An Interview with Rev. Fred Luter
SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges confronting the SBC?
Fred Luter: I believe the greatest challenge confronting the SBC is to not get side-tracked from our main Biblical mandate and that is to carry out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. We have been commissioned by our Lord to win this lost world to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All of the churches in this great convention must do our best to “make the main thing the main thing”!
SBC Today: What do you see as the greatest opportunities opening to the SBC?
Fred Luter: The greatest opportunity opening to the SBC is that the Bible is still true and accurate when it says, “the harvest is truly plentiful”! Our communities, our cities, our country, our world is full of lost people. Consequently, our convention has the greatest opportunity to make the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God. We can literally see Acts 1:8 become a reality in a powerful way in our lifetime. Wow, what a revival that would be for our convention, for our nation and for our world!
SBC Today: Some of your friends (including me) have encouraged you to allow your name to be presented as President of the SBC next year in New Orleans. Where are you on that right now?
Fred Luter: I am about 85 percent sure I will allow my name to be nominated for SBC president. There still are a few people that I respect and admire that I need to hear their counsel. I truly desire the prayers of the saints of God during this time of decision and direction for my life and ministry.
SBC Today: As you look back now, what was the main key in your leading Franklin Avenue Baptist Church from being a small congregation with just a few dozen people to now being one of the largest churches in Louisiana?
Fred Luter: FABC’s growth had a lot to do with just taking God at HIS Word. Jesus said that if He was lifted up He would draw all men unto Himself. One of the things that FABC is not ashamed of is that we all agree that it is “not about the pastor, but about the Master.” It is “not about the singing, but about the Savior.” It is “not about the leaders but about the Lamb of God.” We have simply lifted up Jesus in everything we do.
SBC Today: What are the greatest hindrances preventing some African Americans from attending SBC churches?
Fred Luter: I think the hindrances about more African Americans attending SBC churches is simply because (1) our members need to do a better job of inviting them, and (2) once they come we must do all we can to make them feel that they are welcome to not only attend our churches but also to get involved in our churches.
SBC Today: What is it that well-intentioned Southern Baptists don’t “get” about African Americans and the church?
Fred Luter: I believe it is the same thing that can be a problem with our Anglo churches — music, music, music! Music is major in every African American church. The style of music has a lot to do with who we are and how we worship.
SBC Today: Who are two or three of our “heroes in ministry”?
Fred Luter: Two of my mentors are the late Dr. E.K. Bailey of Concord Missionary Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas; and Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship of Dallas, Texas. They have taught me so much about ministry.
SBC Today: What are the keys to being a faithful/effective/successful pastor?
Fred Luter: Three keys to being an effective pastor are: Love and commitment to God, love and commitment to your family, and love and commitment to the church where you serve.
SBC Today: What is one key mistake that you see pastors and/or church staff members making that causes them problems in their churches?
Fred Luter: The mistake that pastors and staff members make is not developing a genuine Christian relationship with each other. When that relationship is established it is easier to communicate when difficult and/or trying times come.
SBC Today: What is the toughest lesson you have learned in ministry?
Fred Luter: My toughest lesson learned in ministry is that sometimes the people closest to you can hurt you the most. There is a Judas in every church!!
SBC Today: You’re now working with your son as a church staff member. How is that working out? What have you both learned through it?
Fred Luter: Working with my son Chip has been an answer to prayer for me. My Mom and Dad were divorced when I was 6 years old, so I never had a father growing up in my home. Over twenty-seven years ago when Chip was born I asked God to pour into my son’s life of how important it was to have a genuine love for God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God honored that prayer and then some! My son is not only a committed believer but God also called him into the ministry. Chip was two years old when I became pastor at FABC so the members are also proud of him. What we have learned is that our Father/Son relationship truly helps our Pastor/Staff member relationship!!
SBC Today: How do you balance ministry and family responsibilities?
Fred Luter: Make it known to your congregation that your wife and family is your first priority. Then put actions to your words by spending quality time with your wife and family.
SBC Today: What do you do for fun?
Fred Luter: My fun time is spent watching and participating in sports, particularly football and basketball. WHO DAT talking ‘bout beating dem Saints!!!
SBC Today: Is it true that Krispy Kreme donuts are your greatest temptation?
Fred Luter: In defense of my waistline I refuse to admit that Krispy Kreme donuts is my greatest temptation!!