I was thrilled to have been a part of the 2011 Georgia Baptist Convention. I was delighted to hear the testimony of Dr. Richard Suplita, and the report of the GBC Study Task Force. I was also encouraged at the number of younger people who attended this Convention. I walked away from this meeting more encouraged about the future of our Convention. There is however, one burden that I cannot get rid of. Of all that was right about this year’s convention, there was one portion I feel is still terribly wrong. We do not have an effective system in place for the election of the officers of the GBC.
This process is flawed in at least two significant ways. First, we provide no time to actually pray about our decision for vice presidents. This year, everyone knew who John Waters & Fred Evers were. The campaigning, town-hall meetings, and endorsements had been going on for months. At this convention, if someone walked into the presidential election without praying by name for the presidential candidates and their vote, then that was the fault of the messenger, not the process. Typically, presidential candidates are known in advance. But, there is always the potential for additional candidates to be nominated from the floor. For the VP’s, most of the messengers had no idea about who the nominees were, nor did they have adequate time to commit their decision to prayer. I noticed that many seated around me were discussing with one another how they should cast their ballots because they simply had no other way to decide.
The second flaw is that our current nomination process is very man-centered. In bearing witness to the nominees’ character and leadership, we are making great statements about men and are not saying much at all about the One who made these men successful. If we understand that “every perfect gift is from above” as James 1:17 reminds us, then we must understand that the ministries of our nominees are successful only because of Christ.
Dr. Frank Cox suggested a paradigm shift in terms of church planting during the Task Force report. Why don’t we have a paradigm shift in terms of our officer election process as well? Why can’t we require nominations to be submitted in advance of the annual convention so that messengers know who is being nominated for office before they arrive at the Convention? Perhaps the Index could print a picture, a brief bio of the candidate, and a profile of the candidate’s ministry, rather than having to listen to a gifted orator preach a glowing mini-sermon about the character of each nominee. Then messengers would have the opportunity to research, pray, and cast informed votes, rather than our current model. I believe that doing so would greatly raise the significance of our election process, and help us look more like the Kingdom and less like the culture.