In light of my nomination for President of the Southern Baptist Convention next Tuesday, Florida Baptist Witness editor Jim Smith asked me to answer three questions for the convention issue. I have printed that Q&A below. Thank you for your prayers during the convention. Also lift up Dr Ed Litton as he nominates me at 1:15pm CST on Tuesday.
FLORIDA BAPTIST WITNESS INTERVIEW
1. Why are you running for SBC President?
After a season of prayer and the counsel of trusted friends, I have understood this nomination as God’s direction for my life. I did not seek it, but allowed it to seek me through others. From this came my willingness to be nominated. I have burdens for the convention I love. When we elect a president we also select a direction. There are some things I want to bring to the table if elected.
Ministry evangelism is a tool I will champion. In Pensacola we have developed The Ministry Village at Olive. This is a deep commitment to making impact in our region by wrapping the arms of Jesus around the drug addicted, the hungry, and homeless. Every church, large or small, can have a measure of ministry to “the least of these” as found in Matthew 25.
Connecting with next generation leaders is something we must continue. I promised in my nomination speech for Johnny Hunt two years ago that he would make a difference in this crucial area, and he has. My commitment is to continue this connection. We must embrace ethnic, generational and methodological diversity without compromising theological orthodoxy.
Our record of Cooperative Program giving at Olive Baptist Church affords me an opportunity to ask Southern Baptists to consider an increase in their giving. The decline in the average CP percentage coming from our churches must be reversed. I do not believe autonomous local churches should be told by any convention or officer what they should give, but we can set an example and lift up a vision that rallies them to do more.
What is your position on the GCRTF Report?
On April 26, 2010, I stood with all the members of the task force and affirmed the report. I supported it then and I support it now for the following reasons.
The report confronts the SBC family with the vast lostness of the world and puts in place a dialogue of how we can move a greater portion of our resources from the more evangelized regions of our work to the least evangelized. Strategic partnerships between NAMB and state conventions can lead to greater effectiveness in the underserved and unreached areas of North America.
The report lifts up the Cooperative Program as our most effective means for mobilizing our convention of churches, extending our reach, and channeling our funds for Kingdom impact. The logical consequence of the Conservative Resurgence ought to be a Great Commission resurgence, and coupled with that needs to be a financial resurgence in taking the Gospel to the nations.
The report is true to Baptist polity. It requests our entities to consider certain actions. Our system is not one that moves quickly, but it moves, and it moves with great power when our churches walk together.
The report focuses on the centrality of the local church. Our Lord gave the Great Commission to the church. The SBC and her partners in the states and associations exist to serve the local churches.
The report has a Gospel-focused foundation. The missional vision of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations must undergird all we do.
3. What will be your greatest priority as SBC President?
I would have a single priority—seeking God’s favor to get us together and back on task. Our convention was formed for the purpose of “eliciting, combining and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel….” As a convention of churches we have become distracted, divided, and diluted. My priority would be to call us to unity, repentance, and sacrifice. There are more than 16 million of us in over 43,000 churches. We have the largest Protestant denominational missionary force in the history of the church. By God’s power we can touch the nations.
My goal is to rally our Baptist family as one. I will advocate that we remain fiercely autonomous, but passionately united for His Great Commission. My call is for greater sacrificial giving, judging no one but ourselves in our amounts and percentages. I love our cooperative partnership called the SBC, and I believe that God’s grace to us and our faithfulness to Him demand that we strive mightily and sacrificially together to make certain our convention’s best days are ahead. We owe this to our Savior, to our children, and to our world.