Gore tackles biblical issues in monthly ‘Baptist Ask’ column

WALNUT RIDGE – Should we forgive the devil? Should Christians cuss? Does the gift of tongues still exist?

These are just a few of the questions writer Ken Gore has answered through “Baptists Ask,” a monthly question and answer column found in the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN).

“People will let me know if they disagree,” said Gore, “and that’s OK.”


One such disagreement was over the question of whether or not Christians should forgive the devil.

“This question was asked by a 6-year-old girl, and my answer was, ‘Of course.’ We are supposed to forgive everyone,” said Gore.

As a result of his answer, he received some negative feedback. One letter, in particular, came from a subscriber that was very mad over his answer, according to Gore.

“I tried to explain to her that I understood her reasoning, but at the same time we are to be people of grace no matter who they are,” said Gore. “Even though this is what (the devil) does, and it is inherently what he does, … we need to move on.”

According to Gore, his goal is make sure each question is answered through prayer and much Scripture study.

When asked what makes him saying, ‘This is what the church says, and therefore we need to believe it,’ we (can) search the Scriptures and learn,” said Gore. “It doesn’t take a Ph.D. It takes someone who surrenders themselves to the Scriptures and prays to find the right answers.”

Gore started writing the column in 2001 following a request from Charlie Warren, former ABN editor.

“The column was started because some readers thought it would be helpful to receive a bit more information about what Baptists believe,” said Warren. “I thought the question/answer approach would be a good way to do this.”

“I have always been impressed by Ken Gore from first hearing him preach the convention sermon (in 2000). Since then, every visit with him and everything I heard about him reinforced that impression. So I asked him to do it, and he accepted,” Warren added.

Gore serves as chair of Christian ministries at Williams Baptist College. He said some questions for the column come from students.

“Most of the time, questions are generated in the classroom, and they are great questions that deserve a thorough answer. So I write about them in my column,” said Gore.

In addition, Gore regularly receives questions through email and church members.

Gore said he enjoys writing the column and is blessed to write for the ABN.

“For me, (writing the column) has been a great opportunity of Christian growth because it keeps me grounded in the Scriptures,” said Gore. “Trying to find the right thing to say in 305 words is not always easy, but it forces me to write a concise biblical answer.”


Association ‘open-air meeting’ engages pastors 

ASHLEY COUNTY BAPTIST Association held an ‘open-air camp meeting’ May 19.

“One of the most frustrating things for an associational missionary is to find a way to get pastors to attend meetings,” said Greg Pierce, associational missionary for Ashley County Baptist Association. But he said he remembered that a wise older pastor once told him, “If you want a preacher to attend a meeting, just ask him to preach.”


So, he put that theory to practice at the camp meeting. The audience heard seven sermons in the course of about two hours. The preachers were limited to 15 minutes and preached tag-team style from a 40-foot flatbed trailer with a special singer between messages.
“The messages all seemed to tie together in a common theme even though the preacher had no idea what the others were going to preach,” said Pierce. “In one way or another, every sermon was a challenge for us to have compassion for the lost and get the gospel out of our churches and to those in darkness.”

Pierce said he was accustomed to having 15-minute tag-team preaching services on fifth Sunday nights when he pastored. He said he would always ask the men or even youth in his churches to give their testimonies or a devotional or to preach a sermon on those nights. And some of those men are still preaching today.

Pierce said he was delighted to see the response from his pastors and that they adapted naturally to preaching in the open-air style. In fact, he said the pastors all seemed to have a lot of liberty in preaching, not being encumbered with the more formal setting of a typical worship service, and they didn’t seem hindered at all by the short time limit.

“It was almost like a condensed version of a week’s revival, and the preachers are already looking forward to the next meeting,” he said.


‘Descriptor,’ historic election set for SBC 

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – The recommendation of “Great Commission Baptists” as a descriptive name and the prospective election of the first-ever African-American president are on the horizon for the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) June 19–20 meeting in New Orleans.

Messengers will decide whether to adopt the informal, nonlegal “Great Commission Baptists” descriptor as recommended by the SBC Executive Committee, embracing the suggestion of a special task force appointed to study changing the SBC’s name, deemed by some a regional barrier to the gospel.


“The overwhelming acceptance of the Executive Committee was the first major step,” SBC President Bryant Wright said of the proposed descriptor. “Obviously, the decision of the convention will be most important. If approved, our entities will lead the way in using the descriptor. I think it will be a 10- to 20-year process of helping Southern Baptists and the general public to think, ‘Those people really are Great Commission Baptists,’ when they think of us.”

Fred Luter Jr., senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and SBC first vice president, currently is unopposed for the SBC presidency. Luter would be the first African-American to hold the post, on the heels of the SBC’s historic 2011 measure calling for greater accountability among its entities regarding ethnic diversity in leadership. David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, is expected to nominate Luter.

“Our election of Fred Luter as the first African-American president of the SBC will send a great, hopeful, powerful message to our city, our culture, our convention and our country,” Crosby said.

“For many, it will make them rethink who Southern Baptists are, and it will help us reach the new diversity that we find in our cities,” he added. “It is a statement that people of all ethnic groups make up the Southern Baptist Convention and are honored.”

The annual meeting will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the 2005 source of troubling images as thousands suffered hunger, thirst and lack of medical care as victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The center has undergone $92.7 million in improvements since the storm, according to press reports.


Intentional interim ministry benefits churches

WHEN THE PASTOR of North Main Baptist Church, Sheridan, resigned early last year, church members decided to approach the task of finding a new pastor a little differently.

Instead of immediately beginning to search for a permanent pastor, the church started an intentional interim ministry (IIM) process, enlisting Bill Bullington, a former Arkansas Baptist State Convention team member, as their intentional interim pastor.


Bullington, who retired from the ABSC in January 2011, said the church has responded well to the process. “They understood how (the intentional interim program) could help them with a future pastor,” he explained.

During the IIM process, the Sheridan church formed a transition team and considered several major “focus points” – coming to terms with the heritage or history of the church, examining leadership and organizational needs, rethinking denominational linkage, developing a new identity and vision and making a commitment to new leadership.

A recent observance of the Lord’s Supper had a great impact on several church members, related Bullington.

At the beginning of the observance, members were encouraged to write down “those things they needed to get rid of,” along with “sins they needed to repent of and relationships they wanted to restore,” explained Bullington.

Then, when the members partook of the Lord’s Supper elements, they taped those items to a large cross, which was placed at the front of the church.

Afterward, Bullington said several members commented about the meaningfulness of the ordinance. Many told him it was a “real blessing” to them.

“There were some who said, ‘I got rid of some baggage I needed to,’” he said.

JeromeThe church has progressed to the final focus point. Members will soon select a pastor search team and begin the process of looking for a pastor.

Bullington said he believes it’s important to give the church time to work through the loss of a pastor. With the IIM pastor in place, church members have the time to “work through the grief process,” he said, adding, “It also gives them a chance to develop a better understanding of who they are as a church and where they want to go – a vision of what they hope the church will be.”

In addition, Bullington said the program allows time for any relationships that may need healing to be addressed.

At North Main, Bullington said he senses a “good fellowship” in the church.

“They have a desire to work together,” he said.

The church has continued to be involved in its normal ministry activities, he said.

The experience has been a good one for Bullington.

“We’ve come to love the people and build relationships we’ll treasure for a long time,” he said.
First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, recently completed an intentional interim process with Ken Jerome serving as pastor.

With eight intentional interim pastorates under his belt, Jerome is a veteran of the ministry. But he says each pastorate is different.

First Baptist, Jacksonville, had begun to plateau as its congregation was becoming older, said Jerome. Through IIM, “they began to see themselves in a different light.”


Jerome said when an intentional interim pastor has the trust of the members, his role in the church can encourage members to look at things they’ve “always” done a certain way in a different light.

“The intentional interim can say, ‘Well, we aren’t going to do it that way anymore,’” said Jerome.

First Baptist, Jacksonville, members were very open to the intentional interim process, said Jerome.

“They opened up their arms to me as a new leader and have responded to me in a tremendous way,” he continued.

Jerome said the feeling is mutual. “This has been a real joy for my wife and I,” he said.

Jimmy Sheffield, who coordinates the ABSC intentional interim ministry, said intentionality is one reason why so many churches see success through the program.

“The congregation has to consider the intentional interim ministry process and vote to enter into it,” Sheffield said.

Church involvement throughout the process also contributes to the ministry’s success, he said.

Another reason why the ministry works for churches is strong leadership.

“All intentional interim pastors go through extensive training before they lead a church through the IIM process,” he said.

Jerome said the most important thing an intentional interim pastor can do is love people.

“If you really love people, they will respond to that,” he said.


Loyd named BCM missions consultant

LITTLE ROCK – Lynn Loyd, campus minister of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (UAF), has been named missions consultant for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) collegiate ministry team effective July 1.


Cole Penick, assistant campus minister, will serve as interim for the Fayetteville BCM.

David James, team leader of the ABSC collegiate ministry team, said the missions consultant position will be moved from Little Rock to northwest Arkansas.

“If you know Lynn, you love his heart for God, his respect for all people and his passion to mobilize collegians to the ends of the earth,” said James. “He will be responsible for overseeing the state BCM mission program, assisting in the supervision of collegiate ministry team staff and helping with team building projects. Lynn will travel statewide to be in our churches and to serve them.”

James said Penick will begin his interim duties July 1.

“Having served as assistant campus minister at the UAF BCM and on staff with University Baptist Church since 2006, Cole brings great skills and understanding to the role,” said James. “He knows and loves the campus, proclaims the gospel fearlessly and draws the hearts of collegians to our vision.”       

He added, “We are excited about both of these changes and believe the changes will enhance our commitment to see collegians grow in Christ, connect to His church and serve His world.”