Up until a few weeks ago, I had personally never heard of Daniel Dickard. When he was announced as a candidate for SBC PC president, I reached out to him. His heart for ministry, for the SBC, and his passion for ministry exuded from him and I was greatly encouraged by our conversation. I asked if I could interview him for SBC Voices and introduce him to our readers here.
Daniel, you were telling me a little about how your family legacy is a key part of your story, can you share that with our readers?
It is difficult to share my story without giving the broader story of God’s faithfulness to my family in the generations that preceded me. My father, who is a Southern Baptist Pastor in South Carolina, is one of eight children. His dad (my grandfather) could not read and write his own name when he passed away at the age of 63. At that time, no one in my extended family had ever graduated from high school. We were poor country farmers, far from five-star prospects in the eyes of some churches. But, Rev. Joe Trodder of Corinth Baptist Church in Easley SC, a bi-vocational pastor who ministered most of his life in ministerial obscurity, was faithful to visit my family every week despite our financial and educational shortcomings. Pastor Trodder did not see my extended family the way many in the world did; he saw my family as Christ did. Pastor Trodder’s name rarely, if ever, appeared in a Baptist newspaper or a church growth magazine. But his ministry was marked by faithfulness. Each week, he prayed that God would save those in my family and asked God to call the youngest two boys into ministry. By God’s grace, those prayers were answered. The faithfulness of one pastor, who was more concerned about the souls of an illiterate family separated from Christ than he was the applause of men or growing a congregation that would be filled with members respectable in the eyes of the world, set the example for the pastor I desire to be today.
A lot of people don’t know you. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your ministry?
Well, let me fast forward several decades from Pastor Trodder’s faithful ministry to my extended family. God saved me at the age of seven. He called me to ministry at the age of fifteen. Soon thereafter, I went to North Greenville University, a school affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention in South Carolina, where I met my wife, Cassie, and graduated with a degree in Christian Studies. The next step in my journey was Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I earned an M.Div. and Ph.D. in Preaching. My last assignment at Southwestern was Dean of Students and Instructor (Teaching Fellow) of Preaching. I now have the privilege of serving Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina – a Southern Baptist church in central North Carolina focused on the Great Commission, international church planting, and house church ministries.
How did you make the decision to allow yourself to be nominated for Pastor’s Conference?
A group of pastors approached me in January and asked if I would pray about allowing my name to be considered for nomination. The request came as a surprise. At the time, and still to this day, I had no personal ambition to run for Pastors’ Conference President. But I love the people, mission, and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention and have given my life to biblical preaching. The opportunity to serve pastors through a conference focused on biblical preaching and give back to the same denomination of churches that discipled me, prepared me for ministry, and is an active partner in gospel ministry through the church I pastor today filled me with great excitement. Upon the initial request, I took several months to pray about the nomination and after some time of prayer and reflection, I concluded that I would be honored to serve Southern Baptists in this way if elected.
I’ve seen your video where you talk about your desire to highlight expository preaching and SBC pastors. Other PC presidents in recent history have had similar visions. If you’re elected, what will be unique about the 2023 PC?
If elected, the theme of the Pastors’ Conference would be “Character Matters in Ministry: (Be) Attitudes of a Pastor from Matthew 5:3-12.” I would work with a Speaker Selection Council to determine the 9 pastors who would preach expositional messages through the Beatitudes at the 2023 Pastors’ Conference.
In addition to the Pastors’ Conference that would take place in the main convention hall, I would work with additional Southern Baptist leaders to add breakout tracks to make the two-day event inclusive for all Southern Baptists. Additional tracks would include a women’s track, student track, collegiate track, a “called to ministry” track, and potentially more breakout options. The Southern Baptist Convention is a family of churches, and we should look for every opportunity to bring more Southern Baptists together for a time of encouragement and edification. Further details about each of these additional tracks will be provided in the weeks and months to come.
What is your hope for the SBC and what do you want pastors who attend to take away from the Pastor’s Conference?
The one word I would use to describe my hope for the SBC Pastors’ Conference is encouragement. Many pastors are discouraged. As you know, ministry is a joyful burden. My hope is that a two-day pastors’ conference would not only be a time of encouragement for pastors, but also a time of encouragement for pastors’ wives and all ministry leaders.
A lot of hard work goes into putting on a conference like this. Do you have people helping you?
It is my belief that the Pastors’ Conference should be a unifying event in which all Southern Baptists have confidence in the selected speakers. Each pastor that I have selected to serve on the Speaker Selection Council has a love for the Southern Baptist Convention, an unwavering fidelity to the Scriptures, and a strong commitment to biblical, expositional preaching. Those who have agreed to serve on this council would assist me in making sure that we provide a Pastors’ Conference that Southern Baptists can have confidence in and likewise a conference that brings us together as one Southern Baptist family.
There’s a lot going on in the SBC these days. What do you hope to see at this year’s PC and Convention?
My goal is to give leadership to a Pastors’ Conference that brings Southern Baptists together. Pastors should have confidence in the speakers chosen at the Pastor’s Conference. In addition to providing multiple tracks that would pull SBC leaders together, I would seek to unite us in three ways:
If elected to serve, I would select faithful Southern Baptist Pastors. It is my belief that the SBC Pastors’ Conference should highlight pastors within our own denomination. In my opinion, the SBC Pastors’ Conference should not be a “who’s who” evangelical popularity contest nor should the selection of speakers be determined by name recognition only.
Second, I would highlight a wide variety of faithful Southern Baptist Pastors. If elected, I would work closely with Associational Mission Strategists and ask each regional leader to nominate a pastor in his association of churches to preach at the Pastors Conference. I would solicit the recommendations of SBC pastors too. Pastors, of all church sizes, should have input on those who will encourage them at the Pastors Conference. I believe that God cares more about the health of a church than He does the size of a church. And the health of a church is measured by our obedience to the Word and mission to the world. Pastors, we are all on mission together regardless of church size, shape, or geographical location.
Finally, if elected, the theme of the Pastors Conference would highlight character in ministry. The SBC Annual Meeting is a business meeting. But it is likewise a gathering of worship. What better way to prepare us for the Annual Meeting than a two-day Pastors Conference that draws our minds and hearts to consider the character and spirit of Jesus through expositional preaching.
You’ve also written a book with an interesting subtitle. What is the theme of your book and why did you choose to write it?
“The theme of the book, Church Together: The Church of We in the Age of Me, is based on the premise that the greatest underlying threat to churches today is me-centered individualism. The only way for churches to move from “me” and “we” is to be tethered to the cross in every major relationship of life — self, God, family, believers, and the world. The motivation to write the book was birthed out of personal observation and seeing how me-centered Christianity undermines the work and mission of churches today. If self-adulation is the church’s kryptonite, self-renunciation is the only way we overcome the church’s kryptonite.
What do you think of North Carolina and Duke basketball rivalry?
I am Duke born, and Duke bred, and I will be a Duke fan until I’m dead. There are days that some church members at Friendly Avenue question my spiritual maturity, because of my allegiance to Duke basketball.
Thanks, Daniel. I appreciate you taking the time to let me introduce you to our readers. The Lord’s blessings to you!