On the Qualifications of SBC Presidents

We are blessed to have three candidates running for the presidency of the SBC, and I’m glad that all three are running. I have already opinined as to why I am glad that Ronnie Floyd is running. On this blog I mentioned that I am glad that Jared Moore is running, because it is a demonstration of the strength of our convention that anyone from any member church of any size or circumstance can seek any office in our convention (Yes, when some of you were clamoring for me to run, I declared it impractical for a small-church pastor to preside over the convention. I still believe that. But just because I think it is unwise to elect someone from such a circumstance does not mean that I think such Southern Baptists ought to be forbidden to run). Absence from blogging has prevented me, as of yet, from saying how glad I am that Dr. Kim is now in the mix as well. It is good to see robust participation from churches outside the traditional fourteen-state area that contains the vast preponderance of SBC churches and that provides the vast preponderance of support for SBC ministries. We are all in this together.

As I reviewed the announcements and the reactions surrounding Moore’s and Kim’s candidacies, I noticed one concept that appeared frequently had to do with assessments of whether people were or were not “qualified” to hold the office. That is, to put a sharper point on it, I noticed that this word appeared frequently, but generally without further elaboration or substantive definition.

And so, as we all prepare to go to Baltimore, I thought it might be helpful to theorize a bit about just what makes a person well-qualified to serve as President of the SBC.

Constitutional Duties

The President of the Southern Baptist Convention presides over the annual meeting and appoints a very important committee. Those are the only significantly important duties that accompany the job.

How can we know whether a man is qualified to preside over the meeting? Well, knowledge of parliamentary procedure isn’t all that important, so long as he does whatever Barry McCarty tells him to do. And yet, the presiding officer does still retain some discretion over the way that he conducts the meeting, the parliamentarian’s assistance notwithstanding. Therefore, you should ask yourself one question about a presidential candidate, I think, in order to assess his fitness to preside over the meeting:

Is he fair?

What I want, and what we all should want, in the conduct of our presiding officer is that he will wield the Broadus gavel in a way that respects the rights of all messengers and promotes the participation of all churches that are truly in friendly cooperation with the convention.

How can we know whether a man is qualified to make presidential appointments? This one is a bit more important and more involved. I ask myself a number of questions at this point:

Is he a known, proven, dedicated conservative?

I don’t want to go back to 1978. I want to know that our elected presidents are committed to the nomination exclusively of known biblical inerrantists who are committed to the employment only of known biblical inerrantists (both parts of that definition are important). I want there to be a pre-announcement track record demonstrating this to be the case.

Does he know enough people throughout the geography of the convention to be able to find enough qualified appointees?

I don’t know everyone in the convention, but I’ve come to know a lot of people in the SBC. Particularly, I know a significant portion of the conservative Southern Baptists in my region of the SBC. To decide whether I can support someone for election as SBC president, I’m going to ask around to see how many of my peers know the candidate and know him well. If there is not significant overlap between the people he knows in Texas and the people I know in Texas, I’m prepared to worry that he does not know enough people across the convention for him to do his job well if he were elected.

Non-Official Duties

Of course, these days the Southern Baptist Convention is visible enough that the President has some non-official duties. Anything he says publicly will reflect upon the convention as a whole. The details of his life will serve as an example of sorts to young pastors throughout the convention. What questions do I ask about these items?

Is he sober, clear-headed, and self-controlled?

The president of the SBC needs not to be gratuitously pugilistic. Rather, he needs to be someone who exudes a calm diplomacy even while he is unyielding with regard to the truth.

Are there scandalous aspects of his life or ministry that would embarrass the convention?

I want to know that the candidate has been vetted thoroughly. The last thing we need is an unpleasant surprise.

Is he eloquent, thoughtful, and cautious with his speech and writing?

I think it is likely that the president of the SBC will be bushwhacked by an unexpected and difficult question or statement at some point during his term. I want some level of confidence that he will meet that challenge well.

Can he preach well?

I want to have heard a representative sample of his preaching and I want to have liked what I heard. He’s going to be preaching not only at our annual meeting but also at a number of meetings throughout the year. He needs to represent us well when he does so.

Conclusion

No, I will not apply these criteria to the three candidates presently running. I do not believe it would be appropriate for me to do so. Let the messengers make their choice. But I have no qualms about disclosing this to you as constituting the most important elements of my own decision-making process as I face this question every two years. I also have no qualms about recommending this approach to you all.

Comments

  1. says

    Bart
    Thank you for a well articulated post. You have spoken my mind in that I want to know the same things you have delineated. The problem, however is, how do we do this? We know much of this from those of the mega-church variety because they are familiar to us. I know much of this as it relates to RF because of his familiarity in the convention. However, how can I know this concerning those who are less known. Perhaps this is why we elect men from the large churches.

    I would like to see those who are nominated use YouTube to help us know him better.

    • Tarheel says

      DL I think it’s a Catch-22 we really don’t want candidates for the office of president of the Southern Baptist convention making commercials and “campaigning” for the job, do we?

      Yet – unless we allow that and encourage that “distasteful” practice we are somewhat stuck with electing only those that were already familiar with because they are in the boys club and/or mega church pastors.

      Yep catch-22.

      • says

        Tarheel
        yes I fear you are right! I really do not know of an “honorable” way to get that info. I even thought about an interview process a few days before the convention that could be on line. But that sounds too much like a presidential debate.

        To be honest I do not know how many folks are troubled by the election of mega church pastors each time. It may just be a few of us. If that is true then problem solved.

          • says

            Tarheel
            No it should not be an automatic disqualifer. However it should not be an only option. In the past the only person we knew anything about was the mega church guy. One voted for him or an unknown. As long as that is true we will continue to have mega church only.
            This is unfair and unhealthy.

            With our technology we should be able to find a way to get acquainted with those who desire the position of president without getting into crass politics.

            What say ye!

          • Nate says

            “Being A mega church pastor is not an automatic disqualifer for me.”

            Nor does it mean that we really know anything about the man, other than he is pastoring a mega-church. Most of what Bart implied about knowing whether people know a candidate is (in my opinion) only a name recognition knowing.

            So Dr. Kim and Jared are less “known” than Ronnie Floyd. But only at a name level. And being well-known by the “well-known people” doesn’t suffice (again, in my opinion). That just makes it a “good ole boys club.”

          • says

            Nate
            That is true to an extent. In the case of RF and others down thru the years we have observed the well know guys to a certain extent. We have heard them speak and have had some opportunities to know some of their basic beliefs. that is not much but it is something.

            I have never heard of Dr. Kim before this. What I have learned I like. What is have learned, I have learned mostly here on voices. If I did not follow voices I would go to Baltimore and know absolutely nothing about the man. Given that I would have voted for the mega church pastor.There still should be some way to get to know him and others like him prior to the vote.

          • Nate says

            D.L., I agree. As Bart and Rick implied below, perhaps nominating takes place a year in advance and then through social media, debates, etc. we could get to know all the candidates for a year prior to an actual vote.

            And, I would say that, unless you go to one of these men’s church, or you have sat on a SBC committee with them, then name recognition is still all we have (other than access to their sermons, blogs, etc.) That is very little knowledge. Ronnie Floyd, for example, in his interview with Baptist Press, continually referred back to his leading the GCC task force. Okay, but none of us were in those meetings, saw him lead, etc.

          • Tarheel says

            Nate and DL,

            Now that limited change might be a good idea worth exploring….I mean – nominating a year in advance.

          • Tarheel says

            That way we are able to have a year to “check out” the candidate…by listening to sermons – etc… could be a good thing…

            but like I said before, its a bit of a catch 22….

            I am still a bit hesitant though as a year long “nomination” process would allow for scurrilous twitter types to character assassinate those with whom they disagree (whether the subjects deserve it or not – if they deserve it – we need to know it).

          • says

            Tarheel
            Yes it is a catch 22. We seem to be short on good options.

            I agree with the guy earlier that suggested a single interview with a moderator asking the same questions of each candidate….oh…wait a minute….I am the one who suggested that…… though it sounded like a good idea :-) :-)

        • Tarheel says

          Don’t fear my “rightness” – embrace it! It happens a lot.

          If only everyone would. ;-)

    • Bart Barber says

      I would not have a problem with there being more of a “campaign.”

      What I’d prefer a good deal more is an annual debate prior to the election.

      The worst system, IMHO, is the one that we have: No debate, sometimes very little in the way of campaigning, not even any opportunity for discussion from the floor. The system seems designed to prevent informed voting. It presumes, I think, the situation in the early days of the SBC, when one could presume that all of the candidates would be known fairly well by all of those present and voting.

      • Rick Patrick says

        Bart, I could not agree more with your assessment. By the way, I made my own list of proposed SBC President qualifications just a little over a year ago. (See link below) But as you have pointed out, we typically do not have enough information at our disposal to evaluate candidates and make a competent decision. This needs to change.

        http://sbctoday.com/ten-traits-of-a-southern-baptist-president/

        • Nate says

          Bart and Rick,

          I would agree as well. As I just noted to another, this whole, how many people know a person aspect, is problematic to me. I think it is far more of a name recognition (either due to the mega-church they pastor or association with other well-known people). So, Jared is at a severe disadvantage to the other two, and even Dr. Kim is at a severe disadvantage to Ronnie Floyd.

          Nominating a year in advance, then having a campaign, and even a debate would be a great way to get to know the candidates and make a more reasoned choice.

      • says

        Bart

        I am very sensitive to the problems of campaigning. This could get to be a real problem very quickly. However, all things considered I could live with a debate. The debate could be structured to allow for information only and views on the issues. Rules could be laid down to prevent it from becoming a brawl. If a particular candidate decided to not live by the rules, then that tells us something of his character at the outset. How one handled oneself in the debate would speak volumes.

  2. says

    I’m glad you “opinined” but what I don’t understand is your sentence, “No, I will not apply these criteria to the three candidates presently running.” Then what was the point of the post? #notgettingit

    • Bart Barber says

      Clark,

      I’m presently the First Vice-President of the SBC. I generally state publicly whom I am supporting for offices of the SBC. This year, because I hold this office, I think it would be inappropriate for me to endorse candidates.

  3. Greg Harvey says

    The primary qualification of any president of the SBC is that the majority of messengers votes for him or her. The other qualification that we’d like to hope they meet is that God convinces a majority to select one over the others. Everything else can be accomplished via the power of God Almighty.

    With that said: it’s much easier to get something done if you’re well connected and a known quantity. There is less likelihood that political factions will form to oppose what you’re trying to get done. But I hope that prayer and fasting is a considered ingredient in the effort of most of the messengers. The decision shouldn’t be taken lightly and each messenger votes not for himself or for herself but instead is an emissary of God to the Convention and is accountable to God for the choice that is made.

    One hopes that the election of each president is a holy moment infused with the direct presence and the obvious direction of the Holy Spirit from this point forward.

    As such, it would be surprising if we always picked the obvious choice. Either that or Samuel did something wrong in choosing the youngest son of Jesse.

  4. Dwight McKissic says

    Bart,

    Do you believe that all three candidates meet your criteria for qualifications? If not, which of your criteria does one of the candidates not meet? Wouldn’t any person who embrace the BFM 2000 be a “conservative”? If not, what is your definition of a conservative as it relates to SBC presidential qualifications? I clearly agree that one must ascribe to inerrancy to be appointed to a trusteeship, or even serve as President. But, are they required to say “inerrancy,” or, what if they use the exact language in the BFM 2000 to describe their view of the Bible; would that not be satisfactory? Would words like infallible, inspired, without error, God breathed, be acceptable? Or is it the word inerrancy expressed, that you believe is a non-negotiable qualification? Thanks. Look forward to seeing you in Baltimore?

    • Bart Barber says

      Dwight,

      Inerrancy is a good word. I know of no good reason not to use it. It’s not that infallible, inspired without error, or God-breathed are not good words, too. I would not reject a candidate just because he used words like that. I use those words, too. But I would reject a candidate who REFUSED to use the word “inerrant.” There’s simply no reason to do so, unless one means by “inspired without error,” “infallible,” or “God-breathed” something significantly different from “inerrant.”

      I am not applying these principles to this year’s candidates for the reasons I have articulated above.

  5. says

    As to this:

    “Is he eloquent, thoughtful, and cautious with his speech and writing?
    I think it is likely that the president of the SBC will be bushwhacked by an unexpected and difficult question or statement at some point during his term. I want some level of confidence that he will meet that challenge well.”

    I would add, “Can his words be bold in the face of negative worldly ways?”

  6. Dwight McKissic says

    parsonsmike,

    Amen!!!!

    Bold speech would be welcomed. America is suffering today from a lack of bold speech from the pulpit and pew.

  7. David says

    While the overall principles stated here, I don’t disagree with, the key challenges I see the SBC faces and which the leadership needs to address are as follows:
    1. The number of Baptisms is still declining. Last year there were 310,628 baptisms. The United States has a population of about 330 million, so this means that only 0.1% of the American population was baptized for the first time last year. Source: http://www.bpnews.net/42659/baptism-worship-declines-prompt-southern-baptist-leaders-prayers-for-renewed-passion
    2. Church membership is also declining – declined by 136,764 and church attendance declined by 2.1% to an average of 5.8 million members on a Sunday. Source: the same Baptist Press article.
    3. As youth transition to college age, only 6% of churched youth continue church attendance into their college years. If we want to identify an area that is the source of decline in churches – this is it, and many don’t return after their college years.

    From my perspective, being in the business world, no company facing the statistics I have shown here would even consider continuing with the same approach year after year and if they did, the management would be fired. This is going to sound radical, but given the state of the SBC, maybe a pastor is not the best individual to be President of the Convention, but a retired Baptist layman who has been successful in the business world and has a passion to see people in this nation (and beyond) come to be followers of Christ. This individual would look at tying new methods for reaching the lost because, obviously what we’ve been doing hasn’t been effective enough and because he is not a pastor, he wouldn’t have the obligations of leading his own church at the same time.
    Some examples of tangible steps he could take are as follows:
    1. Prayer – Encourage a nationwide effort to encourage each congregation to follow the example of @ Chronicles 7:14. Since the previous efforts have not been producing the fruit we expected, maybe it’s time we humble ourselves before the Lord.
    2. Encourage congregations to consider other methods of evangelism (besides preaching) like the Alpha Course and Starting Point. Given where American culture is today, it is unrealistic to expect that every nonbeliever who walks into a service is going to change the way they’ve been thinking for the past 30 or 40 years in a 40 minute sermon. The Alpha Course and Starting Point take a different approach allowing the participants to ask questions and last over a longer period (usually at least 10 weeks). How many SBC churches are using these two (or similar) forms of evangelism.
    3. Focus on the College Ministries both at Universities and church based, too. What is the good of having a strong youth ministry only to see those same youth no longer have any church connection or join the “nones” after entering college.
    4. Look at strong Biblically based, non SBC churches in Secular, Blue State metro areas and see how they are effective in their ministries. While traveling on business trips, I have had opportunities to visit several Biblically based churches in Boston, L.A. the San Francisco Bay area, etc. My question is why do I not see any SBC Churches in these areas which have even approaching 1,000 in attendance when Grace Chapel in the Boston suburbs has over 3,000 on a weekend. I don’t buy the argument that these areas are so unreceptive to the Gospel that you are going to always have small churches in these areas. I can also point out Menlo Park Presbyterian in the Bay Area (in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the U.S,) and Calvary Community in the L.A. suburbs. This is not to criticize any congregation, but rather to say, “If they can be effective in these communities, Why can’t we also?”
    4. Given the reality that most professions of faith are made before a person turns 18, there needs to be a greater emphasis on increasing the Chirldren’s programs – The actual enrollment of children in Sunday School is down – perhaps there is a correlation of when you have fewer in the pipeline, you see fewer baptism later on.

    In summation, the challenges facing the SBC are totally different than they were in 1978 – I don’t see a resurgence of theological liberalism, and perhaps, the conversation needs to reflect that. We need to discuss why there were more baptisms in the 1950’s through 1970’s than there are now. Instead, I see a lot of discussions about a whole host of issues (closed communion/open communion, continuationists vs. cessationists, racial and ethnic diversity, etc.). In the business world, companies that focus on issues like these don’t last. Maybe, the SBC and its leadership should focus more on the statistics at the beginning of this post and how to improve them and less on the issues that will always be sources of disagreement.

    • Bart Barber says

      Thanks, David, for reminding us all about the challenges that lie before us. I would point out, however, that those challenges are not challenges that the SBC faces; rather, they are challenges that the local congregations face. Candidate after candidate after candidate has come before the SBC with a plan to address exactly what you’ve identified. We’ve GCRed. We’ve Covenanted for a New Century. We’ve Great Commission Baptisted.

      To tell you the truth, the vast preponderance of this has not come out of theological training; it has come out of corporate thinking and books on business leadership principles and the like. And not one bit of it has helped in the least.

      Why? Because the whole enterprise starts from a false presumption: That we’re the Roman Catholic Church rather than the Southern Baptist Convention—that we’re a top-down corporation rather than a bottom-up family of independent, autonomous local congregations—that the President of the SBC is likely to have the slightest influence whatsoever upon the evangelistic strategies of the thousands of local congregations that make up the SBC.

      If you’d like to solve the challenges that you have identified, the best office for which to campaign is that of local-church pastor. Director of Missions of a local association is another prime opportunity. Working for a state convention gives you some chances to make a difference. The worst position possible from which to try to effect that kind of change is the presidency of the SBC, a million miles away from the front-lines and with absolutely no chain of command by which you could influence the battle.

      Where SBC presidents have any impact at all upon these local-church ministry challenges, they do so not by virtue of their holding SBC office, but because of the way that their local-church ministries (and perhaps the books or videos they’ve produced as a part of those ministries) have been inspirational to other leaders in other local churches. Their success in these areas probably vaulted them into the presidency in the first place. They aren’t influential because they were elected president; they were elected president because they were influential.

      I think you’d be hard pressed to find a single Southern Baptist congregation that could identify one solitary thing they do differently because of anyone who has ever been president of the SBC (that is, by virtue of having held that office), and the SBC president LEAST likely to have that sort of an impact is the one who (like some business tycoon) has no inspirational local church experience whatsoever to leverage as influence. All he would have would be the (largely powerless) office.

      If I have written at excessive length to rebut you, it is not personal, but is simply because I authored this post expressly for the purpose of rebutting this kind of thinking: That we ought to elect SBC officers with a view toward “solving” the challenges that the local churches face. Rather than doing that, I have sought to direct people to the actual constitutional duties of the office. A good businessman would, I think, actually read the governing documents of the SBC before embarking upon the challenge. He would then rather quickly see that the job consists solely of that which I have mentioned in my post.

      Many have tried to use the office to advance some hobby-horse or to gain access to a bully pulpit instead, relegating the actual constitutional duties of the office to some lesser place. Their pet projects lie strewn alongside the path of recent SBC history, creating no legacy and effecting no substantive change. They gather so much dust. The greatest impact these presidents had was through their committee appointments. Maybe that’s a good reason for us to pay attention to that element of the job first and foremost.

      • David says

        Bart, thank you for your long reply and I do not consider it a personal rebuke, either. I agree with you that the SBC is not a top down organization like the Roman Catholic Church (or many of the mainline denominations like the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. where the denomination actually owns the church buildings). I also believe that the catalyst for change has to be at the local level and it is not wise to have a top down, one size fits all approach for all SBC churches because what might be effective for Journey Metro Church in Manhattan, may not be appropriate for a small church in rural Mississippi. I also agree that from recent history, the President of the SBC has not been as influential in bringing about growth amongst the 45,000 congregations. However, the point of my post was I see all kinds of groups with their own hobby horse attempting to influence the body of Christ (and ultimately, the local church ) – these include the Council of Biblical Manhood/Womanhood, the Gospel Coalition, Calvinists, Traditionalists, etc. even the SBC Convention years ago when it passed a resolution discouraging folks from visiting Walt Disney World (it must not have been effective as Disney ticket prices are now about $100 each) yet as well intentioned as their efforts are the number of baptisms are going down.

        Perhaps, you are right that the main function of the President of the SBC is to appoint qualified individuals to be on committees and in a sense oversee the operations of the bureaucracy. However, if that is the most effect that position has, maybe it would be better for the Convention to not spend effort on resolutions (like the Disney one for example) if there is limited influence on the 45,000 churches. I guess I was expressing frustration that I see an enormous amount of online debate within the American Christian community (the latest example being Tullian Tchividjiian and the Gospel Coalition) or the debate a year ago about changing the name of the SBC to Great Commission Baptist. At the same time, I see young people leaving churches by the droves once they reach college age and I don’t see much discussion on that situation. I was looking for the President of the SBC (or really anyone in a high profile position) to draw attention there. Also, as I said, I have seen non SBC churches which seem to be doing well in very secular communities and was hoping that they could be an example of encouragement that this could happen, too, for SBC Churches outside of the traditional southern states. Thanks again for your reply.

      • says

        This comment may be the best part of your post! Oh that we would and could understand the words you have written in this comment!

  8. Jerry Smith says

    I’m not SBC but Missionary Baptist, I think the one thing that’s getting MOST of our children is public school, sending our Christian children to the public school sure takes away the teachings they receive at church. Public school has become the Devils den, & the Devil is getting many of our children.

    Oh, they mostly stay in church throughout their public school days, yet once they go off to college its mostly over.

    I graduated school way back in 1965, & even many of my friends, Christian friends, after leaving home for college, & or just graduating from high school, most of them threw God, Jesus. And its worse today than back them.

    Even my best friend who always had the answers in Sunday school & BTS, always knew his memory verse, he was nearly the perfect pupil. And throughout his school days he was the nearly perfect child, never getting in trouble. But when he left for college he totally changed, now he is on his 3rd wife who is younger than my daughter. And he is just one example of many from that time period that left God, Jesus, & church after going to college. And since those days we have lost many of our children & that’s causing the numbers to go down, IMHO.

    • says

      I would agree with you while adding in that parents are also not modeling Christian lifestyles for their children. You cannot send your child to the enemy for 8-10 hours a day, not be a model of Christ, send them to church for 2 hours on Sunday, and expect them to embrace the Church. I get a little sick with all the blogs wondering why it seems like a whole generation is embracing the world instead of Christ. The answer is simple. The answer doesn’t involve watering down the message. It doesn’t involve softening on cultural or political issues. It involves reclaiming Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Teach our children well and don’t give them to the world to raise.

  9. William Thornton says

    Pretty good. We tend to think that the SBC president can move the denomination forward but, alas, such has not been the case in recent decades. Just because the SBC elects a highly successful megapastor as president means little in terms of increasing baptisms. In regard to appointments, I’d like to see results that went beyond the usual favored churches and celebrity pastors and their wives.

    I think the most positive result would come from the election of Dennis Kim and, were I to be present, I would vote for him.

    I, too, like the idea of several candidates rather than a single anointed one.

    • says

      I’m with you all the way down the line.

      I think that seeing Dr. Kim elected will allow us to benefit from the wisdom of his voice on the national stage. Here we have someone who has dealt not just with local church issues, but local church issues outside of the Bible Belt. Having Lifeway put Dr. Kim’s writings on the shelf beside where Dr. Floyd’s already are will surely benefit us rather than hinder us–and hearing from both of them throughout the coming years will surely be of benefit. Dr. Kim’s circles run differently, and that may help our Committee on Committees to draw from a broader pool.

      None of our candidates are bad, and that’s a great thing. I do think that we are choosing better from among good.

      • Tarheel says

        “None of our candidates are bad, and that’s a great thing. I do think that we are choosing better from among good.”

        Doug, I agree.

    • says

      You are correct, we have not had forward motion due to the president. We have a lot of discussion about the “right” president, but at the end of the day his power to change is not all that much. It seems to me that the president has more power to harm us than to help us. One verbal blunder can do much damage. To be honest one of the major criteria for me is his history or lack thereof of making blunderous (is that a word) statements.

  10. Jeff Johnson says

    I agree with all these qualifications, and I think they are the reason we have elected so many prominent and mega-church pastors as SBC Presidents. At least generally speaking, an influential pastor of a large church will tend to have more nationwide connections, demonstrated communication skills, and a history of speaking publicly to important issues. If there are potential scandals, it’s more likely that we would have an inkling of those regarding a well-known pastor. In other words, he is more of a known commodity.

    This is not to say that pastors of small churches can’t have these qualifications. It’s just harder for us to know whether they do, given the limited discussions and zero campaigning prior to the vote.

  11. says

    As for a new SBC president knowing enough people to appoint, that has been taken care of through the years. Among the powers that be, they have a list of qualified people. Perhaps even qualified people on “their” side of the issues. Therefore, if the president needs a few more names they are glad to oblige. Of course the president has to sign off on the names, so he can honestly say he chose each person on the committees. This is how in years past some have controlled and steered the convention behind the scenes. I’m not saying it is always done this way. Also, we all have a tendency to choose those we admire and who agree with us. But it is a fact this has happened in the past.

    On the bright side, if a rascal gets elected president, he will only be in office a year or two. As the conservatives realized during the Conservative Resurgence, the committee and trustee process moves slow with checks and balances. So to make a major change in the convention it will usually take ten years or so.

    I wouldn’t like to see more campaigning and debates. I know it is not completely the case, but Baptists have historically had the view that messengers (not delegates) go to the convention and there vote as they feel led by the Holy Spirit. While we have had a certain amount of campaigning, I think it’d be a shame to start campaigning like they do in secular politics.

    David R. Brumbelow

    • Tarheel says

      ” I wouldn’t like to see more campaigning and debates. I know it is not completely the case, but Baptists have historically had the view that messengers (not delegates) go to the convention and there vote as they feel led by the Holy Spirit. While we have had a certain amount of campaigning, I think it’d be a shame to start campaigning like they do in secular politics.”

      David B,

      I agree with you here. There’s no doubt that it would turn into a much more political scene then it even is now on I just don’t see why we should go in that direction and lay “traps of temptation” before people seeking to serve.

        • Tarheel says

          I hate to compare…but have we not learned with the President of the US of late that doing SOMETHING for the feeling of “hope and change” just might actually be MUCH worse than what we now have.

          I think we actually have a decent system. Is it perfect, no. But it is certainly not as bad as it could be for sure.

          Maybe we should leave well enough alone?

          • says

            Tarheel
            I see your point. I am going to have on think on that awhile. Yes, it could be worse, but IMO it is broken because I predict that RF will win big. Let me tell you where I am. I am going to wait until after the election to adopt a definitive position. RF is well known. Dr. Kim is well qualified. If RF wins by a landslide then I will think something must be done or resign ourselves to always having well know people of large churches for a president. If Dr. Kim wins or make a good race of it then i will probably think, leave it alone.

          • Tarheel says

            What if Jared wins, or at least has a good showing…

            What if there is a run off because none of the three got a majority on the first ballot?

          • Adam Blosser says

            “RF is well known. Dr. Kim is well qualified.”

            RF is well qualified as well.

          • says

            Tarheel
            “What if Jared wins”. Not going to happen, but if he did I would agree we need change nothing for the same reasons I have articulated. If there is a runoff same thing. All of these possibilities indicate that an unknown can be elected president so i am happy, no change needed.

            However a prediction: RF on first ballot with 60% of vote. Are we allowed to bet on this blog :-)

            Adam, I agree RF is well qualified, I never meant to imply otherwise. I was merely saying that one is known the other is not. Thanks for that catch, my bad.

  12. Dean Stewart says

    There seems to be some confusion as to the presidential appointment powers. The president does not appoint people to boards of trustees. He appoints the committee on committees which consist of two people from each state convention. The committee on committees then presents a nominating committee to the convention for approval. The nominating committee also consists of two people from each state. The nominating committee will fill the vacancies on the boards of trustees and the executive committee. The convention approves of these nominations at the annual convention.

    There are some things worth mentioning. Any good president will consult state executive directors, state convention presidents, president of state pastor’s conferences, etc… to get some names for the nominating committee. I find it hard to believe any single person serving as president could have knowledge enough to name two individuals from each state convention to the nominating committee without the help of others. Having served on the committee on committees twice one can rest assured that names have been presented for board positions where it was deemed best that person not be placed because it could be scandalous. I remember one person was presented for board approval from a particular state in the committee on committee work session. A committee on committee board member from Alabama was asked if he could make a phone call to check something. He returned declaring he had to appose that nomination for ethical reasons that were just coming to light. The two representatives from the state asked for a few minutes, they regrouped and later made another recommendation. The process of trustee nomination is genius if everyone takes their job serious.

  13. Tarheel says

    The president of the SBC is largely a figurehead, with very limited appointment powers as Dean just pointed out , that’s why IMO most often men are placed in this position is an honor for a lifetime of work that’s why we so often end up with mega church pastors, seminary presidents, etc as president of the SBC.

    • Dean Stewart says

      Tarheal, I have to politely and respectfully disagree on the president being only a figure head. The two people from each state he names on the nominating committee will shape the direction of our entities. His opportunity to appoint these two individuals is huge. If there were a group committed to electing only presidents who will name non-Calvinist to board positions and five such presidents were elected to serve two terms and for ten years the nominating committee consisted of people committed to naming boards of trustees to oppose Calvinism then Calvinism would be removed from our entities.

      • Dean Stewart says

        Before anyone begins harping, I am not introducing the idea of removing Calvinism from our entities. That’s not my goal. It was an example to demonstrate the power the president has in naming the two members of the nominating committee. If enough presidents who are committed to one thing are elected in a row they will impose that one thing on our entities through the naming of the nominating committee.

        • Adam Blosser says

          Does anyone know, are Presidents encouraged not to appoint people from BGAV churches for the two slots in VA? I looked back over the last 4 years and found that only 1 appointment has come from a BGAV church, and that was from a church dually aligned with both VA state conventions.

      • Tarheel says

        Dean, your point is well taken in that several “agenda driven” presidents in a row by theory could do that (I would note that if they are that agenda driven and the “floor” keeps electing men with such public agendas as that – then might that be a sign of the will of the convention?) …but did you notice I said “largely” a figurehead?

        I agree though that he does appoint a committee that will nominate a committee which must be approved by the convention who will then nominate trustees for entities whom also the convention must approve.

        So yea, there is on some level a little bit of “appointment power”… but other than that he is the ‘face and convention’ and a ‘spokesman’ when called upon, etc…. This is why I used the descriptor “largely a figurehead”.

  14. Dean Stewart says

    Tarheel, I overlooked “largely.” That may often be the case. However, the president is the only agent of the convention that can produce a change of direction in entities if one is needed.

    A question for all, Is being a leader in evangelism an important quality for our president? If so what is the metric for that qualification? Would we honestly consider a pastor whose church baptized no one for our president? Is 10 baptisms enough for a pastor to be considered president?

    • says

      Dean
      Let me ask you a question. I have a pastor of a struggling concregation on the reservation who baptized 10 people. There is a pastor of a large congregation in Nashville, Atlanta, or Memphis who baptized 250 people. Who is doing the better job in evangelism?

        • says

          Tarheel
          I don’t know the definition. That is the point. If we make the number of baptisms a criteria for president we are going down a slippery slope. How do we decide who is the most evangelistic? How do we decide who is doing the better job?

          Using baptism numbers as a criteria for pres is a bad idea.

          Am I wrong?

          • Dean Stewart says

            D L, I concur Baptismal numbers should not be the sole criteria when we choose our president. Such a notion would be a bad idea. It is an equally bad idea to ignore a candidate’s baptismal record if it is habitually dismal, especially compared to similar churches in his area. Before everyone tells me how long W Carey went before his first baptism I remind you that he did go on to become the father of modern missions winning thousands.

        • Dean Stewart says

          D L, I asked if leading in evangelism was a quality we desired in our president. I then asked how we would measure that if it was. I assume from your question the answer would be leading in evangelism is not something that qualifies or disqualifies a candidate.

          I will answer your question, it seems both pastors and churches in your scenario are serious about winning people to Christ. The church in Memphis is seeing more fruit but that certainly doesn’t mean the pastor is doing a better job. I would willingly follow a man who baptizes 10 people in the middle of nowhere. I recently wrote an article about such pastors and called them my heroes. It seems we can spend weeks on how much money a candidate’s church should give to the CP but asking about soul winning may be taboo.

          • says

            Dean
            You make a convincing argument. I do not think asking about evangelism is taboo at all. I am simply against using that as a criteria without a qualifier. You mentioned comparison to churches in the area. This is a good qualifier. There are other areas in which we can compare apples with apples etc.

            I noticed that Dr. Kim’s church has nearly 1700 in attendance and baptized somewhere in the 70’s per year. This is not really a high number for a congregation that size. I pastored churches 800-1000 and baptized a few more than that. HOWEVER, in starting three Korean congregations I came to discover that my Korean pastors were VERY serious about whom they would baptize. They took that very seriously. I have friends who in the bus ministry days baptized a large number, but IMO they were somewhat careless about it. Hence I would say Dr. Kim is doing an EXCELLENT job in the area of evangelism.

            These are the kind of things that need to be considered when we talk numbers regarding baptism.

            I suspect that if we could talk at length face to face we would agree.

  15. William Thornton says

    BP has a story today on the giving records of the three candidate’s churches. Jared’s church is the only one above the SBC average. Floyd’s church gave 4.1% and Kim’s 4.4%.

      • William Thornton says

        Correction…there’s no figure given for church receipts, so no one knows. I suspect that with the economy church receipts are either slightly increasing or flat.

        • Tarheel says

          Interesting…..Total church receipts is a question on the ACP….so at least they could publish a cumulative amount of church receipts from those who submitted an ACP.

          • William Thornton says

            Not for the current year, since ACP will not be filed until later. All the XComm reports are receipts from the states. I give them credit for reporting monthly.

  16. Tarheel says

    “A question for all, Is being a leader in evangelism an important quality for our president? If so what is the metric for that qualification? Would we honestly consider a pastor whose church baptized no one for our president? Is 10 baptisms enough for a pastor to be considered president?”

    Dean, isn’t that getting right back into judging qualifications by *different* numbers, but numbers just the same? I thought we were trying to get away from that?

  17. james mahan says

    As a relatively new SB, (became a Christian in 07) I had no idea of church politics, conventions, associations, committees, etc. As I began to ask around, I realized sadly that the majority of the members of the congregation did not either. The pastor and a few of the deacons, and some “old timers” were all that really could explain the whole “system” of SBC life to a newbie such as myself and my wife. To be more to the point, in the churches I have been a member of (20+ up to 2000+) the majority of congregants don’t know who the current president is, and to be honest don’t care unless it affects their little comfort zone. I am currently a member of a small rural SBC church in northern NY and they have not had anyone attend an SBC national convention ever! However, they did have 13 baptisms last year, and 20 new members in a town of 300! Granted they are the only SBC church in town, but also had the largest growth in the association. This year however, numbers are down. (Not surprisingly). As to the decline in the numbers in the SBC, I fear that as our nation becomes increasingly liberal and hostile to conservatism, so too will our numbers. It has become in vogue to lambaste the “old fashioned” SBC in favor of more liberal and “open-minded” denominations. The answer is not another innovative president or method of evangelism, but to stay the course. What if the SBC declined by 50% next year? Would you still be a member? As for me and my house…

    • says

      If you want to stay up with what’s going on in the SBC, subscribe to your Baptist state convention’s paper.
      It will generally keep you well informed about Southern Baptists in your state, the nation, and the world.

      If you really want to get serious about it, subscribe to one or more of the other state papers.
      If in a smaller state convention, consider subscribing to one of the larger papers like the “Southern Baptist Texan” or the “Christian Index” (Georgia).
      They have more space in their papers for more articles. I subscribe to both.

      A church would do well to subscribe at least their leaders to their state paper.
      If they have it coming in their mail every month or so, they are likely to at least thumb through it now and then.
      It also helps if the pastor occasionally refers to something in the state paper in his sermons or announcements.

      Baptist Press (bpnews.net) is another great source for news in the SBC as well as the Christian world. Also, sbc.net.
      David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      James
      That depends upon why we declined. If we declined because we “stayed the course” and remained faithful to God’s Word I would stay with it until the last plank of the ship was gone. If we declined because we compromised with the culture then i would be out faster than a frog jumps off a hot rock.

  18. Dean Stewart says

    The Baptist Recorder gave the cp and baptisms on the three presidential candidates. It included some information about their evangelism efforts. I am grateful for all three men in their efforts to win souls. http://bit.ly/1mUdpTU

    • Dean Stewart says

      That should be the Biblical Recorder. I combined my states news journal with North Carolina. My apologies.

      • Tarheel says

        Funny his state papers are viewed differently by different persons. for example for years I have heard the NC State paper oft refered to as the “biblical distorter” instead of biblical recorder and the BGAV paper as the “heretic” instead of the Herald.

    • says

      Its all good except.
      “Another factor in failing baptisms is theology. Any theology that either purposefully or unintentionally makes you less aggressive as a personal witness needs to be jettisoned.”

      he gives as an example what he believes versus a millennialist.
      No decent theology should leave one less aggressive s a witness. There is no reason why millennial people can be good witnesses.

      So while he points out some good reasons why our numbers may go down, he makes the mistake in assuming that salvation is by our effort. We should put in the effort, but that is no guarantee that baptisms will go up.

      In fact it seems to me that measure of gauging success is a major factor in so many unbelievers being baptized and counted on our rolls.

      -mike