Category Archives for Interviews

An Interview with Rev. Fred Luter

November 22, 2011

Fred Luter is Pastor of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a possible nominee for President of the SBC at the Convention in New Orleans next year.

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.
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An Interview with Bryant Wright

November 8, 2011

Bryant Wright is Senior Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, Chairman of Right from the Heart Ministries, and the President of the SBC

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

Bryant Wright: This is a hard question to answer in the sense that it is so hard to get your arms around the SBC. I would say the biggest challenge is having fully devoted followers of Christ. I think we have, within the SBC, is what you have within the American church, and that is the idolatry of materialism, the idolatry of pleasure or hedonism, workaholism, and busyness, there are just so many things that keep us from having Christ as our first love. I really feel like that’s our number one challenge. For the church to have impact, we’ve got to get that priority right with the Lord. Because materialism is such an idol in the church, people are giving less to the Lord. When they are giving less and churches have less, it is affecting all our missions programs.

As I’ve served now a year and a half as SBC President, I’ve realized that sometimes your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness. With the autonomy of each local church, with the autonomy of associations, with the autonomy of the state conventions it is very difficult within our denomination to have people all going in the same direction. Amazingly, I think what happened in Phoenix with the unity that Tom (Elliff) and Kevin (Ezell) and David Platt and I and Vance Pitman with the Pastor’s Conference had about focusing on unreached people groups and focusing on church planting was supernatural. It was a unique unity that we felt was really Spirit-led. We all had the same mindset even before we began to talk together. But when you look at all the different autonomous entities within our convention, it is a huge challenge just getting communication out there about how we can better fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. Communication is a huge challenge. Every state convention has got their priorities and they are certainly going to be focused most of all on Baptist work in that state. So, from the national convention perspective, it’s very difficult to have everyone on the same page.

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

Bryant Wright: I’m very optimistic about the future of missions within the convention. I do think there has had to be a reprioritizing of state conventions so that more funding would go to international and North American missions rather than staying in the states. I do feel that is a great opportunity because more and more states willing to talk about that now and address it now. That is a huge, historic step. I feel that people are going to give more generously to the Cooperative Program when they see a bulk of that getting out on the international mission field as well as the North American mission field.

If you look at the dynamic spirit in all six seminaries with the students and the spirit they have of planting churches, going to the tough places on the mission field, thinking about the future of the Convention, I think it is a very exciting opportunity. Anybody that visits our seminary campuses today and sees the spirit of our students, you can’t help but be motivated and excited.
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An Interview with Dr. Malcolm Yarnell

November 1, 2011

Dr. Yarnell is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Director of the Center for Theological Research,
Editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology,
and Director of the Summer Oxford Study Program
at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges and opportunities confronting the Southern Baptist Convention?

Dr. Yarnell: The challenges and opportunities we face as Southern Baptists are seen at three levels: they begin at the personal level, then manifest themselves in the local church as well as in our cooperative relations with one another. These challenges and opportunities find their crisis point in one place, where the Word of God functions, or ought to function.

At the personal level, there have been shifts among our people away from both personal Bible reading and personal evangelistic witness. These shifts have been noted among younger evangelicals but they afflict every generation. We are reading our Bibles less and sharing our faith less. These two issues, moreover, are not unrelated. God speaks to us in Scripture. If we read Scripture less—and we ought to be reading Scripture consistently in the church, in the family, and on our own—then we are less likely to know what to share with others. God speaks infallibly through the biblical text to us, and He speaks powerfully through us when we speak His Word to others. We each need to renew our personal commitments to reading and hearing the Word of God and then sharing Him with others. Scripture is every Christian’s personal responsibility and opportunity.

Likewise, at the local church level, there has been a move away from the centrality of the Bible in worship. Where once many Baptist congregations would set aside a portion of the service for Bible reading or responsive reading of the biblical text through the hymnal, these worship practices have fallen away in favor of demonstrative human spectacles. Where once the pastor saw his responsibility as expositing the biblical text to the people, now he has been encouraged to preach to the felt needs and therapeutic concerns of the congregation. As a result, although the biblical text is still read in the typical sermon, it may serve as a touchstone in a talismanic way in order to launch the sermon onto other platforms. Even in conservative congregations that affirm biblical inerrancy, Scripture has been subtly displaced from the center. The greatest challenge for the local church is to return itself to the regular focused proclamation of the Word of God. If we continue to construe the church’s role as that of attraction rather than bearing bold testimony to Christ through Scripture, we will diminish. Conversely, the greatest opportunity for the local church is to see what God will do through the proclamation of His Word! The regular public reading of the biblical text, covering the entirety of the Old and New Testaments, and the regular passionate, soul-winning proclamation of every part of the biblical text is the means to our renewed success.
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