Who are the Baptists in South Africa?


I created a little content for an interested party a month back or so and I thought I’d test it out on open platform. Please, take a look, make a comment. Agree? Disagree? Make sense? Confusing? I’d like your feedback.

Who are South Africa’s Baptists?

Baptist Union, Rezolution Conference, paedo-Baptists, Sola 5, Liberal, Charismatic, Pneumatology, Isaiah 58, Soteriology, Reformed, Reformed Baptist, Baptist, Baptists, South Africa, BUSA, Baptist Union of Southern Africa, Baptist Convention, Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerke

The Baptist Union

The South African census of 2001 recorded that out of a population of 44,819,774 citizens 691,235 people identified themselves as Baptists in South Africa.

The Baptist Union of Southern Africa in 2010, held in association 524 churches with 43431 members.

I’m a member (ok, I’m the pastor) of a church which is in the Baptist Union of Southern Africa and I think it’s fair to say that even as I look to the interests of my own local church I also desire to see the Union of churches as a whole strengthened. I’m not a passive bystander.

Theological identifications within the Baptist Union

Baptist Union, Rezolution Conference, paedo-Baptists, Sola 5, Liberal, Charismatic, Pneumatology, Isaiah 58, Soteriology, Reformed, Reformed Baptist, Baptist, Baptists, South Africa, BUSA, Baptist Union of Southern Africa, Baptist Convention, Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerke

Theological identifications within the Baptist Union

Two main theological camps have begun to emerge in the last 10 years within the Baptist Union.

Sola 5 Is a grouping of Reformed Baptists who are unified by their Soteriology (Reformed). They are a very well mobilised, cohesive group.

Isaiah 58 Is a grouping of Baptists who are unified primarily by their adoption of church growth strategies and – in lesser part – by their Pneumatology (Charismatic). It’s been pointed out to me that some in Isaiah 58 would see themselves as Reformed Charismatics, others Liberal Charismatics, still others not Charismatic at all.

The majority of the Union is not aligned to either of these camps but in our postmodern world, where truth is a grey substance that no one wants to be caught holding when the music stops, it is very interesting to me that groups are beginning to form which stand for anything. The church which supports me as a missionary is a member of Sola 5 and I actively foster relationships with churches in this group. Over time it seems inevitable that our church would seek dual membership with the Baptist Union and Sola 5.

Who’s networking with who?

Baptist Union, Rezolution Conference, paedo-Baptists, Sola 5, Liberal, Charismatic, Pneumatology, Isaiah 58, Soteriology, Reformed, Reformed Baptist, Baptist, Baptists, South Africa, BUSA, Baptist Union of Southern Africa, Baptist Convention, Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerke

the networks are far more complex than this, but this should get a conversation rolling?

Sola 5 churches have, and are developing, good relationships with paedo-Baptists. You can see these developing relationships in efforts like the Rezolution Conference and fraternal gatherings, like the recent visit by David Carmichael.

I’m a little far removed from Isaiah 58, however, I understand that they are developing relationships and holding joint conferences with a wide range of Charismatics. I hope I haven’t misrepresented them (anyone reading that can fill in the blanks?).

The Baptist Union ties two important Baptist groups together namely the Baptist Convention (former black union of churches) and the Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerke (Afrikaans association of churches).

Who’s training who?

Baptist Union, Rezolution Conference, paedo-Baptists, Sola 5, Liberal, Charismatic, Pneumatology, Isaiah 58, Soteriology, Reformed, Reformed Baptist, Baptist, Baptists, South Africa, BUSA, Baptist Union of Southern Africa, Baptist Convention, Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerke

The picture roughly demonstrates who feeds Our colleges and who they service

There are four colleges producing pastors for the Baptist Union in South Africa.

Christ Seminary produces candidates for churches like mine, Conservative Evangelical (although one could go further and say they groom Dispensational graduates – anyone want to contend?). Cape Town Baptist Seminary and the Baptist Theological College provide graduates to a far wider Baptist pool of churches. The Bible Institute of South Africa services a Reformed base of churches and the Afrikaanse Baptiste Seminarium addresses the Afrikaans constituency.

SATS and UNISA as distance learning institutions are all things to all men and I guess pick up the rest, but play an important role in post-graduate studies.

The Reformed camp, which is notoriously untrusting of local institutions, sends a number of their most promising candidates overseas for university education (Master’s Seminary, London Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary… – is this a fair statement?).

It’s my opinion that the ratio of graduates to established churches in South Africa is mismatched.

That, in a nutshell, is how I see the lay of the land. Too simple? Too complex? Too pointless? Comment below.

The King’s Calling – Session 5


The Gospel is so simple isn’t it? “Christ died, Christ rose, repent for the forgiveness of sins.” Now what? Believe! and after that, tell! This is not a message that one can keep to oneself.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Below is the slide deck from Session 5 for the BYSA Summer Camp.

The Graphical Gospel – Session 4


Over the years I’ve found this graphical representation of the Gospel really helpful. I’ve done it 100s of times with a pen and a piece of paper however on the recent Baptist Youth Summer Camp I needed to include it into a presentation. I thought I’d write down the sequence and explanation.

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The first slide is a line (continuous for those that care). It is my experience that most folk think of morality as a relative quality, rather than good or evil we believe we hang somewhere in the balance.

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To kick off a conversation it’s useful to throw a few very well know faces at a teenage audience. There are three “good” people that I find are always tagged as “very good” by South African teenagers: Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. These are great examples because they press home the exclusivity of the Gospel later on (“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”) Ask any kid where on the line Nelson Mandela should sit. Guaranteed they’ll shout “good”.

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Once you’ve got a baseline for “good” have some fun with bad. I’ve asked 100s of kids where they’d put Lady Gaga, without exception all have said “bad”, most have said “very, very, very bad” bordering on pure evil :). Other great examples are Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden.

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Now it’s time to get relative. On the camp I used the examples of the Camp Director, Ulrich Fobian, our MC, Mark Paul, and one of the worship team, Cjay Jansen. Here’s the point: everyone puts themselves on a ladder comparing themselves to the people around them. We compare ourselves to our family, our friends, our pastors, our youth leaders… everyone. Where would you peg yourself? It’s like we’re trying to climb a ladder, hoping that if we get close enough to “good” God’ll look down, notice us and say “That one is good enough, I’ll choose them for My heaven.”

But that takes sovereignty away from God and gives it to ourselves, it makes salvation a work that we do, a goodness found in ourselves, a righteousness of our own making.

This game we play of relative goodness leads only to death and destruction.

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You see God is holy. The angels declare of Him, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

What does that word mean? Quick analogy, put water and cooking oil into a jar, mix them around a bit, wait 10 minutes, what happens? The water and the oil separate. The word holy describes God’s complete separation from sin. Jesus said, when the rich young ruler came a questioned Him, that “only God is good.” We work on these relative horizontal scales of goodness and badness, comparing ourselves to everyone around us, but God works on absolute scales, good or bad.

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Which brings us to sin. Sin isn’t a mistake, an oops, a little problem – it is a debt we owe God we can’t pay, it is a crime committed that demands a sentence, it is a rebellion against God which separates us from Him. And God is clear, “The wages of sin is death.” It doesn’t matter what you do to make yourself look good on the outside God looks at you on the inside and sees your true state, your sin, your separation from Him, and God hates sin, He is holy, and is separate from it. The games we play, hoping to look “gooder” than the guy standing next to us, make us look despicable in the sight of God, in fact “our good deeds are like filthy rags” before Him.

That’s really bad news. And truthfully no one will ever understand the Good News until they understand who they are before Him.

The right response to our sinful state is the question “How then can I be saved?”

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So here’s the Gospel, Jesus died for you. He paid the price, took the punishment, reconciled you to God. The Bible says “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” AMAZING! Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was a substitute. But not only that, Jesus rose from the grave. God accepted His payment. When Jesus said, “It is finished” it really was. His Resurrection means that God’s wrath is appeased.

The gates of heaven are open wide. Praise the Lord! But if the Gospel presentation stops there it’s short.

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Jesus commission His apostles, and us, to proclaim that salvation is available to all by repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Repenting means turning from our sins and turning to Christ. Forgoing everything else, our goods works, our social standing, any other mechanism of approaching God. Rather than trust in our own work we’re to trust in Christ’s work upon the cross. We rely upon Him and His righteousness alone. If “you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” And that’s it.

This is a base, a mechanism, a springboard. There are so many other words that can be added in order to convey the truths of the Gospel, however it is distilled to “Christ died, Christ rose, repent for the forgiveness of sins.”

Helpful? Concerns? Questions?

The Gospel Worth Dying For – Session 4


So Paul found himself in jail for proclaiming the Gospel. Two years later he gets hauled before the Roman Governor and Herod Agrippa. What’s he going to say? Is he going to try and save his skin? Sell out the Gospel? Acts 26 picks up the story:

26 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”

So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense

19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Christ[b] would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Below is the slide deck from Session 4 for the BYSA Summer Camp.

The Gospel The Disciples Died For – Session 3


This is the video we missed on camp.

In Acts 2 the church was birthed. After that the believers in Jerusalem experienced amazing growth; but then in Acts 5 the situation changed, persecution came and the question in the reader’s mind is, “Will the Gospel message, so clearly defined and so clearly expressed in Luke 24 and Acts 2 change?”

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Below is the slide deck from Session 3 for the BYSA Summer Camp.

Summer Camp Leaders Report Back Pack


Hey there,

10 photos, 10 stories, 10 ways to make sure that you’re ready to report back at tomorrow’s service.

Panorama of the campsite.

Panorama of the campsite.

Arrival at camp. 750 kids, coming from all over the country, tired, hungry, excited.

Arrival at camp. 750 kids, coming from all over the country, tired, hungry, excited.

The Arise band led praise and worship which was a loud, joyful, praise-fulled expression.

The Arise band led praise and worship which was a loud, joyful, praise-fulled expression.

There were 8 Praise and Worship/Word sessions. There was also counselling available after every session.

There were 8 Praise and Worship/Word sessions. There was also counselling available after every session.

Fun in the Sun was awesome. There're two massive pools and the boy's campsite is built on the banks of the Vaal River.

Fun in the Sun was awesome. There’re two massive pools and the boy’s campsite is built on the banks of the Vaal River.

Sport was a big part of the afternoon activities.

Sport was a big part of the afternoon activities.

One of the key focuses was relationship building within youth groups. What a privilege for youth leaders to get so much intentional time to spend with the kids in their churches.

One of the key focuses was relationship building within youth groups. What a privilege for youth leaders to get so much intentional time to spend with the kids in their churches.

Dorm time was an opportunity to reflect on the session messages from the previous day.

Dorm time was an opportunity to reflect on the session messages from the previous day.

Three speakers brought the Gospel message to camp. The emphasis was the death, resurrection and call to all to repent for the forgiveness of sins.

Three speakers brought the Gospel message to camp. The emphasis was the death, resurrection and call to all to repent for the forgiveness of sins.

The camp included an opportunity for outreach to a local township. Praise God for the commitments to Christ, to chances to serve Him, and the time to grow in Him that we all experienced this past week.

The camp included an opportunity for outreach to a local township. Praise God for the commitments to Christ, to chances to serve Him, and the time to grow in Him that we all experienced this past week.

To download this as a Powerpoint Presentation click here.

The Gospel The Disciples Lived For – Session 2


Acts 2 records the Gospel message which birthed the Church. It’s how Peter and the other apostles interpreted their marching orders given by Christ Himself shortly before His ascension.

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Below is the slide deck from Session 2 for the BYSA Summer Camp.