Saturday
Jun272015

Ark. Baptist Kay Hardin shares conversation with Elisabeth Elliot

ElliotIn 1987, Kay Hardin, current member of Second Baptist Church in Little Rock and chaplain at Baptist Health Medical Center in North Little Rock, had the opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one Q-and-A session with Elisabeth Elliot Gren – missionary, widow of murdered missionary Jim Elliot and widely influential author and speaker. Elliot recently died at the age of 88. The following is from Hardin's journal following her conversation with Elliot.

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Friday
Jun262015

Why your church should be on YouTube

Matt Ramsey
Arkansas Baptist State Convention

ALMOST ON a daily basis, I get asked the question, “Should our church be on YouTube?” While this can be a difficult decision for some, the answer is very simple – “Yes!”

YouTube is the premier video-sharing site on the Internet that allows people to discover, watch and share originally created videos. What started as a fad 10 years ago has now become a multimillion-dollar business. According to YouTube.com, YouTube has more than 1 billion users, and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours of video content. The number of hours people spend watching videos on YouTube each month is up 50 percent year after year. If people are watching a video online, chances are that it is coming from YouTube. These statistics alone should make you want to join and participate in this revolutionary video tool.

So how does this help my church, and why should we be on YouTube? Here are four reasons why your church should be on YouTube:

(1)    It helps your church get discovered on the Internet. YouTube is owned by Google, which is the largest search engine website. When people are searching for a church in your area, they most likely go to Google. If your church’s name is not on the top of the list, these people might not know your church exists. As harsh as this sounds, this is a
reality that churches must deal with.

Being on YouTube helps your search engine optimization (SEO) and increases your rankings on Google. SEO is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine like Google. Basically this translates to: Being on YouTube increases the chances that your church will be top on the list when people are searching for churches in your area.
Along with this, people go to YouTube to search videos or sermons that your church has done to get a feel for your church. People today very rarely come to a church without being fully informed about what the feel of the church is like.

(2)    It is on all smartphones. According to YouTube.com, half of all YouTube views are on mobile devices. Why is this important? Most likely people under the age of 40 have a smartphone. If you want to reach this demographic, YouTube allows you to connect to them very easily. You literally have them in the palm of their hand. Create videos that can keep people interested in your church while they are on the go.

(3)    It is an easy way for you to store your videos and create an archive for years. In case you don’t know, video files take up lots of storage space on a computer. YouTube allows you to upload videos that will be kept as long as YouTube is around, which most likely will be for years to come. Freeing up all that storage space on your computer will help your equipment last a lot longer and allow you to keep creating more videos.

(4)    It is free! This is the most important one of all. In a world where everything that works well has a premier cost attached to it, YouTube costs nothing and could be the best thing to happen to your church. This is a great tool to reach a larger group of people for the kingdom of God.

YouTube is a channel through which you can give life to your church – to promote your events, tell your story and post your sermons. A 1-minute YouTube video can communicate more about your ministry culture and your passion for people than all the written text in the world. Your church needs to use YouTube. Imagine the creative ways you could leverage it!

Wednesday
Jun032015

Pastors' wives need outside support

NASHVILLE (BP) – Pastors' wives overall are happy with their roles, but it's imperative that they build a support network outside the church for seasons of conflict, a study of pastors' wives found.

Pastors’ wives Christine Hoover (left), Kathy MacDonald and Susie Hawkins led a panel discussion at the 2014 pastors’ wives session of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference in Baltimore. Photo by Adam Covington Amy Stumpf, professor of religion and society at California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., and a pastor's wife herself, was stirred to study Southern Baptist pastors' wives after she read a Time magazine article lamenting the unique struggles of being married to a pastor.

"Overall, there was a notably negative tone to the 'lot' of most pastors' wives," Stumpf said of the Time article.

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Friday
May082015

Noah, Emma top Social Security’s list of most popular baby names for 2014

Emma and Noah are America’s most popular baby names for 2014. Emma returns to the top spot she held in 2008 and hangs out in first place with Noah. There are a few new names in the top 10 this year ­– James (a former No. 1 from the ’40s and ’50s) on the blue side and Charlotte on the pink side, her first time ever in the top 10. It makes you wonder if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge got a sneak peak at the list, since naming their baby girl Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte (which lands at No. 10) Elizabeth (which fell from the top 10 to No. 14) Diana (No. 297) of Cambridge.

Below are the top 10 boys and girls names for 2014.

Boys:  

1) Noah

2) Liam           

3) Mason

4) Jacob

5) William

6) Ethan

7) Michael

8) Alexander

9) James

10) Daniel

Girls:

­1) Emma

2) Olivia

3) Sophia

4) Isabella

5) Ava

6) Mia

7) Emily

8) Abigail

9) Madison

10) Charlotte 

The agency began compiling the baby names list in 1997, with names dating back to 1880. At the time of a child’s birth, parents supply the name to the agency when applying for a child’s Social Security card, thus making Social Security America’s source for the most popular baby names. 

Each year, the list reveals the effect of pop culture on naming trends. This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 1,000 are Aranza and Bode.

Aranza jumped an amazing 3,625 spots on the girls’ side to number 607, from number 4,232 in 2013. The Latin soap opera “Siempre Mi Amore” was aired on Univision from 2013 to 2015. The show featured a young lead character named Aranza, and obviously had its effect on naming trends last year.

Bode raced ahead 645 spots, from number 1,428 in 2013 to number 783 in 2014. This might have had something to do with the Winter Olympics in early 2014, where Bode Miller continued his outstanding alpine skiing career by collecting his sixth Olympic medal. Not only is he the most successful male American alpine skier of all time, he is considered by many to be an American hero.

The second fastest riser for boys was Axl, a nod to both rock legend Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses and Axl Jack Duhamel, son of Stacy Ann “Fergie” Ferguson and Josh Duhamel. For girls, Montserrat, the lead character in a very popular Latin soap opera, was number two, joined by another Monserrat (spelled just one letter differently) at number three.

Visit socialsecurity.gov to view the entire list.

Wednesday
May062015

Native Americans built association's strength

EDITOR'S NOTE: Baptist Association Emphasis is May 17-23 on the 2015 SBC Calendar.

The original Burnt Swamp Baptist Church hosted meetings that led to the formation of the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association in 1881. The association moved the structure, which has its original floor joists, to the current association office property in Pembroke, N.C. Photo by Alan Oxendine.Jim Burton
SBCLIFE

PEMBROKE, N.C. (BP) – In 1881, Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, an association of Native American Baptist churches, was established. From its humble beginnings of three churches in Robeson County, N.C. – two of which still exist – the association now includes 70 churches in 10 North Carolina counties and two neighboring states. 

Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Pee Dee, Tuscarora and Waccamaw Siouan make up the multi-tribal association's membership, which was distinctively Baptist from its beginning. 

"As far as we can tell, it's the first organization of an association set up by Indians for Indians," said Mike Cummings, a Lumbee who, since 1988, has led what may be Southern Baptists' first affinity-based association. 

Associational strength and community gave the southeastern North Carolina tribes perseverance to battle harsh realities in a segregated South. 

At its first meeting, the association appointed a Domestic Board to evangelize Native Americans and established Indian education as a core concern of its churches. The association aggressively raised money to develop elementary schools, often planting churches in the same communities where schools were built. The association also engaged in a larger effort to raise funds for a high school for Indians. 

"This was the only place we could come; (we) couldn't go to black or white meetings," Cummings said. "We were on the fringe of North Carolina Baptist life. 

"Burnt Swamp was us. That's ours. Association pride has been strong because of that factor for one thing."

Early on, Indians could vote and share the rights of other citizens, but in 1835 the North Carolina Constitutional Convention removed those rights for "free persons of color," including Native Americans. According to "The History of Burnt Swamp Baptist Association" by Tony Brewington, the association's director of missions from 1969 to 1986, this had a devastating effect on Indian communities and contributed to an extended resentment between the races. 

Mike Cummings has served full-time with the multi-tribal Burnt Swamp Baptist Association since 1988. His wife Quae (pronounced kway) has served the association in administration support since 1979. Photo by Alan Oxendine."In every community where there are Indians, they have suffered through discrimination just like blacks have," Cummings said. "I was a 10th-grader (before) Indians could go to white schools. I felt the brunt of that rigid prejudice against Indians."

In 1921, Burnt Swamp Baptist Association sought admittance into the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. From the outset, associational leaders had supported and promoted BSCNC programs, and the two groups often received and sent representatives to each other's meetings, but they had no formal relationship. 

After languishing during the 1920s, the association's petition was greatly assisted when Mary Livermore, an Anglo who worked with Native Americans, wrote a long plea that included the following: 

"They feel so isolated, and are losing their young people especially because they had asked the convention before and been refused, and the Indians resent such rebuffs." 

When the state convention approved the membership petition in 1929, Burnt Swamp received a "bittersweet" response, as Brewington described it: the association was accepted as an associate member of the convention, meaning its churches participate in BSCNC programs but their messengers could not vote. 

Though disappointed, associational leaders responded cordially to the decision. Soon, relationships with the broader Southern Baptist family began to strengthen, first through joint missions endeavors with Woman's Missionary Union and the SBC's Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board), then with the seminaries through Seminary Extension. 

A new day 

In 1999, 70 years after being initially accepted as a BSCNC associate member, Cummings was elected as the convention's president, the first Native American to hold the office, serving two and a half terms. 

"That did us a lot of good to see ourselves recognized by this convention," Cummings said of his tenure. "We were basically fringe participants for years because it was like we were going to somebody else's meeting." 

Not only did Cummings preside over the annual meetings in his role as president, he later served as BSCNC interim executive director before Milton Hollifield began his tenure in 2006. 

Cummings held those positions "not because of his ethnicity, but rather because of his ability as a leader," Hollifield said. 

"Although Mike Cummings has great pride in his Native American ethnicity and rich Indian heritage, North Carolina Baptist people looked beyond that positive attribute and recognized his love for God, his wisdom, his commitment to Kingdom building, his love for this state convention, and they believed that Brother Mike would lead with a spirit of integrity and fairness toward all ethnic and language groups in North Carolina," Hollifield said. 

The churches of Burnt Swamp Baptist Association take pride in the national leadership of former SBC President Johnny Hunt, who is a Lumbee Indian. Timmy Chavis, pastor of Bear Swamp Baptist Church in Pembroke, is chairman of the SBC Executive Committee's Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council. 

Cummings and Chavis know that Native Americans have some advantages when propagating the Gospel among their own people. As Chavis puts it, "Indigenous people need to be reached with indigenous people." 

Burnt Swamp Baptist Association is "guided by its vision to be churches in fellowship and on mission together with God," according to its website. To that end, the association began engaging in short-term mission projects in 1986 when they helped a Native American church in New Mexico with construction. The next year, a team went to South Dakota. 

Those ventures "launched us into understanding the impact we can make," Cummings said. Soon, that impact reached overseas. Mannie Mintac, a Filipino, married a Lumbee girl and, in 1993, he showed up in Cummings' office and shared the call of God in his life. "God wants me to go back and plant churches in my home," Mintac told Cummings, regarding a remote region of the Philippines with no evangelical church. 

Since 1997 when Burnt Swamp volunteers first went to the Philippines, they have built 10 churches and a school. Routinely, the association sends 10 missions teams annually to provide a variety of services, including medical missions. 

Meanwhile, they continue to minister to North America's native people, with Cummings noting, "We see our identity with these people." 

After 400 years of Anglos evangelizing Native Americans, only 10 percent have become Christians, said Emerson Falls, who serves as a Native American specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and is chairman of the SBC Fellowship of Native American Christians. 

Burnt Swamp is a story of the success of home missions as Indians were once the objects of home missions, Cummings said. A subsidy from the then-Home Mission Board to support the director of missions ended when Cummings started in 1988. 

Now, there's a new message to the North American Mission Board, which replaced HMB and two other SBC entities in 1997. 

"This association is not part of your mission field," Cummings said. "It's a part of your missions force." 

With an estimated 75 percent of Native Americans living in urban areas, Burnt Swamp is looking to turn its "missions force" to church planting there. 

Though forward-looking, the association continues a tradition that started in its earliest days. Its churches gather four times a year on the fifth Saturday of a month for preaching and singing at their Union Meeting. 

"Those guys preach like it's nobody's business," Cummings said of the Indian pastors. "Indians like to sing and get happy when they worship. You would think we were Pentecostals." 

Passionate preaching is a reflection of their theology. 

"This is a community that takes the demands of the Gospel literally," Cummings said. "Someone has to agonize in response to Gospel preaching. Almost every church here believes you have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting to be saved." 

Jim Burton is a photojournalist living in Cumming, Ga. This article first appeared in SBCLIFE, journal of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.