Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | August 2015

MTSBC Calendar

DATE

8.28

8.29

9.6-27

9.12

9.15-16

10.6

10.6-7

11.6-7

SHOW MORE EVENTS

12.4

12.5

12.30-1.7

2016

1.14-16

1.26-28

2.2

2.19

2.20

3.6-13

3.2-3

3.3-4

3.4

3.4

4.10

4.15-16

4.8

4.9

4.22-23

6.6-8

6.14-15

7.25-31

8.1-6

8.26

8.27

9.1-31

9.13-14

10.4

10.4

10.4-5

11.11-12

12.2

12.3

12.4-11

ELEVATE Training (Bozeman/Missoula)

ELEVATE Training (Miles City/Great Falls)

International Missions Emphasis

-

Church Planter/Wives Retreat (Fairmont)

Church Starting Team Retreat

Winter Blast

Elevate Training (Belgrade/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Great Falls/Miles City)

North American Missions Emphasis

Executive Board Meeting

MPact Montana 2016 (Billings)

VBS State-Wide Training

Legacy Youth Worker Training

Cooperative Program Sunday

Get Real East (Billings)

Elevate Training (Manhattan/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Miles City/Great Falls)

Celebration for Women

Summer Missionary Orientation (Bozeman)

SBC Annual Meeting (St. Louis, MO)

Peru Mission Trip

Peru Mission Trip

Elevate Training (Manhattan/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Great Falls/Miles City)

Montana Missions Offering Emphasis

MTSBC Exec. Board Meeting

Pastors' Conference (Great Falls)

Pastors' Wives Luncheon (Great Falls)

MTSBC Annual Meeting (Great Falls)

Get Real West (Missoula)

Elevate Training (Manhattan/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Great Falls/Miles City

International Missions Emphasis

Montana Southern Baptist Convention

The Great Commision at Home (Montana Missions Offering)

Jeannie Ferriss

MT Missions Get Real student ministries at Emmanuel Baptist Church (Billings).

A man who cannot read well enough to fill out a job application, a family without food for the week, students seeking to walk with Jesus in a culture that says self is the only thing that matters, and pastoral families facing unexpected financial emergencies; these are the heart ministries for the Montana State Missions Offering 2015.


Each September the offering is emphasized throughout all MTSBC churches. This year the goal has increased from $65,000 to $75,000 to assist in covering the needs in four areas: Literacy Ministries, Hunger Ministries, College and Student Ministries, and Pastoral Emergencies. Each area will receive 25% of the total offering. Montana is one of the largest mission fields in North America and less than 10% of Montanans are being reached by evangelical churches. More...

MT Missions BSU campus ministries at Montana Tech in Butte.

MT Missions Common Ground hunger ministries in Red Lodge.

MT Missions Literacy Missions training in Billings.

“The offering is unique in that every dollar is donated by Montana churches, the funding raised stays in Montana and is used for specific ministry areas”, explains Dr. Fred Hewett, Executive Director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention. “Churches are now receiving packets which will let them do a single Sunday emphasis or a four Sunday emphasis. The packets include a Montana Missions Offering DVD, bulletin inserts and offering envelopes.”


The offering has aided a number of different ministries over the years including new churches, language missions and others. The emphasis areas are decided each year when Dr. Hewett makes recommendations to the Executive Board, who then makes the final decision. “The offering is constantly evolving to meet current needs not normally funded elsewhere,” Dr. Hewett continued. “It is also the only offering which goes directly to pastors who are experiencing an emergency situation.”


Literacy


“I first became interested in literacy at a pastor’s luncheon, when the pastor sitting across from me began talking about how literacy missions had changed his life,” Ray Willis, Literacy Coordinator for the MTSBC, related recently. “He told me I would meet a need not met in any other area of people’s lives. It is a tremendous way to touch people who often fall through the cracks while reaching out to their whole families.”


Ray Willis remembers a fourth grader named Isabelle who proudly told him the first time they met that she had memorized all of her prayers to be confirmed. She was almost two years behind her reading level and met with Ray weekly where he prayed with her, taught her to read Scripture worked with her to get her reading level to grade. Children often do not receive reading help at home because their parents cannot read and write well enough to assist them. “Right before Christmas we were reading John 3:16 when she made a decision for Christ. She finished praying with me, jumped up and gave me a big hug,” he recalls. “They moved away and I never saw her again but I knew she would be in Heaven one day.”


Any church can begin a literacy ministry which may include any or all of the following three areas: Tutoring Children and Youth, Adult Reading and Writing, or English as a Second Language (ESL). Each area requires 11 hours of training (usually done on a Friday night and all day Saturday) and a manual which cost about $6 each. There is no age limit for those interested in tutoring, just a saving knowledge of Christ and a heart for helping others. Tutors are asked to commit to a nine month, once a week, schedule which runs during the school year. Some programs, such as the one in Butte, tutor students year round. There are currently eight Montana SBC churches involved in literacy ministries.


To schedule a training, churches can contact Ray Willis at 1-406-855-4265. Like all literacy workers in Montana, Willis is a volunteer so the actual training is free. Interested churches are only asked to provide Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch for the trainings; as well as covering the travel costs and a place to stay for the trainer (a home will do just fine). Once the tutors have completed the training then ministry costs will include copy paper, toner, Bible for students ($3.50 each), snacks for students, and a place to start a small library.


“Literacy ministry is a wonderful place for people to share their faith,” Willis wants Christians to know. “After you have tutored for nine months you can share your faith with anyone because you have lots of experience. It’s a great ministry for youth to get hands on experience in helping and sharing Christ with others. Right now in Yellowstone County there may be as many as 1,000 children who need tutoring help. I tutored the grandchild of a Native American grandmother. The grandmother was saved through another program we ran with the literacy outreach on faith based parenting. The next summer she was helping in vacation Bible school. It is a great way to reach entire families.”


Hunger Ministries


When you call the church office at the Set Free Church in Great Falls the recording gives the usual information on service times and dates, but then there is one more message. A very pleasant voice reminds the listener that if they need a food box to please remember to sign up by Wednesday. It seems like such a little thing until one realizes that the church, along with other area churches, give out food boxes to 3,000 to 4,000 people a month and they have been doing it for 20 years.


Hunger ministries were added as a Montana Missions Offering emphasis about three years ago as an opportunity for churches to help those in need struggling to find enough food for their families. The North American Mission Board had provided some funding but it was not enough to meet the growing need in many areas.


“The responsibility for feeding the hungry is first given to Christians as a Biblical mandate,” according to Dr. Hewett. “Many of our churches have taken up this ministry in different ways from providing free meals to the entire community (such as Church of the Rockies in Red Lodge), to providing food banks, to feeding Native American children on Sundays (1st Baptist Church, Poplar).”


Churches interested in beginning a hunger ministry can contact Stan Bricker through the state office for information on different types of ministries and funding options. Giving to the Montana Missions Offering is another way in which churches who wish to assist in hunger ministries already in place can make a difference. The Set Free Church in Great Falls also takes donations of food to help feed the many people in need, contact their church office at 1-406-453-4479 to find out how to help.


College and Student Ministries


While College and Student Ministries are joined together in the Montana State Missions Offering they are really two unique areas of ministry which reach out to the church of the future. College ministries encompass the college and university campuses around the state while Student Ministries reach out to the middle and high school students in Montana.


“While college students are basically ‘youth without the restraints’, they are still essentially adults,” observes Joe Todd, MTSBC Collegiate Team Leader. “They are in the process of answering the three biggest decisions of life: What will I do (vocation); who will I spend my life with (marriage, and the crowd you follow); and who is my authority—the Gospel, or religion, or irreligion, or self.”


The goal of MTSBC Collegiate Ministries is to “reach and raise up a new generation of disciples who make God famous in their world and accurately pour out what they have received to all generations, and change the world”. Todd’s job is to implement this strategy through four “Strategic Missions Center (campus ministries) in the state. The four centers are: Montana Tech in Butte (Mark Arbaugh); Montana State University in Bozeman (Zach Todd); Flat Head County Community College in Kalispell (Joey Gardner) and the Billings area colleges including MSUB, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone Christian and City College (Jim Tabor). All of the team members are volunteers and several are bi-vocational. The team also hosts the “Winter Blast” a statewide collegiate event each February at Fairmont Hot Springs. In 2015, 140 students and leaders attended. Next year Winter Blast will be held on February 19-21, 2016.


In discussing the importance of the development of young Christians, many who are away from home for the first time, Todd explains,” The pressures and temptations on the college campuses are greater than they have ever been. It is virtually impossible to navigate alone. We all need traveling companions. Christian students also need to do more than play defense; they need to learn and/or hone their ministry skills—sharing Jesus with others, leading small groups, and investing in the lives of others.”


Investing in the lives of students can reap blessed results. Todd invested in a young man named Rob Lee. Lee in turn invested in others by serving on a two year mission to Utah. He never left and is now the Executive Director/Treasurer for the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. Currently, a student Todd has been working with has decided to become a missionary in Southeast Asia.


Mark Arbaugh, Director of the Baptist Student Union on the Montana Tech campus in Butte, works with many engineering students. “Mark follows up and encourages people to serve in a bi-vocational capacity to spread the Gospel,” according to Todd. “As engineers they live and travel all over the world. Mark trains them in multiplication to spread the Gospel wherever they are.


Student Ministry


“Student ministry is about hormones, and in general is a transition phase for middle and high school students,” Don Sullivan, State Director of Student ministry. “It is a platform for sharing the gospel and disciple making that addresses real needs. One of the most exciting things is the ability to reach students who then reach and impact their own families. Student ministry often becomes family ministry.”


Sullivan began his new position in June this year and is exploring different options to help youth leaders in reaching young people. “I’m kind of a techie and use technology to reach those who live all over the state,” he said with a smile. “One of the ways people can connect is ‘Legacy MT Student Ministries’, the state student Facebook page. It includes comments, quotes, and hopefully will include helpful content on resources. Subjects may include counseling, programming, administration, games, curriculum and websites which would help leaders and students across the state.”


Student Ministries are responsible for two state wide events: Get Real East (in Billings) and Get Real West (in Missoula). “Between both events we hosted almost 550 youth and their leaders,” Sullivan continued. “Get Real West was started by former Student Ministries Director Jim Tabor. Jim did so much to improve the quality of the events. He is so caring about people and their ministries. He really connects with them.”


Every year many students are saved at both events but sometimes the effects are long lasting and create new ministries. One exciting result of Get Real East happened two years ago, when Pastor K.J. Ellington and his wife, Sharon from Jordan Community Bible Church, brought a group of students to Billings. After the event they became so excited that they asked if they could form a youth group in Jordan, Montana and it is still going strong today. As a follow up, there was a student leader training held in Jordan.


“Youth ministry is headed towards smaller, personal, relational based outreach,” Sullivan reflected. “There are always opportunities for caring adults who have a heart to love and serve students. You must exert godly influence on students who are in the church today. Part of evangelizing the world is evangelizing students. It isn’t a suggestion but a biblical command, it’s the Great Commission.”


Pastoral Emergencies


The churches of Montana hold their pastors near and dear to their hearts. Like all families, those in the ministry have emergencies in many forms which cause stressful and crisis situations in their lives. A sudden illness is diagnosed, a young church plant is unable to provide insurance for their pastor, a church planting pastor hears of the death of a loved one but doesn’t have the money to travel to the service, these and other emergencies can make an already financially stretched pastor feel like there is nowhere to turn. The good news, is help is just a phone call away. The pastoral emergencies area of the Montana State Missions Offering is a special way to love and care for those who shepherd their flocks, often while holding secular jobs in addition to their churches. Needs in this area often revolve around medical emergencies such as extended illnesses, hospital costs, terminal diagnosis, or a death of a beloved family member. The offering also provides funds for vehicle repair, utility bills, and any other unexpected cost which can put a pastoral family into crisis.


A young pastor’s wife confided that suddenly they were faced with overwhelming hospital and doctor bills. “I don’t know what we would have done. It was a matter of which set of bills do we pay this month and still buy groceries. Then suddenly this check arrived in the mail and we were so touched by the gift. People really felt it mattered that we were here and wanted to help us stay.”


When there is a need the offering can provide up to $500 in emergency funds and the funding is sent out as quickly as possible. This is especially important when the funding is used for travel out of state and families are trying to book airplane tickets.


“The most important thing for people to know about this area is the high priority put on confidentiality and personal privacy for those receiving assistance,” Dr. Hewett emphasizes. “The need is brought to the attention of myself or the state office personnel through the associational offices or others who discover the need for pastoral care. Pastors are always more concerned about others but we want them to know that God is providing help for them in time of need. Don’t refuse or miss out on a blessing that has been provided by the very churches who care about their leadership.”


“The offering is a way for those who are not regular givers to donate to specific areas which effect individual Montanans,” he continued. “It is my observation that the people in our churches are very generous and love to give when they understand the importance of this offering and where the funding goes. In promoting the offering I would say to pastors, don’t be afraid to give your congregations the opportunity to help people around the state.”


2015 Montana Missions Offering Video Downloads

2015 Montana Missions, Full Video (104MB)

2015 Montana Missions, Part 1 (32MB)

2015 Montana Missions, Part 2 (31MB)

2015 Montana Missions, Part 3 (30MB)

2015 Montana Missions, Part 4 (40MB)


2015 Montana Missions Offering Bulletin Insert

2015 Montana Missions Bulletin Insert (.4MB)


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Montana Missions Offering - MTSBC Resource Page

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Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Montana Baptists Mourn Tragic Loss of Two Pastors

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Johnny Ray Gluhm Johnny Ray Gluhm

Johnny Ray Gluhm (1956-2015)


WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Johnny Ray Gluhm went to be with his Lord and Savior Aug. 19, 2015. Born Mar 7, 1956, in Pierre, S.D., to Wilbur and Lunetta Gluhm.


He joined the Navy at 18 and married Evelyn Eckstein, Sept. 25, 1976. During his 20 year Naval career, he was granted many awards; most notably the Surface Warfare Specialist Badge. He finished with the rank E7 Chief Petty Officer.


He was ordained on June 4, 2006, became pastor to Mountianview Community Baptist Church in White Sulphur Springs, Mont. He under took many challenges over the course of nine years. Organizing numerous major building renovations and earned the respect of the community through his willingness to show GOD’s unconditional love, no questions asked. More...

A life’s goal was finally achieved when he obtained his pilot’s license. A big thrill was to fly every opportunity, for any reason, anywhere!


Survived by Evelyn his wife of 39 years; sons Josh, (Shanessa): Chad, (Kelsey); five grandkids; and three sisters: Johnna, Candie, Cherie. Proceeded in death by (parents) Wilbur and Lunetta; (sister) Cindy


Memorial service will be at WSS HS Gym 1 p.m., Aug. 25. Interment will be at Black Hills National Cemetery 10:30 a.m., Aug. 28.


Published in Billings Gazette August 23, 2015 6:30 am

Johnny Ray Gluhm William Louis (Dub) Findley

Dub Findley (1928 - 2015)


WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — William Louis (Dub) Findley died at the age of 86 on August 19, 2015. He was returning to Montana from his Ohio home to visit family and friends in White Sulphur Springs. Dub was born August 21, 1928 in Capulin, New Mexico. He is predeceased in death by his wife Betty and his son Dick. He is survived by one brother, Bob Findley, of White Sulphur Springs, MT; two sisters in Texas, Vita Hrbacek and Elizabeth Sanders; three daughters, Kathy Pavlik, Melody Martin, and Deborah Butts; one son, Gary Findley; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.


Dub moved to Montana in 1955 as an ordained minister and Southern Baptist church planter. After acquiring a Doctorate in Special Education Administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 1967, Dub was the Director of Special Education for the Great Falls Public schools for 14 years. More...

In 1982 Dub and Betty founded Mizpah Christian Retreat north of White Sulphur Springs where he moved in 1988. Dub continued in the ministry at the Chapel of the Pines in Neihart, Montana and served as a deacon in the Mountainview Community Church of White Sulphur Springs. In 2008 he retired as the Executive Director of Mizpah. In January of 2015 Dub moved to Ohio to live with his daughter and her husband where he was an active member of Violet Baptist Church.


The family will gather at Mizpah Christian Retreat to celebrate his life. A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 4:00 PM in White Sulphur Springs. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a memorial donation be made to Mizpah Christian Retreat, Box 942, White Sulphur Springs, MT 59645.


Published in Great Falls Tribune on Aug. 25, 2015

MTSBC

2015 Pastors Conference & Annual Meeting, Pastor's Wives Luncheon

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

MTSBC

Montana Baptist Pioneer Called Home

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

MT Missions Dr. McDonald Held.

Dr. McDonald Held went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 after many years of faithful service to the Lord Jesus. Born in Natchez, MS. to John and Annie Held, he was the fifth of seven children. His father, a prominent Texas, Southern Baptist pastor was one of the first to start Baptist Student Union (BSU) work and was tasked to sell the new Cooperative Program to the Texas churches in 1925. Under the godly influence of his parents, McDonald Held gave his life to the Lord at the age of 11 and began a life-long passion to know the Lord Jesus and to walk with him. He graduated from Baylor in 1933 and began a vocational path of higher education. After earning his Master’s degree and Ph.D. from Northwestern Univ.(Evanston, Ill.) he taught at Tarkio College, Miami Univ. (Ohio), Louisiana Univ., Furman, Howard Payne, Wayland Baptist College, and finally Eastern Montana College. This illustrious career had one interruption when Held served in the Army/Air Force Intelligence during and following WWII. He was married to Beverly Bennett in 1940 and they are survived by five children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. More...

MT Missions Dr. McDonald Held.

Even though 30 of his 45 years of teaching were at Southern Baptist colleges and universities, McDonald Held’s greatest contribution to the kingdom may have come with his high level of involvement with Montana Southern Baptists. Dr. Held worked excessively with Dr. Herbert Warren to start Yellowstone Baptist Bible Institute (Yellowstone Christian College). Held served as Dean, Registrar, Vice-President, and President from 1976 -1981. He was the one who led in the purchase the Shiloh property and moved the school to its present location. He remained an ardent and active supporter of YCC and fervently believed that Montana needed a place to train pastors and leaders.


In 1979 he chaired the search committee that brought Don Jones to Emmanuel and in 1982, at the age of 74 was ordained as a Southern Baptist pastor. He served churches on the High-Line including churches in Glasgow and Hinsdale, returning to Emmanuel to serve as assoc. pastor and Elder. During the 1970s and 1980s Dr. Held was highly involved in assisting Dub Hughes in starting new work in the eastern part of the state also serving as moderator of the Yellowstone Assoc. on several occasions. Dr. Held also led Emmanuel to be one of the first Montana SBC churches to establish international mission partnerships. It was this work as the chair of the missions committee of Emmanuel that caused them to name their missions offering the McDonald Held World Missions Offering.


Almost every Southern Baptist Church in Montana has been directly or indirectly touched by the influence of Dr. McDonald Held; whether it was wise counsel to a pastor or laymen, pulpit supply, denominational leadership, or students of YCC who have returned to the field in faithful service. Held’s 36 years of service with Dr. Don Jones and after that Dr. Paul Jones at Emmanuel was a significant part of the foundational DNA that allowed the ministries of Emmanuel to be so effective for so long. In a very real sense Dr. McDonald Held served as our elder statesman and denominational ambassador for five decades.


A celebration of McDonald Held’s life was held on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 11am at the Emmanuel, Baptist Church, Billings. Friends and family throughout Montana attended to remember his significant contributions to the Kingdom of God.


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Yellowstone Christian College

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MTSBC Campus Ministries Searching for Freshman Students

Joe Todd, Campus Ministries

Do you know any students who graduated from high school with a strong faith, but floundered or dropped out when they hit the university campus? Are some of them from your church?


It’s difficult to stand alone, and your students going to a university. That’s why it is so imperative to do everything we can to get our college-bound students connected to a good collegiate ministry.


Do you have any students heading to a college or university this fall? Please do three things:

1) Pray hard for them as they enter this new arena of life.

2) Pass on their name to a college ministry or nearby church.

3) Give the college ministry or church info to your student and their parents. More...

IN MONTANA


Montana State University

Generation Ministries - Zach Todd | 406-209-1540 | Zach.todd@live.com


Montana Tech

Baptist Student Union – Mark Arbaugh | 406-491-4583 marknrachel@breesnan.net


University of Montana

Crosspoint Community Church | 406-728-4910 | www.missoulacrosspoint.com

Meadow View Community Church 406-549-3350 | www.meadowviewchurch.org


Billings Area

Emmanuel Baptist Church – Jim Taber | 406-652-3161 | jtaber@myemmanuel.net


Kalispell – Flathead Community College

Easthaven Baptist church – Joey Gardner | 406-250-2428 | jgardner@easthaven.org


Questions or students going out of state

Text or call Joe Todd | 406-539-6097 | jktn5@msn.com

Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Elevate Leadership Training - Taking Leaders to the Next Level

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

If you haven’t registered yet for the August session of Elevate - Taking Leaders to the Next Level, please take a moment to do so. We have locations in Central Montana, Miles City, Great Falls and Missoula to make it accessible for you and leaders in your church to take advantage of this ongoing opportunity. The focus of this session will be Gathering. Please let us know if you are planning to attend, as it is very helpful for us to have an estimate of how many we will have.

Sessions at all locations are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you have questions specific to a location, you can contact the following facilitator:


Central Region - Steve Fowler, 406-672-2483

Missoula - Michael Liner, 406-830-0884

Miles City - Eddie Smith, 406-853-9890

Great Falls - Darren Hales, 406-461-9120



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Suicide Draws Focus of Study

Lisa Cannon Green, Baptist Press News

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Most Americans believe they are seeing an epidemic in the United States of people taking their own lives, a LifeWay Research study shows. But most Americans don't view suicide as a selfish choice, and they don't believe it sends people to hell, the survey finds.


"Americans are responding with compassion to a tragedy that touches many families," said Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research vice president. "For example, as researchers learn more about the effects of mental illness, people may be more likely to react to suicide with mercy."


In a phone survey of 1,000 Americans, LifeWay Research found more than a third (36 percent) have had a friend or relative commit suicide, and 56 percent describe suicide as an epidemic in the U.S. The study, released Aug. 21, is based on a survey conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 5, 2014. More...

MT Missions

MT Missions

MT Missions

Concern is highest among the oldest half of the millennial generation, those 25 to 34 years old. This age group is more likely than others to perceive an epidemic of suicide (66 percent), say suicide is selfish (45 percent), and believe those who commit suicide go to hell (27 percent, matching 35- to 44-year-olds).


Federal data show suicides have been on the rise since 2005. This is not unprecedented; suicide rates were almost as high in the mid-1980s. And globally, the U.S. isn't even in the top 50.


But among 25- to 34-year-olds, suicide is the second leading cause of death. "In a young and generally healthy population, it's understandable this would be a concern -- many millennials will know of friends and acquaintances who have either committed suicide or been impacted by those who have," McConnell said.


Not a path to hell


Fewer than a quarter of Americans (23 percent) say people who take their own lives go to hell. More than 6 in 10 Americans say suicide does not lead to hell, and 16 percent are not sure.


However, Christians (27 percent) -- and particularly evangelicals (32 percent) -- are more likely than others to believe suicide leads to damnation.


Catholics believe more firmly than Protestants that suicide does not send people to hell, with 63 percent of Catholics and 54 percent of Protestants taking that stance. Protestants (19 percent) are more likely to indicate they don't know whether people who commit suicide go to hell compared to Catholics (12 percent).


"The finality of suicide makes people wonder about its consequences," McConnell said. "Most churches teach suicide is wrong, but many also acknowledge God's mercy and sovereignty."


Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans (36 percent) say people who commit suicide are selfish. The number rises for Christians (39 percent) and particularly for evangelicals (44 percent).


LifeWay Research also found differences by race. One-fourth of African-Americans say a friend or family member has committed suicide, compared to 39 percent of whites. African-Americans are more likely than others to believe suicide is selfish (44 percent) and sends people to hell (38 percent). In comparison, 19 percent of whites and 25 percent of Hispanics say people who commit suicide go to hell.


Effect of mental illness


Americans were disconcerted by last year's suicide of comedian Robin Williams, McConnell noted. Williams hanged himself in August, about seven weeks before LifeWay Research began its survey.


"Experts say mental illness affects 90 percent of people who die by suicide," McConnell said. "Robin Williams fit that pattern -- before he died, he had been seeking treatment for depression."


Suicide and mental illness have been taboo topics in many churches, McConnell said. In previous studies by LifeWay Research, two-thirds of Protestant pastors said they speak to their churches about mental illness once a year or less, and 65 percent of family members of someone with mental illness say churches should do more to talk about mental illness so the topic is not so taboo.


In recent years, some have begun speaking out. McConnell said Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren has spoken publicly about the suicide death of his son Matthew, and Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, released a book about his daughter Melissa's suicide.


"I deeply appreciate Lifeway conducting this research and releasing these findings," Page said. "I think it does point to positive changes in the way people perceive this issue. However, we have a long way to go as believers and churches as we encourage people who struggle with mental illnesses. We must continue to be people of patience, compassion and competency as we point people to the hope and help they can find in Christ. We must also continue to encourage hurting people to seek out truly Christian psychological assistance."


Page appointed the Mental Health Advisory Group in response to a motion on mental health ministry and a resolution on mental health concerns introduced at the 2013 SBC annual meeting. Since then, the group has reported and advised him on ways of better informing Southern Baptists about available mental health service providers and resources. Click here to read more about the committee's final report.


McConnell noted, "For too long, many Christians have viewed mental illness as a character flaw rather than a medical condition. It's encouraging to see the culture begin to change. Open discussion of suicide and mental health in churches can make the difference of life or death."


Methodology: The phone survey of Americans was conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 5, 2014. The calling utilized random digit dialing. Sixty percent of completes were among landlines and 40 percent among cell phones. Maximum quotas and slight weights were used for gender, region, age, ethnicity and education to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.5 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Those labeled evangelicals consider themselves "a born again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian."


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8 Traits of a Missions-Centered Church

Susie Rain, Baptist Press

ASIA (BP) -- God chose the church to be His messenger and make a powerful impact on the world. It doesn't matter if it has 10,000 or 20 members; a church is called to reach the nations with the Gospel.


The International Mission Board asked pastors, mission and mobilization specialists around the globe to give some insights into what makes missions-centered churches. They boiled it down to eight traits that indicate this type of congregation: More...

1. Has a NOW mentality.


The thought of "being in on what God is doing right now" drives this church. They understand most generations before them have not had the opportunity they have today to go to the nations. Not only do unreached people often live in their communities, but global travel is relatively easy now. They can go to India and back in less than a week. They can actually meet the last unreached people groups (less than 2 percent Christian) on earth, not just see their pictures in a magazine.


2. Is in it for the long haul.


Rather than asking, "What fits my church?" a missions-centered one asks, "What needs to be done and where?" They are awakened and consumed by worshipping God and making Him known to all peoples. No matter if the God-given task takes one day or 20 years, they are committed. This collective burden is met with a sustainable plan.


3. Has cheerleaders.


Note the plural. Not one cheerleader but many! Yes, the pastor may lead the way but what happens if he moves to another church? Does this stop a missions-centered church? No! There are other leaders invested and sold out to the vision. They are the mobilizers -- point people. A missions-centered church knows that it will be no more engaged in missions than its leaders.


4. Spends time on their knees praying TOGETHER.


They are ready to tackle spiritual warfare head on. The thought that no other church in the world is praying for a specific unengaged, unreached people group really matters to them. They know that it is their responsibility to come up with a church-planting strategy where none has been done before. They believe that starts with prayer.


5. Is flexible and steadfast.


The phrase, "we've never done it that way," spurs the missions-centered church to break the mold. They strive to be creative, knowing that trends and needs may change but the basics remain the same -- sharing the love of Christ and bringing people to Him.


6. Trains and equips.


There is an intentional equipping of the church to live out God's mission plan. The congregation is discipled in God's passion for the nations. They are hungry for training in evangelism and strengthening local believers. They pass their knowledge on to others, teaching what they've learned along the way.


7. Networks with others.


Understanding that they don't know everything, missions-centered churches are great networkers. They are aware of others involved in similar projects and readily seek advice. These relationships create a unique synergy that leads to increased effectiveness and a greater impact on the people they are trying to reach, whether that's locally or globally.


8. Sends.


Churches focused on the lost try to plug into the life of the world around them. They understand that being sent isn't a future event or even an overseas calling. Being sent is a book of Acts lifestyle -- a way of living -- the way of Jesus.


There are still more than 3,000 people groups with no one intentionally working among them to see churches planted. The missions-centered church will roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty for Jesus. This kind of church will ask God to use them no matter the cost.


Are you part of "this kind" of church? What's it going to take for your church to be missions-centered?


For more information on how you can get involved, click here.


Susie Rain is an IMB writer living in Asia. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


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