Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cooperative Program of the SBC

Basic RGBImagine with me what would happen if each of the 46,125 local churches that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention would give financial support to one cause wrapped around one purpose: presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ globally and making disciples of all the nations. I really want you to think with me for a moment about this. I want you to further imagine what happens when we give financially each month through our world missionary enterprise called the Cooperative Program.
When our 46,000+ churches cooperate to take the gospel to the world, let me tell you a few things we do together. We are:
  • Mobilizing 4,810 missionaries internationally that are fully supported by these churches financially; in fact, through the ministries of these missionaries last year, thousands of churches were planted, 114,471 new believers in Christ were baptized, and we are continuing with the strong commitment to finish the task of engaging the final 3,052 people groups who are both unengaged and unreached.
  • Planting gospel churches in 32 of the major cities in North America as well as in many underserved regions of North America; in fact, our churches together are committed to plant an average of 1,500 churches annually, believing God that over the next ten years we will see 15,000 new gospel churches planted in North America.
  • Mobilizing thousands of volunteers to minister when national disasters come in America; in fact, we comprise the 3rd largest national disaster relief organization in the United States. Additionally, we respond around the world when various crises and disasters occur.
  • Equipping 16,000 seminary students through our six seminaries who will serve as local church pastors and staff members, missionaries around the world, and leaders in some realm of Christianity.
  • Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and speaking to issues in the public square for the protection of religious liberty and human flourishing; in fact, we even have qualified leadership in Washington D.C. speaking for our churches about these issues.
  • Ministering through our own states and even close to our own churches through the 42 state conventions of churches and 1,100 regional associations of churches.
  • Partnering to make a major difference regionally, across each state, nationally, and internationally; believing that God has called us together to reach the world for Christ.
When our churches give through our Cooperative Program, these are just some of the things we do together.
Churches determine what they give through the Cooperative Program
Each of our churches should pray, seek the Lord, and determine voluntarily on our own how much we should give toward our grand gospel work together. No one forces us or tells us what to give; each church decides on our own. We should reassess what we are doing annually. We should always lead our church to be generous in regards to advancing the gospel globally.
What happens to the money we give through the Cooperative Program?
Each church gives to the Cooperative Program through their respective state conventions. Some of the monies stay in the state for ministries and partnerships they are committed to doing together, and they send the remaining monies to the Southern Baptist Convention’s work nationally and internationally. Each state convention determines the amount of monies they keep inside their state and the monies they give to the Southern Baptist Convention. Then, at the national level, a formula is used that distributes the monies for the work of Southern Baptists both nationally and internationally. Everything that I shared with you that these churches accomplish together is funded through our world missionary enterprise called the Cooperative Program.
You see, what began in 1925, God is still using today. These 46,000+ churches are working together by giving monies through the Cooperative Program, all given for the purpose of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ globally and making disciples of all the nations.
Let me tell you our Cross Church story
Let me share a personal story. Through the course of my ministry life and leadership, I have been very committed to leading my church to reach the world for Christ. However, within the last several years as the Southern Baptist Convention and state conventions really began to increase their commitment toward reaching the world for Christ, my church has increased our financial support through the Cooperative Program. Over the past several years, we have increased our commitment substantially each year. Why?
You see, I determined that it was and is incumbent on me, as a stewardship of the gospel, to lead my church to do all we can to rally together with 46,000+ other churches to finish the task of presenting the gospel globally and making disciples of all the nations. After several years, I became absolutely convinced that we can do more together than we could ever do on our own.So our church’s giving through the Cooperative Program has increased greatly and will continue to do so. In fact, when our church adopts our 2014-2015 Ministry Budget in the next few days, we are making a strong commitment to increasing our gifts significantly again this next year.
Lead your church to give more
Listen friend, from the most rural church to the most influential metropolitan church, from the smallest membership church to the largest membership church, Jesus calls us to do everything we can with all we have to reach the world for Christ. The lostness of our own nation and the entire world continues to increase. People are dying without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Personally and as a local church pastor, we must do all we can with all God has entrusted to us to penetrate the lostness of the world.
This is why we must connect together and partner cooperatively. We can reach more people, send more missionaries, plant more churches, demonstrate more compassion to more people through hunger and relief ministries, and equip more ministers and missionaries when we give more together through the Cooperative Program.
There are churches, conventions, networks and denominations all over the world that stand in amazement at how the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention fund our Great Commission work nationally and globally. They are amazed at what we accomplish together in partnership for the gospel.
Challenge your church
Let me challenge you to lead your church toward a greater commitment to reaching the world for Christ by giving through the Cooperative Program. Additionally, extend another challenge to personally increase their financial support to your church so that your church can do more toward fulfilling the Great Commission by giving more dollars through the Cooperative Program.
Vision for all generations
I have been thinking about the vision God is now creating through the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe this vision is strong and becoming more clear all the time, that it appeals to all generations — from the youngest to the oldest. In other words, it is a cross-generational vision that is emerging through what we are doing. What is it?
We are:
  • Theologically conservative, committed to biblical fidelity.
  • Reaching the unreached peoples internationally.
  • Strategically planting Gospel churches nationally.
  • Extending compassion through hunger and disaster relief ministries dynamically.
  • Engaging the culture, always lifting high the cause of religious liberty globally.
  • Cooperatively working to reach the nations regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Pastor, church leaders, and laypeople: if you present these things to any age leader or church, telling them about what God is doing, I believe they will see this vision as being compelling, concise, and clear.
Never forget, this vision is only possible to continue to live and enlarge as the churches of our Southern Baptist Convention give monies generously through the Cooperative Program, all for one main purpose and vision: Reaching the World for Christ. Thank you for what your church is doing right now to God’s glory.
Stay tuned, because next week I will be writing more about this subject.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd

Friday, September 19, 2014

I like this...

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC and pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas, is calling for Christians, but especially SBC Christians, to intentionally share the gospel with someone on Oct. 14, 2014. You can read his challenge on the link below. I'm going to do it. I double dawg dare you to do it to.


Dr. Ronnie Floyd and others lead us to pray.

No one in the church would argue that prayer is ineffective, and yet we struggle to pray. We know we should pray, but we often struggle to know what to pray for or how to pray for what we want. The #NAMB and Dr. Ronnie Floyd, the president of the SBC, are working to change that. On October 2, 2014 we will be praying very specifically, based on Luke 10:2 which says, "He told them, 'The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'" I hope you will click on the link to the Baptist Press article below and check out www.namb.net/tentwo or www.imb.org/main/pray to find out more about this day of prayer and other ways you can engage our culture and the world through prayer. I also want to encourage you to send your students to your local See You at the Pole event next Friday, September 24, 2014. It's always a powerful time as students gather together and pray for each other and their school.


Monday, September 15, 2014


I’m sure you expected me to say that; after all, I am a “mega-church” pastor – and it’s really easy to take shots at guys like me when we talk about money. 
However, I wanted to introduce a thought today and see if it might resonate with anyone. 
Have you ever met someone who tries to throw in a super spiritual comment in the middle of a conversation in order to appear more “holy”? 
For example, you may say in a crowd, “I was on Facebook last night and connected with an old friend.”  And the other person says to you, “I had my face in THE BOOK last night and connected with God!” (This is also known as a “Jesus Juke!”) 
Or, you say, “I am on level 200 on Candy Crush and finally was able to win and move on to the next level,” and THEY say, “Every time I pick up my phone I open up my Bible app, and I always win and go to the next level in my walk with Jesus!” 
Let’s be honest right here...I mean, being totally honest—no one likes this person. 
I think we are all agreeing at this point…which brings me back to the offering.
One of the easiest ways to NOT deal with this (because it's most likely going on in our own hearts) is to be as condescending as we can as quickly as possible. 
So, for years people in church (and people outside the church) have taken shots at churches taking up an offering because, after all, we REALLY sound spiritual when we criticize something that we feel others might possibly agree with. 
But hold on…before we say the church is BAD for taking an offering, let’s think through a few other things as well. 
If you have ever been to a college or pro football game—they take “an offering!” In fact, you have to pay before THAT “church service” even begins. (Sometimes the “services" are good, sometimes not so good…but people still pay money to be there). 
If you have ever been to a concert, you “gave an offering.” Concert tickets and experiences are at an all time high, and no one is sitting in the concert angry and complaining out loud that “the only reason they are doing this is because they want my money!” 
Anytime we go to see a movie or watch a play at the theater they take “an offering.” 
In fact, if we want to get REALLY serious…
Starbucks just wants your money. 
Apple just wants your money. 
Target just wants your money.
The American Girl Doll store just wants your money. 
And yet very few people complain about those places because, well…we tend to not complain about giving money to things we truly value or worship. 
(Might want to go back and read that last sentence again!) 
So, when it comes to taking an offering at church I am genuinely excited for numerous reasons: 
1 – I realize that everything I have is a gift from God (Deuteronomy 8:18) and the offering is a time where I have the privilege of giving back to Him a portion of what He has already blessed me with. 
2 – I believe what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 about money being the #1 competitor for my heart, and the offering is a time when I can tangibly say, “Jesus IS Lord!” 
3 – I believe there is not a better investment on the planet than the local church! 
4 – I realize that when I give money to something, my heart will always follow it (sort of like what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21). 
So, consider this – this next time a person complains about the church taking an offering or asking for money, it is most likely an indictment in regards to their own heart that they are trying to deflect on the church by appearing to sound spiritually superior by criticizing something that Scripture clearly instructs us to do. 
I love taking the offering! And…I love GIVING. For me, it’s not an OBLIGATION but rather an OPPORTUNITY!  

Interesting Article concerning the organization who started the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research.

My quest in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
September 8 2014 by Amber Lehman, Guest Column

It was the latter part of the week when I started seeing the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALSIce Bucket Challenge videos pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. Within 36 hours these posts were nearly all that I saw. It was a brilliant campaign that has raised more than $100 million!

As a ministry leader, I anticipated being challenged so I had some homework to know more about the ALS Association (ALSA). Years ago I figured out that nearly all national organizations that do medical research for cures and treatments of diseases supported embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Later I learned that many organizations give raised funds to Planned Parenthood. Since then, I’ve made it a practice to research every organization I support to see if any of my money supports that which destroys human life.

When I researched ALSA, as I expected, they were in full support of ESCR. It was an easy decision to refrain from participating.

I was shocked as I saw supporters of First Choice and Christian leaders who are prolife taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. It was then that my quest began. I assumed that they could not possibly know they were supporting ESCR.

I immediately became the killjoy of Facebook as I began posting, private messaging, texting, and emailing friends, supporters, and pastors to inform people of the ESCR link as I saw them get challenged. I wrote my church leaders and said “You don’t want to do this, please don’t do this!”

From my vantage point, it was equally plausible for them to dump ice water on their head and then donate to a local abortion clinic. Intentionally ending a life anytime from day one of conception to a 100-year-old’s last breath is all equally wrong – it is all murder whether it happens in a lab, an abortion clinic, a person’s home or a hospital bed.

Human life matters. Period. I wasn’t willing to stand by quietly and watch the Bride of Christ whom I adore contribute to the culture of death.

Christians need to hear the truth of an undeniable reality of a disregard for life; there seems to be a knowledge gap of life issues of today and a plethora of terrible ethical philosophies that serve as slippery slopes to the church. Those whose responses affirmed life were at a loss of how to defend their stance or explain how ESCR worked. While many commended me for diligently defending life, not many of them seemed to take on the fight themselves.

How did the church get here on the critical issue of human life? I believe there are two main reasons:
First, the church rarely talks about life issues or even the basic doctrine of imago Dei. If you just asked yourself “what is imago Dei?” then you are case in point. Your church may be lacking substantial discussion on what it means to be made in the image of God. A person has value because he or she is fashioned in the image of God. The church should be the place where saints are equipped to engage the culture consistently with God’s truth and biblical values.

Engaging the culture well demands that we know what to believe and why, how to take action responsibly for the causes for which we care and how to engage people in productive discussions around sensitive cultural issues while sharing the message and the love of Christ.

Second, we have somehow adopted a philosophy of ministry and giving that believes that all causes are of the same value and urgency. We have fallen prey to being driven to engage a cause simply by how passionate we feel about it and how engaging the cause makes us feel. This is a dangerous way to steward the resources God has given us.

So how can we pick when there are so many causes and so many needs?

First, we pick by seeking God’s Word to see what God cares about and what He commands us to do.
Second, we look at what is going on in our age and determine (a) what is going on that only God’s people care about; and, (b) what is an urgent and present danger.

Once the causal criteria are figured out, then these causes become top priorities. Stewardship demands that we look beyond our emotions and the fun trends of the day.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge made me aware of a terrible disease and for that I am thankful.  My donation to help find a cure for ALS as well as other debilitating disease will go to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute (http://www.jp2mri.org/), where they are committed to ethical medical research for cures and treatments of multiple diseases. While I care about helping end the suffering of ALS, I also care about defending innocent LIFE even in its smallest form.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Amber Lehman holds a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and will gain her master of arts in Christian ethics upon completion of her thesis from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has been leading First Choice Pregnancy Solutions in Wake Forest since January 2006. To make a donation to First Choice please visit www.FirstChoiceNC.org. Also, be sure to sign up for First Choice’s charity golf tournament Sept. 15 at firstchoicenc.org/events/. Amber’s personal abortion story can be found atfirstchoicepregnancysolutions.blogspot.com/2013/08/forgiven-much.html.) 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Revival messages by Dr. James Peoples at Highland

Sunday morning. Click here to listen online!
Sunday night Click here to listen online!
Monday night Click here to listen online!
Tuesday night Click here to listen online!
Wednesday night Click here to listen online!


Weekly Email Update

Labor Day marked the “end of summer” although summer is officially still going on, but we are back to our fall schedule at Highland. We had a great kickoff to fall with Dr. James Peoples. The Holy Spirit surely moved and blessed. Each of the messages is on our website under the media tab; watch them for yourselves and pass them along to others around. What a blessing!

I also want to say a huge “Thank You” from our family, especially my Mom and Dad. Highland as my church family has ministered to us, you have blessed us, and I say “Thank You.” Please keep praying for Mom, she has five more chemo treatments to go. God has and continues to be faithful and gracious. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

AWANA had her big kickoff Wednesday night, and it was a great time. The hotdogs and fellowship were wonderful, the kids were excited and so were the parents. I absolutely love it that our kids are so challenged to “hide God’s word in their hearts, that they might not sin against God.” Pray those verses stick in their minds and hearts. Pray those verses find fertile soil in our kids. Pray God changes the world through them.

I love REACH. Through this structure in our Life Groups we have made hundreds of contacts with individuals and families by way of phone calls, cards, notes, and letters. We have prayed more intentionally and specifically for families in our church and community, and I believe that we are making inroads into the harvest. Thank you for playing your part in the outREACH arm of Highland.

I also want to make sure you are aware that we are hosting another PLACE weekend this month. The dates are September 12-13. Sue Drake and her team are ready to take another group through this amazing experience. Sue and Jeff will also be teaching a six (6) week Life Group elective covering the same material. It will begin on September 14, and will meet in the choir rehearsal room. If you have any questions contact Sue or Janet.

I have several preaching engagements over the next two months and I covet your prayers as I preach these services. I will be preaching two homecomings and two revivals. Thanks in advance for your prayers.

Lastly, I want to make you aware of an opportunity to be part of something the North American Mission Board of the SBC is doing in Nashville, TN. August 3-4, 2015. They are hosting a Send North America conference. This is a conference about strategic church planting in North America. I think it is vital for us to begin strategically preparing to be involved in church planting. The Book of Acts makes it very plane that God expects the church to multiply, and there is no better way for Highland to multiply than to participate in church planting. I am looking at and having conversations with leaders in our church about making a financial commitment to church planting in our budget, and looking for ways for us to get involved through our Mission Team at Highland. Please pray that all the right doors will be open to us.