March 2012

Baptisms are trending up in state

By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor

[img_assist|nid=7978|title=River Baptism|desc=Eight-year-old Simon Rucker was one of 57 children, teens and adults who participated in First Baptist Covington’s third annual mass baptism at Bogue Falaya Park. Photo by Mark H. Hunter|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=447]STATEWIDE – “This is the fourth year in a row of increased baptisms,” reports Wayne Jenkins, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism and church growth team. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

In all, 11,438 peoples’ baptisms were reported by the 1,465 of the LBC’s 1,605 churches that turned in ACP – Annual Church Profile – surveys for the 2010-11 church year, according to information supplied by the Business and Information Services Team, which LBC Business Manager Dale Lingenfelter leads. Based on what the 146 non-reporting churches baptized last year, the true numbers could be over 12,000.

This is up from the 11,020 reported in the 2009-10 church year and the 10,221 reported in the 2006-07 church year, the first year of the upward trend.


Wave of Prayer washes across state

By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor

[img_assist|nid=7980|title=Praying on the courthouse steps|desc=About 25 people gathered at the East Carroll Courthouse in Lake Providence on March 8 as part of Louisiana Southern Baptists praying for a spiritual awakening in the state. The event was one of 15 the first week in March. Other parts of the Wave of Prayer are to take place in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.|link=none|align=left|width=478|height=640]STATEWIDE – Prayer by Louisiana Southern Baptists is to take place at each of the courthouses in Louisiana’s 64 parishes during the months of March and April.

Church members gathered at 15 parishes for prayer during the first week of March alone, led by David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, with other members of the LBC staff and the local associational director of missions.

“I pray this will spread like wildfire,” said James Carson, DOM for the Caldwell, Deer Creek and Richland Baptist Associations, during prayer at the Caldwell Parish Courthouse in Columbia on March 8. “We do pray for spiritual awakening to start in our hearts, through our churches, to all Christians, as we … continue to confess and ask for cleansing in our hearts.”


Pastor, congregation make ‘covenant’ with community

By Quinn Lavespere, Message Staff Writer

SHREVEPORT – As he looked at the postmodern community in Metro Shreveport-Bossier, Luke Allen saw a place fertile with spiritual opportunities.

As pastor of Covenant Church of Shreveport/Bossier City, Allen has inspired his congregation to reach out to those in the surrounding community and teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A call to church planting was the starting point for Covenant Church’s outreach effort in Metro Shreveport-Bossier.


Baptisms decline: It’s time THE WALL came tumbling down

By Bill Day, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Last year the number of baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was 331,008. Except for a minor increase in 2009, our baptisms have been declining since 1999.

In just ten years our baptisms have declined by more than 87,000, a 21 percent decrease. The number of baptisms in the SBC are now at the lowest since 1948, when we had 310,226.

We wait each year to see a turnaround. After all, we’ve had declines before now. We console ourselves by remembering that periods of decline have eventually been followed by periods of increase.


Why homosexuality IS different -- the reality

By Mike Goeke, Associate Pastor Stonegate Community Church

For years, those of us doing ministry in the area of unwanted same-sex attraction and outreach to the gay community have worked diligently to help the church see that homosexual behavior is no different than any sin.

For those of us who struggled with same-sex attraction, the church’s seeming placement of homosexuality at the top of some created “sin hierarchy” was frustrating and hurtful to us.

We also worried that as long as the church treated homosexual behavior as the worst of all sins, people would continue to fear the church instead of finding hope in the church.


Liberal coercion becoming a reality in United States

By Kelly Boggs, Editor Baptist Message

Planned Parenthood, Vanderbilt University and the Obama administration – what do these three have in common?

Each recently has been involved in situations that address whether or not private and/or religious organizations are going to be afforded freedom and respect when it comes to matters of faith and conscience, especially by those who disagree with their beliefs.

In January Komen for the Cure, which claims to be the global leader in the fight against breast cancer, announced it was pulling an annual $680,000 grant it had been giving to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer awareness. The amount represented only .00068 percent of the PP budget.


Justin Martyr: Defending the Faith in life and death

By Bill Warren, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Justin Martyr, the best-known Christian apologist of the second century, wrote the earliest extant defenses of Christianity we have from the period after the New Testament. Motivated by seeing Christians willing to die rather than recant their faith in Christ, he moved from being a follower of Greek philosophers to being a follower of Christ.

Viewing Christianity as the pinnacle of philosophy and truth, Justin defended Christians against the unsubstantiated charges that were being brought against them: “We demand that the charges against the Christians be investigated, and that, if these be substantiated, they be punished as they deserve; [or rather, indeed, we ourselves will punish them.] But if no one can convict us of anything, true reason forbids you, for the sake of a wicked rumor, to wrong blameless men, and indeed rather yourselves, who think fit to direct affairs, not by judgment, but by passion.” (Justin Martyr, Apology I, Chapter 3) Little did he know that later he himself would suffer from unsubstantiated charges of wrongdoing because of being a Christian.

As for his background, Justin was one of the few non-Jews from the land of Israel, having been born in Samaria near modern day Nablus, apparently with a Roman father who had Roman citizenship. Justin studied most of the major philosophical schools of thought of his day, thereby giving him a strong platform for his later defenses of Christianity as the true philosophy that all should follow. He shifted from one philosophical school to another, with Socrates and Plato capturing his attention mostly, prior to his conversion.


Questions We've Pondered

By Archie England, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Question: Who is the Messiah mentioned in Daniel 9:24-27?

Archie England responds: Daniel foresaw six actions (9:24) that would mark the future messianic event. These six actions are best understood as the first coming of Jesus Christ, since atonement, the closing of Scripture, etc., certainly took place at the first coming. Thus, what Daniel saw was the (theological) impact of the messianic event (cp. Luke 1:16-17; John 4:25). In the light of Israel’s exile, his statements are clearly hopeful: The Messiah will bring much needed change!

Second, nowhere in the Old Testament is the word Messiah (“anointed one”) ever used to denote Satan or Antichrist. This term is exclusively used to denote the consecration of a high priest or to specify the future promised Messiah. Daniel 9:24-27 employed the “messiah” terminology three times, each time providing less definitive identification: “Messiah the Prince”(9:25); “Messiah” and “prince” (apparently equivalent, 9:26); and “he” (9:27, twice). 


Tornadoes spawn fresh awareness of growth in Disaster Relief ministries

By Staff, Baptist Message

[img_assist|nid=7988|title=Helping Hand|desc=In Henryville, Ind., relief supplies are unloaded at the back of First Baptist Church, which survived a March 2 tornado that tore through town. The church has become a local hub for relief volunteers and supplies.|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=424]ALEXANDRIA – Despite a swath of tornadoes across the nation’s midsection the first week of March, Disaster Relief volunteers in Lousiana  have not been called to assist in the clean-up, reports the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s  Disaster Relief Director Gibbie McMillan.

“With the exception of the Henryville area near the Indiana/Illinois state lines, each state had enough trained people on hand to meet the need,” McMillan said.

He tied that back to the national response to Hurricane Katrina, which spurred interest in Disaster Relief ministries in Southern Baptist churches across the nation.


Disaster Relief Volunteers Receive Awards

By Staff, Baptist Message

LORANGER – Awards were presented recently at the annual Southern Louisiana Disaster Relief Roundtable to four volunteers for their “outstanding contributions to the LBC Disaster Relief program.”

Shira Easley of New Zion Baptist Church Two Rivers Baptist Association received the Ollie McGlone Memorial Disaster Relief Chaplain Award.

Butch and Sandy Bates of Sandy Creek Baptist Church in William Wallace Baptist Association together received the Volunteer of the Year award.