SBC DIGEST: SWBTS provides virtual pulpit supply; Mission:Dignity Sunday moved to August 30
By Alex Sibley
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Helping congregations without pastors or worship leaders during a time when churches are unable to hold in-person meetings is the focus of a new resource launched by The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Center for Church Revitalization.
Some churches were in the middle of the search process for a pastor when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented congregations from gathering. Thus, while many pastors have been able to reach their congregations through pre-recorded messages or live-streamed services, other congregations have gone without pastors -- and services -- during this season. Additionally, some churches simply lack the personnel and tools necessary to offer online services.
The Center for Church Revitalization is producing a new online resource -- the Sermon and Worship Resource Collection. It will feature contributions from Southwestern President Adam W. Greenway, the seminary's School of Church Music and Worship and various other faculty members.
The collection will include sermon videos and packages of worship songs and will be available to churches that are unable to produce online services themselves. The combination of the sermon and worship videos will allow churches to offer their members full Sunday morning services.
"Southwestern Seminary exists to serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention," Greenway said. "During this time of heightened difficulties for our churches, which are compounded for churches without pastoral leadership, our Center for Church Revitalization is demonstrating in a practical way how our seminary serves the body of Christ. I pray that this resource will be a blessing to many, helping these congregations to continue their calling to advance the Gospel, which is especially needed during these days."
Kenneth Priest, interim director of the Center for Church Revitalization, said he is excited about "the potential this offers as a direct resource to assist the church in the midst of this COVID-19 issue.
"These are different times requiring different ministry needs,and I believe Southwestern Seminary can offer the solution through the Center for Church Revitalization and the involvement and engagement of our professors across the disciplines."
Priest summarized the process: "We are simply trying to provide some resources so that a pastor or a church can log onto our site, download a couple of videos for music, download a sermon video, put a service together, and then stream it all together as their online worship experience on Sunday morning."
In addition to Greenway and Priest, several professors are producing multi-part sermon series, including associate professor of evangelism Matt Queen; professor of preaching and pastoral ministry Deron Biles; and professor of preaching Matthew McKellar. In this way, these professors will serve as "virtual interims" for churches, Priest says.
Joseph R. Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship, is "drawing from the bank of worship songs and hymns from chapel services" to provide the worship sets. Crider will also record transition statements for use between songs in order to provide what Crider called "a seamless worship service."
The School of Church Music and Worship has already been providing resources for family worship through its Artistic Theologian website, but Crider said this new effort is specifically for churches who are "really needing some help on a weekly basis with providing some quality worship and preaching.
"Through our Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern Seminary, we are developing some packages of worship resources that will give these churches options for them to be able to use not only for their own congregations, but also for outreach into their communities."
Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism, said this "innovative and creative solution" to assist churches with "virtual interim preaching and music" provides churches "a venue for their congregants to hear the very same sermon and sing the very same songs that their brothers and sisters in Christ will be hearing and singing on any given Sunday."
Mission:Dignity Sunday moving to August 30
By Roy Hayhurst
DALLAS (BP) -- Mission:Dignity Sunday, set each year by the Southern Baptist Convention for the fourth Sunday in June, is moving to the last Sunday in August -- for 2020 only -- due to lingering effects of COVID-19.
The annual emphasis is set aside so that churches can celebrate and raise a special offering for the GuideStone ministry that provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows near the poverty line.
"We recognized that many churches who are not meeting are also struggling to meet budget needs," GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. "By moving Mission:Dignity Sunday to the end of August, we hope that many churches will have returned to a sense of normalcy in meeting, scheduling and budgeting, and thus allowing them to participate more fully in this important annual emphasis."
Mission:Dignity Sunday materials, available for free from GuideStone at MDSunday.org, are undated so churches can use them anytime they wish.
"Many churches celebrate Mission:Dignity Sunday during a missions emphasis Sunday or month," Hawkins said. "Our goal is always to make it as easy as possible for churches to participate in this important ministry that we believe is near to the heart of the Lord."
In 2019, more than 3,000 churches participated in Mission:Dignity Sunday.
"Each week, we hear from retired pastors, and in many cases their widows, who tell us the difference their Mission:Dignity grant makes in their lives," Hawkins said. "It often means the difference between eating or not. For many, it means they are able to pay for medicines or other needed medical or dental care."
To learn more about Mission:Dignity, to refer a retired pastor or his widow in need, or to give, visit MissionDignity.org.