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 transitionteam@imb.org.

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:

http://dev.bpnews.net/45507/imb-transition-team-announced-for-missionary-retirees

http://chucklawless.com/2015/09/12-ways-to-assist-returning-southern-baptist-missionaries/

Your brother in Christ,

Brian

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 www.chucklawless.com 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 http://www.sbcv.org.

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

Brother Al

(This message was originally published on January 8, 2015)

The sports world this week recognized ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, as he died this past Sunday. He was known for his charismatic and creative style as a sports broadcaster.

But, this week I have had the family and church of Brother Al in my prayers. Brother Al died this week after his own battle with cancer.

Brother Al was one of those men that make going to church even more joyful. He was a man who worked hard during the week. After being gloriously saved, he was also devoted to worshipping and serving the Lord.

I first met Brother Al almost twenty years ago. Fresh out of seminary, I was youth pastor to Al’s two children. They both are now grown and have children of their own. So much time has past, but Brother Al remained an ever constant encourager and active member of the church.

Even in the years that followed, whenever I was able to be back at that church, Brother Al always shared a warm smile, a word of thanks, and a hearty amen with me.

I guess it is his ‘hearty amens’ that I remember the most. Whether from a pew in the worship center, or from his chair in the choir loft, Brother Al was never bashful about encouraging you with a ‘hearty amen.’

Just the other week, I was preaching and someone said one of those ‘hearty amens.’ For a brief moment, I thought Brother Al was in the congregation.

Today, I simply want to encourage all of the brethren out there to never under-estimate the importance of being an encourager. You may think that you are just listening to your preacher, but rest assured your pastor(s) is listening to you too. I also want to encourage pastors to rejoice over the “Brother Al’s” that the Lord puts in our lives.

So, to all of the brethren out there who are such faithful encouragers, to those who are ministers of the Word – I simply want to say, “Amen!”

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)

The Cradle, The Cross, And The Crown

(This message was originally published on December 11, 2014)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

The Billy Graham Association produced a resource that I enjoyed reading through this Christmas season, The Cradle, The Cross, and the Crown.

You can find a condensed version on their website at: http://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/december-2014/the-cradle-the-cross-and-the-crown/

You can find the booklet at various online booksellers as well.

In Philippians 2, in this tremendous Christological passage of Scripture, we are reminded to consider the Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown of Christ.

In the Cradle, we are reminded of Christ Jesus humbling Himself, being born in the likeness of men. It makes me consider that the Lord of the universe was willing to experience all the humiliation of humanity, learning to walk and talk, potty training etc., just to reach me.

At the Cross, we see Christ display God’s love and see Christ pay for our sins. In this season of ‘gift obsession’, may we keep in mind that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” As my pastor said the other day, Jesus is not only the reason for the season, you are too. Jesus came and gave His life for humanity.

With the Crown, we see Christ exalted at the right hand of the Father. Simply stated, “Jesus is Lord.”

In this season that can become so hectic and busy, may we take a Christmas vacation. Take time to visit the Cradle of Christ. But, also take a visit to the Cross. And finally, remember to consider His Crown. Christ is on His throne.

Merry Christmas from all of us at the SBC of Virginia! Thank you for your church’s partnership in the Gospel as we work together to plant, strengthen, and mobilize churches.

Click for our latest SBC Spotlight Update: http://www.sbcv.org/articles/detail/sbcv_spotlight_december_2014

Your brother in Christ,

Brian Autry

Jesus Is Worthy

(This message was originally published in October 2014)

I know Sunday is coming. Perhaps you have also had a tough week. Maybe you are just feeling like you are at max capacity.   I can have the same thoughts and experiences. However, yesterday evening, as I was helping teach a Bible Study for High School students at church, I was reminded that Our Lord Jesus is worthy!

So, I simply want to pass along two different lists that I are not original with me that can helped me to simply Praise Jesus.

JESUS IS WORTHY – “A to Z”

Jesus is…

Ancient of Days, Alpha & Omega, Anchor, Advocate, Author, Almighty
Bright Morning Star, Bread Of Life, Branch, Bridegroom, Beginning &End
Christ Jesus, Chief Cornerstone, Champion Of Salvation, Chief Shepherd
Dayspring From On High, Door to the Sheepfold, Deliverer from Darkness
Emmanuel, El Shaddai, Elohim, Everlasting Father, El Gibor, Example
Finisher Of Our Faith, First & Last, Friend Of Sinners, Forerunner
Great High Priest, Good Shepherd, God, Great Physician, Glory Of Israel
Head Of The Church, High Tower, Holy One, Hiding P lace, Hope Of Glory
I Am That I Am, Image Of God, Intercessor, Immortal, Invisible
Jesus Christ, Judge, Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah-Rapha, Jehovah-Shalom
King Of Kings, King Of Glory, Kinsman Redeemer, Keeper of the Keys
Lord of All, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Lion of Judah, Living Water
Messiah, Most High God, Maker, Man Of Sorrows, Master,
Narrow Way, Nebuchadnezzar is Fourth Man in the Fire, Nazarene
Only Begotten Son, Offering Once And For All, Offspring of David, Oil
Prince Of Peace, Prince Of Life, Prophet Like Unto Moses, Power Of God
Quickener Of Transgressors, Quietness & Confidence, Quieter Of Storms
Rose Of Sharon, Rock Of Salvation, Root of Jesse, Resurrection & Life
Son Of God, Son of Man, Servant, Savior, Shiloh, Strength, Song, Shield Teacher,
True Vine, The Way, The Truth, The Life
Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms, Unction from The Holy One
Victor, Virgin-Born, Veil-Splitter, Vice-Ruler at the Fathers Right Hand
Word Of Life, Witness, Wonderful Counselor, Warrior, Wisdom of God
X-Crucified, Xempt from Death Forevermore
Yeshua, Yoke-Destroyer, Yes & Amen, Yahweh,
Zion’s Stone, Zeal for the House Of God, Zacchaeus House Guest

JESUS IS WORTHY – “from Genesis to Revelation”

In Genesis – He is the seed of woman.
In Exodus – He is the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus- He is Our High Priest.
In Numbers- He is the Cloud by day and a Pillar of Fire by night.
In Deuteronomy – He is the Prophet like unto Moses.
In Joshua – He is the Captain of our Salvation
In Judges – He is our Judge and Law giver.
In Ruth – He is our Kinsman and Redeemer.
In 1 & 2 Samuel – He is our Trusted Prophet.
In 1 & 2 Kings – He is the Lord our King.
In 1 & 2 Chronicles -He is our Reigning King.
In Ezra – He is our Faithful Spouse.
In Nehemiah – He is the Builder of broken down walls.
In Esther – He is our Mordecai.
In Job – He is our Redeemer.
In Psalms – He is the Lord our Shepherd.
In Proverbs – He is our Wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes – He is our Lover.
In the Song of Solomon – He is our Beloved Fair one.
In Isaiah – He is the Prince of Peace
In Jeremiah – He is the The Balm of Gilead.
In the Lamentations – He is the weeping Prophet.
In Ezekiel – He is the wonderful four faced Man.
In Daniel – He is the fourth man in the Fiery Furnace
In Hosea – He is the faithful Husband
In Joel – He is The Holy Ghost Baptizer
In Amos – He is the Burden Bearer
In Obadiah – He is Mighty to Save
In Jonah – He is our foreign Missionary
In Micah – He is the Messenger with Beautiful feet
In Nahum – He is the Avenger of Gods Elect
In Habakkuk – He is God’s Evangelist
In Zephaniah – He is Our Savior
In Haggai – He is The Restorer of God’s Lost Heritage
In Zechariah – He is the Fountain Open in the house of David
In Malachi – He is the Son of Righteousness with Healing in His Wings.

In Matthew – He is The Messiah
In Mark – He is The Wonder Worker
In Luke – He is The Son of Man
In John – He is The Son of God (he is the Word)
In The Acts – He is The Foundation of the Church
In Romans – He is our Justifier
In 1 & 2 Corinthians – He is our Sanctifier
In Galatians – He is the Redeemer from the curse of the law
In Ephesians – He is the Christ with Unsearchable Riches
In Philippians – He is The God that Supplies All of Our Needs
In Colossians – He is the Fullness of the Godhead Bodily
In 1 & 2 Thessalonians – He is Our Soon Coming King
In 1 & 2 Timothy – He is the Mediator between God in Man
In Titus – He is The Faithful Pastor
In Philemon – He is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother
In Hebrews – He is The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant
In James – He is Our Great Physician
In 1 & 2 Peter- He is The Chief Shepherd
In 1- 2 & 3 John – He is Love
In Jude – He is The Lord Coming with 10,000 of His saints
In The Revelation – He is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords