The “right man” for the job: Can race/ethnicity be a factor?

Whenever we have discussions about selecting leaders, people will often argue that we approach the process in a color-blind way and base our decision on finding the best man for the job, without regard to race or ethnicity. I personally believe the idea of a “best” person for a leadership position is a myth. When it comes to our selection of leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and, particularly, the selection of our next IMB president,  we should rather look for the “right” person. We must ask ourselves, who is the right person for the position now? And, as my previous post suggests, is that “right person” a person of color?

When we ask for the best man for a job, we are already making an assessment of which things we think are important and which things are not. “Best man” terminology implies at least two things: (1) That competence in ministry is the only criteria that really counts or is at least the deciding factor in decision making (assuming that the most competent person can actually be determined),  and (2) that we see the presidency of the IMB as merely as a job with a task for which we must find the most capable candidate. I submit to you that neither of these things is true.

In selecting our next IMB president, we are not merely seeking someone to effectively manage our missions agency and the 5000+ missionaries we employ. We are seeking a person who will have a much broader responsibility. We expect our IMB president to be strategist, catalyst, fundraiser, statesmen, vision-caster, cheer-leader, and spiritual leader. We are not hiring a person to merely perform a task, but to lead our great Convention of churches to faithful obedience to the Great Commission. You can’t choose such a leader by comparing résumés. IMB president is more than a job.

Now competence is indeed a factor. No one wants an incompetent leader for such an important position. But is competence all we care about? Much of the selection process has a subjective side. If all we cared about was “competence” then we could hire a person on the résumé alone or merely use the interview to further explore issues related to job performance. In reality, however, few persons are ever hired this way. Interviewers ask questions to explore subjective issues like temperament, character, sense of calling, personality, winsomeness, philosophy of ministry, and vision. Most of the time, decisions about leadership are not made on competency alone. Quite often, multiple candidates are found to be equally competent for a position and the deciding factor is something other than that they are “best” at what they do. Other criteria help determine which of these qualified candidates is the “right” person for the position.

The question we must ask is whether race/ethnicity is a valid criteria in addition to competence and the other subjective factors that go into the selection process. To help answer that question, consider whether the race/ethnicity of the next IMB president would have any impact on the role we are asking him to fill. For example:

Do you think that a person of color brings a different set of experiences and perspectives to a position than a white person and might those different experiences/perspectives be helpful in helping us reach the nations? Do you think that a non-Anglo will be received differently in the global evangelical missions community than a white person? Do you think that selecting a person of color to represent our missions agency would have any impact on how we are perceived as a denomination by the watching world? by the non-Anglo members of our own denomination? Do you think that selecting a person of color to lead our missions organization would have any impact on the involvement of our minority churches and church members in our global missions effort? Do you think that there is any moral/ethical basis for intentionally including persons of color in the highest positions of leadership in our cooperative work? OR, as my previous post suggests – Should we, at this time in our history, intentionally seek diversity in executive leadership?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, then I submit that Race/Ethnicity is indeed a valid criteria in addition to competence and the other subjective factors that go into the selection process. Thus, it is not unreasonable or unfair to make race/ethnicity a significant factor in our selection. Neither is my more pointed suggestion that we hire a non-Anglo as our next IMB president.

Comments

  1. says

    Do you think that a person of color brings a different set of experiences and perspectives to a position than a white person and might those different experiences/perspectives be helpful in helping us reach the nations?

    Yes. No more helpful than anyone else. It would all depend on the individual.

    Do you think that a non-Anglo will be received differently in the global evangelical missions community than a white person?

    I’m not sure that I care.

    Do you think that selecting a person of color to represent our missions agency would have any impact on how we are perceived as a denomination by the watching world? by the non-Anglo members of our own denomination? Why on earth would I care how anyone perceives us? People perceive us as hateful because believe that homosexuality is a sin.

    Do you think that selecting a person of color to lead our missions organization would have any impact on the involvement of our minority churches and church members in our global missions effort?

    If they need to be motivated by having an ethnic person as president then they have a problem. They should be motivated to do missions by the Great Commission.

    Do you think that there is any moral/ethical basis for intentionally including persons of color in the highest positions of leadership in our cooperative work? OR, as my previous post suggests – Should we, at this time in our history, intentionally seek diversity in executive leadership?

    If you mean that we should hire a minority candidate specifically (i.e. you have 5 candidates, 4 whites, 1 black, the only person you consider is black) then no. We should not practice racial discrimination

    Having said all that, I believe if you cast a wide enough net and intentionally get a diverse group of candidates from a variety of ethnic social, political–err, nevermind,, political liberals need not apply I hope, geographic, theological (i.e. Cals, Trads, etc. Obviously only theological conservatives should be considered), sometimes you’ll end up with a black man being the best man for the job. Sometimes, you’ll end up with a white guy. Sometimes, you’lll end up with a Latino gentlman. That’s how to pursue diversity–intentially seeking out a variety of candidates not by racially discriminating in the hiring process.

    • Todd Benkert says

      So when does that happen, Joe? After 20 years of stating our intentions, we still have an all-white leadership.

        • says

          I wish whites in general were as concerned with erasing the effects of centuries of slavery, racism, brutalization and discrimination as we are about preventing any perception of reverse discrimination.

          Many who never said a thing when blacks were discriminated against now chirp loudly when there is a possibility that a person of color might get a slight edge in hiring.

          • Tarheel says

            David miller,

            Wow. So those who agree with you in principle but not in practice are unconcerned with such things? Btw, I wasn’t alive when there was institutional racism. Not saying racism doesn’t exist today….it certainly does – but institutional racism is largely a thing of the past and certainly so within the leadership of the SBC….local churches – eh, not so much.

            Again, that’s the point – the local church- where this issue will be finally be dealt with …. Then the national level will reflect that.

            I think y’all are getting the cart before the horse – you can’t fix this at the national level it must come from the local church and move up not top down.

          • Todd Benkert says

            If you agree in principle but not in practice, Tarheel, at what point does your principle reflect itself in practice? i.e., is there any practice you would support that would move your principle from concept to reality?

          • Dave Miller says

            Dr. Cline, it is hard to imagine how you got your representation of my words from my words themselves.

            I am making a simple point. We in the preferred majority were quiet, in general, about the horrors of racial preference, right up until the movement to include minorities became prominent.

            Then, all of a sudden, we are horrified at the thought that race has anything to do with it.

            Let’s be real. Race has something to do with it. I think Fred Luter was a qualified candidate and a great president. But his race was a factor in his election. It should have been. Those of us who supported Dr. Kim did so at least partially because of his ethnicity.

            We should never elect an unqualified candidate simply because of race. But unless someone wants to argue that there are NO qualified minority candidates for any position in the SBC, we have to admit that our 100% whiteness among our entity heads is in some way race-based.

            And, my motive for the comment was simply. I am confronting the “I only want to be colorblind” excuse that is so prevalent. We never have been. We aren’t now. We aren’t going to be any time soon.

          • Tarheel says

            Dave Miller,

            “Those of us who supported Dr. Kim did so at least partially because of his ethnicity.”

            Speak for yourself. ;-)

            I voted for Dr Kim because of his passionate and demonstrated commitment to gospel proclamation, discipleship and church planting. I would have loved to have seen him as our President.

          • Tarheel says

            Todd,

            I think we are heading the right direction. We have made great strides in the last 20 years diversifying our church planting efforts, our evangelistic thrusts, our ministry partnerships, state conventions and national conventions hiring “strategists” to help us (historically white dudes) reach out to minister to ethnic communities.

            It took us any years to get in this hole – 20 years is- relatively short amount of time to have made as much intentional progress as we have.

            That said…..it’s just a matter of time now, IMO, till this happens naturally. Till a non anglo fully SBC candidate is standing head and shoulders above the other candidates…

            Forcing an “ethnic” entity hire to speed things along, while seeming to be the right thing – might just set us back. I mean by setting us back that if we’re perceived as doing token work – it’s gonna make race relations worse. It’s going to set us back….but if it happens naturally – then we know we’re on the right track toward full diversity. otherwise – uncertainty remains.

            It’s possible to be rightly motivated to do the right thing but do it in the wrong way….that’s what I fear is happening here.

            I just disagree that skin tone should play either a positive or negative role in the hiring process. it should be irrelevant. If its the focus/determining factor in an hire – that’s racism. As I’ve said before, im just not sure you can fix negative discrimination Perceptions and realities with another form of it.

          • Todd Benkert says

            And here is the fundamental disagreement we have: you suggest that diversity at the leadership level will eventually happen naturally, I suggest that we need to be intentional in pursuing such diversity now.

          • Tarheel says

            Yea, Todd…I think your right… That’s probably the basis of our disagreement.

            We both want it, and think its necessary – I think it’s on the way. The trajectory is moving toward it. I just don’t wanna force it faster than might be healthy.

          • Raymond Dix Jr. says

            I have one question I believe relevant to the conversation. If we assume that a segment, perhaps even a large segment of the voting populace, chose the current president based on his ethnic identity as a major factor, I ask you if this choice advanced ethnic relations or set them back?

          • Todd Benkert says

            Your question seems to suggest a negative answer but the comparison is faulty on multiple levels — assumes too much on both ends of the equation and is an apples/oranges comparison in terms of both method and purpose in selecting a leader. Plus, it missed a big part of the actual argument I’m making.

          • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

            Raymond Dix, Jr.,

            Your question in what was/is comment # 12, is by far the most insightful question that I’ve ever read on any comment thread. Thought provoking. Not sure if it was intended to be rhetorical or not.

            I believe that race, familiarity, and comfort level, factor into voting decisions by all of us, at varying levels. Indeed these things were factors into the decision of the election of the current President of the SBC. It is quite interesting that the backlash question only comes into play when discussing the election of a minority candidate. Quite profound.

            It is possible that I am totally misreading, misinterpreting, and consequently, misapplying the meaning or purpose/point of your question. Nevertheless, this is my take on it. And trust me, your question will cause me to view this matter differently from this point on.

            What is it that I will view differently from this point on? There is an intentional conscious, or a subconscious race based factor that all voters employ. And, for sure, it was employed in the election of the current, and the immediate past President of the SBC. The fact that Dr. Luter ran unopposed was largely a race based decision. Race is, has been, and perhaps, always will be, a factor in voting. Sometimes consciously, and at other times subconsciously. Sometimes with good and redemptive motives, and other times with racist and evil motives. Nevertheless, race is a factor. At least that’s my take.

            Again, I am not suggesting that you would agree with anything that I have said here, but your question, certainly inspired these thoughts.

            I asked a high profile African American evangelical preacher once–who obviously have an affinity for Southern Baptists, and the SBC likewise, obviously loves him–this question: Why don’t you join the SBC? He responded: “The Southern Baptists are not racist, but they are racial.” The mere fact that all of the entity heads are White, is not, I repeat, is not documentation that the SBC is racists. But, it is documented that the SBC is racial–meaning, strongly influenced, directed, oriented, lead by, identified with, and all decisions made by, Whites. Thus making the SBC unquestionably racial, and by continuing to elect White only entity heads, it only reenforces the DNA of White Supremacy, that is embedded in the genesis of the SBC.

            Those who believe that there is not at least a marginal, passive racial component to the composition of the current “All Anglo Great Commission Entity Head Council” are simply in denial. When the entity heads meet, their gathering is called “The Great Commission Council.” How can you have a Great Commission Council that designed to reach all the people groups of the world, but only one people group sits on this council, in a denomination that’s thoroughly diverse in it’s membership?

            I agree with Todd Benkert. There are minority persons in the SBC who are currently qualified to fill the IMB position, or other future entity vacancies. The question is, will the SBC trustees be willing to include the whole SBC Family–including minorities–in the entity head level positions.

            Finally, for those who advocate that minorities should just patiently wait for this to organically happen, do you think it is fair to ask them to give sacrificially to the CP, while simultaneously telling them that they should wait for some indefinite time in the future–that may never come–before they qualify to be entity heads? This is where I struggle with the whole “wait your turn” argument/position.

          • Raymond Dix Jr. says

            Todd writes, “Your question seems to suggest a negative answer but the comparison is faulty on multiple levels — assumes too much on both ends of the equation and is an apples/oranges comparison in terms of both method and purpose in selecting a leader. Plus, it missed a big part of the actual argument I’m making”. I get that you are making an argument for intentionality right? My question is relevant because if people voted for the president based on race, which evidence suggests that most blacks and many whites did; then has this intentionality made us closer as a nation? Have we moved toward being a more ethnically tolerant society? I think we moved in the other direction. I will explain. If we understand the true effects of victimization upon the black community, we would know why many blacks feel duty bound to defend the president, no matter what. In my observation of politics, I have never seen a president so vehemently defended in ethnic overtones. I never heard one white person say to a black Democrat, “you all just dislike Bush because he is white”. This ties directly to whether ethnic intentionality in selecting any leader breeds a desire within those of common minority heritage to protect that leader in the face of the perception that America still has a huge race problem. In fact, I would say that any organization trying rid itself of racial stigmas in this manner, runs the risk of breeding this sort of protectionism; which is unfair to both the candidate and the organization. Whites often refuse to criticize the president for fear of being labeled racist. Can you imagine what happens to an organization in the absence of constructive criticism or civil dissent? This is our country today. Curiously, would you call for the National Baptist Convention to diversify its leadership? I think we should be working to unify ALL Baptists as indication that we actually believe John 17. God has one church. Sadly, even those who say they believe the same thing cannot get together.

          • Raymond Dix Jr. says

            Tarheel,
            I was not really being rhetorical, as I believe there is an answer and certainly opinions worthy of discussion around one’s answer. I do believe that intentionality by any entity with a history of real or perceived racial discrimination runs the risk of setting relationships back.

          • John Fariss says

            Several here have suggested (1) that those desiring to see non-Anglo SBC agency heads should simply wait for that to happen organically, or some variation of that, (2) that any sort of “push” for that to happen by any other method will simply set race relations back because it polarizes the SBC’s constituency, and (3) uses the Presidency of Barack Obama as an example, or even a proof of this.

            I don’t know old any of you are, but I am 61, almost 62. That means that while I was not aware of the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s, I well remember those from about 1962 or ’63 onwards. No doubt thios was at least partially because I was born and lived in the Deep South (Alabama), my home town was also home to the historically black Talladega College, and my father was police chief there at that time. And folks: I remember the same arguments (My #1, 2, & 3) being raised by “moderate” Southern whites back in the ’60s AGAINST what Dr. Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights workers were doing! Now: who among you wants to continue that argument that the Civil Rights movement should have either never happened, or just quit after the Montgomery Bus Boycott?

            John Fariss

          • Tarheel says

            I’m really tired of the subtle passive aggressive and not so subtle aggressive comments intimating that those who don’t agree with an affirmative action approach are racists, or don’t care about past (and current) racism.

            It’s precisely because I feel that affirmative action – while being action is not affirmative. It’s counterproductive and with the last 50 years of race relations as demonstration – it doesn’t work.

            It’s unfair and it’s unnecessarily derogatory to imply or assert that those who disagree with your strategy to reach our common goal are somehow less spiritually in tune as you, not as gospel focused, or racists.

            It’s a al Sharpton way of discussing this topic and I think we can do better than that…way better.

            BTW, no one has said or implied “wait your turn.” I have simply said we are on the path for this to happen naturally and I’m truly concerned that if we force it – we’re gonna mess things up.

          • John Fariss says

            Tarheel,

            Assuming that your comments at (the present) #18 which follows my (at present) #17: first I am not suggesting, passive-aggressively or otherwise, that you are racist. In fact, my comments were not specifically directed at you. I am simply making an historical comparison and asking how the approach presented by various commentators here differs. If it comes off as an accusation of racism on anyone’s part, I humbly suggest it is a matter, perhaps, of “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much,” to quote Shakespeare. A question can just be a question without there being a veiled accusation hidden within.

            Second, if you disagree with, think the question is not valid, or believe that the historical comparison is not warranted, I think it would be more productive to state as such and give reasons rather then deflecting it with accusations of passive-aggressive behavior and racism.

            John

          • Tarheel says

            You aren’t the only one, John….

            And you do realize you Just did it again, right?

            I’ve stated my case in this thread, it’s there for you to see.

          • Dwight McKissic says

            Tarheel, Dr. Cline,

            “wait your turn advocates” is an expression that I used, and in hindsight it is not the best way to label the position of one that I perceive truly wants to see diverse representation among the entity heads.

            I would label my position the “diversity now” position. In an effort to be relational and respectful to you, Barber, and others who have argued for a different viewpoint, could I label your position “natural or organic diversity entity head evolvement position.” One sounds pejorative. The other sounds respectful and an accurate reflection of your’s and Barber’s position.

            What we are debating here is organic diversity vs. affirmative opportunity immediate diversity. I receive your point that the conversation needs to take place as a mutually respectful conversation among acquaintances/friends who share a common goal, but a different vision as how to achieve that goal. No one should be labeled a racist by innuendo or explicitly for their particular view on this subject.

            Forgive me for not having respectfully and relationally adopted a better way to label your view sooner. Is the labeling that I have suggested( or something kindred to this) acceptable to you?

            Now, I have a question for you? For a person/pastor like myself who favor the “affirmative opportunity/diversity now” position–as opposed to the “natural/organic diversity entity head opportunity”–should we wait ’till the “natural/organic” approach produces results before we increase our giving or sacrificial lot give to the CP? If we should increase our giving, or sacrificially give, why should we, in light of the fact that the “natural/organic position” categorically excludes one group of people from the hiring decisions, and from an opportunity to be hired, if in the opinion of the White majority who makes the decision, you don’t qualify? Thanks.

            I appreciated establishing a friendly relationship with you in Baltimore. I don’t want our blog chatter–as Miller says, that does not reveal our tone–to hinder or interfere with what I thought was the initiation of a wholesome mutually respectful and friendly relationship.

          • Tarheel says

            We’re good, Dwight. No problem, sir.

            I know your passion is with this issue – and I understand that. Your efforts are appreciated. I think I can live with the organic diversity label. ;-)

          • Tarheel says

            Dwight, two more things…

            I also believe that we very well may have initiated the beginning of a good relationship in Baltimore. I truly enjoyed our conversation!

          • Tarheel says

            Dwight, the other thing I meant to do in my previous post was answer your question. Here goes my best shot.

            I view contributions to the cooperative program as being indicative of a partnership between our church and the SBC in the Gospel by training and sending church planters/other missionaries and Providing seminary training Pastors and other Christian ministry leaders in conservative, orthodox theology.

            I trust, and reports we look at indicate that the vast majority of money that goes to the cooperative program (both in our state and the SBC) does just that. executive leadership and other entities Guidestone, Lifeway, ERLC etc. are just a drop in the bucket of the money that is designated to the cooperative program.

            Since our church views the CP as fundamentally and primarily a pastoral training and mission sending partnership then we determine our level of financial investment based on that understanding.

            I suppose others may have different criterion as it relates to the determination of financial partnership… And each church has the autonomy to decide those Matters.

            This may seem like I am dodging the question. Perhaps I am. I’m saying that our church would not, for lack of a better term, “hold hostage” our CP financial partnership unless the specific criterion for which we designate to the CP it was not being met.

            NOTE: I do not like the term “hold hostage”… But I’m at a loss for a better term at the moment. No offense is intended.

          • Tarheel says

            Brother Dwight,

            I hope you are seeing these comments…

            I have pondered for a better phrase than “holding hostage” – I did not like it when I used it, and I like it less now. Again, no offense was intended by my lacking the ability to articulate a better phrasing.

            Perhaps what I should have said is that since our criterion for voluntarily partnering with other like minded churches to accomplish the goals of the CP in missions and conservative, orthodox theological training — our CP giving would only be negatively impacted if we saw those things were not being achieved.

            In other words; Absent a fundamental change in the focus of the CP away from missions and conservative orthodox theological training OR some revelation of fraud in the CP system I just can’t see our church decreasing (or not increasing as we can) our giving to the CP for any other (non financial) reason.

            I understand your question, but my lacking the understanding of your criterion and reasons for financial CP partnership – and those of your church – I am at a loss to really answer whether or not you should increase or decrease your partnership.

        • Dwight McKissic says

          And your solution to the all Anglo entity heads concern, that is a direct opposite model from the church at Antioch, where Luke reveals the geographic backgrounds of the named leaders is……?

          • Tarheel says

            Dwight,

            I’m not sure to whom you’re referring that question or to which passage in Acts you’re speaking of – but;

            Lots (most?) of the text in Acts are descriptive not prescriptive and aren’t necessarily meant to be normative.

            Also, mentioning of geographical home places of people was common in the NT as it was often used during that culture as a means of identification. It may have simply been about that.

          • Tarheel says

            Raymond Dix,

            “I have one question I believe relevant to the conversation. If we assume that a segment, perhaps even a large segment of the voting populace, chose the current president based on his ethnic identity as a major factor, I ask you if this choice advanced ethnic relations or set them back?”

            Thats a rhetorical question, I’m sure. But it’s answer (set them back) does in fact cast light on this discussion, I think.

        • Raymond Dix Jr. says

          Dr. McKissic,
          I would agree with the overwhelming majority of what you said and I thank you for your kind words, but like Jesus told Peter-flesh and blood did not reveal that to me. I have prayed about the reason why the election of a person who identifies as an ethnic minority to the highest office in a nation whose creed is all men are created equal, would actually set ethnic relations on a negative path. The only answer I found in my search is in John McWhorter’s book “Losing the Race”. In it he describes the effects of the cultural mime of victimization in clear and certain terms. Whites rarely seem to understand the imputed pain of racism as real, even when there is no visible evidence of such. The unashamed defense of the president by black people seems tied to this “handed down” racial pain. Victimization doesn’t mean you must experience racism when the pain of such is woven into your identity as a minority person. In this current circumstance in America, some whites are fearful to criticize the president because to do so gets the automatic label of a racist. What does this mean for the SBC? If the SBC proceeds with intentionality regarding ethnic diversity, the group should be careful that people understand the purpose as to avoid fallout. The SBC must educate its members to know that constructive criticism of minority office holders does not equate to racism in and of itself. The SBC must educate both whites and minority members along this line, and clearly educate white members regarding victimization and its negative cultural impact on ethnic minorities, specifically black members.
          Finally, as I said to Todd, it is my hope that we work harder to bring all Baptist under one tent, with an eye toward our Lord’s prayer in John 17:20-23. It is here where our efforts should be, working to give an intentional display of the gospel; that indeed it is for everybody.

  2. Tarheel says

    Todd….you’re an article posting machine lately!

    Now let me actually go read the article before I comment any further. Lol

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Tarheel,

      Our giving is not substantial enough to label as “holding hostage.” Yet, the organic diversity plan, and the organic one people group hiring policy, is grossly unfair in my judgement, and a system that U cannot enthusiastically support. This it presents a quagmire or dilemma for me.
      But, no harm done by you labeling my position as “holding hostage.” I wish the amount would be large enough for that description to be merited. Thanks for your concern and sensitivity though.

      • Tarheel says

        Dwight,

        I do not know (nor am I asking you to tell me) what the amount that your church gives to the CP….but please never underestimate your contribution to the cause of missions and Christian Ministry training no matter how small it might be in your sight.

        If your church is able to give more and the criterion for financial partnership set by your church are being met then please consider doing so…if not…honor the Lord with you do contribute and let that be that.

  3. Tarheel says

    “If the answer to [ANY] of the above questions is “yes”, then I submit that Race/Ethnicity is indeed a valid criteria in addition to competence and the other subjective factors that go into the selection process”

    Well, by adding “any” you didn’t leave any wiggle room, did you? ;-)

    I would contend that the answer to many of those questions might be no, if such an hire were perceived as being merely for those reasons. If it is perceived that we have done this for the cause of “diversity” and basically a “political move”.

    Admittedly, we’re (the SBC) in a tough spot. But forcing something and “fixing” a perception issue by invoking another perception issue seems to me to be a little off.

    If we perceived as being racist by not having non-Anglo leaders then might just as likely we end up with a perception that we’ve played politics and did token work?

    Can anyone show demonstrable benefit that been shown within race relations or what have you after the election Fred Luter. twice?

    There seems to me to be a groundswell of thinking that if we have a non-Anglo IMB president that race relations will magically be reconciled and everything will be great because we’ve done that.. I just don’t think it’s that simple. Did not happen with Dr. Luter and I don’t think it will happen with this.

    SBC race relations will only be fixed at the church level and the national level is all but irrelevant…. The national level follows the churches if we really want racial equality if we really want racial reconciliation we got to do it in our churches and stop looking to the SBC to “fix” this for us!

    • Judy Felkins says

      I am married to a DOM and he has always said “it starts with the local church”. Racial reconciliation must begin at the local church or it won’t begin at all.

    • Todd Benkert says

      I don’t subscribe to the idea that there is any such magic pill for race relations in the SBC. Having a non-Anglo entity head is merely a step in the process of having true multi-ethnic partnership in the SBC. Still, I believe it is a needed step, without which our efforts at racial/ethnic partnership can grow but will remain limited. True partnership across racial/ethnic lines can only be fully achieved when there is shared leadership at the highest levels. In the case of the SBC, that means our entity heads.

      Dwight McKissic called for this development more than two years ago, when Dr. Luter’s presidency was still a hoped-for expectation. He made the point then, and I agreed, that the presidency was an important step, but that the real evidence of commitment to shared leadership would be when a minority headed one of our Convention entities.

      I believe that we pastors should indeed pursue this at the local and state levels while at the same time calling for our representatives on the national level to lead out as well. There are many steps that need to be taken — let’s get busy taking all of them, including placing some of our non-Anglo brothers in executive-level leadership.

  4. Dwight McKissic says

    Todd,

    Yes and Amen!!! It would be nice to have an Anglo as an entity head or SBC President who had your heart, views, vision, and willingness to take the venture.

    I am typing these words while seated in a National Baptist Convention Congress of Christian Education meeting in Dallas, Tx., the past 4 days, with reportedly 40, 000 persons present.

    Having just returned from the SBC in Baltimore, I can’t help but compare the two, and evaluate and reflect on my history and relationship with these two conventions that I am a part of both. Perhaps at some point I will post on the similarities and contrast between the two.

    For the moment, I recognize that because of the profound differences in the racial histories it is highly unlikely that they will ever come together. Pragmatically, it would be great for enhanced time management and money management from my perspective if they were one.

    But, as one of the leaders commented publicly, the sons of the slavemasters, and the sons of the slaves, will never view matters the sane way, or share the same perspectives. I have been chewing on that statement. Theologically, I disagree with that statement. Experientially and observationally, I know the statement to be true.

    Both conventions have strengths and weaknesses. But, they are thousands of miles apart on social justice issues, worship styles, and methodology. There is a fair amount of racism on both sides. We are so divided that these two conventions, although, sharing almost identical doctrinal statements, because of our different views of racial views and history, I don’t think that we will ever unite. But, our failure to do so, is an acknowledgement that our culture is stronger than our Christ. And if there is any hope to change this, I would that the SBC would begin the conversation of planting multiracial churches. That could change the course if history for the next generation of Baptists of all stripes.

    Todd Benkert for President of the SBC!!!!

    • Todd Benkert says

      Dwight, If you run into anyone from Gary or Northwest Indiana, tell them I said Hi.
      ____

      “the sons of the slavemasters, and the sons of the slaves, will never view matters the same way, or share the same perspectives”

      I too disagree theologically with this statement — I also believe that we can, if we are willing, come to understand one another, learn from one another, and see both our perspectives change to one that is more in line with God’s view. All our perspectives are warped as our own history and experience is interpreted through our sin natures. We will only discover our blind-spots and the flaws in our thinking when we are willing to humbly listen and learn from one another and together seek the Lord’s perfect understanding.

      Thankful to be pursuing such a unity together with you my brother!

    • Raymond Dix Jr says

      Dr. McKissic, over the years I have read your work with great admiration. Todd Benkert is a personal friend of mine and I often discuss this issue with him. You quote, “But, as one of the leaders commented publicly, the sons of the slavemasters, and the sons of the slaves, will never view matters the same way, or share the same perspectives.” I too find great theological disagreement with this statement. Yet I am also at a lost as to why we seem to think that this HAS to practically remain the case. Much of the reason I find so much division is that both sides have allowed social and cultural memes to replace theology, or at least sound theology. The Church belongs to our Lord Jesus and not to the group that worships, votes or even articulates doctrine in a certain manner. We are at fault as leaders because it seems we lack the courage to simply say that division of this sort is incredibly un-Christian and then do something about it, like make the necessary changes in our ministries. This allows sins like racism to remain unchecked on either side. In this particular sin, we have been guilty of treating the symptom and not the cause. If the two conventions will ever come together, it will take men like yourself and those whom you know to continue to courageously and at great personal risk, call out those who hide behind cultural memes at the expense of the gospel. We need ministers who unashamedly declare that being in a “new ethnos” in Christ is far superior to the ethnos in which I was born; for it will surely pass away. I have served in the demographically black church as a pastor for 25 years and have yet to hear a sufficient explanation for why there remains little more than surface fellowship between Christians of differing ethnicities. Just my opinion, and thank you for the work you do for the Kingdom.

      • Dwight McKissic says

        David,

        I will nominate Todd for 1st VP in Columbus next year(with Todd’s permission) if you or Alan Cross will nominate him for President the following year in St. Louis.

        I would really like to see Dr. Kim elected President in St. Louis, but just as John Wilberforce and other abolitionist led the way for greater opportunities and the movement toward equality for Blacks, it will obviously take Anglos who are sincere, knowledgable, passionate, and with credibility on this issue(as obviously Todd has), to lead us into the changes that the SBC needs in this area. Of course, if Alan’s motion is acted upon by the EC in a positive manner, that too could lead to positive change. Alan ,Todd and other like minded Anglo SBC pastors certainly need to be a part if that committee.

        If Todd becomes President I believe that we would see a movement toward inclusion, empowerment , and philosophical and structural change in a manner that will be a blessing to the SBC, and in the words of Acts “in a way that pleases the multitudes.”

        • Todd Benkert says

          Wow, thanks! I’m not sure I’m ready for the big time (or qualified) but I appreciate the sentiment. I will certainly use whatever platform the Lord gives me to strive toward living out the biblical reality that we are, in Christ, one people of God.

  5. Todd Benkert says

    For what it’s worth, I do think we’ve made significant progress in the SBC. I look forward to the report (assuming the EC takes up the Alan Cross motion) on all the ways we have grown in racial/ethnic reconciliation and diversity. I also look forward to the recommendations they give to churches and leaders at every level of Convention life. Such unity is a godly, biblical pursuit. My specific ideas may not necessarily be the right ones, but the pursuit toward living as one people of God is indeed right. Let us pray and work to that end.

    “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!”

  6. Raymond Dix Jr says

    Todd, while I share your enthusiasm for this issue; I am reticent to fully agree with your premises. I know that you passionately want to see change in your Convention as I do in my community as well. However, as you stated, a president of color is merely a step in the right direction. My belief though is that while it is an important step, I do not believe it is the most important step. As effective as the person might be bringing new perspective to the position; they also would face the possibility that their election was an effort to demonstrate that the SBC finally “gets it” regarding diversity. I think the only means to avoid such a perception that assuages “white guilt” is to do the tough work from the ground floor. The type of work you are doing in Gary. Here is the greatest and most important challenge, in my opinion. For example, I am more grateful for our friendship and developing relationship than I am over the fact that SBC elected a black president. As a black man, it means much too me that I know you are genuine in your friendship because the love of Christ compels you to be so. This is where we need to call every pastor or church members toward; being compelled to see color by the love of Christ. We need to see the glory of God in every image-bearing person and value that glory as much as we would our own blood family. Is not this what the Bible tells us to do? The Church is a mess because we left the gospel for what is comfortable-staying with those who see things as we do, or who look like us. Whites make assumptions about black Christians, and black Christians make just as many assumptions about white Christians. Many of these assumptions prove wrong when an actual relationship based on the love of Christ develops. Keep working my brother, I will stand with you in this endeavor to demonstrate the true meaning of a gospel for all.

    • Todd Benkert says

      Thanks for chiming in — Always appreciate your perspective and especially value our friendship!

  7. dr. james willingham says

    Southerners, Black or White, are kind of slow to get going. Once they are in motion, they make good time. Actually, years ago, I came to the realization that Southern Blacks and Southern Whites are more alike, more close to the same sentiments and outlooks than they are with Northern Blacks and Northern Whites. I remember a Southern Black saying to me as he drove me to LaGuardia in a taxi, “I am thinking about going back down South. I can understand you, but I can’t understand these Blacks up here. Five or six weeks earlier I had been subjected to a good cussing from a White fellow who drove me from downtown to Columbia University and that was after I had given him a good tip. A colleague said, “Stop giving that fellow anymore tip. Can’t you hear him? He is still cussing us out.” I never dreamed that in doing my Doctor of Ministry project that I was simply getting the people ready for grandchildren. And by the way, the Whites love their Black grandchildren just like they do the White ones which is to say, “Gung Ho!” In another church, I know of a grandfather who thinks the sun rises and sets in his Black grandson who evidently thinks there is no one like his Pap Paw. White neighbors and fellow members at the churches forget their prejudices in seeking to maintain relationships with their neighbors and relatives.

    Except for the music in some cases and the politics in some others, White and Black Churches could integrate and one could not tell the differences between the members except by skin color and eventually even that will not be considered anymore. Change is coming, and it is like a whirlwind. One of our Black teenagers has his heart set on becoming a deacon in the church, and he is well liked. There are Blacks as well as Whites who have the most appealing personalities. They will make the differences. About two years ago, I was talking to a lady in Kentucky who had worked to get people recognized for their service in World War II. She had one Air Force pilot who wanted to meet a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the one who drove off a German warplane. He said the fellow pulled up level and smiled the biggest smile. He said he wanted to plant a kiss on that Black face. The lady got in gear and located the Tuskegee Airman who had performed the feat. Alas! He had died a week or so previously. However, her phone calls and efforts moved some one to go to the city dump and recover the man’s service records.

    There are still those who want to express their prejudices, but they find more and more that their neighbors do not feel the same way, especially when they have relatives whom they dearly love.

    The forces of conspiracy are involved; they do not want us to become too united. Their aim is to provoke conflict and the extermination of the multitudes, but Americans are beginning to wake up. Dwight, have you ever read Tony Brown’s We The People?

  8. says

    There are a lot of ways I want to agree with this idea and still something is holding me back. Here’s where I’m coming from – I absolutely agree that I want to see more diversity among SBC leadership, that’s a key reason I wanted to see Dennis Kim elected in Baltimore. But let’s take a recent example… ERLC.

    My opinion is that Russell Moore was the perfect choice for that position, his background, previous work, temperament… I have a hard time believing you could have found anyone to fit that role better. But if we had taken Todd’s approach, might we have missed having Dr. Moore in exactly the role he ought to be playing?

    Suppose there’s someone in SBC life who already has demonstrated leadership in missions, integrity, earned trust, and just seems to be the perfect person to fill that role… I’d have a hard time saying we should pass over someone like that in likely the most important entity in SBC life.

    The scenario I’m positing here is assuming there is one such candidate who is head and shoulders above the rest. I think that person ought to be chosen regardless of race, even if it means more white guys in leadership. However, if there are multiple candidates, all of who would do an equally great job in this role, then I’m all for considering greater diversity as an asset.

    I guess my main point is that it should be a consideration, just not THE consideration as the search team works.

    • Todd Benkert says

      I agree that Russell Moore is exactly the right person to head the ERLC at this critical time. I can also say that I have never felt that way about any other appointment in the 20+ years I have been a Southern Baptist. Again, I do not want to set up the IMB appointment as a litmus test for our commitment to diversity. I’m just saying that, I believe, we must at some point be intentional in pursuing a diverse leadership. If not, we will continue to appoint white guys and many of our brothers will continue to question whether we really mean what we say about our desire for diverse leadership.

      • Todd Benkert says

        That is, as long as the right person for the position is ALWAYS a white guy, how can we say with any credibility that we value racial/ethnic diversity?

        • says

          Well, the way you become the “right person” like Dr. Moore is by writing, blogging, twitter, radio, teaching, preaching, etc… Becoming and expert in the field.

          Fred Luter didn’t feel a bit like we were scrambling to find some ethnic diversity. He was well known and widely appreciated so the SBC presidency absolutely made sense. We could celebrate his presidency that much more because it wasn’t “forced”.

          We need other ethnic leadership that makes sense and that will happen by greater exposure, opportunities, writing, leadership. I want to see it happen, I just don’t want us, in a frenzy of trying to do the right thing, to do the wrong thing.

          • volfan007 says

            It’s my experience that if you blog and tweet, then you might not be picked to on committees, boards, or be a SB leader. Blogging and tweeting seemed to a “bad” thing in the eyes of some of the movers and shakers of the SBC.

            Blogging=Bad

            David

          • Tarheel says

            Thank you Brent. You are articulating what I’ve been trying to articulate but you’re doing it much better.

          • Bill Mac says

            David: I think it depends on the content of what we blog or tweet. We’ve seen it work both ways in recent years.

          • volfan007 says

            Bill Mac,

            You might be right…to a point. I can just tell you that….well…. when people hear that someone blogs and tweets…..they get really nervous….and, it’s almost like a bad thing….what you hear is something like: “Oh, wait a minute, this fella blogs. We’d better check this out more.” I think this may stem from the Wade Burleson and the IMB days….I don’t know…but maybe….

            And, another thing….everything you type and publish can be used by people, who hate you, to try to keep you from serving. Things can be played up, or twisted, or taken out of context, to make you look bad….in the worst light possible.

            David

          • Bill Mac says

            David: Of course that is true. When your words are out there, they can always be used against you.

            Frankly, I think Twitter is stupid. I see no good purpose for it.

      • says

        I agree with you broadly, I just think to pick a specific post ahead of time and say, “this has to be the one” could put us in a bad situation. Which is why I don’t think we should push so strongly on the IMB presidency specifically.

        • Todd Benkert says

          This doesn’t have to be the one — but this is the 5th opportunity in the past few years and likely the last for a while — seems a bit more urgent at this point. Also, I think (as my post suggests) that there are more advantages to a non-Anglo in the position than just diversity in the SBC.

          So my balance is this: On the one hand, this appointment is not a litmus test or an absolute must in terms of increasing diversity in SBC leadership and we must appoint someone who is a good fit for the position. On the other hand, appointing a non-Anglo to the position would be a great thing, this will be our last chance to see diversity in our entity heads for some time, and at some point we MUST appoint a non-Anglo to an entity head position or our claim to value diversity is meaningless. Does that thread the needle sufficiently?

          • Raymond Dix Jr. says

            As a black man, it doesn’t matter to me who leads if quality relationships do not for at the ground level. There is a strong sensitivity in the black community regarding these types of “for the sake of diversity” appointments. This may be lost in this discussion. There is also a dichotomy that exists in the claim for more diversity on one hand, and the push back against appointments based primarily on ethnicity. I realize that non-Anglo doesn’t mean black, but I was simply stating the possible view of the group by which there is the largest divide.

          • Tarheel says

            I don’t know if it’ll be all that long before we have another….opening,

            PP is getting up in age….just making an observation not any kind of wishful thinking on my part whatsoever. (Just wanna put that last part out there before anyone pounces.)

          • Todd Benkert says

            Raymond, (1) executive level appointments should coincide with partnership/relationships at the local level. Many of us are doing our parts locally, I’m calling on leadership to follow suit. (2) When I speak of diversity, I mean that as shorthand for genuine partnership with our non-Anglo brothers and shared leadership across racial/ethnic lines, not in any token or merely symbolic sort of way.

          • Raymond Dix Jr. says

            Todd, from the outside, the leadership of the SBC looks just like the overwhelming majority of its members. In some ways your call for diversity in leadership needs to be a call for diversity in membership. For example, Gary Indian’s recent past made it the “blackest” city per capita in the USA. The SBC is located in NWI, in a relatively safe part of the community. The spiritual needs of Gary are well-documented across this country. I once asked the SBC local executive director about the SBC’S local urban strategy for Gary and basically got the answer that we will come help you knock on doors. The SBC seems to have know real plan for evangelizing urban, mostly black communities. To wit, there is no real plan from black dominated faith organizations either. But my point is again, what difference does diverse leadership make when local SBC churches surround urban communities with prayer, but perhaps little else? I think when the SBC commits to local evangelism in places like Gary and Chicago Southside, which require partnerships with existing gospel churches on a relational level, then leadership at the top will matter more. You personally are doing more to advance this idea than any SBC church in Gary that I have seen in nearly 30 years.

          • Todd Benkert says

            Raymond, if you look at our stats, our membership is far more diverse than our leadership. We are already seeing the change on the ground level as now twenty percent of our congregations are non-Anglo, up from only 5% in 1990. By the current common measure of “multi-ethnic”, that puts the SBC in that category. However, zero percent of our executive leadership is non-Anglo.

  9. Dwight McKissic says

    Dr. Willingham,

    I have not read Tony Brown’s book. I’ll try and get it. I always appreciate your informed and helpful commentary.

  10. volfan007 says

    Well, I don’t know about yall, but I feel cheated, slighted, and angry about this….we didn’t have big, red balls to throw around the convention center at the end of the SBC, like the Presbyterians did…..why not? Hummmmm?

    https://vine.co/v/MTij7669Urb

  11. Dale Pugh says

    Okay, so let’s do some practical speculation here…….Who would be some of the leading non-Anglo candidates for future SBC entity head positions?

    • Dale Pugh says

      Of course, Fred Luter is going to be on the list, but I know nothing of his academic background. That is, and should be, a factor in anyone’s consideration for leading any of our SBC entities. Education may not be a deal breaker, but it has to be a known quantity.

  12. Bill Mac says

    In the end, the question becomes: Is the prayerful and judicious use of racial discrimination the solution to our past history of hate-fueled racial discrimination?

    • Todd Benkert says

      That’s a good question — but I submit that we discriminate in every decision we make and such discrimination is not always a bad thing.

      To illustrate the principle I am advocating, consider the following scenario: If I were planting a church whose vision was to be intentionally multi-ethnic, would I be discriminating if I as a white guy said that I was going to intentionally hire staff members who were non-Anglo? Yes. But would such discrimination be wrong to do? and what would be the effect of my trying to plant such a church if every person on the leadership team was white? Would I effectively be able to reach my multi-ethnic “One people of God” vision if my sources of perspective, insight, wisdom, leadership, giftedness, and partnership came from only one race/ethnicity?

      (Note: see my comment at June 19, 2014 at 9:30 pm for my attempt at balance on the particular issue of the IMB hire)

      • Bill Mac says

        Todd: I’m not saying you’re wrong, but we’ve been hearing for years that we shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of race. But if we want to deliberately hire on the basis of race we are saying that what we’ve been hearing is wrong.

          • Dave Miller says

            That statement sums it all up. It’s so simple.

            For 150 years blacks and other minorities were intentionally excluded from fellowship and leadership in the SBC. Now, we must intentionally include them.

            It’s not that hard.

  13. Todd Benkert says

    I think that one part of the problem, that I have attempted to address in this post, is that we see our leadership positions as “jobs”. Rather than seeing our appointments as assembling a leadership team for our cooperative work, we see them as hiring employees for a position. When someone like me suggests that we consider race/ethnicity as one factor in these appointments, our white-guy minds immediately default to thinking “reverse discrimination”. But that’s not what I’m suggesting at all. I’m advocating for true partnership across racial/ethnic lines.

    I do not see our entity-head appointments as merely hiring employees. I see them as selecting leaders for our multi-ethnic, multi-racial cooperative missional effort called the SBC. If we really value such partnership, then being intentional about appointing non-Anglos is NOT discriminating against whites, but sharing leadership with our non-white brothers as we work together for His kingdom.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Todd and Raymond Dix,

      It has been a joy to discover the beauty, depth, mutual respect and appreciation, and common bond in Christ and His Kingdom–perhaps even stronger than a common bond as being, I assume, fellow SBC’rs. Your relationship reminds me of a similar relationship that I have with Randy Weakes, a fellow SBC pastor, whose relationship with me I would describe as I have the two of you. Reading the comments between the two of you is even stronger than reading Todd’s post. Todd’s two post and commentary on this subject is the best that I’ve read in the SBC Voices, on this subject, or anywhere else in the SBC network. Voices has given a voice to some of the best posts and commentary on this subject that you will find in the SBC. This conversation is almost non-existent outside of Voices in the SBC. Todd, I learned from a report given I the footnotes on the Phoenix Diversity Report that the EC does read Voices, and noted in the official report that posts that O’f written had informed their discussions. I hope the IMB is reading your post.

      The conversations that we are having at Voices on this subject needs to be held throughout our convention. It could lead to a great unifying change that is relationship based, not policy or legislative based. ERLC could lead this effort. I could not resist letting the two of you know how I have been blessed by your relationship and interaction here on this thread.

      Thank you both, for letting the rest of us see the gospel at work in your relationship and conversation.

      • Todd Benkert says

        Thanks for the encouragement, Dwight. As for Rev. Dix, he is not SBC, but is the site-pastor for Bethel Church, Gary campus. Bethel is a great non-denominational (baptistic) church in our area with a true Kingdom mindset. I value his friendship.

  14. Mary C. says

    Maybe a better approach would be, through scholarships to our SBC educational institutions, to invest in ethnic believers who show potential and promise. Instead of choosing entity heads because they are not “white”–let’s equip them to be ready to lead in these capacities.

    I am a seminary doctoral student. In my program, there are no black students. No Hispanics. No Asians. All white guys – and me. While I agree that diversity is unifying, I hate to see my cohorts (and others like them in other places) overlooked simply because they are not “ethnic.”

    • Todd Benkert says

      I submit that we already have ethnic brothers who are equipped and ready to serve in these capacities — at what point do we give them the opportunity to do so?

      • Tarheel says

        Does anyone know the process for entity head hires?

        Is it open resume submission ?

        Are people invited to nominate?

        Are people chosen and invited to submit resumes?

        What is the process?

        • Tarheel says

          Well, since no one answered my question….I did a little searching.

          I found that the process is basically – the search team (made up of 15 trustees) will accept nominations from each of its trustees whether they are on the selection team or not. I saw no other means of nominee solicitation in the articles I looked at. Perhaps they are accepting nominations from pastors within the SBC too? I don’t know….if they are I have failed to find a request for such.

          I did notice that of the 15 member committee – There are none from a single east coast southern state….interesting.

          Anyway so, if the process is by internal Nomination only….then one might assume that only individuals trustees know are nominated. So if these trustees aren’t aware of and comfortable with nominating someone – no matter how qualified we on the outside might think they are – they don’t get considered.

          • Todd Benkert says

            Interesting. Thanks for the info.

            Whatever the process, trustees will have to be intentional about seeking out and seriously considering minority candidates if we ever hope to diversity in our leadership.

  15. A brother says

    This is a fascinating conversation and gives a breath of desperately needed oxygen for someone who has been yearning for any glimmer of sign of hope within SBC. Thank you. You guys rock!!! I have a deep respect for Dr McKissic for his inspirational, “across the isle” nomination rationale for Dr Kim. That was a breathe of fresh air. (My hope to visit with him some time.)

    How about, for example, an ethnic who:
    -grew up in the US since age 13; currently 51 with wife, 2 daughters in college
    -Educationally: MDiv from Southwestern, ThM Princeton, PhD from Trinity
    -Scholarship from Home Mission Board, Texas Convention
    -Professionally: been full time prof at Trinity and Golden Gate; adj at Wheaton, Southern etc. with excellent reviews;
    -Walked away from a tenured position at GGBTS to follow God’s calling to the Big City to be a mobilizer to embrace all people to reach all people to make beautiful again what sin has decimated
    -Missionally: Currently has been vetted to be NAMB career missionary since 2008 in one of our largest and most diverse cities; Director of Missional Leadership and Mobilization; now Multiethnic Church Planting Catalyst, doing leadership development, mission mobilization, multiethnic church planting among Asian, African, African-American, Hispanic, Eastern Europeans and others
    -excellent rapport across the racial/ethnic line with local African-American, Latino and other ethnic leaders
    -was keynote speaker with Richard Harris and Jimmy Draper in 2009 at a major NAMB missionary care event for 200 NAMB missionaries
    -keynote speaker at California SBC Pastor’s conference with the crowd’s standing ovation at the end
    -lived and served in Wash DC, NYC, Orlando, Dallas, Chicago, SF.
    -loves family, friends (and their friends) and any food with an attitude
    -hoping for the credibility of the gospel to emanate from my beloved SBC in front of the increasingly skeptical

    • Todd Benkert says

      I’d say that person would be on my short list. Thanks for chiming in. Be encouraged! There is a growing desire to see shared leadership in the SBC. Thankful to partner with you in His kingdom work!

  16. Todd Benkert says

    Rev. Dix asks, “Can you imagine what happens to an organization in the absence of constructive criticism or civil dissent?”

    You obviously haven’t spent much time on this blog – I don’t think any leader, no matter his color, would escape criticism and dissent here. ?

    • Raymond Dix Jr. says

      Todd, of course there is a big difference between electing and appointing. Also, I yield to you that criticism is an order of the day on the blogosphere, perhaps because some may remain anonymous. I also yield to your intimate knowledge of SBC, and only offer food for thought. You are much better qualified than I to raise the issue and take the stand you take. Blessings.

  17. Todd Benkert says

    In response to the comment by Rev. Dix, June 21, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Rev. Dix, in your argument you being with an “if” that is only a partial truth. There reality is that 80-85% of voters’ choice was determined before the candidates were even chosen. Sure there was greater excitement and voter turnout due to the prospect of a first black president, but the actual number of persons whose actual vote was determined in large part by race is relatively small.
    Ultimately, I think your suggestion is a red herring. Even if we grant that Obama was chosen because of intentionally wanting to elect a person of color, the differences between the election of Obama and the selection of an IMB entity head are so profound that I do not see any value in the comparison.
    • We elect the president by the vote of the people, we appoint an entity head by the selection of trustees
    • In the election, you have two opposing sides who are already highly antagonistic toward one another – in the IMB hire, we have numerous constituencies on the same side selecting a leader for our shared desire
    • In the election, one side wins and another loses – in the IMB hire, we are looking for win-win
    • In the election you have numerous constituencies looking for a candidate who will represent their own interests – in the IMB hire, you have numerous constituencies looking to work together for a common interest
    • In the election, you have a variety of people whose common connection is that they are citizens of the United states – in the SBC, you have a variety of people whose connection is the gospel of Jesus that has transformed us, made us brothers, and called us to be one people of God.
    • The motives of electing the first black president are numerous and varied — the motives of being intentional in SBC appointments are spiritual and, ultimately, to bring glory to God.
    Finally, I don’t see how being intentional changes anything in terms of outcome (unless you suggest that only white guys are actually qualified for the position). With the first non-Anglo hire, you are still left with the supposed risk that the negative impact of a minority leader not succeeding might be greater than the possible positive benefits of choosing him in the first place. If that’s true, then we should probably continue to select only white leaders, because then if they fail, at least no one would make any connection to race/ethnicity. (I’m sure you see the absurdity of such a conclusion). But even here, I think that risk is very slight. I submit that the value of sharing leadership with our ethnic brothers is far greater than any risk, real or perceived.

    • Raymond Dix Jr. says

      Todd, I have to say that it is naïve to think that the actual percentage of voters whose vote was determined by race was small; especially among blacks… even if the parties have constituencies. Nearly every black person I know felt the pressure to authenticate our blackness by voting for the President. For example, what makes a woman like Oprah endorse/vote for a person that likely represents very few policies in her interests? She had a chance to be part of history, and I get that. The reality of victimization runs very deep in the black community; much deeper than we are willing to admit. However, that is another topic for another time my friend. :)

      • Todd Benkert says

        Thank you Rev. Dix and Dr. McKissic! I appreciate your friendship and partnership in the gospel.

        Be blessed!

  18. Todd Benkert says

    Rev Dix asks, “Curiously, would you call for the National Baptist Convention to diversify its leadership?”
    This is a separate issue and I will treat it in a separate response. Basically, the situations are really not similar for a couple significant reasons.
    (1) The NBC is mono-cultural in its constituency – all of its churches are African American. The SBC is multi-cultural – 20% of its churches are non-Anglo and more than half of new church starts are ethnic. If our constituency is multi-ethnic, then our leadership should reflect that diversity.
    (2) The NBC has no stated desire to racial reconciliation and diversity in leadership. The SBC, conversely, has stated but not yet realized this desire. If our stated desire is diversity, then that should be actively pursued at every level including executive leadership of our Convention entities.
    Thus, my answer to your question is “NO”. The NBC has other steps they need to take first (that the SBC has already taken) to pursue the heavenly vision of one people of God.

  19. Dwight McKissic says

    Todd,

    You and Taylor Branch( if you don’t recognize his name, google him) really scare me. For White Men, you all gave somehow managed to gain a fairly good understanding of the guts, emotions, and movement(s) of the Black Church. Big Daddy Weave is another Anglo commentator(who comments rather infrequently here, lately), who also has an above average understanding of the Black Church. I am deeply appreciative and moved by what you have had to say in your recent posts and commentary. I pray that The Lord would give me am opportunity to hang out with you and Rev. Digs at some point. I believe that I really could enjoy that time. I deeply appreciate both of you, though I have only met one of you.

  20. Dwight McKissic says

    Rev. Raymond Dix, Jr,

    I apologize for not spelling your name correctly a couple of times. I was relying upon my aging memory. As soon as I saw the correct spelling, I wanted to correct my mistake.

    Of course with a name like McKissic, it is often misspelled and mispronounced. But, I’ve learned to be content in whatever way my name is spelled or pronounced. But, I do think it is important to do my very best to correctly spell and pronounce others name. Therefore, again,I apologize for having misspelled your name.

    • Raymond Dix Jr. says

      Dr. McKissic, please do not worry about the misspelling of my name. With a name like Dix, your learn early on not to be sensitive about such matters. LOL Besides, that is one of the better misspellings! :)

  21. Raymond Dix Jr. says

    Also, I pray that God would allow the three of us to hang out together. Please let Todd know the next time you come to Chicago. :)

    • Tarheel says

      David,

      Thats fascinatingly informative thanks for posting it! I too am looking forward to Part 2.

  22. David Rogers says

    Very late to the discussion, but here are a few observations on my part.

    1. The IMB president, in many ways, functions as a pastor to the IMB missionary force and staff, or at least a pastoral style leader. It is important that this person be able to relate in this way successfully to all of the missionaries, the majority of which, at present, are white. I know presently of a couple of cases of churches with a large majority white membership and a black senior pastor, where this arrangement seems to be working pretty well. The IMB job would call for a similar skill set to pull it off.

    2. I think that growing up as part of a minority culture group and learning to relate to the majority culture gives one a unique and helpful perspective with regard to cross-cultural ministry. Because of this, a candidate from a minority background may well bring to the table some important qualifications that not all majority background candidates do. It would be important that the candidate, of whatever ethnic background, demonstrate a fair degree of competence in cross-cultural relationships.

    • Greg Harvey says

      I hope everyone else has “dueling banjos” running through their heads now like I do…or if you didn’t, then after reading my comment maybe you will…

  23. Rob says

    I don’t think that Tom Eliff was a bad president of the IMB because he was an old, white man. He was bad because of his lack of experience. He was the “right” person for the mega-church coalition, but he wasn’t qualified. If you only consider candidates that are non-anglo, how will you know if your “right” man is the “best?”

    Can we afford another token leader? Probably. But, do we want another one? I hope not. Please don’t discount competence.