For the last several months I have been contacted by many people across the SBC. They have encouraged me to allow my name to be placed in nomination for the convention presidency. But the consideration of this nomination was first birthed in prayer, originating in my heart with a prompting from the Lord. It came in a season when I was thinking about anything but such a role. Through a series of what I would call “confirmations,” God’s leadership in this matter became crystal clear to Andrea and to me.
With the strongest support from my family, my church staff, and the key lay leadership at the wonderful church where I’ve served for nearly 25 years, I agreed to move forward, believing it is the calling of God for me to allow my name to be placed in nomination. If the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, TN, June 15-16, elect me to serve as the next president of the SBC, there are several commitments, with God’s help, I will keep.
First, I will seek to keep us focused on evangelism. Not only is that the mandate of Jesus, that’s the thing that will bring Southern Baptists together in unity. The propagation of the gospel is our one sacred trust. We must unite and can unite around the sharing of the gospel.
In recent years, we have turned our attention to many things. Some of them are good and worthy things in their own right. At the same time, our evangelism efforts have become weaker and weaker each year. My friend, Pastor Johnny Hunt, is doing a great job challenging Southern Baptists in the “Who’s Your One” emphasis. I share his passion and heartbeat that we must be about reaching the lost at any cost.
The church I am blessed to pastor is in a rural community of less than 4,000 people. Yet we have seen an average of more than 60 baptisms per year during my tenure. Our congregation is not given to pragmatism or man-centered techniques, but God has blessed our commitment to simple and Biblical evangelism. Some of it has been door-to-door soul-winning. Much of it has been through the cultivation of an evangelistic lifestyle in the hearts of the people. I pray the Lord would use me to help replicate that emphasis across our Southern Baptist Convention.
Second, I will champion the sufficiency of Scripture. Southern Baptists must continue to stand firmly on the authority of God’s Word as our sole standard. This is where the vast majority of Southern Baptists have stood for the last several decades. But with the prevalence of flawed theories and an increased emphasis on standpoint hermeneutics, we must be sure not to give an uncertain sound in this regard.
As the great Adrian Rogers used to say, “I am not a prophet but I can preach with the power of a prophet when I preach what the prophets preached. And I am not an apostle but I can preach with the authority of an apostle when I preach what the apostles preached.” Our authority to address any issue does not rest on individual experience, personal identity, or cultural approval. Our authority to speak to any issue comes from the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
As the world turns increasingly to fallen ideologies, Southern Baptists must rest solely on the Word of God. And we must do so with our actions as well as we have with our words. The SBC faces many challenges. But there is only one source that gives us the remedy. The Word of God.
Third, I commit to foster grassroots involvement in our Convention. While I’m grateful for the men who already have long-term, influential positions, the Southern Baptist Convention needs greater involvement and voice from our pastors, staff, and laity. We are not governed by a top-down hierarchy or a presbytery of national figures.
The headquarters of the SBC is not in any single location. We are strongest when we are led from over 47,000 headquarters, the local churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. I am convinced that grassroots involvement of rank-and-file Southern Baptists is the key to our health and progress.
I invite my fellow Southern Baptists to join me in Nashville, TN, this June. With each of us coming together, we can move forward for the glory of God and the good of our Convention.