Why I Said “Yes”

An odd thing happened last Saturday.

I am headed to Taiwan in a month for a two-week mission trip.  I was sweating it out at the church, running a yard sale to raise funds to buy the plane tickets (purchased Tuesday – a miracle of provision).  While I was trying to encourage customers to purchase the junk I was peddling, I got a text message.

“Dave, some of us have been talking and we think you should be nominated for 2nd VP of the Convention.”

You don’t get a text like that every day. My initial response was, “okay.”  But after I talked to a few friends about it I began to have second thoughts. Since the Traditionalist document came out a couple of weeks ago, there has been a politically charged environment in the SBC. I didn’t really want to get into the middle of that.

Wednesday morning I took a walk and spent the entire hour praying and thinking about this. Why would I do this?  I didn’t want to do it just to run against someone or something. But as I walked, two convictions grew in me, reasons I decided to say “yes” to my friends who asked me to run.

I realize that there is almost no power or authority conferred on this office.  But it is an opportunity to say some things to the SBC that I believe need to be said.

I’d like to tell you why I made the decision to allow my name to be placed in nomination for 2nd Vice President of the SBC.

1) I want to promote Baptist work outside the mainline states.  I have been a Florida Baptist and a Virginia Baptist and I can tell you it is a very different thing being a Southern Baptist in Iowa, or in Minnesota, or Wisconsin, or the Dakotas, or Montana, or Wyoming.  We work in areas where people think of us as on the religious fringe.

Iowa has 3 million people, and there are about 110 SBC churches throughout the state of Iowa.  The vast majority of those have fewer than 50 on a Sunday morning.  The total membership of Baptist Convention of Iowa churches is less than 13,000.  Many of you come from churches larger than our convention and most of your associations are probably significantly bigger than our convention.

Baptist Work in Iowa and the surrounding states is different than in Alabama or Texas or Mississippi.  My church leads our state convention in Cooperative Program giving (12%), in Lottie Moon giving, and in overall Great Commission giving.  But I read an article in Baptist Press today that detailed the statistical reports of the churches of Fred Luter, Nathan Lino and Eric Hankins.  They dwarf ours in every way. A church that averages 100 on Sunday morning is basically an Iowa Baptist megachurch.

Because of our size, we do not get representation on boards of trustees for SBC entities.  Iowa. Minnesota/Wisconsin. The Dakotas.  Montana. Wyoming.  Maybe a few others.  We are not represented in the decision-making bodies of the SBC.  We are affected by those decisions, but do not participate in them.  I’m not complaining – that is just the reality of participating in small church conventions outside the Baptist mainstream.

But there are some good churches up here and some good people and some good ideas.  There are people who are serving the Lord and doing a good job in a tough place.  I want to run as a representative of the Baptists who labor in the frozen North, the new work states where churches are small and struggles are great.

2)  I want to use whatever forum I can find to promote unity in the SBC.  Maybe my thinking has been skewed by the extreme nature of blogging, but I see a deeply divided, splintering convention and that may be leading to some of our statistical issues. We need to raise up a new majority of Baptists who focus on our unity in Christ, our commitment to the Great Commission, the BF&M and the Cooperative Program.  Beyond that, we need unity and grace.

We need to stop aiming our weapons at one another and take up the weapons of warfare that God has given us to battle against the forces of darkness and bring Christ to this sinful world.

It is for these reasons that I decided to agree to have my name placed in nomination.  Win or lose, I intend to use whatever opportunities I get to represent the states like the one I serve and to call the Southern Baptist Convention to a greater Christ-centered unity greater than what we have seen in recent years.

That’s my story.

Comments

  1. Dwight McKissic says

    Dave,

    You sure have my vote and anybody else that I can influence to vote for you. You serve the Kingdom and the SBC well through this blog. You also bring an irenic spirit to the table, which is always important. I hope you suceed.

    Dwight

  2. says

    Dave,

    I am glad to see you in. I have appreciated our dialogues here on Voices. I will stand in line with Dwight, Alan and others who support your nomination and wish you well if you are selected to be the next Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

  3. says

    I think that Dave would make a great 2nd VP for the SBC. Here’s why:

    1. Dave is a Christ-focused Bridge Builder. I am not saying that others are not “Christ-focused,” but I am saying that he sees Christ as the foundation of our unity. That is important. We have to find ways to work together. Dave is very skilled at that. In the midst of disagreements and controversies, Dave can help craft consensus based on our shared devotion to Christ.
    2. Dave offers a voice from outside the South. In a year when we are voting on a name change and are electing our first African American president, it would be prudent to also bring in non-Southern leadership.
    3. Dave has a great theological and pastoral heart and mind. He articulates his positions well and Biblically. We need that kind of leadership.
    4. Dave does not take himself too seriously, has a great sense of humor, and a fantastic wit. Those things are sorely needed in leadership of all kinds, especially in the SBC.

    I write a bit more on my blog about why I am supporting Dave: http://www.downshoredrift.com/downshoredrift/2012/06/dave-miller-for-2nd-vp-of-the-sbc.html

  4. says

    Hey Dave,

    What’s your destination in Taiwan? I went in 2006 and spent most of my time in Taichung. Great blessing. Saw some come to faith in Christ months later after we shared Christ with them. Still following Christ faithfully to this day!

    Kevin

    • Dave Miller says

      Yep, going to Taichung. We will be working with the TMF and then doing some other ministries. My mom and dad were missionaries in Taichung back in the 70s, so I attended Morrison Academy for 3 1/2 years. We are REALLY looking forward to this!

        • says

          Not sure about Dan. I do know we worked with Mark Persall and Glenda Cook, plus many locals. The church I went with was Trinity Baptist from Amarillo, and now they take multiple trips to Taiwan each year. The Lord changed my life in my two weeks there. So have you stayed in the Wan de (sp?) building?

          This cool connection makes me like you even more, Dave Miller! [Insert "wicked" emoticon here.]

    • Bill Mac says

      Every candidate has things in their life they are not proud of. They are only human after all.

    • says

      If we can get a promise that he won’t use the platform to encourage others to fall into that same pattern of evil, then I can get past that.

      Dave, I’d drive to NOLA just to vote for you if I could.

  5. says

    I’ll be there, and happy to vote for Dave.

    What a historic week: The first African-American President and first die-hard Red Sox fan 2nd VP.

    Too much to not witness first-hand.

  6. Bart Barber says

    Dave,

    I’ll be voting for Eric Hankins, but it will be a vote for him, not a vote against you. May God bless your convention experience this year. I wish you well.

  7. Debbie Kaufman says

    Bart I swear I’m respecting you more and more. I like where you are coming from. Great comment.

  8. TRB says

    Dave,

    Do you think your nomination can be viewed as a “back-door referendum” on the Traditionalist statement? I don’t know the ins and outs of resolutions and what may or may not be planned this week, but if there is no real vote on the Traditionalist / Calvinist issue, would having a candidate known to favor one of the two major positions become a de facto opportunity for delineation?

    If it is perceived your candidacy is primarily based on T / C debate AND on your desire to focus more attention on work outside of the mainline states, I can see how a messenger might be conflicted if he or she supports your viewpoint in one area but not in the other.

    Does a vote against Dave Miller mean I’m a Traditionalist with no interest in ministry outside the South? Or just that I don’t like the Yankees?

    TRB

    • Smuschany says

      So the fact that the author of the “traditionalist” statement is also running for the 2nd VP spot means nothing? Bro Miller’s candidacy is a “back door referendum” but the candidacy of Hankins is not? Dr. Barber in his pieces supporting Hankins calls the 2nd VP position as a referendum on the “traditionalist” statement. So are you suggesting that it is ok to have a “positive” referendum, but wrong to have one that might be against? But notice I say “might” because it seems you (as I think your post assumes) conclude that Bro Miller is lying when he gives his reasons for accepting the nomination. That is, you think he really does secretly want to foil the “traditionalist” statement even though he did not give that reason as one of the two he did give.

      • Bart Barber says

        Allow me to be perfectly clear:

        I do not necessarily consider it to be a good thing that the 2VP race is turning into a referendum on various positions in the SBC. I’m just acknowledging what I perceive is the situation as it has developed. That’s all. I endorsed Dr. Hankins before the statement had ever been released.

    • says

      I struggled long to decide to run because I didn’t want it to be that I was the anti-Hankins. He seems like a good man though I do not agree with his document.

      However, I think the need of the SBC is to lay down arms and unite around the CP, the GC, the BF&M and the unity Christ purchased on the Cross. If Calvinists and traditionalists continue to splinter and and fight, the SBC will fail. Our hope is in Christ and a divided army will not win.

      We need to focus on our biblical and Christocentric unity while we debate the rest.

  9. says

    All that, TRB, to say that I am not running against, but for. However, it does not surprise me that this is being seen as a referendum on the traditionalist document.

  10. Dale Pugh says

    It is unfortunate that elections at the SBC are defined as “referendums” on anything. We need to be characterized by that for which we stand. I thought you made that pretty clear in your post above, Dave. I think Hankins has made that clear as well, just as have the New Calvinists or YRR’s or whatever name they’re called. We all know what our agreements and disagreements are. Why does this have to be a continual fight and questioning of motives and agendas? Does cynicism rule the interpretation of every statement someone makes?
    McKissick has faced the same kinds of questions on his proposed resolution regarding the Mormon stance on race. He has clearly stated that his motivation is not political, yet he consistently faces charges of attempting to manipulate the upcoming presidential election. It’s ridiculous and unproductive for brothers and sisters in Christ to act more like the parties of the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes than fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
    Instead of approaching each issue with an inherent cynicism, why not take the high road and believe that the person making the statement (in this case Dave) is being honest and forthright?
    I’m not at the SBC, thus, I have no vote. I pastor a tiny country church in the middle of nowhere, thus, I have no standing in any convention whatsoever. I’m too busy trying to support my family as a bi-vocational pastor to take time off to go to conventions. That’s been my choice in ministry since 1986, so I live with the consequences. One of those consequences is that guys like me all over the Convention will never have a voice in those places where it might make the most difference. Go for it, Dave! Whether you’re elected or not, I pray that your 4 points will be heard and your admonitions heeded!

  11. says

    Just pulled into NO.

    I can’t believe all the “It’s Miller time!” billboards I’ve seen.

    Didn’t expect so much campaigning, certainly not with beer.

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