Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Exec. Director, Connect 316
David Platt has resigned as President of the International Mission Board. His resignation will not become effective until his replacement assumes the office. Read his RESIGNATION NOTICE.
Southern Baptists are right to express thanks to Dr. Platt for his service to the board during a tumultuous tenure in which 25% of our missionaries were brought home from the field. In fairness, approximately half of these missionary recalls could legitimately be justified on the basis of financial shortfalls. On the other hand, there were alternative approaches for addressing such deficits, including a temporary hiring freeze that would have resolved this issue through missionary attrition within a span of two or three short years.
But that is now water under the bridge.
This is a time to express gratitude for Dr. Platt’s unquestionable passion for the Great Commission. Every Southern Baptist must admit that Dr. Platt possesses extraordinary skills as an expository preacher. He is a bright and godly young leader who can look forward to many years of fruitful and productive ministry.
Personally, I have been blessed by his teaching and preaching ministry on a number of occasions. It will come as no surprise to readers of SBC Today that I disagree with Dr. Platt’s soteriology, but on a great many matters of theology and ministry, we are kindred spirits. We wish for him nothing other than God’s best and richest blessings upon his life and ministry.
Having said that, here is the first draft of a candidate profile for our next IMB President.
1. We need a leader who is mature, experienced and trusted.
If Southern Baptists will take a brutally honest look at the record of recent SBC entity heads installed in positions without adequate seasoning as a leader, they will be reminded of the folly of Rehoboam, who heeded the advice of the younger men rather than the elders. Southern Baptists would be well served to place someone at the helm of the IMB who has successfully sailed through many stormy seas in the past. We need someone who will exemplify the stable and prudent leadership required at the largest missionary sending body on earth.
2. We need a leader who “really gets” the Cooperative Program.
Astonishingly, in this century, Southern Baptists have selected two mission board executives whose ministries were not marked by anything resembling strong support for either the Cooperative Program or the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong Special Offerings. How can I put this? A man is not even made the President of his local Kiwanis Club or Lions Club if he does not pay his organizational dues. How much more should this be an absolute requirement of the person Southern Baptists put in charge of leading our Great Commission outreach to the world?
3. We need a leader who resonates with rank and file Southern Baptists.
There is a certain kind of “cool” Christian stereotype today, broadly marked by the tendency to sport a hipster personal appearance and the habit of questioning all that is conventional both in Christianity and in Southern Baptist life. Can we please avoid such candidates this time around? We need somebody who looks like a Southern Baptist, sounds like a Southern Baptist, and relates well with the Southern Baptists in the pews who are paying the bills. We need a basic Southern Baptist.
4. We need a leader with a proven missionary sending philosophy.
There is nothing wrong with asking laypeople who are serving overseas (such as students, retirees, and professionals) to cooperate with our full-time missionaries and support them in various ways. But this practice is not, and never will be, anything approaching a legitimate strategy for reaching the world for Christ. We simply cannot pin our Great Commission strategy upon part-time, temporary efforts. Additionally, we must reconsider our strategy for the placement of our missionaries. Yes, we must go where we have never gone before, but we must also go where the fields are now ripe for harvest. The solution proposed by experienced missiologist Robin Dale Hadaway is brilliant. Let us allocate our resources with 40% going to Frontier Missions, 40% going to Harvest Missions, 15% going to Education, and 5% going to Administration.
5. We need a leader whose full-time passion is promoting the IMB.
I want the President of the International Mission Board traveling to some large Southern Baptist Church nearly every weekend, asking them to consider supporting missions with a generous gift through the Cooperative Program in the neighborhood of ten percent of undesignated receipts, along with generous special offerings like Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. We have a world to reach for Christ. I want our IMB President to beat the drum, loud and proud, for the strong and cooperative financial support of missions, and I want him to have already demonstrated such commitment personally through a life and ministry marked by generous Cooperative Program support measured both in terms of dollars and percentages.
In the days ahead, let us all be faithful to pray that God’s perfect will is done in the selection of the next President of the International Mission Board. And let us pray that God will raise up a proven and experienced missiologist whose philosophy for reaching the nations will once again chart a steady course for the Southern Baptist Convention.
James Robinson Graves blew into the South like a blackberry winter blizzard rolling down the Appalachian Trail. His indomitable spirit and potent pen, mixed with bold and brash persuasive skills, attracted both the admiration and disdain of Baptists for over four decades. Many young Southern Baptists today have never heard of this man, nor his movement.
This Vermonter, born in 1820, arrived in Dixie on the heels of two separate religious movements having left Baptists in the South weak and weary. Both the anti-missions Hardshellers and anti-confessional Campbellites splintered many Baptist congregations, divided families, and after 1845 weakened home and foreign mission endeavors of the newly-formed Southern Baptist Convention.
Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Exec. Director, Connect 316
If you are a Southern Baptist who desires to see our national convention flourish, you can make a difference by coming to Dallas this summer and voting for Ken Hemphill as the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Read the Press Release here.) The process starts when you get elected by your Southern Baptist Church as a Messenger to the SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas on June 12-13, 2018. Just talk with your Pastor and mention you would like to be elected as a Messenger. You will be approved in a Business Meeting and provided with a Messenger Registration Card. Listed below are TEN REASONS TO VOTE FOR KEN HEMPHILL.
1. Ken Hemphill envisions a bright future honoring our Southern Baptist heritage.
Sometimes, the best way to move forward toward a positive future is to draw inspiration from the proven and visionary initiatives of the past. Southern Baptist tradition provides us with an abundance of answers which we have sometimes neglected to our detriment. In our rush to try something new, we have often left behind some proven approaches to cooperation, evangelism, theology, missions and ministry. While open to innovation, Ken Hemphill has not forgotten the lessons of cooperation that have served Southern Baptists well for many years. Often, the newest approach is nothing more than a fad. We need proven solutions that have stood the test of time.
2. Ken Hemphill is gifted at connecting with basic, grassroots Southern Baptists.
A Southern Baptist by birth and conviction, he was the son of a Southern Baptist Pastor who instilled in him the value of cooperative ministry. Ken Hemphill is committed to traditional Southern Baptist theology (what we believe), ecclesiology (how we do church), and missiology (how we do missions). He thinks and acts and walks and talks like a Southern Baptist. His life, ministry, character and personality all resonate very deeply with basic, lifelong, grassroots Southern Baptists. He is thoroughly familiar with every aspect of Southern Baptist life. He knows how to motivate people and bring them together to advance God’s Kingdom.
3. Ken Hemphill is an experienced and proven leader with a stellar record of service.
As a student at Wake Forest, he was twice named to the All-ACC Academic Football team. After earning his Master’s at Southern Seminary, he earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge. He served as the Pastor of a rapidly growing megachurch at First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia. He served on numerous SBC committees. He taught and lectured at universities and seminaries throughout America and Scotland. He served as the President of Southwestern Seminary. He served at NAMB, LifeWay, and the Executive Committee. He has done just about everything in Southern Baptist life a person can do except serve as SBC President. How fitting that we should invite him to do so now.
4. Ken Hemphill appreciates our association and state convention partnerships.
Although unfathomable to many of us, some Southern Baptists have expressed, in somewhat disrespectful tones, a clear lack of appreciation for our various organizational levels. Ken Hemphill, by contrast, shows tremendous confidence in the necessary partnerships we share at the local church, association, state convention, and national levels. History has proven that every single organizational layer is crucially important for our partnership to be strong. It is foolish to tamper with this structure or attempt to strengthen some of these links by weakening others. Southern Baptists need a leader absolutely committed to the strong support of our partners at each organizational layer so our churches can maximize their kingdom effectiveness.
5. Ken Hemphill boldly affirms God’s loving desire to save every person on earth.
Southern Baptists are right to proclaim that God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved. We are right to preach that anyone who hears the gospel can be saved. God has not issued a private, contradictory decree that only certain individual souls must be saved, to the exclusion of all others. Only two things stand in the way of a person’s salvation—hearing the gospel and believing the gospel. Everyone who hears is capable of believing by exercising their own free will. This position, articulated in Hemphill’s excellent book entitled Unlimited, reflects the view of Herschel Hobbs, Adrian Rogers, and Billy Graham over against the view of John MacArthur, John Piper, and Tim Keller. As Ken Hemphill cooperates with all Southern Baptists, he embraces our convention’s majority salvation doctrine view.
6. Ken Hemphill pours his life into mentoring the young Christian leaders of tomorrow.
As a former seminary President, a current professor, and a personal mentor, Ken Hemphill is privileged to work with students and encourage their spiritual maturity and leadership effectiveness. Both the Bible and church history provide us with numerous examples of young people thrown into leadership positions prematurely. The results are predictably disastrous. They have created unnecessary tensions, made rash and irreversible decisions, attempted initiatives without adequate research, and followed the trendy approach of the day rather than utilizing methods tried and true. Ken Hemphill does not throw tomorrow’s leaders into the water to sink or swim. He guides, counsels, motivates, and edifies them for service to the Lord, so when the time is right, they are equipped for maximum kingdom effectiveness.
7. Ken Hemphill is committed to the principles of Southern Baptist congregational polity.
Article Six of the Baptist Faith and Message states: “Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes.” In recent years, some of our churches and institutions have been pushing the boundaries of the term “democratic processes.” Mature Southern Baptists have observed that some decisions today appear to be handed to us in a “top down” and authoritative manner, even if technically we are at times given the opportunity to offer the proverbial rubber stamp. Traditionally, Southern Baptists did not make decisions this way. We were asked rather than told. Our input and participation was solicited by our leaders rather than ignored. Ken Hemphill believes in leadership that listens to what people are saying and responds to feedback from the people in the pews.
8. Ken Hemphill believes in working together by welcoming every Southern Baptist to the table.
It cannot be healthy for Southern Baptists if virtually all of our books, initiatives, leaders, and conferences emerge from only one segment of our denomination. Ken Hemphill is committed to a renewed cooperation with everyone who embraces our doctrinal commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message. The Great Commission is too important to marginalize any group of Southern Baptists. Ken Hemphill affirms the value of churches regardless of their size, their ministry style, their ethnic composition, or the age of their members. He is a team player with a proven record of bringing people together to accomplish the task of church growth and kingdom expansion.
9. Ken Hemphill is a champion for the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program missions strategy.
He understands we are in danger of slipping toward a “neo-societal method where churches establish their own missional strategy” and claim ownership of the very SBC missionaries we are all meant to claim and support as Southern Baptists. He has written, “The Cooperative Program has produced the greatest funding stream for the most powerful, multigenerational and multi-diverse mission-equipping and mission-sending movement in church history. Our cooperative strategy enables every church of every size to be an equal partner in a kingdom venture so vast that only God will be able to receive the credit and glory.” This is a vision for Southern Baptist cooperation in missions that many Southern Baptists wholeheartedly embrace.
10. Ken Hemphill is a recognized leader in church growth, revitalization and kingdom expansion.
In other words, Ken Hemphill is exactly what Southern Baptists need right now in our history. We are experiencing a fifty-year low in baptisms. We just brought 25% of our missionaries home—more than required by our financial situation. Relationships between our associations, state conventions and national entities are more fractured than ever. Ken Hemphill possesses the skill set and proven leadership record to bring Southern Baptists together again, restoring trust and vitality, and building upon the prayer and revival emphasis of our current SBC President Steve Gaines.
In this watershed moment for Southern Baptists, we must make one very important decision. Will we continue to embrace the traditional beliefs and cooperation methods that have proven to be effective for generations? Or will we exchange them for other beliefs and cooperation methods that have proven to be ineffective over the past decade? Ken Hemphill is the right man at the right time. Let us hope and pray that Southern Baptists will come to Dallas and allow God to steer our wayward ship toward Zion, setting our course in the direction Jesus would have us to go, and electing Ken Hemphill to stand at the helm and captain our vessel.