Trevin Wax, a rising voice in the SBC, is a brother in Christ and has been helpful to me as of late as I learn the ropes of potentially publishing a book. Further showing his unselfish character, he was gracious enough to allow me to ask him a few questions about the SBC without hesitation.
I first interviewed him on my blog and it was a great blessing and I pray that this will be for the SBC Voices readers, as well.
BRANDON: In your opinion, what is the current state of the SBC?
TREVIN: The Southern Baptist Convention actually only exists two days a year during our annual meeting. So in that sense, the state of the Convention varies from year to year. The real question behind this question, I’m guessing, is what is the current state of the Southern Baptist churches? And that is difficult to answer because of the great diversity of Southern Baptist churches. Our diversity makes it nearly impossible to paint with a broad brush and say, “This is the current state of Southern Baptist churches.” Numbers tell one part of the story, and they aren’t encouraging. But even then, there are many great churches doing great things for the kingdom.
The diversity that characterizes Southern Baptists presents both an advantage and a challenge. The advantage is that we are beginning to realize that we cannot build our cooperation upon programs or specific methods of doing church. If methods are what unite us, then the diversity of Southern Baptist churches would become an almost insurmountable obstacle to fulfilling the Great Commission together. Instead, our diversity has forced us to unite around the basics of our faith, expressed in our confessional consensus, the Baptist Faith and Message. The challenge of our diversity is keeping that confessional statement at the forefront of our thinking when it comes to the future. The BF&M is not a creed that churches are forced to accept, but by using it as the consensus of the majority of churches, it has been helpful in steering our discussions away from issues or differences that would cause us to splinter into various groups.
B: What unique strength does new SBC president Bryant Wright bring to the convention?
T: I don’t know very much about Bryant Wright. I met him briefly at the LifeWay book signing (we were signing books at the same time). I supported Ted Traylor because of a personal connection back from my days in Romania and because of his missionary activities and his church’s support of the Cooperative Program. Nevertheless, I was happy to know that all four candidates for SBC president this year were good men who would have served our churches well.
What I like most about Bryant Wright is that his church has been at the forefront of the short-term missions movement, which I think is a positive development in recent years. Mission trips almost always lead to more global-mindedness on the part of a congregation, as well as missional thinking in our own neighborhoods.
B: Ten years from now, what will Johnny Hunt be most remembered for?
T: We’re much too close to the events to be able to make predictions as to how historians will think of Johnny Hunt’s presidency. Still, I think we will look back and be grateful for the way God used Pastor Johnny to bridge the divide between the older and younger generations of the SBC. Before Hunt became president, the Southern Baptist conversation was degenerating into a sniping war between Calvinists and non-Calvinists, contemporary versus traditional, and old guard versus young guard. Hunt elevated the conversation, refocused our attention on the Great Commission, built bridges between warring camps, and brought along the younger generation. That is no small feat for a president whose term is two years.
B: For you, what was the highlight of the SBC 2010 Pastor’s Conference?
T: CJ Mahaney. His message was a word of encouragement to weary pastors, and God used him to strengthen our resolve and remind us of the great calling we have as shepherds of God’s church. That said, the whole conference was terrific. Kevin Ezell did an outstanding job bringing old and new faces together. It was obvious that that Conference intended to appeal to a younger generation, which by looking at the diversity of ages in the crowd, it certainly did.
B: What is the greatest advantage of being affiliated with the SBC?
T: I don’t say this out of pride but out of gratitude. We really do have the greatest missions force in the world. The International Mission Board does great things, and it is a privilege to cooperate with other churches to fund these missionaries. Southern Baptists do a lot of good things together, but it’s our common cause in fulfilling the Great Commission that is most exciting to me.
I was encouraged by the debate about the GCR. In that Convention hall full of people – many who passionately disagreed with each other – the passion for best stewarding the resources we have in order to fulfill the Great Commission was palpable. Though not everyone was united around the recommendations of the Task Force, it seemed that everyone had the Great Commission in mind. And that is something unique to our Convention when so many denominations are wrestling over issues related to Scripture, homosexuality, etc.
Also: See Trevin’s Christianity Today article on the GCR.