Category Archives for Interviews

An Interview with Clint Pressley

December 20, 2011

Clint Pressley is the senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. His previous experience includes six years as senior pastor at Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama.

SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges and opportunities confronting the SBC?
Clint Pressley: I believe the challenges and opportunities facing our convention go hand in hand. We are fortunate that many of the fundamental doctrines we believe to be sacrosanct have been long established at a time when other denominations are struggling with issues like the inerrancy of Scripture and the centrality of the cross. We have long since settled those matters; and as we build on this foundation of strong doctrine, we are poised to continue leading out in other areas.

I do, however, believe the SBC is facing an identity crisis. Are we going to continue doing the same things we have always done (creating more programs, spending more money on bureaucracy) or are we going to adapt to the challenges that face a 21st-century gospel people? Are we going to get serious about the mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations or are we going to retreat into our provision, our programs, and our paperwork? We face a choice. It is not a choice that we make one time but a choice that we make every day: Are we going to turn this mighty weapon of God known as the church on our enemy or will our armaments grow tired and rusty while we continue to haggle over things that have no eternal impact?

SBC Today: What are your thoughts about a possible SBC name change?
Clint Pressley: The name change does not bother me. If it is feasible from a legal and financial standpoint and will better identify who we desire to be, then I am in full support.
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An Interview with Tommy Green

December 13, 2011

Dr. Green is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Brandon, Florida, and has served as President of the Florida Baptist Convention and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Southern Seminary.

SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges confronting the SBC?

Tommy Green: The challenges of the Southern Baptist Convention are in the area of unity and clarity. Our unity has been fostered through cooperation of our churches in world evangelization. This methodology has been weakened through a move toward societal missions that reduces the resources for our total mission endeavors as a Convention. We were challenged at the last Southern Baptist Convention to adopt an unreached people group, plant a church, and increase our Cooperative Program monies in the local church. Each challenge is worthy and needful, but a unified approach by our denominational agencies would enable the churches to determine the priority for our Convention. Unity and clarity would position us to be on the same page working together to accomplish the high calling of the Gospel for the nations. The Conservative Resurgence rendered unity and clarity in the theological realm for our Convention and we were able to move forward. This generation seeks an authentic and genuine focus and will respond to a clear and unified message that is Christ centered and that propels us to world evangelization.  The challenge will be keeping the main thing the main thing and that is the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

SBC Today: What do you see as the greatest opportunities opening to the SBC?

Tommy Green: The opportunities for the Gospel of Jesus Christ are greater than at any other time in history. We have the resources, accessibility, and opportunity to impact our world on a local and global level. The economic downturn is not a deterrent to our task but a powerful moment for God’s people to demonstrate His faithfulness through His people. The Book of Acts records the obedience of the Apostles and the early church and the 30 years that changed the world. Our generation is uniquely poised to impact and influence our world and we can accomplish this work, if we respond to the call. We can be the ones turning the world upside down through obedience to the Lord. The fields are ripe unto the harvest and we are presented with the opportunity to be laborers in the harvest of souls for the Lord Jesus Christ.

SBC Today: What are your thoughts about a possible SBC name change?

Tommy Green: I support the concept of examining and proposing a name change for the SBC. My support is based on the global expanse of the ministry of our denomination and that a name would reflect the mission of our Convention. Global Baptists would maintain our identity as Baptists and reflect the scope of our ministry together in Christ.
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An Interview with Bart Barber

December 6, 2011

Dr. Bart Barber is Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, a Trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and host of the PraiseGod Barebones blog.

SBC TodayWhat do you think are the greatest challenges confronting the SBC?

Bart Barber: I would identify three. First, the decline of support for the Cooperative Program is, I think, the greatest challenge that the SBC faces today. Just this week Baptist Press has reported that CP receipts are down over 11% from last year at this time. The CP is one of the things that defines the modern SBC. Prior to our modern phase, however, the SBC has existed without the CP, so it is not that difficult to imagine what a post-CP SBC would look like. We’ll find more and more missions money going to fundraising agents and we’ll see an overall decline in Great Commission efficiency. The CP is not perfectly efficient, but it has proven to be far more efficient than the society method that is the only real alternative. The SBC can certainly reinvent itself without the CP if it has to do so, but the implications of that reinvention will be far-reaching and entirely negative.

Second, the erosion of the Southern Baptist structures between the local church and the national SBC is, unlike the first challenge, taking the SBC to a place entirely unprecedented in Baptist life. Local associations far predate anything like the SBC, and state Baptist conventions have played a prominent role throughout the entire history of the SBC. Many local associations are in serious trouble and many state conventions are understandably nervous about the future as well. The national SBC has counted upon local associations to be the theological gatekeepers and the fraternal glue of the convention. I think we’re seeing some local associations trying to reassert themselves as the former, but by and large local associations have ceased and desisted from theological watchdog activity. The widening diversity of the SBC (both theological and methodological) has also made it much more difficult to build sisterly bonds among churches in a local association when they may have difficulty discerning what they have in common, with the result that many local Southern Baptist churches are finding kinship relationships in venues other than their local associations. This trend, if it continues, will force the Southern Baptist Convention to find other ways to fulfill these two critically important functions.

Finally, the decline of congregationalism among Southern Baptist churches poses a tremendous challenge for the SBC in the future. The polity of the SBC has been extrapolated from the polity of our local churches. If the leadership of the SBC is increasingly populated with people who need not bother with building a voting consensus in the ministries of their local churches, it is difficult to imagine that there will be no impact upon the manner of their leadership within the national denomination.
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