EDITOR’S NOTE — The Baptist Paper reached out to each of the three individuals who have announced intentions to be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, June 14–15. To read the responses of the other two candidates that will be posted, click here and here.
Current position and title
Senior professor of missions, Midwestern Seminary (retired IMB missionary)
Years of ministry service overall
How do you define the role of the SBC president?
The SBC president has no pay, no power and the vast majority of “in the pew” Southern Baptists do not even know who he is.
Many Southern Baptists do not even know there is a such a thing as an SBC president.
Having said that, the SBC president does have some influence:
- He selects the Committee on Committees, which in turn appoint the Committee on Nominations, which fills the boards of trustees of the SBC’s entities.
- He sets the theme, emphasis and order of business for the one or two conventions over which he presides.
- The SBC president is a member of all the boards of the SBC entities and can influence them by his participation in their trustee meetings. This includes speaking in the plenary sessions of the Executive Committee meetings and participating in their deliberations.
- The SBC president informally represents the denomination before both the secular and Christian worlds, comforting in times of sorrow and challenging when appropriate.
- The primary role of the president, however, is to shepherd the convention. He sets the tenor, tone and conversations within the SBC.
I would like to bring the joy back to our denomination and focus on missions.
What was the determining factor in your decision to allow your name to be nominated for president?
When Ed Litton decided not to seek a second term, my wife and I began seeking the Lord about serving Southern Baptists in this way. I grew up in the deep South, graduating from high school in Tallahassee, Florida. I went to college in the mid-South at the University of Memphis. I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Seminary [in Fort Worth, Texas].
I am a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. I was stationed in Las Vegas, Nevada, and King Salmon, Alaska, where I was called to preach. I was ordained at Bellevue Baptist Church by Adrian Rogers. My wife, Kathy, and I were married in a service officiated by W.A. Criswell.
After our pastorates in California and Arizona, we served as IMB missionaries for 18 years. During my last six years with the IMB, I supervised over 300 missionaries in Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. After moving to the Midwest to teach missions at MBTS in Kansas City, I served in the president’s cabinet for five years, including the positions of interim president, interim CFO, administrative vice president and dean of students.
I attended every SBC Executive Committee meeting as a representative of MBTS for five years. I served on the 2000 SBC Credentials Committee and the 2006 and 2007 Resolutions Committees. Kathy served on the 1989 SBC Committee on Committees.
I am a part of no group. After much prayer, consulting with a few friends and the encouragement of my wife, I decided to offer my experience and wisdom to the SBC and allow my name to be placed in nomination for president.
What do you hope to bring to Southern Baptists if you are elected president?
I would like to say to Southern Baptists, “Remember the mission.” The SBC was originally founded for the sole purpose of sending home and foreign missionaries. All the other important work of the convention was added later.
Southern Baptists cooperate to support our missionaries. I want to see 500 net new North American church plants and 2,000 net new churches started overseas. I want to see 1,000 new WMU chapters started to refocus our denomination on cooperative missions. Furthermore, I want to “call out the called.” There are singles and couples of all ages across our convention who need to surrender to God’s call on their lives and see if God is leading them into home or international missions. As a senior pastor, missionary and missions professor, I possess a unique perspective to help Southern Baptists “remember the mission.”
What is the biggest challenge facing Southern Baptists, and how would you respond to that challenge as SBC president?
The biggest challenge to Southern Baptists is to focus on missions, evangelism and church planting when there is so much wrong in the society around us.
Previous generations of Southern Baptists were able to do so. Will we? Southern Baptist missions survived the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the civil unrest of the ’60s and the Cold War. During the Great Depression, many of our missionaries in Brazil took secular jobs because the Foreign Mission Board could not pay them.
Our biggest challenge is to realize we cannot solve every cultural issue. Our job is to “remember the mission” as expressed by Jesus in answer to a question asked in Acts 1:6–8, “Lord, at this time are you restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”