In just a few hours, Georgia Baptists will be asked to pick a leader for the next two years. This person, whoever it may be, will have a great deal of responsibility in the life of our denomination. This year, for the first time in years, we have a contested race. It isn’t just one guy that rises to the top and serves in the leadership of our denomination. It is between two. Two equally qualified, equally conservative voices – Fred Evers from Northside Baptist in Tifton, and John Waters from First Baptist in Statesboro. No doubt, you’ve had your fill of Baptist “politicking” from campaign ads in the Christian Index, to spam filling your email box, to cute little video endorsements from various pastors all across the state. And I am certain that there will be plenty of “politicking” going on inside the common areas of North Metro FBC over the next two days. But the question must be asked, “Brian, who are you voting for?”
Before I give my endorsement, let me first say how much I despise the process by which we nominate candidates for office in the GBC. Tomorrow, during the afternoon session, various pastors from around the state will stand at the mic and nominate their candidate for the different offices. Undoubtedly, the nomination will sound something like this…
“My candidate has been the pastor of Such-n-Such Church for the last 87.75 years. Prior to serving Georgia Baptists, he served in every other state as well as a few foreign mission fields. He is a Cooperative Program champion, increasing his CP giving a percent every year while at Such-n-Such, so that now the church operates with only 12.25% of undesignated gifts. He is a champion for the lost and prides himself on sharing the gospel with everything that breathes. Over the last 80+ years, Such-n-Such has baptized 4,357 dogs, 3,320 cats, and a couple of hundred farm animals. For this reason, Such-n-Such has consistently been ranked among the top 100 most influential Georgia Baptist Churches and has always been recognized as being one of the fastest growing Sunday Schools in the state. In fact, they’ve had to move out of their current facility and start having services in a barn down the street to accommodate the large crowds of barking and meowing congregants. My candidate is a fourth generation preacher. His Baptist roots run deep. His family was one of the charter members of the first Southern Baptist Church in Augusta. He has personally led mission trips to the furthest reaches of the globe, including a trip to evangelize the scientific community stationed in Antarctica. My candidate loves Georgia Baptists and has a vision for how we can reach the millions of lost and unchurched (and their pets) living throughout this great state. You should vote for my candidate.”
It is this way every year. When I hear us stand at the mic and heap these accolades on men, it makes me wonder if Jesus could even be nominated to a position of leadership in our convention. A homeless, unmarried, controversial, evangelist who constantly criticized the religious establishment. That guy’s probably not getting a lot of votes in Lawrenceville on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, I have a feeling that both Fred Evers and John Waters will have glowing nomination speeches prepared by very gifted preachers. The truth of the matter is that I would be honored to vote for the guy whose nominator simply said,
“He’s a sorry sinner, saved by a merciful God. In His grace, God has allowed him to have the great honor of shepherding His people. His church isn’t perfect, but they’re trying to walk with the Lord and support the Great Commission. My candidate loves Jesus because Jesus loved him first. I believe that my candidate is called by God to lead our convention for the next two years. He’s not completely comfortable doing this but is willing to follow Christ outside of his comfort zone. Because of this I will do everything in my power to support his leadership. You should too.”
Whoever THAT candidate is, that’s who gets my vote every time. This isn’t a Baptist beauty contest. It is, I hope, something much more significant. With all of this talk about change, let’s change the way we do things on Tuesday. And instead of boasting in a man and his leadership, let’s boast in Christ and how Christ has empowered and gifted men for sacrificial service to the church.
Looking forward to a “vigorous” Georgia Baptist Convention!
Brian S. Carroll
Northside Baptist Church