Rachelle and I have four wonderful children. Charis is a freshman at Baylor. Kade will be entering his senior year of high school this fall. Boe will be a junior in high school and our youngest, Logan, will enter junior high this fall.
Rachelle is one year from graduating with a BSN. She will proceed to graduate school to become an anestheiologist, then she and I will both be in the mutual business of putting people to sleep! :).
Our church is wonderful. Emmanuel was a great church before we arrived, having former pastors like Dr. Mack Roark, Professor of Greek at Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Seminary, Dr. Hayes Wicker, currently the pastor of First Baptist Church, Naples, Florida, Dr. Jim Reimer, former pastor of Second Baptist Church, Springfield, Missouri and now with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and my immediate predecessor, Dr. Gary Smith, Pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. These men are not only friends, but they all laid for me a foundation upon which any pastor can easily build.
Though Enid is the regional hub of Northwestern Oklahoma and considered a smaller "metropolitan" area, many of our members are farmers and ranchers. However, our rural stature does not prevent us from having a heart for the world. All nine of our current pastors at Emmanuel are gifted men who not only share the load of ministry, but teach others how to minister to further the Kingdom. We will begin our fifth weekly service on Saturday night, July 1st, 2006 as we seek to reach even more people within our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I will celebrate fifteen years of ministry at Emmanuel in March of 2007. My passion is preaching and writing. I also love church history and all types of athletics. My relationship with Christ comes first, my family comes next, my ministry is a distant third, and my involvement in denominational comes in dead last.
I, frankly, am too busy for convention work. I don't want it, need it, or seek it.
I have never pursued a position of service within the association, state convention, or national convention. I have served in various capacities within the Southern Baptist Convention and state convention, but only when asked, or in some instances, elected. I was a member of the Nominating Committee of the SBC in the early 90's, served as the Chairman of the SBC Denominational Calendar Committee in 1994, and as you know, I am currently serving as a trustees of the International Mission Board.
In addition, I have held positions within the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma including President, Parlimentarian, and other statewide offices. Having pastored churches within the BGCO the past twenty five years, I have had the privilege of serving with three Executive Directors (Drs. Joe Ingram, Bill Tanner, and Anthony Jordan), and quite frankly, due to their leadership, we have one of the sweetest state conventions in the SBC.
You need to know all the above for three reasons:
(1). I am NOT a younger leader or an emerging church pastor.
(2). Many of you would consider me part of "the establishment."
(3). I am loyal to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Therefore, what I am about to say is not from a frustrated outsider. It is from a hopeful insider. It's a little bit like saying, "Look, don't criticize my family unless you are a family member." Well, I'm a member of the SBC and if I criticize her, it is done for the good of the family of the SBC as a whole.
THE issue within the SBC as I see it ---
Unless we stop shrinking the parameters of what it means to be a Southern Baptist, we will end up being a narrow, isolated sect within Christendom and lose our ability to reach the world for Christ.
It used to be that a Southern Baptist was someone "who believed the Bible and cooperated in missions." Because we believed the Book, we fellowshipped, cooperated, and loved each other, even though our interpretations of minor doctrines in the Bible were sometimes differing.
Nobody can believe the Bible and mock substitutionary atonement. Nobody can believe the Bible and reject the deity of Christ. Nobody can believe the Bible and deny salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Nobody can truly believe the Bible and not be a Christian.
Our Baptist confessions of faith were written to systemetize the great doctrines of the Scripture. However, we get into trouble when we began to either place in our confessions specific interpretations of doctrines not essential for salvation, or when we demand as a convention conformity in the interpretation of doctrines that are not addressed by our Baptist confessions of faith.
How do we stop the narrowing of these parameters of identification and cooperation within the SBC?
I suggest three ways:
(1). Express our love and support in tangible ways for all our Southern Baptist brethren and other conservative evangelicals who believe the Bible.
(2). Make a concerted attempt to cooperate with all our Southern Baptist churches and brethren in the area of missions and evangelism by refusing to exclude conservative, evangelical Southern Baptists over issues that are non-essential to salvation and unaddressed by the BF&M (i.e. charismaticism, Calvinism, etc . . . ).
(3). Follow the example of Christ in treating all Southern Baptists with love and respect, for by this love shall all know that we are His disciples.
I want my four children to grow up in a convention that is known for her grace, love and cooperation. Yes, doctrine is very important, but once we agree on the essentials, to demand conformity on every other area of doctrine, to the neglect of love and cooperation, will be the death knell of our convention.
If I believed a nomination to a position of service in the SBC would be detrimental to providing solutions to the above issue, I would decline that nomination without hesitation. I will do what I believe is best for the convention -- period.
Never lose sight of THE issue. No matter what others attempt to do or say to cause distractions, THE issue in the SBC must be addressed.
In His Grace,