Mission Education. The two words bring different images to mind. For
some, mission education is a work project—for others, it is a prayer
emphasis. Many view mission education as classroom study—still others
see it as offering promotion. For the North American Mission Board, mission
education is a new responsibility for a new agency and seen as vitally
important to our task of mobilizing Christians for the Great Commission. A
look at where we have been and what the future holds for mission education
can be very helpful as you prepare to lead Baptist Men On Mission.
The history of Baptist Men On Mission is a story that took over 90
years to come full circle. It began in 1907 as the Laymen’s Missionary
Movement. In 2000, the North American Mission Board is leading a mission
change in the lives of individual men, churches, and the denomination
and returns the organization to its original emphasis of mission education
and mission skill development.
THE LAYMEN’S MISSIONARY MOVEMENT (1907-1925)
The 20th century began with a hopeful anticipation of the coming of our Lord. There was the grave realization that world evangelization must precede the blessed event. Dwight L. Moody, an unordained evangelist, and John R. Mott, a Methodist layman, played major roles in beginning the International Laymen’s Missionary Movement. These two men were confident that the world could be evangelized only through the mobilizing of laymen. The movement began in New York, November 13-14, 1906. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions arranged an interdenominational meeting to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the famous Williams College Haystack Prayer Meeting that had launched the foreign missions movement of North America. John B. Sleman, a prominent layman, made “a call to prayer” for laymen of different denominations to come together to give support to foreign missions. The Laymen’s Missionary Movement was launched with a 10-day prayer meeting in the upper room. An executive committee met in Philadelphia January 9, 1907, to state the purpose of the movement. The statement included, “We earnestly recommend to the Foreign Mission Boards of all denominations that they secure groups of laymen to promote campaigns of intelligent and generous interest in foreign missions with special reference to the men of the churches. The expense of these movements to be borne, whenever possible, by such groups of men so that funds of the boards shall not be drawn upon.” The Southern Baptist Convention was the first denomination to respond to the growing movement. Joshua Levering of Baltimore and W. J.
Here's a Change!
The following year, J. Harry Tyler, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Laymen’s Missionary Movement of the Southern Baptist Convention, made the following report to the convention: In the beginning, the organization was seen as primarily a financial support for missions. J. B. Gambrell, editor of the Baptist Standard, wrote of the need “to awaken rich men to see their day of opportunity and their solemn duty.” George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, urged the leaders of the movement to remind the wealthy laymen that both their wealth and their ability to get wealth came from God. They should “consecrate portions of their property for the furtherance of His cause.” J. T. Henderson was selected as the movement’s first general secretary and served in the position for 30 years. His program had three emphases: organization, education, and inspiration. His office was located in Baltimore until 1914. It was then moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved again to Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1916. The offices were moved in 1938 to Memphis, Tennessee. The first general meeting was held in Chattanooga, February 4-6, 1913. It was attended by 1,200 men. Resolutions adopted by the body included:
laymen were called upon to give time to daily prayer and the development of family altars
laymen were encouraged to devote intense study to missions
the use of a “businesslike system of giving” was urged in every Southern Baptist church
a laymen’s Missionary Committee was to be appointed in every association
churches were to adopt the tithe as the minimum gift of Christians to their church
the convention deplored the absence of laymen from denominational meetings
A second meeting gathered in Memphis in February 1924. Already a transition of emphasis had emerged. The meeting unanimously endorsed a resolution offering such “fundamental gospel doctrines” as the authority of the Scripture, the virgin birth, and Christ’s atoning death, burial, resurrection, and future physical return. Other resolutions called for improved giving, tithing, lay service, missions, and the founding of “Brotherhood” in every church. The Brotherhoods were to meet monthly to promote spirituality and prepare men for service in churches.
THE BAPTIST BROTHERHOOD OF THE SOUTH (1926-1949)
The Laymen’s Missionary Movement recommended a name change in 1926. The Baptist Brotherhood of the South was to enlarge the scope of operation and make prominent the idea of fellowship for Brotherhood. The emphases were to include the entire denominational program rather than being restricted to one phase—namely, missions. The name Laymen’s Missionary Movement, by implication at least, seemed to exclude pastors, while the term Brotherhood included both pastors and laymen. During the late ’20s and early ’30s, the focal points of Brotherhood were deacon ministry and deacon-pastor relationships. By 1934 the Brotherhood had a threefold objective:
the deepening of spirituality (the emphasis was upon prayer and Bible reading in private and family circles)
information (a knowledge of the fundamental teachings of the Bible and the work of the mission boards and other denominational agencies)
service (The Brotherhoods were to have committees for the various phases of church activity. These committees were to relate to ministry needs in the community as “Poor Committee,” “Sick Committee,” “Jobless Committee,” “Student Committee,” “Boy’s Work Committee,” and other ministries.)
After 30 years, J. T. Henderson was succeeded by Lawson H. Cooke, a banker from Virginia. In his first year, the offices were moved to Memphis. This was primarily through the efforts of Judge John W. McCall who served as chairman of the board for many years. In 1941, the Baptist Brotherhood of the South defined itself as, “A group of consecrated men promoting the whole program of their church and denomination and endeavoring to get every man in the church to do the same thing.” The slogan “A Million Men for Christ” was the goal. The statement of purpose was “The Men of the Church Undergirding the Whole Program of the Church.”
THE BROTHERHOOD COMMISSION (1950-1997)
In 1950, the Baptist Brotherhood of the South became the Brotherhood Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. These changes were made to better relate the work of the organization to the convention. On January 1, 1951, George W. Schroeder, a layman from Illinois, succeeded Lawson H. Cooke. In 1946 the title of the executive officer was changed from general secretary to executive secretary. It was later changed to executive director and then to president in 1984. The Southern Baptist Convention adopted the proposal of the Woman’s Missionary Union in 1954 to transfer sponsorship of the Royal Ambassador movement from WMU to the Brotherhood Commission. The transfer was
completed over a three-year period. Even though Royal Ambassador work had been sponsored and promoted by Woman’s Missionary Union since its birth as an organization, men had served as counselors in many churches and had been involved in some of the planning and development of the program. As the years passed, some Baptist leaders began to feel the boy’s organization should be promoted by the men’s organization. The Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas in 1965 adopted the Brotherhood Commission’s program statement: “… to support the Southern Baptist Convention in its task of bringing men to God through Christ by fostering programs that will assist churches in their task of leading men, young men, and boys to a deeper commitment to missions, to a more meaningful prayer life for missions, to a larger stewardship on behalf of missions, and to a personal involvement in missions.” This statement marked a decided turning in the direction of the Brotherhood Commission. George Schroeder retired May 1, 1971, and died 28 days later. His successor was W. Glendon McCullough, director of the Division of Personnel of the Home Mission Board. He took office November 1, 1971, and served until his death, August 23, 1978, in a traffic accident. During his administration, McCullough made a tremendous contribution to the Brotherhood Commission by heading it back to its original purpose. He challenged men to use their vocations in meeting missions needs. He created an awareness of laymen in missions, reaffirming such Baptist Men On Mission tasks as engaging in missions activities, teaching missions, praying for and giving to missions, developing personal ministry, and undergirding the church and denomination. In 1973 the Commission began assuming the coordination and promotion responsibility for World Missions conferences. These had formerly been known as Schools of Missions. Each year thereafter more than one million Southern Baptists from more than 3,000 churches have participated in these conferences to hear firsthand accounts of Southern Baptists’ progress on mission fields. On September 15, 1979, James H. Smith came to the Brotherhood Commission from Illinois where he had served as executive secretary of the Illinois Baptist State Association. To further clarify the purpose of the commission, he led the trustees in April 1980 to adopt the statement of purpose, “Helping Churches Involve Men and Boys in Missions.” During the April 1983 meeting of the Brotherhood Commission, trustees approved a revised articles of incorporation and by-laws for the Fellowship of Baptist Men. In 1989 Brotherhood Commissions trustees approved a youth coed pilot mission project called “World Changers.” The Southern Baptist Convention broadened the Brotherhood Commission’s mission statement in 1990 to include women in its programs. On September 15, 1991, James D. Williams became the sixth president of the Brotherhood Commission. Through his leadership the organization developed multiple approaches to mission education and involvement.
BAPTIST MEN ON MISSION
THE NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD (1997-PRESENT)
The Covenant for a New Century was approved by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1995 and implemented in June 1997. In the covenant, the work of the Brotherhood Commission, Home Mission Board, and Radio and Television Commission was combined in order to reach North America for Christ. Dr. Robert E. “Bob” Reccord became the first president of the North American Mission Board, now located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Through the Covenant for a New Century, the work of mission education, including men and boys, was assigned to the North American Mission Board. The broader discipleship emphasis of Men’s Ministry was assigned to the Baptist Sunday School Board (Lifeway Christian Resources). Baptist Men On Mission, Challengers for young men, and Royal Ambassadors for boys continue at the North American Mission Board and emphasize the spiritual transformation of regular Christians into on mission Christians. World Mission Conferences, now called On Mission Celebrations, also continue along with a new emphasis on churchwide mission education. New curriculum for Baptist Men On Mission has been developed, and—just as its Brotherhood Commission’s predecessor curriculum—it provides current missions information (including International Missions), prayer concerns, ministry ideas, mission education resources, and tips on how men can be on mission for Christ.
OUR NEW ROLE
Baptist Men On Mission are providing trained effective mission workers for the local church’s mission efforts. Baptist Men On Mission assist individual Christians and churches in understanding and living biblical mission education principles that lead them to be actively on mission with God. The organization encourages a spiritual change in individuals by helping them discover their place and purpose in God’s mission. In simple terms, the role of mission education is to supply the church’s worldwide mission efforts with laborers for the harvest. Today’s Baptist Men On Mission are challenged to Discover Your Mission Through Mission Education. This book is designed to guide leaders in helping their members meet this challenge.
Director Mission Education
North American Mission Board, SBC