K.V. Paxton is Lead Pastor at Grace Baptist Church, Quinlan, Texas. He’s a Palestinian-American, graduate of Criswell College, Midwestern Seminary, and a veteran of the United States Air Force.
The Southern Baptist Convention is at a crossroads. We may not be battling for inerrancy like we did during the often-referenced “Conservative Resurgence,” but the future is no less at stake for our convention. Millennials and minorities, both inside and outside of the SBC, are watching what we do next with great interest on a host of topics. And though I am often given to hyperbole, I do not think it is hyperbolic to expect a potential mass disengagement of young SBCers if they see the wrong choices made or that their voice isn’t being heard. The future of our convention is at stake.
With this in mind, I am casting my vote this June in Dallas for J.D. Greear as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention. What I mentioned above is partly why I believe in Greear. Allow me to give you 3 main reasons why I am voting for Greear next month:
Honors the Past with an Eye on the Future
As a casual observer of Greear’s in the last decade or so, I have seen and heard him honor the past while leading his church into the future. Greear has acknowledged that he stands on the shoulders of those who came before him and offers gratitude to them for their contributions. However, Greear has cultivated an environment at the Summit Church that reaches the next generation. On top of this, Greear’s vision is to continue (note that word, since they are already doing this) to plant churches well into the future.
Further, one look at Greear’s members and staff will also show an eclectic collection of people across generational lines and different ethnic groups. Greear has proven that he can bring generations and groups together for the cause of Christ and has explicitly stated that diversity will be a goal of his as president.
This we need because, for better or worse, real or perceived, the generations coming up in the SBC feel as though past generations will not let go of leadership or the status quo. What we do not need is a disengagement of previous generations, nor a disengagement from the generations coming up. We need someone who can unite all generations to work together for the future of our convention.
With the election of J.D. Greear we will show that we are moving into the future while we honor those who came before us. We do not forget them, we do not leave them, we honor them and say, “join us” as we take the SBC into a new and necessary season of fruitful ministry. Greear has demonstrated that he can do this.
In 2016 Greear was nominated to be the SBC president and withdrew from the race with Steve Gaines because of continuous runoffs. Greear withdrew in order to preserve unity in the SBC and to show to the watching world that we are united. He did not have to do that, instead he could have allowed the process to move forward, but he chose unity.
Since he has been nominated this year, Greear has continually called for unity and civility in this process, something we wish would not even need to be said, but in our current climate, is necessary. And while Greear is not a so-called “traditionalist,” he has not, does not, and will not place traditionalists outside the camp nor exclude them from the table.
On the other hand, we have a presidential nominee stating that those who believe in limited atonement do not “believe in the same God.” To declare that our reformed brothers are somehow “outside the camp” is not only unhelpful and uncharitable, it creates an unnecessary line in the sand. Does that speak to how he will lead? You be the judge.
Indeed, Greear has been endorsed by some notable traditionalists in part because they know that he would be a unifying force for their “tribe,” for reformed SBCers, and others. We desperately need unity, and Greear can be a unique voice to bring us back together. Observe in his own words:
“We must avoid the temptation to let smaller doctrinal issues or any personal preferences replace the centrality of the gospel as our unifying standard. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is narrow enough to unite us on the essentials and broad enough to allow freedom in the peripherals.”
This is unifying voice we need.
Finally, Greear has demonstrates proven leadership at the Summit Church, some I have mentioned already. He has stated that as SBC president he will point the convention to personal evangelism, church planting, church revitalization, college mobilization, and engagement of the next generation in cooperative mission.
As pastor of the Summit Church, he has shown that he can do this as the Summit engages in all of these things already. The Summit Church gives 19 percent of undesignated receipts to Great Commission Giving, according the Baptist Press. This includes 40 SBC church plants in America and 200 around the world.
On top of this, the Summit has a vibrant and growing college ministry, which is actively engaged in multiplication and missions. In fact, the Summit Church asks college students to give a summer to go on a mission trip. Remember the unity and reaching across generational lines I mentioned earlier? Well Summit asks Baby Boomers in the church (which there are plenty) to do the same things in regard to missions.
It gets better: according to the Gospel Coalition, “Of the 46,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, the Summit has the most missionaries on the field—seven-times as many as the next church with the International Mission Board.”
Greear has shown that he can do what he says he would do as SBC president, and what he has listed is what we desperately need.
It is high time the SBC moves into a Great Commission future full of diversity and unity. Not that we haven’t in the past, but the crossroads we are at demands action that will prove these commitments. While we must all do our part on the ground level of our churches, we must also us our voices and ballots to ensure the convention as a whole does this for the foreseeable future. A positive step in this direction is by electing J.D. Greear as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Because of the reasons listed above, and a host of other reasons, I will proudly cast my ballot for him next month. I hope you will do the same.