Jeff Iorg Blog
Where the People Are
Sep 28 2015
When we decided to move Golden Gate Seminary, one of the most important decisions was selecting the location for the new primary campus. We chose a site next to the airport in Ontario, California.
We chose this site for several reasons but the undergirding philosophy behind the choice was “placing the seminary where the people are.” We wanted the seminary campus to be in the in center of the action – close to major shopping, transportation, and corporate hubs. We also wanted the seminary to be in a fast-increasing area of population growth.
Why place the campus among all this “busy-ness?” Because where people are, ministry needs and opportunities abound. We do not want our seminary to be an ivory-tower retreat center. We want it to be a training center – preparing people for real-world ministry in a real-world environment.
The population growth coming to the area around our campus is mind-boggling to consider. Government projections indicate more than 3 million more people will move to Riverside and San Bernardino counties by 2050. We will be in the middle of this explosion with all the attendant ministry opportunities.
The photos below capture what is happening 10 minutes – side streets, no freeways - from our new campus. I drove it Saturday just to confirm how close it was. Within 5 miles of our campus, a new city is being built. Ontario Ranch will have 46,000 homes and 150,000 people, along with the schools, businesses, and public services needed to support the community. Yes, you read that right. A new community, larger than most existing towns, is being built in the shadow of our campus. And, that’s just one community. I also drove by several other smaller developments that are already selling new homes.
Check out these photos and dream with me about the church planting, church growth, and human need-meeting ministries that can be part of our future!
Sep 21 2015
I have no idea who I will vote for when it comes time to cast a ballot for President of the United States in 2016. I will vote, I will vote my conscience, and I will vote my values. But who I will vote for - that’s still undecided.
Like many Americans, I was interested in the last televised Republican debate. CNN is trumpeting it as the most watched program in their history. That’s quite a claim and reveals the high interest level in the upcoming election. The stakes are high. It may not be too strong to say the destiny of our country is in the balance.
That’s why one particular statement by Carly Fiorina caught my attention. When asked about the Planned Parenthood videos she said:
“As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.”
This short paragraph accurately sums up the issue. If we have reached a point in our nation where this type of behavior is publicly funded and legally protected – and we cannot stop it – we have no hope as a nation. Our moral moorings have come undone. Our national soul is lost. Judgment – in one form or another - will eventually come. God’s patience is tested when ruthless people cannibalize themselves in the name of birth control or supposed medical advance for the living. We must stop this publicly-supported heinous behavior or face the inevitable consequences.
Sadly, that’s not debatable.
One of the hardest jobs in America today is teaching in a public school or secular private school. Besides the usual challenges, many teachers are now faced with a new mandate – eliminating references to gender in their classrooms. Some California teachers recently received an instructional packet which reminds them the beginning of the school year is an “ideal time to establish the foundation of gender inclusion in your schools and classrooms.”
Teachers are encouraged to say things like:
“There are lots of ways to be a boy or girl or even something else; isn’t that great?”
“Some bodies are thought of as ‘boy’ and some thought of as ‘girl’ but that’s not true for everyone.”
“Being a boy or girl or something else is not about what you like or what you wear or your body. It’s something that each of us figures out for ourselves based on how we feel inside.”
That’s just a sample. The training packet goes into significant detail about avoiding “binary” descriptions of sexuality or gender. References to gender must eliminate any hint of a connection to anatomical features. Gender is something a person chooses, and every child (even those who aren’t “confused”) must be taught to reconsider their gender in light of who they might feel they truly are.
It’s easy to imagine a scenario where teachers will soon be reprimanded or disciplined for holding to the shocking position that boys and girls are different, those differences are directly related to their birth sex, and both should be celebrated for their uniqueness. And, if someone were to take the truly outrageous position that God created “man” and “woman” as his perfect design – scandalous!
Believing God makes boys and girls – and we are responsible to shape them according to their creation-gender – is too important to kowtow to today’s gender-choice nonsense. Courageous teachers in classrooms across our country will ignore training like this and continue to shape a new generation of boys into men and girls into women. Let’s support them as they do.
Missionaries Are Coming Home
Sep 08 2015
The recently announced force reduction by the International Mission Board is frustrating and disheartening. Millions have not yet heard the gospel, yet we are shrinking our missionary force – not expanding it. This is simply not acceptable.
Some have put misplaced blame on IMB leaders for their decision, or past leaders for past leadership decisions. The first rule of fiscal management is expenses must match revenue. The decision to reduce the number of missionaries is prudent and responsible. Some have also called for further changes in denominational structures and funding allocations. The entire denomination – at all levels - has been doing this for the past five years and it hasn’t solved the missionary funding problem.
If administrative decisions and fund reallocation aren’t the root cause for the force reduction, what is? And, if the problem can be identified, what are the solutions?
The root problem is Southern Baptists, like most American evangelicals, are undisciplined (at best) or selfish (at worst) with their money. Multiple surveys from different sources reveal the same fact – Southern Baptists give between 2.5-3.0% of their household income to Christian ministries.
In the prophet Malachi’s words, we are “robbing God.” It can’t be much plainer than that. As long as this many people continue to give a pittance – less than one-third of a tithe as the minimum standard of Christian giving - we will continue to experience funding shortfalls in our missionary programs, as well as all other ministry endeavors.
The basic problem causing up to 800 IMB missionaries to be called home is the failure of rank-and-file Southern Baptists to discipline their finances and adequately steward the resources God has given them. What must be done about this problem?
First, pastors and other leaders must model generosity. An accountant who does tax returns for many pastors told me the vast majority of those pastors don’t give anything close to a tithe. That’s disgraceful. If you are a ministry leader who doesn’t give more than a tithe of your income to Christian ministry, fix the problem or resign. You’re a leader, so lead!
Second, pastors must implement a sound financial discipleship program in every church. Crisis fundraising isn’t the answer. A systematic, prolonged, comprehensive training program to disciple Christians in money management must be implemented in every church. This won’t solve the problem this year, but it will fix it – really fix it – over the next few years.
That’s it. Leaders lead. Disciples made. That’s the solution. There are always other changes that churches, ministries, and denominations can make to improve our missionary-sending capability – but nothing will really change until the resource-base problem is solved. Toward that end, here are two things we must do now.
Leaders must set the pace. Disciples must steward their wealth. Let’s solve the missionary funding problem at its source. Let’s triple the resources available to every church and, in turn, triple the Cooperative Program funds available for missions by implementing God’s basic standard for Christian generosity – a tithe given by every Southern Baptist household to their local church.