One week into his new role as interim president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Willie McLaurin told Baptist editors, “In this season, the Lord is allowing us to hit the reset button. He’s allowing us to really just say, ‘What is it that we’re really trying to do?’”
McLaurin, who previously served two years as the Executive Committee’s vice president for Great Commission relations and mobilization, was among Southern Baptist Convention leaders who spoke at the Association of State Baptist Publications annual meeting held Feb. 7–10 in Key Largo, Florida.
Amid extensive transitions on the Executive Committee level in recent months, McLaurin said, “All I’ve done is I’ve just changed seats on the bus.
“I’m in my eighth day as a servant leader, serving our Executive Committee and serving our Southern Baptist Convention,” he told the editors. “My job description is simply to wash the feet of those who serve the bride of Christ.”
McLaurin was elected to his new role following the resignation of EC President Ronnie Floyd as well as executive vice president Greg Addison and chief financial officer Jeff Pearson. Prior to joining the EC staff in January 2020, McLaurin served 15 years on staff with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“We’ve just got to allow the Lord to really strip us and get us back to how and why He designed us,” McLaurin said. “Southern Baptists, if we’ve been about anything, we’ve been about cooperating together, we’ve been about missions, we’ve been about soul winning.
“We’ve just got to get back to old-fashioned soul winning,” he added. “And listen, here’s the deal: There’s not one problem that we have in our churches or in our network that soul winning can’t solve.”
‘Mission first, people always’
Describing his personal ministry philosophy, McLaurin said, “For me it’s mission first, people always. The Great Commission is first and then people have to be always.
“I really believe that if we can find ourselves as a network of churches serving one another, honoring one another, esteeming one another more than ourselves, then we’re going to have a culture that’s going to be contagious, and we’re going to find ourselves getting back to just some basic biblical principles that Jesus taught,” he said. “Jesus said in Mark 10:45, ‘For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but rather He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.’
“What we’re trying to do now is just trying to close in some gaps,” he explained. “We’re going to be serving the staff. We’re going to be serving our trustees. We’re going to be serving our state conventions, serving our associations, most of all serving our ministry partners, and then ultimately, serving our pastors and serving our churches.”
As he steps into his new leadership role amid challenging days, McLaurin concluded, “I want to be found doing two things. I want to be the CEO. I want to be the chief encouragement officer, and I want to be the chief evangelism officer.”