All posts by Lance Laughton

Witbank Inducts their New Pastor

This last Sunday (18 November 2018) saw the induction of a new pastor, Karl Buchan-Smith, at Witbank Baptist Church.  The church’s  process of finding and calling a new pastor has not been without hitch however, as is often the case, and took over two years to finally find the man of God’s choosing.

Karl, who has served with Campus Crusade, then as a missionary, graduated from Christ Seminary and was serving as an elder alongside Chris Wooley at Midrand Chapel when the call came.  He is married to Erika and have two daughters, Kayra and Grace.

While the pastoral position was vacant many assisted in preaching and helping guide the call committee, including Pastor Rocky Stevenson, then pastor at Middelburg Baptist, Pastor Ian Stuart while he was the BNA area representative for Pretoria, Pastor Mark Penrith, Lance Laughton as Area Co-Ordinator and many preachers assisting to fill the pulpit Sunday by Sunday – thank you to all of you!  Thanks too to John Griffiths, the chairman of the call committee and each call committee member – “through many dangers, toils and snares!”

May God’s grace abound to Witbank Baptist as they celebrate a new chapter.

You can view a brief video of the induction here.


Watch the teaching

Paul commands Timothy the pastor, and the Spirit commands pastors and believers, “Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching”  (1 Tim 4:16 ESV).  The words ‘the teaching’ refers to a definitive ‘body of doctrine’ that is to be believed and taught and passed on.   And Paul and the Holy Spirit believe that “the teaching” is something that is crucial (1 Tim 1:3; 4:16), definite (1 Tim 1:4, 10; 3:14-15), known (1 Tim 1:3, 4:3), God honouring (1Tim 3:15; 4:7) and that which is to be followed (1 Tim 1:18; 4:6), and taught (1 Tim 4:11).

Thus, the churches of the BNA at the AGM on Monday night 17 September 2018, agreed that the Statement of Belief drafted by the Executive of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa should be tabled for adoption as our own and that the Constitution of the BNA should be duly amended. They did so by a 77 percent majority.  And so, at the 2019 AGM, the change to Constitution of the BNA will be finally voted on.

Why do we believe that we need a new statement of belief at this time?

1. Downhill is easy – entropy exists in creation and in our thinking about God because we are human.
2. Clarity is needed – to be clearer, more words are needed and the 2017 is almost three and half times longer.
3. Our world has changed – this year the 1924 statement is 94 years old. A lot has changed in 94 years.
4. Terminology is not helpful – the big theological words are removed in the new statement in order that the basic doctrines are addressed in easy to understand words.
5. Accountability is needed – the slip of belief in the head and heart is to be expected and a standard to which we can hold each other accountable is necessary.
6. Diversity has been attained, now unity is needed – as Baptists we celebrate our diversity in culture, language and race but we cannot and must not celebrate diversity on principal matters of belief.
7. Churches are confused – brevity regarding crucial doctrines has caused confusion and a sense that primary matters of belief are to be arbitrarily decided.

You can read the draft statement here.

‘B’ is for Balance

In my life and having a Grade 1 school teacher for a wife, if ‘A’ is for ‘Associate with others’ then ‘B’ is for ‘Balance.’  

There are two dangers (and many others beside) for pastors to avoid in the ministry – either ‘kickback’ and ‘go easy’ or ‘kill yourself’ and ‘die hard’ in ministry.  So, ‘B’ is for balance – the necessary combination of hard work and times of rest.  And there are times of hard work and frenetic, “Go! Go!” in the ministry and there are also times of slow slow.  And the continual challenge is to find a balance between the two.  I find that I’m often aware of being on the wrong side of the middle line and the direction is then clear in terms of how to fix this.  But it’s usually my wife, with her well-trained, classroom eye, who sees it before I do and I’ve learnt that she’s the best human advisor I have and knows me better than most.  But the middle line of balance, like the border between to countries, can be imaginary and elusive.  

God has not made us for work only but for rest and not for rest only but for work.  He Himself worked and rested (Gen 2:1).  And both are meant to be God glorifying – that we should honour Him in both and by both.  Indeed, God has created both for Himself in order that He be glorified (1 Cor 8:6; 10:31).  

So, if you’re working hard and even over working – take a break.  Do some gardening.  Escape from people.  Read a book for fun not ministry or sermon prep.  Hit the gym.  Take a walk in the bush.  Pat the dog.  Paint a room.  Do something to slow down.  “A change is as good as a holiday,” they say.

Flipside, though — if you’re just ambling along in cruise mode.  Buckle up.  Get your hands dirty.  Work hard at cracking the nut of that text that is so hard.  Knuckle down and “Go!”  Visit that difficult congregant.  Finish that hard chapter.  Pour yourself out in ministry (Phil 2:17).  Because, like everyone, you get one shot in this life at honouring God as God over all.  And this one lifetime is short and before you know it you’ll be opening your eyes in Eternity.  So make this little physicality, this brief human condition count for Someone way bigger than you and more worthy than you with a cause far more worthy than yours!  Life is for the living and living is all about God!  So find the middle ground when you’re far off to one side. ‘B’ is for balance.  

Resourcing the Local Church

The Baptist Northern Association exists for one reason only – to serve the local church!

Naturally the needs of one church are different to the needs of another so we’ve picked up a few skills and built a few partnerships to help.

Firstly we do training. This last weekend was our annual “One Life” Conference – which focussed on why and how to love and care for people.  This year, Lance Laughton laid the theological foundation of why we should love people and Pastor Brian Stone, taught on how to do this practically.  From his vast years of serving a number of churches as a pastor, he gave great insights on home visitation, hospital visitation, counselling, informal shepherding and caring for the caregiver in terms of pastoral burnout.  In addition, we gave away two free books to every delegate; Mark Dever’s ‘Nine Marks of a Health Church’ and Kevin De Young’s excellent book on Scripture ‘Taking God at His Word.’  We do local church training on a number of subjects including; ‘Elders and Deacons – who does what and why’, ‘What is a Baptist?” and ‘Congregational Governance” among others.

Second, we do resources. A number of downloads are available on this site for pastors, moderators, fraternals leaders and even a Bible study booklet for church members to engage with the new 2017 draft Statement of Faith (and one is Sesotho).  We have a number of partnerships with excellent organisations including Ekklesia Africa for books and conferences, theological training at BTC, missions, a foster home, an orphanage and medical step down facility, a retirement centre, and a chain of charity stores all aimed at caring and assisting for people.

Thirdly, we help youth groups. This is a new area for us and we’re right in the middle of phase one – ‘Find out what’s happening on the ground.’  We’re really glad to have Dan Riddell leading this with his years of youth ministry experience. We encourage all the churches to send their teens to Summer Camp – what an awesome experience and the statistics of the number of young people who’ve come to faith at Summer Camp should encourage every local church to make this a priority.

One Life Conference 2017

“A great blessing!”  “So good to go over the basics again!”  “Great hanging out with a group of pastors like this!”  These were some of the comments about the recent “One Life” Conference.  Besides an outstanding venue with an out-of-town feel and great food (thank you Smith family), we had a great time of fellowship and outstanding teaching!

The Seven Sessions of this Year’s Conference

This year’s focus was training of elders, interns and church leaders on how to get to the main thought of a biblical passage.  Lance Laughton, laid the ground by asking the question, “Why Plan to Preach?” and answered this with four answers; because people (and preachers) like you and I are natural “idiots” (ignorant) (1 Cor 1:27), because in many churches, the pulpit is not primary because of poor preaching (contrast this with Paul’s method in Col 1:25-26), because, with some passages more than others, getting to the single main thought of a passage is like trying to catch a butterfly in your hands (2 Tim 2:15-19) and lastly, because convincing people with ethos (integrity), logos (logic) and pathos (emotion) by the Spirit is humanly impossible (1 Cor 2:12-13).

Prof Piff Perreira focussed on preparing for “Text Centred Preaching” arranging his four sessions around the questions; “What do I actually see in the text?” “What did the text mean (then) to the original reader?” and “What does the text mean (now) to us?”

We personally experienced how we usually do not see what is actually in front of us but too readily interpret what we think is there.  This formed an introduction to handling the subjects of our worldview and “the then-worldview,” and awareness of our presuppositions calling for readers to ask the interrogatives again (who, what, where, when, why and how) all the while, remembering the three genres (narrative, poetry and didactic).

Under the interpretation of Scripture, Piff called for humility, and reverence in handling all of Scripture as that which God has spoken and is thus authoritative rather than subjective.  He draw our attention to two limitations with respect to interpretation; reading “centre outwards” in terms of concentric circles of context, and reading “from the beginning to the end” in terms of progressive revelation.

Dr Charles De Kiewit then took the last two sessions dealing with how to apply the text and likened application to tailoring a suit to fit a customer, fitting it not too big, nor too small, but just right, so making the sermon suit the needs and worldview of our hearers.

Practically, he asks, “How is pointed application made?” and answered this with; “Be specific – it is very easy to say things in generalities, be discriminating – we need to be physician’s of the soul giving to each one the medicine needed for their particular ailment, and be persuasive – our hearers need to know not only that the clothes need to be worn, but that they can be worn, and the benefits of wearing them.

Lastly, you will enjoy and be blessed by a portion of Charles’ message on the subject of Contextual Preaching by clicking here.

Or you can view more photos by clicking here.

Thank you for all our partners, preachers and teachers for your encouragement of saints in the gospel!