Here are the Southern Baptist national entity heads in 2010 with a look at what happened during the 2010s.
International Mission Board, Jerry Rankin. Rankin was a short-timer in January, 2010. He left in July of that year. Tom Elliff was his replacement, serving from 2011-2014. David Platt took the top job in 2014 and served until late 2018. Paul Chitwood was elected and took office late in that year. Our oldest, largest, richest, and most important entity went through the 2010s with four CEOs. It wasn’t a good decade in many respects. We went from a career missionary as leader (Rankin), to a former megapastor at retirement age (Elliff), to a next generation megapastor (Platt), to a state convention leader (Chitwood). Financial difficulties that accumulated under Rankin and Elliff were solved by Platt but at a heavy cost of over 1,000 overseas personnel who too early retirement or resigned. IMB began the decade with over 5,000 missionaries and ended it with around 3,700. The IMB had three presidents from 1954-2010. They are on their fourth since 2010. While thousands of dedicated, humble, energetic people served the IMB during the 2010s, I doubt many would call this period a resounding success. It was not a great decade.
North American Mission Board, Kevin Ezell, elected president in late 2010. After Robert Reccord left in 2006 Geoffrey Hammond was elected president and stayed until 2009. The organization was a mess. Ezell came and put the organization on a steady path with the two previous meltdowns fading into the past. If there is a success story of the 2010s it is NAMB.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler. A steady hand and strong enrollment marked the decade. Mohler was already the SBC’s most visible spokesperson. (and, no, there’s no “The” in SBTS in my book).
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson. Patterson was about half-way in his tenure which ended in 2018. Enrollment was declining, finances were a mess. Trustees were either absent or ineffective in overseeing the institution. The decade ends, thankfully, with Adam Greenway a fresh, new, younger president with enrollment climbing and reputation being restored.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Danny Akin. Akin’s tenure as president began in 2003 and continued through the 2010s. Enrollment remains strong and the seminary has a reputation as a mission minded institution.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Phil Roberts. If NAMB had not been such a mess, MBTS would be the SBC’s poster child for institutional dysfunction. Roberts resigned in 2012 with a forensic audit in the background. His predecessor was fired in 1999. Thank God for Jason Keith Allen providing stability and leadership beginning in 2012. The decade ends with enrollment up and solid finances.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Chuck Kelley. Kelley served as president since 1996 and retired in 2019. He had to manage the institution through the hurricane Katrina disaster. The seminary starts the third decade of the 21st century with a new president, Jamie Dew.
Gateway Seminary, Jeff Iorg. Iorg has served as president (the name was changed from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) since 2004. The seminary was owner of the most expensive real estate in the SBC (unless you count some overseas IMB properties) until it was sold and the campus relocated.
LifeWay, Thom Ranier. LifeWay had to navigate the movement of commerce from brick-and-mortar stores to the internet. LifeWay closed all of its retail stores this year. Ben Mandrell was elected president this year. I have no idea what the future holds for LifeWay.
GuideStone, O. S. Hawkins. I’m still mad about what I had to pay for health insurance prior to hitting Medicare age. I don’t know how GuideStone’s insurance products will hold up in the age of Obamacare and its possible expansion or replacement.
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Richard Land. Land left the agency in 2013 under a cloud. It’s too far back to get into it. Moore has had his own difficulties which may be inevitable for this job.
SBC Executive Committee, Morris Chapman. Chapman had announced his retirement and left in September, 2010. Frank Page was elected the same year and served until retiring with a “morally inappropriate relationship” as the cause. Ronnie Floyd was elected and took office in 2019.
After looking at all the entities and what happened over the past ten years, it’s tough for me to label the decade past as anything but filled with self-inflicted disasters and meltdowns. Sure, plenty of good things happened, but one cannot escape the fact that it was quite a difficult period. I count nine major debacles among the dozen entities. Some of these immediately preceded 2010 and carried over into the decade. If I was a trust-the-trustees kind of Southern Baptist, my trust was eroded somewhat over the period.
But, there’s good reason to be optimistic about the 2020s. IMB and NAMB, our two most important entities are doing well. All of the seminaries seem to be on the right track and well led these days. ERLC will have some challenges ahead, as will LifeWay. GuideStone sits on a pot full of the retirement savings of SBCers and better not mess up. The Executive Committee will be far more scrutinized going forward than it has been in the past.
But…let’s watch some football this week.