Cooperative Program Catalyst Matt Crawford shares the story of Grace Alive Orlando and their pastor Cam Triggs. Thank you for supporting them through the Cooperative Program!
Last weekend, I was privileged to participate in the Evangelicals for Life Conference in Washington, DC. This conference is jointly presented by the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Commission (ERLC) and Focus on the Family. Two Cooperative Program Catalysts, Curtis Cook and myself, were able to host a pastor’s event during the late night portion of the conference.
Evangelicals for Life is one of my favorite events that the ERLC hosts, because of its focus on the sanctity of human life – especially as this sanctity is grounded in the image of God. Guest speakers included Senator Ben Sasse, Senator James Lankford, Jim Daly, Richard Stearns, and NFL player and author Benjamin Watson. I was especially blessed to hear in person from one of my heroes, Joni Eareckson Tada. All speakers challenged us to pray, give, and act on behalf of those in need, babies in the womb, the disabled, and refugees. All of these concerns flow from the gospel and the Imago Dei.
Built into the conference was the opportunity to join the annual March for Life along the National Mall. Prior to the march, there was a rally that featured a satellite address from President Trump – the first time a sitting president has addressed the march in its 45 years. After that, it was incredible to see tens of thousands of people protesting the murderous practice of abortion in our nation. This time lapse posted by Students for Life America gives you a sense of the massive size of the crowd.
Here are pictures of a few Southern Baptists who stood up for life that day:
Dr. Russell Moore of the ERLC is joined here by Dr. Ronnie Parrott of Christ Community Church in Huntersville, NC, and his wife Marci.
Executive Committee Vice President of Cooperative Program Ashley Clayton marched, along with his wife Sharon.
City Church Tallahassee brought several of their staff to the Evangelicals for Life Conference and the March, and Pastor Dean Inserra spoke on a panel at the conference.
Cooperative Program Catalysts Curtis Cook (Northeast Region) and Matt Crawford (South Region) marched, as well.
As a Southern Baptist, it encourages me to see the national leadership on behalf of life that is exercised by the ERLC. The ERLC receives less than 2% of the annual Cooperative Program budget, but what a return we get on this investment! Why? Because speaking and advocating on behalf of the unborn, orphans, the disabled, and others whom society prefers to cast off is not an issue that is peripheral to the gospel. Over and over again in Scripture, we are told to care and work for the good of orphans, widows, and those in need. This is a natural and even necessary response to God’s love that caused Him to come to earth, fight for us to the point of death, and adopt us into His family. As we participate in the Cooperative Program and support the ERLC, we are better together – for LIFE.
This morning, there was a dramatic scene in downtown Nashville, as Draper Centennial Tower at LifeWay’s former campus came down in an implosion. At 9:30 AM local time, the carefully planned implosion took place, clearing the way for new development following the sale of the downtown property – which broke the record for the largest real estate transaction in Nashville history.
LifeWay corporate employees have already been moved to their new location at Capitol View in Nashville – a brand-new building that is specifically tailored to fit the needs of the company, while providing better overall stewardship of resources regarding cost of space. In particular, the technological assets that the new building provides allow for better communication and collaboration across the organization, even with employees who are not located in Nashville.
The implosion was recorded live by many sources, including the Tennessean news agency, which provided a link to the video here: http://www.tennessean.com/videos/news/2018/01/06/video-lifeway-tower-implosion-nashville/109206622/.
Watching the old building come down brought mixed emotions to those who had worked at or visited the LifeWay building, or benefited from their “Biblical Solutions for Life.” But Dr. Jimmy Draper, former President of LifeWay (for whom the imploded tower was named), addressed the issue well when he stated for Baptist Press: “Some wonderful things occurred within those walls. However, that building never helped a church in its ministry, nor any person in their devotion to the Lord. It never designed a budget or a building for a church, nor provided a single piece of Bible study curriculum or a single piece of discipleship material…It never won a single soul to faith in Christ.
“But the people who have served in these buildings have done all that and infinitely more. Individuals come and go, but all who serve or have served here comprise the essence and the strength of LifeWay.”
Dr. Thom Rainer echoed these sentiments to BP: “God has worked in that place, but God is not limited to a place. LifeWay has served the church obediently for 126 years, and the future is in front of us. As we remember our past, we move toward the future with anticipation and excitement.”
Dr. Frank Page, President and CEO of the Executive Committee of the SBC, shared this with me in relation to today’s events: “Life is full of transitions. Ministries, ministers, and institutions go through seasons of transition. LifeWay is certainly in the midst of a major transition in their relocation. The key is to focus on the mission and the person behind that mission. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who should remain our focus. Buildings come and buildings go. Leaders come and leaders go. However, our central focus must always be on our Lord who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!”
As both a Cooperative Program Catalyst and a LifeWay trustee, I am grateful for men like Dr. Draper, Dr. Rainer, and Dr. Page, who understand that ministry is about more than buildings. The Kingdom of God is not brick and mortar, but God’s reign and work in the hearts of disciples of Jesus. In this work, we are truly better together. May the next generation of Southern Baptists take up this torch as we push back lostness and make disciples of every nation, tribe, people, and language!
Pastors, join us on Tuesday night, July 25, at the Send Conference in Orlando immediately following the Crowder concert, in Faith Hall at First Baptist Orlando for an SBC Roundtable Discussion!
This event is hosted by Executive Committee Cooperative Program Catalysts, Curtis Cook and Matt Crawford. The panel discussion will be moderated by Jon Akin, NAMB’s Director of Young Leader Engagement. Panelists are Kevin Ezell, J. D. Greear, Frank Page, and David Platt.
Attendees will be able to submit questions for the panel. Come for coffee, desserts, and an open discussion about current SBC issues.
In this video, South CP Catalyst Matt Crawford tells the story of the sale of the Florida Baptist Convention Building and the proceeds forwarded to the Cooperative Program. Thank you, Florida Baptists! We are better together!
We are grateful for Dr. Gaines’ leadership in our convention. Here, he tells his own story of being blessed by the Cooperative Program. Thank you, Dr. Gaines!
Just a quick post to point out this encouraging video from NAMB president Dr. Kevin Ezell regarding the impact of SBTS. In every agency across the SBC, we are better together!
As part of the Executive Committee’s Young Leader Initiative, the EC has engaged four pastors from around the country as catalysts to help connect with young pastors and pass the torch of the Cooperative Program to the next generation. The four CP Catalysts are:
Northeast Region: Curtis Cook, Hope Fellowship Church, Cambridge, MA
Midwest Region: Chad Keck, FBC Kettering, OH
West Region: Nathan Millican, Foothills Baptist Church, Phoenix, AZ
South Region: Matt Crawford, FBC Sebring, FL
South Region CP Catalyst Matt Crawford introduces the CP Catalyst program in the following video. Thanks for watching!