Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers clad in yellow shirts and hats are quickly amid the debris and anguish from hurricanes on the East Coast, flooding in middle America or wildfires in the West. Southern Baptist missionaries carry the Gospel to both remote and urban areas in the Far East, the Mideast, Eastern Europe and Africa and Latin America. Southern Baptist church members volunteer at pregnancy crisis centers and food pantries across the United States.
But who are these people?
An array of print and online resources available through the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee demonstrate Southern Baptists' heart and numerous ways of sharing new birth in Christ in their communities and states, across the nation and throughout the world.
Two brochures Meet Southern Baptists and A Closer Look that provide basic information about Southern Baptists are available as free downloads as well as full-color print pieces that can be ordered at a very minimal cost-recovery price here. In addition to PDF formats, the brochures also can be read online here and here.
Many Southern Baptist churches and other congregations interested in cooperating with the SBC request these resources, said Roger S. Oldham, the Executive Committee's vice president for convention communications and relations.
"I have been in numerous meetings where pastors and members of various groups have been complimentary of the brochures and have asked how to order the brochures," Oldham said.
Some churches place the brochures alongside other materials where visitors can easily pick them up. "We are aware of a number of churches that routinely order the brochure for use in their new member training classes," Oldham also noted.
Meet Southern Baptists is a practical explanation of the Southern Baptist Convention and its entities. Whether someone is seeking more information on Southern Baptist life or is searching for a concise way to explain the Southern Baptist Convention, Meet Southern Baptists is informative and thorough.
The brochure explains such facts as:
-- Southern Baptists are a diverse group of autonomous churches united by a love for the Gospel and by a "confessional consensus," The Baptist Faith and Message.
-- Southern Baptist missions and ministries begin locally and extend globally.
-- Southern Baptist causes are funded by local churches' gifts through the Cooperative Program, a key channel of cooperation that has proven its viability for nearly 90 years.
-- The Southern Baptist Convention is comprised of 11 ministry entities, one women's auxiliary missions organization and an Executive Committee that exist "for the express purpose of assisting churches in the ultimate goal of advancing the Gospel."
-- The purpose of the convention, summed up as follows: "It is by the Gospel, because of the Gospel, and for the Gospel that the Southern Baptist Convention exists; so it only makes sense that everything about Southern Baptists is tied directly to the Gospel."
A Closer Look delves into various facts, and some common misconceptions, about the Southern Baptist Convention. If a church member is curious about Southern Baptist life, for example, this is an effective resource. It offers an in-depth look at the SBC's annual meeting, its entities, the Executive Committee and the Cooperative Program, exploring such questions as:
-- What is a motion?
-- What is a resolution?
-- Who is a messenger?
-- How do I become a Southern Baptist?
-- Is my church autonomous?
-- Where does Cooperative Program funding go?
Also available for download at sbc.net's About Us tab are specific brochures about the SBC's International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, GuideStone Financial Resources and the convention's six seminaries.
While helping local churches, Oldham also noted, "We also use the brochures to help members of the secular media gain a better understanding of who we are as a convention, and as a network of cooperating Baptist churches, associations and state conventions.
"Much confusion abounds even within our churches. We are not a top-down hierarchical 'church' as are many Christian denominations; we are a network of fully autonomous churches that voluntarily cooperate together for the Gospel," Oldham said.
In addition to the brochures, the Cooperative Program is given visual life through seven videos available for free download on the SBC website at CP Videos.
Videos that range in length from two to three minutes are:
-- For Others showcases the magnitude of the work that can be accomplished for the Kingdom when people work together. It is from a child's perspective, amplifying the fact that anyone can be a part of worldwide outreach through the Cooperative Program. (Video produced by Innovative Faith Resources)
-- Pass the Plate highlights the power and influence that a tithe can have. The video exhibits how a tithe to the local church transforms into CP missions -- in each state and in the nation and world. (Video produced by Innovative Faith Resources)
-- The 1% Challenge recaps key statistics about the Cooperative Program and explains what the SBC-wide "1% CP Challenge" is and why it's important. This video challenges a viewer to "be the one." (Video produced by The Resonate Group)
-- From You to Eternity is an engaging, highly visual presentation of the Cooperative Program, describing what it is, how it works and why it exists. (Video produced by the Missouri Baptist Convention)
-- Empty Hands demonstrates the devastating effect that an empty offering plate can have on missions. It also shows the impact that a full offering plate can have through CP. (Video produced by Innovative Faith Resources)
-- Imagine is from a child's perspective highlighting the ratio of Southern Baptists to Southern Baptist missionaries. It highlights what could be accomplished through the Cooperative Program if every Southern Baptist tithed. (Video produced by Innovative Faith Services)
Additional resources and information about the SBC entities, how to become a Christian, daily devotions and various other resources may also be found online at sbc.net.
Compiled by Baptist Press intern Myriah Snyder, BP general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler and BP editor Art Toalston.
Copyright (c) 2014 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net