NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—The three pastors who will be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention president in June responded to questions.
Baptist Press, news service of the SBC Executive Committee, submitted six questions to the three expected nominees—David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans; Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.; and J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
Q: What influence on the Southern Baptist Convention do you pray to have during the two consecutive one-year terms an SBC president typically serves?
CROSBY: I hope to renew a spirit of cooperation among our churches. We are all experiencing the reality of America as a mission field. Any true mission setting requires more cooperation, not less, to share an effective witness. On the mission field, you must set aside your differences and rally around the true core of the gospel. That is where we are now in our nation and our world.
We have a wide-open door that will help us evangelize our nation and present the full wonder of the gospel—the love of our neighbors. This love may be expressed corporately in compassion ministries initiated by our churches to address local needs. I hope to help foster such ministries. This strategy of outreach will put us in touch with the many residents of our communities who are distant from us culturally and provide bridges for powerful witness.
GAINES: I want to build on the wonderful foundation that has been laid by our current president, Ronnie Floyd, by being a catalyst for spiritual awakening and revival. The SBC needs fresh fire and wind from heaven. It will come through fervent prayer and seeking God.
I also want to emphasize soul winning. The SBC is currently in a 15-year downward nosedive in baptisms. In 2014, we baptized 100,000 less than we did in 1999. Pastors must lead their churches to verbally share the gospel with lost people and also extend evangelistic invitations when they preach.
I also will focus on stewardship. Individual Christians must give more to their churches so our churches can give more to the Cooperative Program, so we can send more missionaries overseas. We need to put 1,100 missionaries back on the foreign fields instead of calling them home.
GREEAR: First, we need a continued re-awakening to the gospel. Revival begins not with the world awakening to Christ, but the church getting “re-awakened” to the gospel. Times in our country may be dark, but—based on past history—that actually means conditions are incredibly ripe for revival.
Second, we need to bring a new generation of Southern Baptists to the table, partnering with older generations in the cooperative missions of the SBC. There is a new wave of excitement about the SBC, but many are still sitting on the sidelines. We’ve been given a rich legacy, and it’s time we, the rising generations, pick up that torch, taking personal responsibility for the mission.
Third, we need to see diversification in the SBC’s leadership. About one in five Southern Baptist churches are now predominantly non-Anglo, and we want to see our brothers and sisters from these non-Anglo backgrounds join us in leadership.
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