Dr. Hillard has led the churches he served to give generously and sacrificially to the Cooperative Program. He has a passion for partnership missions and for reaching unreached peoples with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As he has shared his thoughts with me, I invited him to present them in a post here at SBCVoices. Dr. Hillard currently serves as Director of Missional Coordination for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana. Southern Baptists are among the greatest people on Earth. We have accomplished much in this world. We have done more good than any other faith group in … [Read more...] about Thoughts on Baptist Cooperation — A Guest Post by Dr. Rick Hillard
As a followup to our proposal for a Baptist future, I wanted to offer a few thoughts about unity - especially unity in SBC life. Unity doesn’t just happen. In fact, our natural tendency given our various opinions, personalities, temperaments, priorities, callings, contexts, theological bents, and our common sin nature all make DISunity the more natural outcome. Yet, the New Testament, over and over again, makes an appeal for the unity of believers – both within the local church and among churches who were markedly different from one another. To achieve such unity, we can’t just sit back and … [Read more...] about In Pursuit of Unity – Small Steps for Everyday Baptists
When I was first considering becoming a pastor, I remember many wise men counseling me to “make sure you are called” and “if you can do anything else and be satisfied, do it.” After 20 years of ministry, now I know why. Wherever these thoughts come from, they are real, and from time to time make me want to just pack up everything and quit and just go wait tables... I’m not sure I have what it takes. Churches need leadership. This role is bigger than anything I’ve done before and maybe it's too big for me. I see the growth and success in other churches and I’m not sure I have what … [Read more...] about Reluctance to Lead – 10 Reasons NOT to be a pastor
I was recently invited to participate in a panel discussion on “The Bible and Homosexuality” at our local high school. The panel is being hosted by the Gay/Straight Alliance student group. Given the time constraints, I probably will not get to say everything you see here, but this is what I have prepared. Please be in prayer for me and these students as I share with them today. Here are my prepared answers to their questions: Please introduce yourself and your background on this issue My name is Todd Benkert. I am a pastor of Eastlake Baptist Church here in Merrillville. You may … [Read more...] about The Bible and Homosexuality — A Panel Discussion
In many churches of which I have been a part, I have felt that our goal for the Christmas missions offering was quite low given the number and financial make-up of the congregations. Yet, at the same time, Christmas is a time where people are being bombarded with requests for money from a variety of good causes. Here is my question. What are some sustainable ways we can increase giving to missions while not putting a lot of extra pressure on people to give -- especially at a time when finances are often tight already? Here are a few ideas I have come up with: Ideas to increase Lottie Moon … [Read more...] about ‘Tis the Season for Lottie Moon:
A few weeks ago, I suggested to my wife that we might consider selling our house and moving to a different, more convenient community. She was not opposed to the idea, but suggested that now was not the right time. The reason? She has ongoing relationships with several of our neighbors whom she is trying to win to the Lord and “our ministry here is not complete.” Besides giving me joy about the kind of wife I am married to, our conversation got me thinking about whether we are as outward-focused in practice as we are in our beliefs. As Baptists and evangelicals, we talk much about outreach, … [Read more...] about Do you have an outward focus?
One of the questions on the table in this new era of SBC life and the rethinking of our institutions is whether the State Convention is still useful going forward or if they should be dismantled in favor of Associations and the National Convention. I would argue that there is indeed an important ongoing role for State Conventions. Here are a few reasons I believe we still need State Conventions as we partner together in Kingdom work. State Conventions cast vision for cooperative ministry within a state. Southern Baptist are a partnering people. We are also a people of vision for … [Read more...] about Do we need State Conventions? Yes!
The following is a message sent out to pastors from our Indiana Executive Director, Dr. Cecil Seagle. He has given me permission to repost it here. Dr. Seagle's words are timely and needed -- thankful for his clearing of the dust and his affirmation of the heart of our leaders during this heart-wrenching and difficult situation. He also provides a path forward. I am thankful for his leadership and guidance here. SBC's International Mission Board (IMB) is currently working through some very sticky financial issues. I have waited to see what Dr. Platt would SAY & DO in the … [Read more...] about Getting the job done in the wake of the IMB crisis: “I’m in – and so are you!”
Many pastors and church leaders are seeking earnestly for something that will turn their churches from plateau and decline to healthy church growth. Often they turn to outreach programs, emphases and events to get outreach going and turn things around. There’s nothing wrong with programs and events, per se, but they take a lot of work and resources and often do not solve the problem. Repeated failed attempts lead to discouragement, exhaustion, and burnout. Before trying the “next big thing”, here are three things your church can do that cost nothing but might make a tremendous difference in … [Read more...] about Three Ways to Become an Evangelistic Church (without starting another program)
Will we ever be finished with the race issue? Will we ever make enough progress that we can rest, proclaim the job is done, or know that we have somehow moved past the need for racial reconciliation and the pursuit of unity across racial/ethnic lines? In our own spiritual journey toward the heart of God on the issue of race, can we come to the place that are just fine where we are, that the race issue is behind us, and that no work remains? I contend that until the Lord returns, there will always be further work to do. Yes, we are making progress. But racial reconciliation and unity is not … [Read more...] about The end of the race issue — don’t stop now!