Why I am voting for JD Greear (and why I hope you will consider doing the same).
In a few weeks Southern Baptists from around the country will be gathering together in Dallas, TX for our Annual Meeting. While there are many issues that we will consider, one of the most significant items on the agenda is the selection of our next president. Two men have been announced as candidates for president. Both JD Greear and Ken Hemphill have a long history of faithful service within the SBC. Everyone who is there and present to vote, however, has to make a choice and I want to take a minute to share why it will be my privilege to vote for JD Greear. 1. JD Greear is a pastor worthy of aspiration and emulation. JD Greear has served as the pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham area for 16 years. During that time he has led them through monumental growth, from 400 in attendance when he became the Senior Pastor, to 10,000 in attendance today. That's remarkable. But JD has also rooted the church in a rich theology and practical application of the gospel. Books like Gospel, Gaining by Losing, Jesus, Continued and Not God Enough, among others make it clear that JD is serious about theology and the Word. More importantly, though, is JD's personal character. He demonstrated that character two years ago when the convention was essentially deadlocked in a selection between JD Greear and Steve Gaines as president. JD's willingness to step aside and not contest Gaines' election is a demonstration of humility and strength of character that we need more of in the SBC. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul urges the Corinthian believers to "mimic me as I mimic Christ." I believe JD Greear is this kind of a pastor; a pastor worthy of aspiration and emulation.
2. JD Greear is a pastor with a track record of church revitalization. JD is well known in church planting circles, and we will get to that in a minute, but I've always though JD should be better known for church revitalization because that's exactly what he's leading at The Summit Church. When he became the Senior Pastor, The Summit Church was known as Homestead Heights Baptist Church. It was a 41 year old declining church. And since he began leading The Summit, their growth and impact for the kingdom is the stuff that books will someday be written about. In an era when too many churches are in decline and are threatening to no longer exist, I am excited to vote for an SBC leader with a proven track record of leading a declining church to health.
3. JD Greear is a pastor with a track record of church planting. As I mentioned above, JD is known for church planting. Although The Summit is not a church plant, they have now planted over 200 churches in the U.S. and around the world. As we see more churches closing their doors, and as we watch shifting demographics that signify that our world is becoming more urban, I am excited to vote for a leader who has succesfully led a church planting initiative that has planted over 200 churches and is moving toward a goal of 1,000 church plants in their generation. God give us more churches like The Summit.
4. JD Greear knows mission personally. JD is not only passionate about leading a sending church, he is a mission practitioner as well. JD served with our IMB as a missionary in Southeast Asia among a hard to reach people group. JD has lived and served in a cross-cultural context, leading people of multiple faith backgrounds to faith in Jesus Christ. In an environment with declining baptisms, and an increasingly pluralistic society, I am excited to vote for a president who can help us as a convention become more evangelistically effective in the unique context we find ourselves in. This is never more evident then that The Summit has averaged 685 baptisms per year over the last 5 years.
5. JD Greear is leading by example in the area of racial reconciliation. We know that racial reconciliation matters. We know that the gospel demands reconciliation as a ramification of the gospel. The books of Romans and Galatians, among so many others, are replete with calls to racial reconciliation. The book of Revelation paints a picture of a beautiful, diverse, eternal kingdom, and the SBC needs more of that displayed in our family. JD is a leader who is not just talking about it. When I look at The Summit Church I see a pastor who has led by example, building a staff that is theologically rich and racially diverse, and a church that has followed suit in its congregational makeup. I am excited to vote for JD as president of the SBC because he has given himself to the task of leading his church to recognize, along with Jesus that, "red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight."
6. JD Greear is leading an historic movement of missions sending. Finally, and this is the most important reason for me, JD is leading a missions sending movement at The Summit Church that essentially does not have a comparable example in the U.S. There are other sending churches, for sure, but there is almost no church with a comparable missions sending culture. The Summit Church stands head and shoulders above the rest. In the last 15 years they have sent over 1,000 people onto the mission field. Stop for a second and think about that. That number does not include short-term mission trips. That number is a reflection of the people from The Summit who have packed up and moved to the mission field in the U.S. or overseas. That is breathtaking. I love the SBC. We have many things that can be defined as significant. In my estimation, however, the single most important unifying and catalytic characteristic of the SBC is our missionary heart and our missions sending track record and capacity. More than anything, I am voting for JD because I believe missions matters most to our character as Southern Baptist and JD has lived, breathed and modeled missions and missions sending in his context.
In a few weeks those of us who gather in Dallas will have a choice between two men who have faithfully lived and served in the SBC for a long time. I will have friends who vote for both candidates. I am excited, however, about voting for JD Greear as our president for the reasons that I've outlined above, and I really hope you will consider joining me.