Dr. Rummage is the Senior Pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Florida. He earned a Ph.D. in Preaching from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been a faculty member at both New Orleans Seminary and Southeastern Seminary. He co-authored Planning Your Preaching and Praying with Purpose with his wife Michele, and co-authored Engaging Exposition with Danny Akin and Bill Curtis. He also hosts a daily Bible teaching ministry that airs nationally on Sirius/XM radio.
SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges and opportunities for the SBC?
Stephen Rummage: Our greatest challenge is that we continue to lose ground to the lostness that pervades our communities, our nation, and our world. I am very thankful that Southern Baptists have established where we stand on issues like the inerrancy of Scripture, the exclusivity of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and the need for confrontational evangelism. These theological commitments must translate into practice in our collective work as a Convention to reach lost people for Christ. Otherwise, people all around us are just going to keep going to Hell while we congratulate ourselves on how orthodox we are. We have an incredible opportunity in this generation to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t want to fail in meeting that opportunity.
SBC Today: What are your thoughts about a possible SBC name change?
Stephen Rummage: I place a high degree of trust in the people that Dr. Wright named to the task force to study the possibility of changing our name. I guess I’m like a lot of other people in that I have a kind of emotional attachment to our current name. However, I can understand the rationale for a name change, especially with respect to the first and last parts of our name. “Southern” fails to communicate adequately our actual reach and constituency. “Convention” seems antiquated. Being known as “Baptist,” however, is a non-negotiable as far as I’m concerned, because the word speaks of our theology and identity.
Dr. Robby Gallaty is Pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. He earned an M. Div. in Expository Preaching and Ph.D. in Expository Preaching from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His interest in discipleship led to his organizing Replicate Conferences. He is author of two works addressing discipleship, Creating an Atmosphere to Hear God Speak and Unashamed: Taking a Radical Stand for Christ.
SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges confronting the SBC?
Robby Gallaty: The future effectiveness of the Southern Baptist Convention depends upon our obedience to the Lord’s Great Commission as local churches. One way to become more effective involves some transitional emphases at the mission sending SBC agencies, the IMB and NAMB, as well as the state conventions. The SBC has always been a “grassroots” convention with Baptistic doctrine emphasizing the local church. As a younger pastor it’s encouraging to see a concentrated emphasis shifting from the organization as a whole to the individual local church. One example is the area of missions where the churches are being challenged to adopt unreached, unengaged people groups. This year our church is adopting five unreached, unengaged people groups. The strategy will be for Brainerd Baptist Church to provide resources, both short and long term teams, and full-time families who will move to these areas. We plan to commit to do our part. Still, we will never fulfill the Great Commission unless we all work together. There is no room for building our own kingdoms, names, or ministries in this effort of obedience. We are called to build God’s kingdom, understanding that the sum total of all efforts in the local churches far surpasses what can be accomplished individually.
SBC Today: What do you see as the greatest opportunities opening to the SBC?
Robby Gallaty: As I have already mentioned, the empowerment of local churches to become the missions sending agency is an incredible opportunity. Empowering and mobilizing people in the local church cannot be underestimated. God has always and will always work through people. The Millennials (ages 20-29), as the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, are potentially an incredible resource to leverage to reach the nations. The younger generation along with the advent of technology—Twitter, Facebook, and Skype—offers an impactful amalgam to reach the world population now more than ever before. We are able to be creative in delivering the Gospel, without changing the message in taking the Gospel to another context, whether it be local or global.
Jeff Gerke is CEO and Publisher of Marcher Lord Press, which publishes Christian speculative fiction, and formerly was Senior Fiction Editor at Multnomah Publishers. In addition to seven books published under his own name, Jeff has also authored six Christian novels and co-authored two nonfiction books (with Ryan Dobson and Clark Gerhart) under the pseudonym of Jefferson Scott. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
SBC Today: How did you get into writing Christian fiction?
Jeff Gerke: I’m a film school grad, and I wanted to make Christian movies. When that wasn’t immediately happening, I thought I’d go to seminary, not only because I wanted to learn the Bible better but also to help bolster my ability to make Christian film. I already had the film part of my Christian film credentials; now I was getting the Christian part.
All through my time at Southwestern, my peers would tell me they were feeling led to become pastors or missionaries or youth ministers. They’d ask me where I was headed, and I’d say I felt that God was leading me to write and make Christian movies. They’d look at me like I’d said I was secretly attending a charismatic miracle service tomorrow night.
Along the way, I got discouraged about making Christian film and decided to convert my screenplay ideas to novels in the meantime. When I graduated, I struck a deal with my wife. I told her I was going to give this Christian fiction publishing thing a go for six months. If nothing had happened by the end of that time, I would get some job. Six months—how naïve I was!
Long story short, I had gotten some nibbles, but at the end of that six months I had no contract. So I got a job as a middle manager at a communications company in Dallas. A few months later, I got a call from the senior fiction editor at Multnomah Publishers saying he really wanted to publish my novels. At that point, I had only six chapters of one book written, but on the strength of that, I got contracts for three novels. (This actually doesn’t happen in publishing—but it happened!)
That contract was for my first three novels—a trilogy of near-future Christian technothrillers—called Virtually Eliminated, Terminal Logic, and Fatal Defect.