International Mission Board

Dear SBCV family,

The International Mission Board of the SBC announced previously that a number of missionary personnel have been offered a voluntary retirement incentive. As a pastor or church you may be wondering what you can do to support these brethren as they seek the next step of mission and ministry service.

Chuck Lawless in a recent blog post gave some very thoughtful and helpful suggestions. Among those suggestions are to pray for our missionaries, provide a house for temporary residence, a car etc.

The International Mission Board has created a “Transition Team” to assist missionaries and to help connect with resources. Feel free to contact them as needed. The contact information at IMB is

Here are a few additional thoughts…

Be open and sensitive to missionaries who may return home. Virginia is becoming an international mission field too, with many people groups living among us. Missionaries can be a huge benefit to a local church to serve and impact local ministry.

Will you pray for missionaries? Please pray for the many missionaries on the field. Recently I was at an appointment service with several new missionary families getting ready to deploy. Pray for missionaries who are retiring from the overseas field, but are ready to continue to serve where the Lord opens doors. Pray for missionary families.

Could your church consider increasing your missions giving through the Cooperative Program? The SBC of Virginia executive board in their meeting this week adopted our proposed Ministry Investment Plan and budget for 2016. More SBCV Cooperative Program resources are earmarked for national and international mission efforts for 2016. SBC President Ronnie Floyd is calling upon churches to consider giving more through our Cooperative Program in 2016. Please prayerfully consider this as you develop your church budget. SBC of Virginia is sending out the IMB Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Prayer materials.

Thank you for the way the church you serve is a part of the Kingdom work through our SBC of Virginia partnership that works with our national partners like IMB and NAMB to reach the world for Christ.

Some important links:

Your brother in Christ,


Team Building

(This message was originally published on August 10, 2015)

I recently took my son and youngest daughter to the Redskins training camp in Richmond. The team was working out to get ready for the new season. Even in the summer heat, they were suited up and in the game. As churches and church leaders we never truly have an off-season. It is important for us to build strong team.

Who do you think was one of the greatest sports teams of all time – 2007 New England Patriots, 1972 Miami Dolphins, 1961 New York Yankees, or my personal favorite – the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team?   Fox Sports commentator, Tim McCarver says, “You don’t even have to watch those teams play. You just have to watch them walk.” They are strong teams. What should we keep in mind in building strong teams?

I wrote an article on team building that was published last week at and I would like to share it with you directly.

  1. Invite and involve others to serve with you. Before you build a strong team, you have to actually have a team. One example from the early church in Scripture is recorded in Acts 6. The apostles see the need for a team and lead the church in inviting and involving others to serve.
  1. Look for character as you seek competency. A person who has character but lacks competency will be ineffective. But, a person who lacks character, no matter how competent, can be a disaster. A person who lacks competency may be bad at being good; but a person who lacks character while having competency may be good at being bad!
  1. Focus on the person and not just the position. As leaders we are often focused on the agenda we need to accomplish. Team members need to know that we care about them personally and spiritually, and not just their professional or organizational contribution.
  1. Give explanations as well as having expectations. People cannot read our minds. As leaders we have to do our best to give a clear explanation of our expectations. This may be in the form of a job description and organizational charts, as well as offering time for open verbal and mutual communication.
  1. Highlight the past as you spotlight the future. Having a vision for the future is part of leadership, but we often inherit a team already in place. Get to know the shared history of the team. Humbly build upon past successes, and graciously address weaknesses.
  1. Take time to enjoy those you employ. Sometimes lunch should just be lunch. Often I have turned lunch into the proverbial “lunch and learn.” However, team building involves relationship building – so add that to your to-do list.
  1. Be a good team member as you seek to be a good team builder. Building a sense of team means that I embrace being a part of the team too. Personalities are different, but find ways to demonstrate that you want to be a part and not just on point.

What have seen or learned to be effective in building a strong team?

What qualities do you think are important in the life of a team builder?

Please consider leading your church to be involved in our 2015 Vision Virginia prayer emphasis.

For this and more information for your church go to

Labor of Love

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Most today seem to view Labor Day as the “unofficial end of summer” and one last day at the pool or beach.

As you ‘labor” this Sunday in the work of the Lord and gospel ministry, I pray we will be encouraged by the reminder of the Lord Jesus’ labor of love to redeem and rescue the souls of men and women, boys and girls. For our encouragement as co-laborers in the Lord, consider again the words of the Lord Jesus from the Cross as He labored for our salvation.

The seven statements that Jesus Christ made on the cross were (not in any particular order):

(1) “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

(2) “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

(3) “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

(4) “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

(5) “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” (John 19:26)

(6) “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

(7) “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

Thank You Lord Jesus for Your labor of love, for Your work on the Cross!


Bro. Tom Elliff has been such an encouragement to us in the SBC of Virginia fellowship. He has preached in our services, prayed for us, been a member of an SBCV church, served as a missionary, pastor, and IMB president. One of my most recent times with Bro. Tom was when he spent time with our SBCV Younger Pastors Roundtable. In this moment, I am thankful that through it all, Bro. Tom modeled for us family life and marriage. Throughout his many hours and long days, his wife Jeannie was supportive. Today, as he and his family celebrate her life and legacy I want to share how they prayed. They have taught us well and modeled in marriage the essence of keeping the faith and finishing well!

I want to share with you 7 specific prayers of Tom and Jeannie Elliff. They are an example to me: I pray…Let us pray…

  1. That we would live with a constant, looming awareness of the presence of the Lord, and that we are His ambassadors. Paul reminds us that, “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20). Ambassadors should operate with a constant awareness of the one whom they represent. But that awareness also gives them a remarkable confidence as they follow his bidding.
  1. That we would seek a pure heart. David, the Shepherd-King, reminds us that it is the pure-hearted who ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place (Psalm 24: 3-4). We don’t want any hooks on the walls of our heart upon which Satan can hang keys to dark closets.
  1. That we would be filled with the Spirit of God. Spiritual “fullness” is more than a command (Ephesians 5:18), it is a necessity for accomplishing God’s work, God’s way. Spiritual fullness indicates more than the presence of the Lord. It indicates a constant internal pressure to release the Life of Christ.
  1. That we would express both the gifts and the graces that come with the fulness of God’s Spirit. Paul writes of the gifts of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. And Isaiah writes of the graces attending the life of Christ in Isaiah 2. Both are needed if we are to enjoy all God has for us, and remain effective in His service.
  1. That we would never knowingly give the Adversary some opportunity to mock our Lord. Satan constantly looks for opportunities to demean the Lord in the eyes of others. It is our desire never to be found in cooperation with his devious plans.
  1. That God would protect our family, spiritually, morally, physically, and mentally. Anyone who serves the Lord is aware of the constant attacks launched by the Adversary. Sometimes the attacks are directly against us, but other times we can become distracted by the attacks launched against those we love. We seek to live under God’s authority, and under His wings of protection (Psalm 91).
  1. That we would remain true to the vision God has painted on the walls of our hearts. Where there is no vision, no revelation from God, people operate without restraint (Proverbs 29:18). Without a vision as your compass, life can become an endless series of meaningless wanderings. God has painted a great vision on the walls of our hearts and we want to pursue it passionately and without deviation.

You can also find updates and resources from Bro. Tom at I look forward to seeing him again in Virginia. But, he would want us to remember, that we have the Lord, we can pray, we should love our families and one another, and that it is a privilege to serve Our Great God!

Your brother in Jesus,

Brian Autry

Summer is more than vacation for students!

Here are some lessons learned and words of wisdom from some students who served at a recent student missions camp week through the SBC of Virginia:

“What I learned this week is how to witness and how important it is to witness, and that sometimes you could be affecting where people spend their eternity.” Hannah

“I learned that witnessing is not really that hard, all you have to do is let the Bible speaks for itself.” Brittany

“I learned this week that I should share the gospel no matter how bad it may embarrass me.  After the sermon yesterday I felt led to go call my brother because he’s not a believer. So that’s what I did!” (no name given)

“This week I’ve just realized how prideful I am – how much pride I take in myself…in my prayer life I always just pray for me and never really pray for anyone else. So prideful, I’m at school and I’m thinking ‘Dude, what would people think of me if they knew I was a Christian?’ So when I get to school I’m going to look them in the face and tell them I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.” –  Gavin

“This week I was just really convicted over the sin of omission – for failing to tell people about Christ…it’s not that hard…so I feel called to challenge you guys and I’m challenging myself to do this: tell someone about Jesus every day.” Evan

“This week I’ve learned that we’ve got to stop shying away from doing stuff, because you could be that one person who ends up changing people’s lives.” Grace

“The mission isn’t over when the week is over. When you go home,  when you see all your friends, the mission still continues. You still have to do God’s will – that never ends!” Brandon

“This camp has taught me so much about witnessing and stuff. I realize that we need to witness to people and that we need to step out of our comfort zone because there are people who need us, and who are lost and we need to show them the way…. And I’ve learned that it’s not about me, but it’s all about Jesus.”

“We are ALL called to missions – to be on mission in our community.” Hunter

“One of the things that I’ve learned is that it’s really not that hard to share with others about Jesus.  Even when it does feel awkward or scary that God gives us the strength to do it. It’s not our job to make them except Jesus but just to tell them about Jesus.” Lydia

“This week I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me to witness and spread my faith…and I think that you should too.” James

May the words of a new generation committed to Christ’s mission encourage our hearts today!

STATEMENT ON U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING FROM SBC of Virginia Executive Director, Brian Autry

Brian Autry, executive director of the SBC of Virginia (Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia; a convention of over 650 Southern Baptist churches), has released the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

“The SBC of Virginia and affiliated churches have repeatedly and consistently stated that biblical and Christian marriage, as instituted by God and as recorded in Holy Scripture, is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.

We are resolute in the conviction that God’s biblical design for marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime (Genesis 1:27, 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6).

As followers of the Lord Jesus, may we not only promote the biblical definition of marriage, but also provide a demonstration of biblical marriage that is a testimony to the grace and truth of God’s power in redeeming lives for His glory.

The Supreme Court split-decision, 5-4, does not change our understanding, nor negate our calling as ministers of the gospel and preachers of the Word of God. We must continue to pray for revival and spiritual awakening.

We continue in our Christian calling to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, speaking the truth in love; affirming God’s offer of redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking his mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-13).

The Church is not to be a creation of culture, or to panic in light of this court action. The Lord Jesus is the resurrected and living Lord. We are called to be His overcoming Church. We are to be salt and light, a city on a hill. As the New Testament states, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

The SBC of Virginia has resources that can assist churches as they respond to this issue.

  • The Resolution on the Reaffirmation of Biblical Marriage at SBC of Virginia Annual Meeting, November 2014, meeting in Colonial Heights, Virginia is available at
  • The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has published “Protecting Your Ministry,” a 44-page booklet designed especially for churches. The free guide may be downloaded at
  • Resources partners that can assist with legal or church constitution questions. Further information and resources for churches and pastors related to this important issue are available by contacting the SBC of Virginia.

Contact Information:

SBC of Virginia

Executive Director’s Office

(888) 234-7716

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The Gospels are but a page from His eternal diary.

  • He still sails with us in the boat.
  • He walks in the afternoon with us as we go to Emmaus.
  • He stands in our midst at nightfall.
  • He wakes up children in the morning.
  • He feeds us with daily bread.
  • He prays for us. 

There are no waters where He is not walking.

There are no rocking boats where is not present.

There are no storms that His voice cannot still.

There are no meals without His face uplifted in blessing.

There are no gravesides without that tender heart touched with sorrow.

There are no burdens without His willing shoulders to share the yoke.

Steady now Church!

Steady now Church!

The last few days and last two weeks have been stormy and shocking in our society to say the least. Even in our SBC of Virginia family we received news of a pastor and wife being stabbed (I am grateful to update you that they are recovering. Your love and prayers for them have been gratefully received). The evil and murderous acts against our brothers and sisters in the Charleston church drive us to our knees.

The action by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding marriage can shake us. SBC of Virginia, along with our Southern Baptist ministry partner: The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission ( can assist as you may have questions or seek resources.

Today, I simply want to share as a brother in Christ and fellow minister of the gospel that the Lord desires for His Church and His saints to stay steady and on course as we proclaim the gospel.

I am reminded of how in Hebrews 13, the Bible gives several statements intended to steady and strengthen our course as the church of the Lord Jesus:

  1. Let’s show our devotion to God as we show compassion for people. Hebrews 13:1-3, “Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.” Just this week I was able to see first hand youth mission teams serving the community in Central Virginia through our Fusion Camp; and the Imitate Camp takes place next week. Teams are ministering in earthquake shaken Nepal right now from SBCV churches.
  1. Let’s not just define biblical marriage, but let’s demonstrate it. Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.” 
  1. Let’s seek to be stewards of God’s blessings and share with others that Christ is the secret to satisfaction. Hebrews 13:5-6, “Our life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” 
  1. Let’s be prayerful for our church leaders. Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.”
  1. Let’s focus on our unchanging and sovereign Lord as we live in a changing and unsettled world. Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
  1. Let’s seek to be biblically correct even when it may be politically incorrect. Hebrews 13:9, Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.”
  1. Let’s praise the Lord Jesus for His sacrifice for sins and the salvation He offers to people. Hebrews 12:10-13,” We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood. Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace.” 
  1. Let’s remember that we are not home yet. Hebrews 13:14, “For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.” 
  1. Let’s make sure we worship the Lord Jesus and are witnesses for Him. Hebrews 13:15, “Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.”
  1. Let’s keep ministering and praying. Hebrews 13:16-19,  “Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything. And I especially urge you to pray that I may be restored to you very soon.”

A prayer for us all:  Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

 Scripture from Holman Christian Standard Bible

No Small Suggestion…

(This message was originally published on May 21, 2015)

Matthew 28:18-20 is simply and often referred to as The Great Commission. As followers of Christ we are called to “make disciples.” Some form of Christ’s commission is also found in the other places of the New Testament, but Matthew 28 seems to be the most heralded.   Christ has called us, has commanded us to proclaim the gospel unto the ends of the earth. The Great Commission is no small suggestion!

Since the New Testament era, church and mission leaders like the Apostle Paul have called upon churches to work together to plant, strengthen, and mobilize churches so the gospel of Christ is proclaimed. Likewise, this month of May marks the 90th anniversary of Southern Baptist church pastors and leaders adopting a strategy to unify resources for global missions and ministry. (May 13, 1925 was the date).  This unified and strategic missions support plan became known as “The Cooperative Program.”

SBC of Virginia churches have the opportunity to partner together in this time tested strategy to pray, give, and send. Through this “Cooperative Program” or Cooperative Partnership, a church is able to support a greater missionary force and have greater ministry impact. For instance, local, regional, national, and international mission fields are reached when a church provides financial support through the Cooperative Program of SBC of Virginia churches. Reasons for this plan:

Immediate Impact. It could take years for a church to develop a missions strategy. The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program allows for you to act now.

Mutual Support. Instead of missionaries having to constantly plead for resources, we work together to provide a system of mutual support so they can focus on their calling.

Global Strategy. Even though the world may seem to be getting “smaller.” It is still a big world, with many people groups. Even in Virginia, we are seeing a multiplication of people groups right here. The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program is a strategy to reach locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Personal, even though it is comprehensive. Because the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program is so comprehensive, you may think it is impersonal. But it is not. It is as personal as the boy who came to your church in 3rd grade, heard the gospel, went on a high school mission trip, was called to ministry, went to seminary, was mentored by pastors, planted a church…it is as personal as me (as so many others who have a similar story as mine).

Maintaining Integrity as Leaders

(This message was originally published on May 14, 2015)

Yesterday, I was listening to a news broadcast as I was driving and a public official was speaking. I was struck by how intensely and detailed he made the case for his integrity in a decision he was announcing. In many professions today there is a growing emphasis on integrity. For example, the county I live in is considering police body cameras; our students are facing exams and state tests; businesses are dealing with accountability to their shareholders.

Jeff Iorg, recent speaker at our SBC of Virginia Empowered Conference and president of Southern Baptist’s Golden Gate Seminary, writes about maintaining integrity.*

The word integrity is rooted in the word “integer” – which means whole, complete or undivided. As a Christian, I am to consistently apply biblical principles in character and action.

Dr. Iorg shares three spiritual convictions that help maintain integrity:

1) I am in submission to Jesus as Lord. (Philippians 2:5-11)

2) I am a steward accountable to Jesus as Lord. (Luke 16; 1 Cor. 4:1-2)

3) I am in an authority structure affirmed by Jesus as Lord. (Romans 13:1-7; Matthew 28:18)

He goes on to share Four Prayers that exemplify a submissive attitude before Jesus as Lord that can help us maintain integrity as leaders:

  • “Lord, I am expendable, another day, or many decades, whatever pleases You.”
  • “Lord, I serve at Your pleasure. Use me, or not, whatever pleases You.”
  • “Lord, Your kingdom matters. Mine doesn’t. Advance Your cause, whatever that means for me.”
  • “Lord, You are God, I am not – help me keep that straight today.”

*For more on this subject, read “Maintaining Integrity” in The Character of Leadership by Jeff Iorg.

May we serve the Lord Jesus with abandon today! As always, the SBC of Virginia team is thankful for your ministry and praying for the gospel to be advanced through your ministry.

Your brother in Christ,

Brian Autry