SBC DIGEST: LifeWay highlights small churches; Northeastern college commissions int'l mission team

by LifeWay, NEBC, Baptist Press Staff, posted Thursday, March 31, 2016 (6 years ago)

Facts & Trends issue focuses on 'the power of small'

NASHVILLE (BP) -- The power of small churches is the focus of the latest edition of Facts & Trends, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources for pastors and other church leaders.

"With the majority of churches in America having weekly attendance below 100, we believe this issue will hit home with and inspire many of our readers," said Carol Pipes, the magazine's editor.

The magazine includes the unique opportunities and challenges small churches face on a daily basis as well as examples of how smaller churches have turned weaknesses into advantages. Readers will learn from church growth experts Bob Whitesel and Elmer Towns, as well as from Karl Vaters, founder of

"Large or small, rural or urban, every church can make an impact for God's Kingdom," Pipes said. "We should value healthy churches of all sizes."

One of the articles in the cover section explores how megachurches are harnessing the power of "small" through small groups, multisite campuses and micro sites.

The spring 2016 issue of Facts & Trends also includes an interview with pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, author of "Reviving the Black Church," as well as articles on human trafficking and the significance of music in developing disciples.

Each issue of Facts & Trends includes church and culture trends, resource recommendations and columns by LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer and Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.

A subscription or copies of the magazine can be obtained by contacting the magazine's staff at or visiting the website.

Northeastern commissions international mission team

BENNINGTON, Vt. (BP) -- Praying over Northeastern Baptist College's first international mission team was among the highlights of the trustee meeting at the Vermont campus March 7-8.

Prayer and commissioning of Northeastern Baptist College's first international missions team highlighted the NEBC trustee meeting March 7-8 at the Vermont campus.
NEBC photo
The commissioning service was held in the college's chapel in Bennington for the six students, two faculty members and a faculty spouse who ministered in the Gospel-bleak city of Glasgow, Scotland, March 13-19.

NEBC's mission team worked with local IMB missionaries to share the Gospel and create a network base for a Bible study group and eventual church plant.

For trustee Stephen Rummage, commissioning the NEBC team was particularly meaningful. Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., where Rummage is senior pastor, started a new church in Glasgow less than three years ago.

"Like much of New England," Rummage said, "Glasgow has a rich spiritual past but has grown cold and dark spiritually today. Our Northeastern students are already uniquely prepared to take the Gospel to people in that city."

Academics & events

Though the college is still in its beginning stages, proposals to the board during the March meeting again reflected growth since NEBC's founding in 2013.

Trustees voted to establish an associate of arts program to offer more options for incoming students and also confirmed associate professor of Christian education Lorrie Francis as vice president of institutional readiness. Francis already has mapped a course for NEBC's continuing accreditation pursuits.

Northeastern Baptist College (online at offers four bachelor degrees in biblical studies, Christian counseling, music ministry and business administration and will now also offer an associate level track in biblical studies, music ministry and business administration starting with this year's fall semester.

Also during the meeting, former trustee Michael McDill was recognized for his service prior to joining the NEBC faculty. McDill, now professor of church history and theology at the college, was honored for the three years he served before rotating off the trustee board.

Trustees were apprised of preparations for NEBC's first commencement exercises on May 7.

NEBC President Mark Ballard noted that the college's students "are currently serving on staff in churches here in Vermont and plan to take on increased responsibilities upon graduation. In addition, one of our first graduates has already been accepted into a master's program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We rejoice at all the Lord is doing and welcome our NEBC friends to be a part of [commencement], another first, for NEBC."

NEBC's vice presidents asked to establish a Founder's Day to be celebrated each year in recognition of Ballard's sacrifice and faithfulness as the college's founder. Trustees approved Jan. 18 as NEBC Founder's Day to be celebrated annually at a convenient time during the first week of each spring semester.

Trustees also discussed NEBC's Firming the Foundation campaign, a year-long development initiative to solidify the college financially. Ballard and a rotating team of students, staff and trustees have been holding banquets across the United States to share the vision of the college.

A Friends of NEBC banquet will be held in St. Louis at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting on Tuesday, June 14. Convention participants and guests are invited to attend and hear more about God's work in the Northeast. Tickets are available through Ballard's office at 802-753-7233 or at the Northeastern Baptist College booth in the convention exhibit hall.

"As churches and individual donors invest in Northeastern Baptist College, we have the opportunity to make a lasting difference," Rummage said, "not only in training future church leaders, but in bringing spiritual awakening and a strong Gospel presence to Vermont and all of the Northeast."

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by the communications staff of LifeWay Christian Resources and by Sarah Carr of Northeastern Baptist College.
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