Abundance Mindset

As his presidential term comes to an end, Bart Barber sees more on the horizon for Southern Baptists—more cooperation, more giving, and more people coming to know Jesus

Editor’s note: Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, will wrap up his two terms of service as president of the Southern Baptist Convention this month. At the end of a whirlwind two years, Barber spoke briefly with the Southern Baptist Texan about the impact his time as president has had on him personally and his prayer for the future of the SBC.

What are some of the exciting things you’re seeing God doing among Southern Baptist churches?

Bart Barber: Even while some other statistical indicators have gone in the other direction, baptisms have been higher recently. Across our nation, I’m encountering Southern Baptists who are deliberately and enthusiastically focused on evangelism. They are discovering that our culture is more open to the gospel than naysayers understand. A hedonistic world is not serving people well. So many of them know they need something else.

We are sharing the gospel. We are improving our churches’ approach to sexual abuse prevention and response. There’s a great attitude across the convention. We are less influenced by social media than we were a few years back. I’m always encouraged by the brotherly love and missional focus that is so evident among Southern Baptists.

How has being SBC president impacted you personally?

Barber: The more prominence any of us experiences, the more prominently our weaknesses will be put on display for others to see. If we are blessed, it will also allow us to see those flaws and weaknesses ourselves. That has been my experience over the past two years. Each of those moments has given me the opportunity to step into the refiner’s fire and burn away some of the dross. I’m very thankful for that. Also, I’ve grown to love more people and to love some people more dearly. I’ve seen our church do better than ever before in reaching our community and seen it do so with less of my time and attention than it has had in 25 years, which has helped me to see that God can work here without me.

What are you praying God would do in the SBC over the months and years to come?

Barber: For two years, I’ve prayed pretty regularly, “God, don’t let me do any foolish thing today that hurts the Southern Baptist Convention.” He has answered that prayer most days. I expect that I will pray it for the next guy regularly, too. I’m praying for God to renew in our hearts a commitment to cooperation, resulting in more money given through the Cooperative Program and more people called into missions and into local church ministry.

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