major Christian publisher has announced changes to its organizational structure designed to satisfy criticisms it had not remained true to biblical teaching.
The Crown Publishing Group announced in early November it would separate the staff and operations of WaterBrook Multnomah, which publishes books by evangelical authors, and Convergent, an imprint that allows for more liberal theology. This past spring, Convergent published God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, which argues against the sinfulness of homosexuality. The book cost Waterbrook Multnomah the trust of many in Christian publishing and membership in the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB).
WaterBrook Multnomah and Convergent share staff and operate under the same corporate umbrella. The NRB wanted WaterBrook Multnomah to promise no one on its staff would work on a Convergent book, which it could not do at the time. Both divisions, or imprints, were under the leadership of President Steven Cobb, who told WORLD in April, "I want to believe that every book that publishes on my watch, whichever imprint it publishes in, is biblically based and developed credibly," which he said God and the Gay Christian was.
With Cobb retiring in March, Crown announced the appointments of new, separate vice presidents for WaterBrook Multnomah and Convergent. The new vice president of WaterBrook Multnomah, Alexander Field, comes from David C Cook, another Christian publishing company in Colorado Springs, Colo. Convergent will relocate to New York City under the leadership of David Kopp. Both Kopp and Field will report to Crown senior vice president Tina Constable, but they will do so with separate staffs in separate offices.
"We are committed to advancing our mission of publishing books that meet the interests of a full spectrum of readers, in acknowledging and respecting the vibrant theological diversity within the Christian community," Constable wrote in the announcement. WaterBrook Multnomah will continue publishing books for evangelical or conservative Christian readers, while Convergent will focus on "the interests of progressive Christians who are redefining their faith through the prism of contemporary experience," according to Constable.
WaterBrook Multnomah, known for its best-selling Christian titles, such as John Piper's Desiring God and books by evangelical authors David Jeremiah and Kay Arthur, began as the printing arm of Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Ore. Mainstream, secular publisher Penguin Random House now owns the imprint and its parent company, Crown Publishing Group.
Ed Stetzer on statistics & the church
By Warren Cole Smith
NASHVILLE (WORLD News Service) -- Ed Stetzer is the president of LifeWay Research, an organization that does polling and statistical analysis. Though associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay and Stetzer's influence has spread well beyond Southern Baptist circles. Stetzer has two master's degrees and two doctorates, and he is the author of nearly 20 books. He's also a social media phenomenon with 135,000 Twitter followers. He's become the go-to guy to learn about trends in the Christian world.
This conversation took place at his office in Nashville:
Ed, what is LifeWay Research? We do research for evangelical clients to help inform churches, organizations, and ministries to be more effective and engaging their culture for the gospel.
As its leader, you have become an evangelical guru. Since I lead an organization that's seeking to accumulate knowledge, I get to read a lot. Some of those pastors will say, "How do I keep up on this or that?" I'm not sure that's their job; they should keep up on the lives of the people in the congregation. I get to read and do research and do data, so we have a lot of great partnerships through a lot of good research. I think it's helpful for people to understand where we are, what the cultural moment is, and how we are to function as biblically faithful Christians in that cultural moment.
How did you become such a phenomenon on social media? Being a big deal in social media is an odd thing. My wife once said to me that being a big deal on Twitter is like being the dungeon master in a Dungeons and Dragons game. You are just a big deal in a fake world of geeks. … It works well for what I do. I try to encourage pastors. … I can do so with short phrases, so I blog and I'm on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, but not Pinterest. The end result is I use it to communicate, so it makes sense.
Is it fair to say that, back a number of years ago, you were one of the guys who created some meaning and currency around the word "missional?" I think somebody put that on Wikipedia, so I think there is some truth to that.
Define for me what the word "missional" means. A lot of churches are now calling themselves missional churches. "Missional" [has] become an ecclesiological junk drawer. If somebody wants more social justice in his or her church, that's missional. If someone wants to be contextually relevant, that's missional. A lot of times missional is the desired change if someone wants to be something else. Missional is, at its simplest, us joining Jesus on his mission. Joining in the mission of God. … When the church has become a distributor of religious goods and services, when the show is what drives people and people are passive spectators rather than active participants in the mission of God, there needs to be a change. … A few of us got together, and we created a Missional Manifesto that lays out how we are using the term.
You recently released some research in conjunction with Ligonier Ministries. What is that research telling us about the state of the country and the state of the church today? We asked 43 questions about issues of faith. We looked at sin, salvation, the Bible, afterlife, all kinds of things. At the end of the day, I think most Americans really like a do-it-yourself approach to things of religion, to things of faith. They are not necessarily looking to the church to be a part of that. Let me give you a couple of examples. "The Bible is helpful but not literally true." Forty one percent of Americans say that -- not surprising. But when you look at other categories, 18 percent of people who call themselves evangelicals say the Bible is not literally true. Here is one: "Everyone sins, but most people are, by nature, good." That view would be outside of orthodoxy, and not just the evangelical tradition, but what we call the grand tradition. Fifty one percent of evangelicals, 79 percent of Catholics, 76 percent of mainline Protestants, and about two-thirds of Americans think that people are, by nature, good. Only 18 percent believe the smallest sin deserves damnation. I think their view of people is very humanist: We are good; God is up there.
What can a pastor do with this data that will help them maybe move the needle on some of these things? What's fascinating to me is there is still a lot of theological confusion, even among evangelicals. ... We are not raising up believers who understand basic theological views. Let me give you an example. We might come from different traditions, but if you are Wesleyan or Pentecostal or Baptist or Calvinist, Presbyterian -- all of those groups believe, in one way or the other, that salvation is initiated by God. Yet, that's not how people answer on our survey.
It seems that too often people use religious data for one of two purposes. Either they say, this survey shows how bad things are, and if you'll buy my book or go to my seminar that will solve your problem. Or, they just use the data to beat up the church or to get the church to change its practice in a way that suits their ideology. Are those concerns valid? I think the answer is yes. I'll give you an example of the famous statistic that went around the world: 86 percent of evangelical youth drop out of church after high school never to return. I'll tell you where it came from: A basic group of youth pastors guessed, and an average of their guesses is one of the most widely quoted stats. Your listeners could Google that and find it all over the place. You can tell immediately it's not true because how in the world would you know if they never return? ... I would encourage people to look at Brad Wright's book called Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You've Been Told. ... I wrote the forward to it, and it really looks at how we have fallen for some bad statistics.
History tells us that when a culture abandons biblical ideals, especially as they relate to moral questions in the basic building blocks of culture, like the family, that culture is in big trouble. Do you see that as the future for America? Right now, it's very confusing to the world that 75 percent of Americans say they are Christians. Many of those people [who] say they are Christians hold views that are very contrary to the texts of what Christians [believe]. As the nominal Christians become the "nones" -- nones fill out a survey and they say "I'm nothing; I'm none of the above" -- society will become increasingly secular and that will put pressure on Christians. They will become increasingly serious.