Can We Avoid Hiring Based on Race?

I’m asking this question because I used to be one of the “just hire the right man for the job” crowd.  Then, I had lunch with a millennial.  I asked him how I could reach millennials with the gospel.  His answer was blunt, to the point, and surprising.  He said, “Get a millennial to reach them.”  I expected him to tell me to be more active on social media, or tell me where millennials hang out these days.  The quickest way to reach millennials is to get a millennial to reach them.

How does this relate to the current SBC conversation on minorities in leadership?  The quickest way to reach minorities is get a minority to reach them.  I was fully  supportive of the SBC’s need to be more diverse, and to reach out to minorities.  I was, however, not supportive of the intentional hiring of minorities for leadership positions.  I changed my mind because of purpose.  Does the SBC want to reach out to minorities?  Yes.  Will the intentional hiring of minority candidates to leadership positions show that we are serious about this purpose?  Yes it will.

Some of you are going to crow at me with this phrase:  But our purpose should be to proclaim the gospel.  You are 100% correct.  If you haven’t noticed, our culture is becoming more diverse by the day.  This discussion has never been about theology, it’s always been about methodology.  The “just preach the gospel” crowd would rather bypass common sense methodological approaches for the sake of remaining comfortable.  Yes, intentionally hiring minority candidates would male us uncomfortable.  They might just suggest that we nominate a woman for SBC President.

Shouldn’t we just hire the best man for the job?  We’re lucky enough to have many minority candidates who are more than qualified to fill the five entity vacancies.  I’ve been on a search committee for the past six months, and I’ve learned there’s very little separation between the top three or four candidates.  If the candidate comes in and bombs the interview, then he should not be hired, regardless of skin color, but if the candidate hits a home run during the interview, then the committee should feel free to hire the minority candidate and make that the reason for the hire.

Won’t that decision cost a good man a good opportunity and a good job?  Yes it will, but us white guys aren’t going to have any trouble finding SBC jobs anytime soon.  There’s still plenty of white privilege to go around.  Dr. Patterson seems to have landed on his feet, and I’m reasonably certain anyone who gets passed over for these five vacancies will find a good landing spot.

Isn’t this reverse racism?  Would it have been discrimination based on age if I had taken my friend’s advice and intentionally hire a millennial to reach millennials?  Here’s another illustration:  the demographics of my hometown have changed dramatically in the last 10 years.  There is a large Hispanic population.  When my home church was looking for a pastor, I told my father, “The first thing your new pastor should do is to hire a Hispanic pastor”. He asked, “why?”  I said, “Because you need a Hispanic to reach the growing Hispanic population”.  Would it be racist if my home church hired a Hispanic to evangelize the Hispanic population?

I wouldn’t be writing this post if we only had one entity opening, but reality us we have five openings, and I’m convinced the resignations and retirements aren’t over.  Dave Miller is right.  We need to reach out to minorities, and this may be our best chance.  This may be our last chance, at least for another couple of generations.  Do we want to reach out to minorities or not?  What’s the best way to reach out to minorities?  Hire a minority to do the work.

What Should I do: Thoughts on Political and Cultural Engagement

I’m struggling.  I’m struggling with how to engage culture for God’s glory.  The recent nomination fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh forced that struggle to the front of my conscience.  There are five realities guiding my decisions on cultural engagement, and five action steps I’d like to take in the future.

5 Realities

  1. I have friends who I want to influence with the gospel:  This reality hits me hard.  I have many friends who don’t think like me, vote like me, share my background, etc…  I want be a Christ like influence in their lives.
  2. I see our society moving in a counter gospel direction:  I’m concerned about the direction of our culture.  We’re not moving toward the gospel.  We’re not moving toward Christ.  We’re moving away from Christlike values.
  3. I have opinions:  I have opinions on politics and on other aspects of our society.  I have biblically informed opinions that I’d like to share. I’d like to be a part of the conversation.
  4. My political party does not always align with my opinions:  This has become abundantly clear in the past two years.  The Republican party has moved farther to the right, and has left me feeling like a man without a party.
  5. God is neither republican or democrat:  I may feel like a man without a party, but I am never without God.  There will be democrats who spend an eternity with Christ.  There will be republicans who do not.  This is the most important reality.  It connects back to the first reality.  My heart’s desire is to see all my friends spend an eternity with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

What am I to do?  These realities are difficult to navigate.  I’m not the only Christian struggling with the correct biblical posture for cultural engagement.  Here are five action steps I’d like to recommend to those who are struggling with this issue, both democrat and republican.  I’m committed to following these steps in the future:

  1. Do not be a stumbling block:  When Southern Baptists met for our annual meeting  in St. Louis in 2015, the messengers debated a resolution supporting a ban on the display of the confederate flag on public property.  There were emotional speeches on both sides of the issue.  Dr. James Merritt said, (I’m paraphrasing here) “If the confederate flag causes my brother or sister to tune out the gospel, then the confederate flag must go.”  If the voicing of my political opinions causes my brother or sister to miss the message of the gospel, then I should keep my political opinions to myself.
  2.   Engage with purpose and grace:  I always need to ask myself, why am I engaging this person on this issue?  Am I just looking for a fight?  Am I just looking to prove someone wrong?  Christ never engaged just to fight someone or prove someone wrong.  He always engaged with purpose and with grace.  The message of God’s grace was always on his lips, and He offered forgiveness while simultaneously standing against sin.
  3. Cultivate more relationships with people who do not think like me:  I can’t engage in meaningful discussion in an echo chamber–see reality number one.  I want to cultivate more of those relationships.  I want to genuinely listen to arguments.  Those arguments may not change my mind, but they give me an insight into people and their thoughts.
  4. Those who have different values are not my enemy:  There are too many conservative Christians who treat non-Christians as enemies.  They are not our enemy. The Bible says our fight is against the ruler of this atmospheric domain.  I want to always be careful not to treat those who ideologically oppose me as my enemies.
  5. I will not belong to either political party:  I’ve found myself in the position of not belonging to either political party.  I will still vote for a certain type of candidate, but I will not vote republican just because I’m a Southern Baptist Pastor.  The Republican or Democratic, or whatever party will have to earn my vote.

This is where I’ve arrived in my struggle.  Paul wrote in Philippians 3, verse 12 and following, “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brothers I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do; forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

How to Easily Implement a Baptist Catechism in Your Children’s Ministry

The biggest hole in SBC children’s ministries is the neglect of using a Baptist catechism. Children’s minds are ripe for memorizing Scripture and theology. There will never be a better time in their lives for them to “hide the word of God in their heads/hearts.”

Churches need to utilize the amazing memories God has given children. One way to do this is through catechism. The catechism my church uses is one that has been modified from the Truth and Grace Memory books produced by Founders Ministries. It comes from Benjamin Keach, then modified by Charles Spurgeon, then modified by Tom Nettles, and finally, modified by me (I am a 4.5 Calvinist; Christ died for the world, and especially for the elect). Here is how we implement this Baptist catechism:

  1. Utilize your children’s ministry Sunday school teachers. We’ve broken the catechism down to 60 questions (at the most) per 2 grades for a single year. For example, grades 3-4 will memorize 60 questions/answers this year, and then come back the following year and review the same 60 questions/answers from the previous year. Each Sunday, teachers give out a sheet of paper to the children as they leave class. This paper contains the month’s memory verse (from the Gospel Project), suggested hymns for family worship, and two catechism questions/answers. During the week, families are encouraged to spend at least 15-20 minutes per day going over the catechism questions/answers, singing hymns, and praying. Then, when children come back to church the following Sunday, as the children come into class, the teachers ask them their catechism questions. They get a star by their name on the wall if they answer correctly. If your church is like mine, children get to Sunday school at various times. This provides teachers with an opportunity to gradually go over questions with the children as they come in. Of course, you need at least 2 teachers in each class to do this well. But, if you only have 1 teacher, you can go over the catechism at the end of class. Finally, as children leave class, they receive a new paper with two catechism questions/answers (one less and one new). *If you want to use my church’s free catechism and resources, click here. New sheets will be provided each week throughout the year.
  2. Utilize your website, social media, etc. If your church is like mine, few children attend every Sunday consistently (usually 2-3 times each month). Therefore, you need to provide their parents with the ability to access the catechism questions/answers some other way. Put them on your website, and post them on social media each week. We also utilize a church app where they are posted weekly.
  3. Have children share in worship monthly. As children learn their memory verses and catechism, let them share briefly in worship each month. *Try to utilize children beyond your church staff’s children. This will encourage the children in your church to learn, the parents to be consistent, and more children and parents to participate in family worship with their children.
  4. Have families record 1-2 minute videos of their family worship times. Play these videos in your worship services; or, a couple minutes before worship, or during the hand-shaking/fellowship time. Put them on social media as well. Families seeing other families worshiping in their homes together will encourage more families to do the same. You’ll find that it’s not only the children who are being catechized and transformed by the word of God!
  5. Provide suggested hymns, songs, games, etc. for family worship. My church has utilized YouTube by providing playlists containing suggested hymns for each age group. I recommend providing songs that are theological rich, songs that have updated music with the same beat/timing as in your hymnal. That way, children learn songs with the same timing that you actually sing in worship in your church, which serves to reinforce the participation of children in your worship services. *If you want to see what hymns we’ve suggested to our church’s parents, see our YouTube Playlists here. Families simply put YouTube on their phone or TV during their family worship times and sing along with the hymns. *I suggest hymns because they are theologically rich; the primary goal of catechism is to learn God’s word, not to tell God how we feel (Although that is definitely part of prayer during family worship).

I hope these suggestions get you started. If you follow the links I’ve provided, bookmark them and return to them often, you will find that they are updated weekly. You could copy and paste our weekly sheets, change the date, and utilize our YouTube playlists; and boom, you’ve got the hard work done!

Finally, what suggestions would you add or take away. Does your church utilize a Baptist catechism? If so, how do you implement it? I hope the comments provide churches with more suggestions to help easily implement a Baptist Catechism in your children’s ministry.

How to Easily Implement a Baptist Catechism in Your Children’s Ministry

The biggest hole in SBC children’s ministries is the neglect of using a Baptist catechism. Children’s minds are ripe for memorizing Scripture and theology. There will never be a better time in their lives for them to “hide the word of God in their heads/hearts.”

Churches need to utilize the amazing memories God has given children. One way to do this is through catechism. The catechism my church uses is one that has been modified from the Truth and Grace Memory books produced by Founders Ministries. It comes from Benjamin Keach, then modified by Charles Spurgeon, then modified by Tom Nettles, and finally, modified by me (I am a 4.5 Calvinist; Christ died for the world, and especially for the elect). Here is how we implement this Baptist catechism:

  1. Utilize your children’s ministry Sunday school teachers. We’ve broken the catechism down to 60 questions (at the most) per 2 grades for a single year. For example, grades 3-4 will memorize 60 questions/answers this year, and then come back the following year and review the same 60 questions/answers from the previous year. Each Sunday, teachers give out a sheet of paper to the children as they leave class. This paper contains the month’s memory verse (from the Gospel Project), suggested hymns for family worship, and two catechism questions/answers. During the week, families are encouraged to spend at least 15-20 minutes per day going over the catechism questions/answers, singing hymns, and praying. Then, when children come back to church the following Sunday, as the children come into class, the teachers ask them their catechism questions. They get a star by their name on the wall if they answer correctly. If your church is like mine, children get to Sunday school at various times. This provides teachers with an opportunity to gradually go over questions with the children as they come in. Of course, you need at least 2 teachers in each class to do this well. But, if you only have 1 teacher, you can go over the catechism at the end of class. Finally, as children leave class, they receive a new paper with two catechism questions/answers (one less and one new). *If you want to use my church’s free catechism and resources, click here. New sheets will be provided each week throughout the year.
  2. Utilize your website, social media, etc. If your church is like mine, few children attend every Sunday consistently (usually 2-3 times each month). Therefore, you need to provide their parents with the ability to access the catechism questions/answers some other way. Put them on your website, and post them on social media each week. We also utilize a church app where they are posted weekly.
  3. Have children share in worship monthly. As children learn their memory verses and catechism, let them share briefly in worship each month. *Try to utilize children beyond your church staff’s children. This will encourage the children in your church to learn, the parents to be consistent, and more children and parents to participate in family worship with their children.
  4. Have families record 1-2 minute videos of their family worship times. Play these videos in your worship services; or, a couple minutes before worship, or during the hand-shaking/fellowship time. Put them on social media as well. Families seeing other families worshiping in their homes together will encourage more families to do the same. You’ll find that it’s not only the children who are being catechized and transformed by the word of God!
  5. Provide suggested hymns, songs, games, etc. for family worship. My church has utilized YouTube by providing playlists containing suggested hymns for each age group. I recommend providing songs that are theological rich, songs that have updated music with the same beat/timing as in your hymnal. That way, children learn songs with the same timing that you actually sing in worship in your church, which serves to reinforce the participation of children in your worship services. *If you want to see what hymns we’ve suggested to our church’s parents, see our YouTube Playlists here. Families simply put YouTube on their phone or TV during their family worship times and sing along with the hymns. *I suggest hymns because they are theologically rich; the primary goal of catechism is to learn God’s word, not to tell God how we feel (Although that is definitely part of prayer during family worship).

I hope these suggestions get you started. If you follow the links I’ve provided, bookmark them and return to them often, you will find that they are updated weekly. You could copy and paste our weekly sheets, change the date, and utilize our YouTube playlists; and boom, you’ve got the hard work done!

Finally, what suggestions would you add or take away. Does your church utilize a Baptist catechism? If so, how do you implement it? I hope the comments provide churches with more suggestions to help easily implement a Baptist Catechism in your children’s ministry.