It has been several weeks now since Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) messengers met in Indianapolis June 10-11 and elected Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Church in Woodstock, Ga., as their new president. Many of the approximately 7,200 registered messengers no doubt expected to witness the convention’s first presidential runoff since 1982, but Hunt avoided that to become what is believed to be the denomination’s first Native American President. Hunt has been known among Southern Baptists for his passion for evangelism, discipleship and missions. These themes dominated his post-election press conference and a brief address to messengers.
We are excited to know that one of Hunt’s goals is to get younger pastors more involved in the denomination. Seeing greater involvement in the SBC by younger people is a great idea.
Having founded the Timothy Barnabas ministry in 1994, Hunt is in a good position to sense the heart and mind of up-and-coming leaders. The ministry’s focus on mentoring, encouraging and challenging pastors, particularly younger ones, is a ministry whose time has come.
Hunt indicated he wants to boost Cooperative Program giving by showing Southern Baptists, especially the younger generation, what the Cooperative Program is doing.
We like where Hunt is heading. It appears he would do well to take a peek into the playbook of his predecessor, former SBC President Frank Page. Maintaining the momentum of the Page years would be a great idea.
In the interview with reporter Joe Westbury, Page said, “I see Cooperative Program support as a strong indicator of support for and participation in Southern Baptist life. As long as I call myself a Southern Baptist, we will support the CP because that is what it means to be Southern Baptist.” Hear! Hear!
“A few years ago, outgoing LifeWay President James Draper said he felt the proverbial frog was in the kettle in regard to Southern Baptist churches being unable to adapt to changing culture. He specifically referred to an apparent unwillingness of the denomination’s leaders, from the national down to the local church level, to accept the younger generation,” Page said.
Hunt would do well to listen to the words of Page when he said, “I want our younger pastors and laity to know that, on a national level, we are listening and making the necessary changes to reflect who we are today. There is a large number of younger, biblically conservative pastors and lay people who know how to listen and relate culturally like the Apostle Paul exampled for us. That’s why we need to be more inclusive.” Amen to that, and if Hunt is as interested as he says he is in getting younger pastors more involved with the Southern Baptist Convention, his timing could never be better.
The page may have turned in the SBC presidency, but the hunt is on for increased involvement by younger people in the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Program. We are encouraged by what we see!