I usually stay out of denominational functions that are not IMB-centric. Blame isolation, not apathy; with 8,900 miles between my home church and my actual home, involvement opportunities in SBC life rarely float by. However, the SBC election has piqued* my interest simply because I’ve seen what a strong leader can accomplish in the SBC. Whether you’re a Plattite or not, the IMB’s president has taken some amazing steps that I never believed possible.
*Dear Internet users: this is the proper spelling. Take note.
I realize Kevin Ezell and Thom Rainer deserve heavy mitting for their respective roles in leading SBC entities, but I never knew NAMB and Lifeway before their tenure and as such cannot use them to inspire myself into having an opinion. I’ve known the IMB, though; Captain Radical has sparked some thinking and as usual, dear readers, you’ll need to tolerate the resulting diatribe.
We need a future-thinking visionary.
The CP’s best days remain firmly in the rearview mirror, and a new SBC president must look to newer forms of support. Monolithic theological positions belong to yesteryear as well; insisting that the SBC has always been Calvinist or Arminian wastes time. Joining anything (church, club, association), as a cultural concept, has less meaning than ever, and we need someone to help guide us into a new understanding of church membership.
The SBC president’s office lacks the control bestowed on an entity head; therefore, vetting our candidates based on who can enforce change is doomed as a method of nomination. However, a visionary leader focused on how the SBC should look someday best suits the needs we have. Let us not elect a president whose expertise lies in knowledge of the past nor management of the present.
We need someone invested in change.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here: change exists. In the United States, change happens faster with each subsequent generation. I would venture to suggest that changes come along in the US faster than anywhere else in the world. With more (legal) immigrants bringing newer ideas, more intermarriage resulting in cultural blending, more technology, more innovation…all of this results in change.
We need an SBC leader who understands this and embraces it as a part of life in the SBC. Instead of asking, “What will we have to change?” the next SBC president needs to say, “How can we embrace change? How do we harness change to spread the Gospel among the nations?”
We need someone with political will.
Someone said, “Change is ultimately a political process.” If facts and spreadsheets sufficed, churches and organizations would smoothly shift and remold themselves based on objective conclusions; we know that is not the case. As the SBC enters increasingly uncertain terrain and faces inevitable change, our new president will need to evaluate matters and pursue what is necessary to keep the SBC strong. He’ll need networks to support him as he works through the issues. Most of all, he will need to respond to critics who oppose change for emotional reasons, but without straying from the proper path.
We need a questioner.
I love asking questions. I inadvertently put people under a microscope as I look for new questions with cool answers. Understanding how things work and why they work or fail drives me. As I’ve observed Team Platt re-create and craft the organization, I’m struck by the fact that they are only people I know who ask more questions than I.
An SBC president needs to ask, ask, and ask again. Regardless of background, no candidate for the top spot knows enough about the SBC, America’s cultural shift, state conventions, and the various entities to know where we need to go in 2017 and beyond. The uncomfortable questions (“Why you and not him?”) and the unpleasant queries (“Who messed this up?”) are as important as asking about success stories and new ideas.
We need someone for two years.
(Note: I’m enough of an idiot that I somehow overlooked the fact that the SBC president already serves two years. Many thanks to Bart Barber for graciously pointing out my mistake. I’ll leave this here, though, so you can bask in my ignorance.)
I know this is not how it is done, but I can’t help it. Willfully shifting leaders annually makes us weaker at times. We lack the continuity necessary to guide the SBC onto new tracks within our culture. Let’s elect someone who stands a chance of serving consecutive terms in order to lead us better through some of the uncertainty.
A common thread weaves through my thoughts: change. Change does not mean anything is broken or ungodly. Change simply says “Growth. New. Different.” I’m not calling for change in the SBC because we have deviated from the Bible. I’m simply pointing out that change is, and we need an SBC president who leverages change and its attendant circumstances for the glory of God.