EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is an edited compilation of three separate stories written by David Roach at Baptist Press.
ST. LOUIS Three Southern Baptist pastors will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the annual meeting June 14-15 in St. Louis.
Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins announced March 2 that he will nominate J.D Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Georgia pastor Johnny Hunt announced March 9 that he will nominate Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.; and former SBC President Fred Luter announced March 24 that he will nominate David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, La.
Greear, 42, “is leading his generation to live out a passion for the SBC, missions and the local church,” Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., wrote in a news release.
During the 14 years Greear has pastored The Summit Church, worship attendance has grown from 350 to just under 10,000, Scroggins said. Total baptisms increased from 19 in 2002 to 928 in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available through the SBC’s Annual Church Profile.
Scroggins said The Summit’s “149 people currently with” the International Mission Board marks the largest total from any church in the convention—a statistic the church told Baptist Press the IMB has confirmed. Greear himself served two years with the IMB before being called to The Summit.
Closer to home, The Summit has planted 26 churches in North America in conjunction with the North American Mission Board.
In his release, Scroggins said the church “voted last year to give $390,000 to the Cooperative Program in 2016, making it one of the top CP giving churches in the state of North Carolina and the SBC.” He noted this marks a 230 percent increase in The Summit’s CP giving.
Three years ago, the congregation voted to increase its giving through the Cooperative Program over a five-year period to 2.4 percent of undesignated receipts, the church confirmed to BP. The Summit reached its goal two years early.
As of Jan. 1, 2016, The Summit began forwarding all its CP giving through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC), the church said. Previously, it forwarded some funds it regarded as CP gifts directly through the SBC Executive Committee for distribution according to the CP allocation formula. In 2013-14, for instance, it gave $96,000 directly to the EC, according to the 2015 SBC Annual. The BSCNC reported CP receipts of $54,000 from The Summit in calendar year 2014. Adding the two numbers together yields the $150,000 the church self-reported as “CP giving” on its 2014 ACP—a total amounting to 1 percent of undesignated receipts.
The Summit’s Great Commission Giving “has been at or around 10 percent for the last several years,” Scroggins wrote. Great Commission Giving is a category of giving established by SBC action in 2011 that encompasses giving through CP, Southern Baptists’ unified program of funding state- and SBC-level ministries, as well as direct gifts to SBC entities, associational giving and giving to state convention ministries.
According to ACP data, The Summit’s Great Commission Giving was 13 percent of undesignated receipts in 2014, 12 percent in 2013 and 15 percent in 2012.
The Summit’s Great Commission Giving includes more than $1 million annually to IMB-related causes and more than half a millions dollars to NAMB-related causes, the church told BP.
Greear told BP he would have two goals as SBC president. First, he would encourage “my generation … to take personal responsibility for the agencies and the mission boards of the SBC and not just think of them as the SBC’s, but think of them as ours.”
Second, he would “celebrate the autonomy of the local church in choosing how it’s going to give. We want to see CP giving elevated, and we are doing that … but we also want to see Great Commission Giving celebrated, because that’s part of the autonomy of the local church.”
He is married to Veronica and has four children. Greear holds Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southeastern Seminary.
“When Steve Gaines shared his prayer journey he and [his wife] Donna had traveled, I was touched by his clear call to allow himself to be nominated,” Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., wrote in a news release.
“Steve struggled with this nomination as he has always believed this office should seek the man,” Hunt continued. “With such a passionate desire for spiritual revival in our churches and nation, and knowing him to be a man of deep intense prayer, it brings joy to my heart to nominate Dr. Gaines.”
During the 11 years Gaines has pastored Bellevue Baptist, the congregation has averaged 481 baptisms per year, according to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Previously, he pastored churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.
Bellevue’s finance committee is recommending that the congregation give $1 million during its 2016-17 church year through the Cooperative Program. That will total approximately 4.6 percent of undesignated receipts, the church told Baptist Press.
As of April 1, 2012, Bellevue began forwarding all its CP giving through the Tennessee Baptist Convention, the church said. Previously, it forwarded approximately $200,000-$340,000 annually in CP through the TBC, according to ACP data, and designated about twice that amount to be forwarded to the SBC Executive Committee for distribution according to the CP allocation formula, the church said.
The shift in giving methods resulted in an increase from giving 1.3 percent of undesignated receipts through CP in 2011 to 2.6 percent in 2012, according to ACP reports. Bellevue increased that percentage to 3.5 in 2013 and 3.8 in 2014.
The church’s Great Commission Giving totaled approximately $2.5 million over the past two years and is anticipated to be $1.3 million (6 percent of undesignated receipts) for the congregation’s 2016-17 church year, which begins April 1, Hunt said.
Hunt said Bellevue has collaborated with the International Mission Board to lead evangelism training in 34 countries since 2007 and “at the request of the IMB … has been a strategy church for Jinotega, Nicaragua, since 2007.”
Bellevue is partnering with the North American Mission Board to plant churches in the Northwest and has planted 10 churches in other areas, including work with Native Americans in three locations, Hunt said.
Total missions giving for next year is anticipated at 18 percent of Bellevue’s undesignated receipts, the church reported, and includes the “Bellevue Loves Memphis” initiative, a service evangelism campaign launched by Gaines in 2007.
Gaines has served as a member of the SBC Committee on Nominations, a trustee of LifeWay Christian Resources, a member of the committee that proposed a revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 and chairman of the SBC Resolutions Committee. He preached the SBC convention sermon in 2004 and served as SBC Pastors’ Conference president in 2005.
Gaines told BP, “I would like to continue [current SBC president] Dr. [Ronnie] Floyd’s emphasis on seeking God for a spiritual awakening and revival. … I’ve been praying for an awakening for a long time, and that’s really my heart. I want the manifest presence of God in our churches and also in our denomination.
“… I also believe that we’ve got a real problem with our baptisms,” Gaines said. “We need to get back to personal evangelism and soul winning.”
Gaines is married to Donna and has four children and nine grandchildren. He holds Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I have watched David the last 10 years here in New Orleans as he has taken the leadership of all the churches and pastors of our city in helping to rebuild New Orleans, which everybody knows was totally destroyed [in 2005] in Hurricane Katrina,” Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said in an interview, telling Baptist Press of his intention to nominate Crosby.
“I saw how he was able to get a lot of things done to get the city back up and running,” Luter said, noting Crosby’s “passion for the Body of Christ and for our convention.”
During the 20 years Crosby has pastored First Baptist Church in New Orleans, the congregation has given between 7 and 15 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, Luter said. That level of CP giving persisted despite a major relocation effort and $3.5 million of damages sustained from Katrina, Crosby said.
During the fiscal year that began a month following Katrina, First Baptist gave 10.4 percent through CP, according to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Over the past five years, the congregation has averaged 9.5 percent giving through CP.
Total missions giving for the congregation has been at least 22 percent of its undesignated receipts each of the past five years, according to ACP.
Currently, First Baptist forwards 7 percent of undesignated receipts through CP; 1 percent to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; 1 percent to the New Orleans Baptist Association; .5 percent to Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans (a joint ministry of the North American Mission Board and the New Orleans Baptist Association); and approximately .5 percent to a ministry to seafarers at the Port of New Orleans, Crosby said.
A designated gift held in trust also generates funds given through CP each year, Crosby said.
The church has averaged 658 in worship and 24 baptisms annually over the past five years, according to ACP. Previously, Crosby pastored churches in Texas and Mississippi.
Luter said Crosby has demonstrated “a heart for missions and a heart for people regardless of their skin color or what side of the tracks they were born on.”
Some 20-25 percent of worship attendees at First Baptist come from non-Anglo ethnic groups, Crosby said. Following Katrina, Franklin Avenue, which is predominantly African-American, met at First Baptist’s facilities for two and a half years, and the two churches continue to engage in joint ministry and fellowship activities.
Total missions participation at First Baptist “may rival” worship attendance, Crosby said, with 4,235 instances of individuals participating in missions projects reported on the 2014 ACP, the most recent year for which data is available. That statistic includes some individuals being counted multiple times because they participated in multiple missions projects, Crosby explained.
Each week, First Baptist sends 80-100 adults into New Orleans to perform a variety of ministries, including feeding the homeless, providing weekend food for needy public school students, conducting prison ministry and nursing home ministry, teaching English as a second language and ministering to people in the sex industry.
The church has taken 14 trips to Ghana over the past six years in conjunction with its adoption of an unreached people group “through the guidance and encouragement of the International Mission Board,” Crosby said.
First Baptist sponsors NOLA Baptist Church, a NAMB church plant, and Crosby is a founding board member of New Orleans Baptist Ministries, the umbrella organization that operates Baptist Friendship House on behalf of NAMB and the local association.
Crosby has served a variety of leadership roles at the association, state convention and SBC levels, including moderator of the New Orleans Baptist Association, Executive Board member of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and member of the SBC Committees on Committees and Resolutions. He is a trustee at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
Crosby told BP, “I really believe in cooperation, and I believe the Southern Baptist Convention exists primarily to facilitate cooperation among our churches for the world mission of the gospel. Cooperation, to me, has a financial component, and my churches have always been deeply invested in the Cooperative Program and the special missions offerings. Cooperation also has a personal component.”
He continued, “I also feel strongly about the gospel being both proclaimed and enfleshed. The gospel needs proclamation and incarnation. So I’m convicted that our behavior, both individually and collectively, should reflect the Savior and please him, and that our words are not enough. … I try to keep both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission on my heart.”
He is married to Janet and has three children and eight grandchildren. Crosby holds a Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Baylor University.