This is a very dangerous thought to put on paper, because it can come across so differently than I intend. I beg your indulgence and understanding to hear my heart if my words betray me.
In 2005, I was the ultimate outsider. Other than my work with the Baptist Convention of Iowa, I was completely outside the power structure of the SBC in any way. I was a pastor in Sioux City, Iowa – that’s about as far outside the SBC footprint as you can get.
But I had some pretty strong opinions about some of the people who were running things in the SBC. It was (and is) pretty common to view the leaders of the SBC collectively as power-hungry, top-down elites who completely disregarded the ideas and thoughts of everyday Southern Baptists like me.
But, over the last 8 years, gradually, I got to know some of the leaders of our denomination. I’m not claiming to be BFFs with any of them, but I have had a great privilege to meet them. I’ve gotten to know Frank Page, and I think that he is absolutely wonderful – the perfect man to lead the SBC in this difficult time! I’ve gotten to know several of the guys at LifeWay, and had some fellowship with Dr. Thom Rainer. What a great organization that is, and is becoming. I’ve met and interacted with a few others of them, though to a lesser degree.
No, I am in no way part of the power structure of the SBC (other than from 1:30 to 2 today). But I have been blessed to meet and get to know, a little, the heart of some of these leaders.
Here is my simple point. There may be a powerful cabal somewhere ruling things from behind the scenes, and no one has given me the secret handshake yet – that is possible. But my experience with leaders in the SBC points me to the belief that they are men of integrity, humility and genuine concern for the health of the SBC.
The more I get to know these leaders, the more impressed I am. That does not mean that I agree with everything that is advocated by them or that they do.
I can tell you this: the leadership that I have had contact with is not fiddling while Rome burns. They are taking our statistical decline seriously and seeking to figure out what can be done to reverse that trend.
Again, all I wanted to say is this – as God has blessed me with the privilege of getting to know some of the leaders of the SBC, I have become more impressed with their work, their character and their hearts. I am thankful to God for these men.