6. Our Leaders Should Be Southern Baptists

June 21, 2016

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

“Is the Pope Catholic?” The ironic humor behind this expression is intended to convey the kind of certainty that is beyond all question. We could even travel a rung or two down the hierarchy and pose: “Are the Cardinals and Bishops Catholic?” Obviously, we would anticipate the same answer—unless we were Southern Baptists.

“Are Southern Baptist leaders Southern Baptist?” No, they are not. Not always. Not anymore. Not on the day they are hired—although presumably, most of them become Southern Baptists once they are hired to lead us. One might even view such a conversion to Southern Baptist life as an expression of gratitude for the paycheck.

Historically, it was indeed the case that vacancies in Southern Baptist leadership would be filled from among a pool of candidates who were already Southern Baptists on the day they were hired. This is the normal pattern within other religious groups. As nearly as I can tell, when Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses select their leaders, they choose from among candidates who are already part of their faith organizations.

While it is no longer true that Southern Baptists always choose Southern Baptists to lead us, I believe that we should—in the same way that a nation’s Presidential candidate should already be a citizen or a prospective team captain should already be a team member.

Evidence of this new hiring pattern whereby Southern Baptists select executives from outside our denomination can be found within at least four of our entities.

1. Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

On September 11, 2013, Trustees of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention approved President Russell Moore’s appointment of five new staff members—Phillip Bethancourt, Joe Carter, Daniel Darling, Trillia Newbell and Daniel Patterson. Three of these new hires were not actively involved in a Southern Baptist Church on the date of their hire. Carter was active in a non-denominational church in Ashburn, Virginia. Darling was the Pastor of the Gages Lake Bible Church in Gages Lake, Illinois, which is not Southern Baptist. Newbell was active in the Cornerstone Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is affiliated with the Sovereign Grace family of churches.

By way of disclaimer, I am in no way impugning these individuals on any type of personal or professional basis. I have no reason to doubt their character or competence. Presumably, Carter would be a terrific employee in a non-denominational parachurch organization. Darling would be a competent servant in the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA). Newbell would make outstanding contributions within the Sovereign Grace denomination. My major concern is that they were not Southern Baptists on their hire date.

Incidentally, while only 40% of Moore’s first five hires were Southern Baptists, 100% were Gospel Coalitionists—actively involved in this Calvinist-only organization which recently posted articles supporting Hillary Clinton for President. Regrettably, membership in the Gospel Coalition appeared to be a greater hiring consideration than membership in the Southern Baptist Convention. ERLC executives and trustees would do well to remember that the name of our organization is not the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Gospel Coalition.

2. North American Mission Board

In the spring of 2015, NAMB’s Vice President of Mobilization, Aaron Coe, resigned from his position as a Southern Baptist executive—a decision entirely appropriate since he was no longer a Southern Baptist. For a period of time, Coe had been actively serving on the ministry staff of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, a non-Southern Baptist congregation. Take a moment to let that marinate. On most Sunday mornings, the person Southern Baptists had hired to lead our church planting efforts was actively involved in planting a church not even affiliated with Southern Baptists. Perhaps it would have stung even more if Coe had been serving a Methodist or Lutheran congregation. Still, by planting a non-denominational church while being paid to plant Southern Baptist churches, Coe created a conflict of interest to which NAMB eventually put a stop. However, it is interesting to note that for almost a year, Coe continued to draw a paycheck, simply transitioning his role from NAMB employee to outside consultant.

3. International Mission Board

In late 2015, the International Mission Board was preparing for an organizational reset driven by financial realities. The aim was to reduce the payroll burden by at least 600 employees. As things turned out, the number of employees actually removed from the payroll was 1,132—almost double the original estimate.

To accomplish this reduction in force, IMB President David Platt brought in three IMB outsiders. One of these, Lukas Naugle, is a rebranding consultant and founder of Changegoat, a term meaning, “someone or something that bears the change for others” and whose stated agenda is to “humanely kill and dispose of the status quo.” Naugle previously served two Calvinist organizations—The Gospel Coalition (see ERLC above) and Desiring God, the ministry organization of John Piper.

At the time Naugle was hired to help Southern Baptists remove hundreds of missionaries from the field, he was a member of Redemption Church in Phoenix, Arizona, a non-Southern Baptist Church affiliated with The Gospel Coalition and the Acts 29 Network, both of which are Calvinist only organizations. Southern Baptists deserve to know that the point man brought in by David Platt to accomplish the recalling of a thousand Southern Baptist missionaries was not even a Southern Baptist himself.

Additionally, IMB eliminated its entire stateside communications staff, indicating that part of their work would now be outsourced to “trusted ministry partners.” Sources indicate that these partners include The A Group, the Brentwood, Tennessee, organization that marketed David Platt’s book, Radical. The President of The A Group, Maurelio Amorim, is a non-Southern Baptist elder at a non-denominational church.

4. LifeWay Christian Resources

To list the number of non-Southern Baptists selected to lead LifeWay sponsored FUGE youth camps as preachers and worship leaders in recent years would be a truly formidable task beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, when we send our youth to camp, they may or may not be led by Southern Baptist ministers and musicians.

In September 2013, LifeWay hired Barnabas Piper to serve as a Content Marketing Strategist and Brand Manager for Leadership Development. Piper was not raised as a Southern Baptist. On August 12, 2011, he wrote an article in which he stated, “I am a baptistic guy attending a Presbyterian Church.” At the risk of being redundant, please allow me to underscore the fact that the official name of Piper’s employer is LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Conclusion

Since our organizations and entities are Southern Baptist, it follows very logically that our leaders should be Southern Baptist too. They should not only be willing to become Southern Baptist, but they should actually already be Southern Baptist when we select them. One must follow the herd before one earns the right to lead the pack. “Is the Pope Catholic?” Yes, of course he is. “Are Southern Baptist leaders Southern Baptist?” Unfortunately, that is a much harder question to answer.

Transparency Agenda Survey Results

In a recent poll of SBC Today readers, we asked Southern Baptists to indicate if they “approved” or “disapproved” of the idea that we “Fill Southern Baptist executive vacancies with Southern Baptists.” With 233 respondents, 78.97% approved of such an action, while 21.03% disapproved.

 

Q6

This article addresses Item Six of the Ten Item Transparency Agenda. You may READ the Transparency Agenda or COMPLETE the survey yourself. To read the articles reporting results from the other survey items, see the links below: 

ITEM ONE 

ITEM TWO

ITEM THREE

ITEM FOUR

ITEM FIVE

ITEM SEVEN

ITEM EIGHT

ITEM NINE

ITEM TEN

 

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Alan House

Out of control. Off the rails. Pure insanity.

Dave Marrandette

A most disturbing trend (although “trend” may not fit; it is almost the “rule”). Who gets hired looks like the “good ol’ boy” system. I think it would be interesting to ask if the other entities downstream – local church, local association & state association – would hire a non-SB. How far down does this questionable hiring practice go?

    Andy

    Actually, for what it’s worth, I was called/hired to my current SBC church as a staff Pastor 9 years ago. I grew up in a GARBC church (another baptist group). Though I was a student at SBTS at the time, I had never been a southern-baptist before, and was not one until I joined the church as a pastor and member. I have to assume that sort of thing happens to others as well. Do you believe SBC Churches should not do this?

      Rick Patrick

      Andy,
      No church I have served has ever called a ministry staff member who was not already a Southern Baptist at the time of their call. However, each individual, autonomous church is certainly free to do as they feel led. There is a difference, however, when we start talking about *denominational* leadership positions, for at this level, we are pooling the resources and ministry vision of thousands of churches bound together by common beliefs and practices. Thus, it is even more important that such leaders share the bond of a commitment to Southern Baptist life.

Jake Brown

After such a unifying annual convention, I had hoped the tone of a site using the SBC’s name would be much more positive. The timing of this post is disheartening. I pray we can all learn to be as gracious and unity-minded as Gaines and Greear proved to be last week.

    Daniel P

    Jake,

    Man, me too. I personally came away from the convention with a sense of unity. The BF&M 2000, and the history of the SBC, has proved that there is enough room for all manner of Southern Baptists. Young, old, Reformed, Non-reformed…We are still kingdom people doing kingdom work through the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Hopefully Dr. Gaines can bridge the gap between those on the far side of each poll, so that the Convention can continue to be the tool that God advances his kingdom on Earth. Posts like this may have a legitimate concern, but it just comes across so harshly. A right word spoken wrongly can make it wrong.

      Rick Patrick

      Daniel,

      I apologize if my tone was too harsh. I was aiming only for clarity and not for anything approaching verbal abuse. “Why should Southern Baptists hire NON-Southern Baptists to lead us?” It makes no sense to me at all. But I assure you my heart is not filled with rage or bitterness over this situation. Rather, it is filled with incredulity and grief that we are moving in unwise directions such as these.

        peter lumpkins

        Rick,

        Your tone is fine. No worries. Over the last ten years of both blogging and social media, it remains highly predictable that the more studied the content the more likely the critics select the tone of the article in question. A good question to ask both Jake and Daniel above would be, “How would you recommend Rick could have stated his concern in a more polished tone without losing any of the content he presented?”

        Oftentimes, when fellows have answered a similar question posed to criticisms about the “tone” or “way” or “method” or any other literary quality supposedly lacking from a piece I might have written, the answers are like, “You were wrong to write the article in the first place. Stop being negative!”

        Enough said.

        With that, I am…
        Peter

      Lydia

      Jake, How are non disclosure agreements required by entity leaders to state conventions and secret lockboxes from the GCR precursors to unity? Wouldn’t trustworthiness, truthfulness and transparency be requirements for unity? It is easy to put on a show. But the proof is in the doing. Not patterns of deception and covert operations.

        Daniel P

        General rule of thumb – avoid character attacks at all costs.

          Lydia

          “General rule of thumb – avoid character attacks at all costs.”

          That statement is a character attack.

          (See- that is how it works when one seeks to control the message. Does it often work for you? )

            Daniel P

            No, Lydia, it was not a character attack.

            A character attack (or, an ad hominem argument) is when you make an argument against somebody or something by attacking someone’s character. In defending the Barry McCarty hire, you called Joe Carter vitriolic and arrogant, and McCarty as having more “class.”

            All I said to you was that you should avoid these sorts of arguments at all costs. They tend to be subjective, and not fair to either side in in the argument. That is, by very definition, not a character attack because I didn’t, you know, attack your character. It would have been one thing if I had said, “Lydia, you are as ornery as a wet cat, and you need to not use ad hominem arguments.” That would have been self defeating. But I did not do that.

            Then you turned around and accused me of trying to “control the message.” What? How is that even fair? You can’t just go around calling people names and accuse people of controlling the message if they recognize that your argument is not the fairest. That is self defeating.

    Rick Patrick

    Jake, I certainly pray for unity as well—but not the kind that is merely an outward facade masking the deep conflicts in the SBC that remain unresolved. We are indeed divided—as evidenced by several of the votes at the convention and not merely the Presidential election—and in order to bring about GENUINE unity, in lieu of the outward facade, it will be necessary to roll up our sleeves and address our problems in a gracious spirit of cooperation, rather than to ignore them.

    In your very comment, you ignored the topic of this essay—whether or not Southern Baptist leaders should be Southern Baptists on the day they are hired. Ignoring our problems will not make them go away. Discussing our problems is not trouble making. It is seeking an appropriate remedy by raising the issue. I do sincerely seek the kind of unity that brings about an acceptable resolution to the underlying conflicts truly dividing us.

    norm

    Jake and Daniel:
    Unity comes when our boards and agencies operate within the reasonable and fiscal expectations of those who are paying the salaries of the leaders of our SBC entities. Russ Moore and Kevin Ezell are accountable to all Southern Baptists.
    As wonderful as peace is, I am not for peace at any price. Pastor Patrick raises a very important issue that has a dis-unifying affect upon those who want our SBC entities to hire only Southern Baptists. I think it is unfair to “shoot the messenger” and denigrate his message if his message points to that which disrupts unity. Perhaps your disdain for Rick’s post ought to be directed toward those who are fostering dis-unity by their actions. Ever think about that?
    “Blessed are the peacemakers” does not necessarily mean “Blessed are those who keep their mouths shut when they see injustice and impropriety.”

      Bob Hadley

      “Russ Moore and Kevin Ezell are accountable to all Southern Baptists.”

      Unfortunately, they are accountable to their trustees. They OUGHT to be accountable to Southern Baptists.

    Brad Jones

    when is truth being shared ever wrong? Truth may not be comfortable to everyone but its certainly needed. Grace and truth were shown in this article I believe. We cannot sacrifice truth on the altar of unity. Ever.

Keith Miller

I hear Mark Driscoll is available.

    Daniel P

    This isn’t helpful.

      Rick Patrick

      Perhaps that was a bit of a dig, but maybe Southern Baptists should be made to answer for our embrace of Driscoll for so many years. As recently as 2012 Driscoll spoke at Southern Seminary. Both CJ Mahaney and James MacDonald are now Southern Baptists. Had Driscoll not fallen into immorality, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Driscoll might even be a Southern Baptist today.

        Keith Miller

        How rad would it be if Driscoll joined SBC leadership. I’m sure he probably reads this, so I suppose this counts as an open invitation? He’s been doing a lot of work as a consultant over the past year. I sure he has some ideas to help the SBC become more cutting edge.

          Rick Patrick

          If Driscoll joined SBC leadership, it would not be rad. It would just be bad.

          Driscoll does not read this site. He is not consulting. He is planting a new church in Arizona. http://thetrinitychurch.com/

          I cannot find a single Bible verse exhorting Pastors to be “more cutting edge.” I find many verses calling Pastors to be loving, humble, faithful servants of the Lord and undershepherds of the flock.

          We have much more to teach Driscoll than Driscoll has to teach us. If he were in the church where I serve, I doubt we would even select him as a Sunday School Teacher.

volfan007

I, too, am thankful for the spirit of unity that was expressed in our SBC, this year. I’m thrilled at the possibility of there being true, genuine unity in the SBC. I pray for that. I pray for revival in our churches. I pray for another Great Awakening to take place in our country.

With that being said, why in the world would we hire people, who are not Southern Baptists, to LEAD our entities and ministries. It just leaves me scratching my head. Why would good, sound, Bible doctrine(BFM2K) not be valued enough to only employ people, who are going to lead Southern Baptists????? I just can’t imagine a SB entity employing someone, who is not a SB, to be in a leadership position. Mind boggling.

David

Herb Miller

Thank you, Dr. Patrick for your informative post. That is an absolute no-brainer. I have been an SBC member for over 50 years, and I give my money to support Southern Baptists. If I wanted to support some other group, I would send my money there instead. I would certainly like my SBC leaders to be Southern Baptist. I too was at the “unity” convention, and it was great. Try telling the 78.97% who agree with your position that we are not hiring Southern Baptists to lead our SBC efforts and see what happens to unity. I believe a lot of things go on in the hopes that the average SBC member will never find out what is going on with the money they give to SBC efforts.

Ben Stratton

Another great post Dr. Patrick! Keep providing this information. The average Southern Baptist is ignorant of these things, but needs to know them.

Ken

Dr. Patrick

Let me add my strong support of your positions.

I would go much further and throw the unity question in the trash while proclaiming that Calvinists should be excluded from all SBC positions because there will never be true and factual unity in the SBC as long as the Calvinists are in so many leadership positions.

We Traditionalists will never accept Calvinism in any way, shape, or form.

Just my opinion.

    Indiana Jim

    Labels, labels, labels. We don’t have differing interpretations on how to interpret the Bible, instead we are segregated into camps. 1 Cor. 1:12, 3:4, 4:6

      Ken

      Indiana Jim:

      I think it is important to heed the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:25, and echoed in Luke 11:17 and Mark 3:25,”every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”

      Anyone who would deny that there is a tremendous unsolvable division in the SBC about the doctrines of sin, salvation, and grace would have to be living in a different planet than I.

      Of course, when it comes to God’s will, one should never day never, but without that intervention by God I consider those differences irreconcilable.

      Yes, there are currently at least two camps within the SBC when it concerns the doctrines I named above and each camp
      has reached a point where it is dug in and immovable. Thus the open warfare we are now experiencing.

      Bob Hadley

      We don’t have differing interpretations on how to interpret the Bible.

      Wow. That is a novel statement! Interpretations on HOW TO INTERPRET the Bible. That may or may not be true but clearly, we DO have differing interpretations! The Founders, James White and his like are all working overtime making sure the SBC “gets the gospel right”. Bless their hearts.

        Indiana Jim

        I think perhaps my sarcasm did not come across like I thought it would. Clearly we DO have differing interpretations on interpretation–that is really circular, isn’t it? My point was instead of calling it simply THAT (a difference of interpretation), we get into segregationalist arguments that would see those labeled “Calvinists” turned out of the Convention, if Ken’s initial post is any indication.

Indiana Jim

I would accept a man like Alistair Begg in a position of leadership within the convention. I get why it makes sense that leadership positions within the convention are held by those already within the Convention, but having outside perspective is also very helpful to avoid being insular. “Being a Southern Baptist” shouldn’t be the #1. Jesus wasn’t a Southern Baptist.

    Rick Patrick

    Indiana Jim,
    Thanks for engaging here. Believe it or not, some of what you have written does indeed resonate with me. I have cooperated across denominational lines in ecumenical groups, like local Ministerial Associations, and also joined with fellow Christians from other denominations at Men’s Conferences such as Promise Keepers. I can read and learn from those with differing perspectives from my own. But when it comes to actual leadership positions within our own denomination, I believe our leaders should be Southern Baptists, just as I believe that every church’s Sunday School teachers should be members of that church. Perhaps it is an old-fashioned notion of loyalty and commitment, but that’s just the way I see it. While I would certainly read a book by Begg or listen to a lecture or sermon, I would not favor electing him to a Southern Baptist office.

      Indiana Jim

      And I don’t entirely disagree with you. However when it comes to the ERLC and other entities having hired non-SBC’ers, the danger is in people coming away believing this is some kind of indication of corruption or crony-ism or theological vacancy.

    Lydia

    Indiana Jim,

    Servants not leaders. The SBC has enough showman and well heeled control freaks who seek celebrity.

      Indiana Jim

      Surely you are not suggesting Alistair Begg is a showman or well-heeled control freak.

        Lydia

        Surely you are not suggesting he is unknown, obscure and lower middle class :o)

        Begging is probably less well heeled than the rest of the gurus you guys follow.

Daniel P

Dr. Patrick,

Though I think that I agree with you more than I disagree with you on this subject, for the sake of push back, can you I have your thoughts on these questions?

1. If we only want to hire Southern Baptists to positions in SB entities, then how long must one be a SB for it to “be kosher?” For example, nobody batted an eye when Barry McCarty announced he was joining the SBC, and then immediately took a teaching position at SWBTS, but there is a bit of mistrust about the hiring of, say, Joe Carter before joining an SBC church.

2. As you know, there are many SB churches that remain SB, but whose theology has drifted them closer to a mainline church than, say, a conservative PCA church. Should a conservative Southern Baptists look to partner more with the broader evangelical community who we resemble, or those who are “under our banner” but functionally act like a liberal, mainline church?

    Rick Patrick

    Very good questions, Daniel. This is the kind of conversation I believe Southern Baptists should be having.

    1. Frankly, I’m not really sure about a “time frame” for certifying one’s Southern Baptist credentials. In most of the churches I have served, one had to be a member for six months before holding any type of position, such as a Sunday School Teacher. One usually has to be a member for at least a year before being eligible for election as a Deacon. I don’t really know if there is a “correct” or optimal time frame, but the general rule would be that one should be a Southern Baptist for a reasonable period of time. In the case you mentioned, Dr. McCarty was baptized into the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, on August 16, 2015, and less than two weeks later, he became a faculty member at Southwestern. For the sake of consistency, let me simply say that I wish more time had elapsed, perhaps six months or more, or that Southwestern had hired someone who was already a Southern Baptist. I am advocating for this principle even when my most treasured Alma Mater is the organization being analyzed.

    2. As to your second question, I am not sure what kind of partnership you are discussing. With regard to hiring decisions, which is the focus of this article, I would still prefer any Southern Baptist to any Presbyterian. But you raise a good point. Just because someone is a Southern Baptist does not mean they are *automatically* qualified as a good fit for a specific church. In other words, being a Southern Baptist should be a prerequisite for Southern Baptist leadership positions, but further investigation would be necessary to rule out the kind of “mainline church drift” I believe you are referencing here.

    Lydia

    1. If we only want to hire Southern Baptists to positions in SB entities, then how long must one be a SB for it to “be kosher?” For example, nobody batted an eye when Barry McCarty announced he was joining the SBC, and then immediately took a teaching position at SWBTS, but there is a bit of mistrust about the hiring of, say, Joe Carter before joining an SBC church.”

    Probably has to do with social media. Joe Carter made the rounds as vitriolic and insulting on blogs and on Twitter. He reminded me of the arrogant young Clinton staffers and their soundbite insults.

    Perhaps Barry McCarty had more class?

Robert Vaughn

Rick: “’Why should Southern Baptists hire NON-Southern Baptists to lead us?’ It makes no sense to me at all.”

Before responding I want to mention something that is relevant to my response. I’ve been posting on various blogs for about a dozen years or so, and some might have forgotten or newer bloggers may not know — I am not a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church. Ours is Baptist, but unaffiliated with any association. We are influenced by Southern Baptists and hope in turn to influence Southern Baptists (for the good, we hope). At times Southern Baptists need to be less insular among themselves and consumed with their organizations. God is doing more things than what Southern Baptists are doing. But Rick’s viewpoint just makes sense when your’e talking about hiring practices. If you have an organization, why on earth would you not pick leaders who are wholehearted supporters of that organization rather than go out and find others who are not? Well maybe you need new blood sometimes, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them. With as many churches and members as there are in the SBC, are there no qualified leaders already in the SBC who could fill these positions? Surely not. And some of these folks being hired are not even Baptist at all, much less SBC. So from an “outsider” point of view, Rick’s position just makes common sense! (And I don’t agree with Rick on any number of things.)

    Robert Vaughn

    And a follow up question is, “Why do NON-Southern Baptists want to lead Southern Baptists?”

      Jim P

      Not that my answer ends your question Robert, ‘why,’ but I would say many simply just want to serve the Lord. And if the Southern Baptists let non-southern Baptists have jobs within Southern Baptists organization whose fault is that?

      Honestly, (again this comment in not the final) many people want to serve out of sincerity unaware of the conflicts going raised here. They not even knowing this SBC Today site here.

      The conflicts are so involved to a degree the many are not able to keep up with and many if they could keep up with them may simple not care to invest the energy to be involved in those conflicts. The simply want to minister the Gospel as they know it.

      These are just some thought of my experiences which of course are open to be challenged.

        Lydia

        “Not that my answer ends your question Robert, ‘why,’ but I would say many simply just want to serve the Lord. And if the Southern Baptists let non-southern Baptists have jobs within Southern Baptists organization whose fault is that?”

        Make salaries public so people can what “serving the Lord” pays. :o)

        It is the fault of trustees. The pew sitters don’t have a clue since Mohler took over the SBC by stealth and put his loyalists in positions of power.

      Lydia

      “And a follow up question is, “Why do NON-Southern Baptists want to lead Southern Baptists?””

      Money. Resources. Instant audience of millions.

      Where else could the former Presbyterian (he switched when he got the SBC job, right? ) young Barnabas Piper go and make 6 figures as a ‘content strategy’ guy except the SBC/LifeWay?

        Robert Vaughn

        Yes, that is three of the answers (and what Jim and Andy said are some of the others). Having been in the ministry almost 36 years, I’ve seen money, resources, audience and power turn lots of heads and change lots of convictions.

        (Don’t know anything about Barnabas Piper other than thinking I heard he was John Piper’s son, and that he works for Lifeway.)

D. Morgan

Very valid points Rick. From my perspective the saddest part of this entire episode is the stealth campaign being waged by a certain ideological group to remodel the SBC in their image. I see no peaceful end to this, and it saddens me deeply. My late Grandfather and 1 of my late uncles gave their entire lives as Southern Baptist Preachers. They would be quite disheartened at the current state of affairs.

Andy

A few further thoughts, after thinking about this a bit, specifically with these comments in mind:

RICK: “There is a difference, however, when we start talking about *denominational* leadership positions, for at this level, we are pooling the resources and ministry vision of thousands of churches bound together by common beliefs and practices. Thus, it is even more important that such leaders share the bond of a commitment to Southern Baptist life.”
RICK: “In most of the churches I have served, one had to be a member for six months before holding any type of position, such as a Sunday School Teacher. One usually has to be a member for at least a year before being eligible for election as a Deacon.”
ROBERT VAUGHN: “And a follow up question is, “Why do NON-Southern Baptists want to lead Southern Baptists?””

–> 1. I certainly agree with Rick that leaders of Southern Baptist entities and those who influence the direction of the SBC should have a certain level of commitment to the life and health of the SBC. As such, it certainly makes sense that the majority of our leaders should be those who have ALREADY been a part of Southern Baptist Churches, such that those leaders have some base of history upon which to make decisions.

2. However, I don’t think it necessarily follows that ALL of such leaders must come from exisiting SBC pools. I believe our Local Church practices are a more helpful model here. As Rick said, many churches will not appoint someone a deacon or SS teacher on their first visit…HOWEVER, we often have, and DO appoint near total strangers as Pastors! While there are occasionally Young people within a church who grow up to become a youth pastor, or on occasion youth pastors who step into an open Senior Pastor role…more often it seems we look outside our own churches to fill such roles. We could debate the merits of such a system, but the fact is it is VERY common, and I for one don’t think it’s necessarily all bad:
(a) The new perspectives of one or two fairly new leaders, combined with the grounded-ness of the other pastors, deacons, lay-leaders who have been at the church, can combine to help move a church forward.
(b) We generally do not worry that such new incoming pastors of having no concern for, or investment in that local church…because by moving their family and rooting their lives in a new place, they are DEMONSTRATING their investment in that church’s future.

3. I believe (b) above answers Robert Vaughn’s question to some extent: Why would a man living in Texas decide to move to Arkansas to pastor a church he doesn’t know? He sees something in that church he believes he can invest in and be a part of. If people from outside of SBC life look in and say “I want to be a part of that.” It should be something we celebrate, even while we use appropriate caution with those we don’t know to make sure they actually do want to be a part of BAPTIST life. (so in this sense, I would be more concerned with a SBC leader who goes around telling people he is actually a presbyterian…than with one who has whole-heartedly accepted Baptist doctrine).

CONCLUSION: After considering Rick’s article, I must conclude that when it comes to lifeway employees, entity employees, Seminary professors, Church Pastors, etc…having SOME of these come from outside SBC life and join with us, if even only upon the point of their hiring, is not a bad thing, but in fact can be good..

And if I may read between the lines a bit, there is one more thing I agree with Rick about: IF we occasionally hire from outside SBC circles, We will be more healthy if all of those hires are not from only one other circle (the New Calvinist movement). That will not be healthy long-term. A more broad selection would be better.

-Andy

    Robert Vaughn

    Jim, Andy, I don’t think question “Why do NON-Southern Baptists want to lead Southern Baptists” has one definitive answer. I’m just saying it is a question that should be asked.

    [Andy, I question the merits of a system that more often than not looks outside one’s churches to fill its leadership roles — not that it should not be done, but the fact that it is the usual way of doing business.]

      Andy

      I agree that it is a pattern that deserves questioning, and raising up internal leaders should be more common, but it is in fact our most common way of doing it. And we do it without being automatically suspicious of those new pastors coming in.

      Also, we do it with the recognition that there are godly men to preach and lead who are not part of our specific church, but who God might call to become part of it…why would the same not be true (occasionally, not as a rule) in a denomination?

Kara Barnette

Great article, Rick!

Leslie Puryear

Good article, Rick. It’s beyond belief that we should have to make the point that our leaders should be Southern Baptist. That should be a given.

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