I’m asking this question because I used to be one of the “just hire the right man for the job” crowd. Then, I had lunch with a millennial. I asked him how I could reach millennials with the gospel. His answer was blunt, to the point, and surprising. He said, “Get a millennial to reach them.” I expected him to tell me to be more active on social media, or tell me where millennials hang out these days. The quickest way to reach millennials is to get a millennial to reach them.
How does this relate to the current SBC conversation on minorities in leadership? The quickest way to reach minorities is get a minority to reach them. I was fully supportive of the SBC’s need to be more diverse, and to reach out to minorities. I was, however, not supportive of the intentional hiring of minorities for leadership positions. I changed my mind because of purpose. Does the SBC want to reach out to minorities? Yes. Will the intentional hiring of minority candidates to leadership positions show that we are serious about this purpose? Yes it will.
Some of you are going to crow at me with this phrase: But our purpose should be to proclaim the gospel. You are 100% correct. If you haven’t noticed, our culture is becoming more diverse by the day. This discussion has never been about theology, it’s always been about methodology. The “just preach the gospel” crowd would rather bypass common sense methodological approaches for the sake of remaining comfortable. Yes, intentionally hiring minority candidates would male us uncomfortable. They might just suggest that we nominate a woman for SBC President.
Shouldn’t we just hire the best man for the job? We’re lucky enough to have many minority candidates who are more than qualified to fill the five entity vacancies. I’ve been on a search committee for the past six months, and I’ve learned there’s very little separation between the top three or four candidates. If the candidate comes in and bombs the interview, then he should not be hired, regardless of skin color, but if the candidate hits a home run during the interview, then the committee should feel free to hire the minority candidate and make that the reason for the hire.
Won’t that decision cost a good man a good opportunity and a good job? Yes it will, but us white guys aren’t going to have any trouble finding SBC jobs anytime soon. There’s still plenty of white privilege to go around. Dr. Patterson seems to have landed on his feet, and I’m reasonably certain anyone who gets passed over for these five vacancies will find a good landing spot.
Isn’t this reverse racism? Would it have been discrimination based on age if I had taken my friend’s advice and intentionally hire a millennial to reach millennials? Here’s another illustration: the demographics of my hometown have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. There is a large Hispanic population. When my home church was looking for a pastor, I told my father, “The first thing your new pastor should do is to hire a Hispanic pastor”. He asked, “why?” I said, “Because you need a Hispanic to reach the growing Hispanic population”. Would it be racist if my home church hired a Hispanic to evangelize the Hispanic population?
I wouldn’t be writing this post if we only had one entity opening, but reality us we have five openings, and I’m convinced the resignations and retirements aren’t over. Dave Miller is right. We need to reach out to minorities, and this may be our best chance. This may be our last chance, at least for another couple of generations. Do we want to reach out to minorities or not? What’s the best way to reach out to minorities? Hire a minority to do the work.