God is writing a different headline for the kingdom

Nathan Lorick, executive director
Nathan Lorick, executive director

Q&A:


A conversation with SBTC Executive Director
Nathan Lorick on his first day in the role.

Q: You’ve had a long relationship with the SBTC. How’s it feel to be responsible for it all? 

Every day I wake up humbled and honored God has allowed me to do this with my family of churches;

I really can’t fathom why he’s chosen to be so good to me and allowed me to do this. It’s the greatest joy of my ministry to be able to serve the churches of the SBTC.

When I sit in this chair in this office and look out these windows, I remember that moment God called me to be a pastor of my first church at 24. I want to always remember feeling so grateful he allowed me to serve in that capacity and how he has graciously brought me to the place I am today. 

Q: In the years since serving as SBTC evangelism director you led the Colorado convention; what did you learn about state convention work in those years? 

I believe being outside the South gave me a unique perspective. I learned just how significant it is to be a part of the SBC because of how much we can truly do together. It’s amazing, the synergistic results that actually come from us partnering together. We truly are better together.

I also learned that God is working all across the nation, not just in some pockets. He is working in really unique ways simultaneously in places like Texas, Illinois, Michigan, etc.—God is really doing some unique things all across America.

We get so focused on what we read on social media that we fail to recognize that God is writing a different headline for the kingdom. I want us to realize the stories God is writing rather than the things that distract us from the mission. 

I’ve also learned the importance of leading with love and humility. I’ve always lived by the principle that if you love people, they’ll let you lead them. I want to lead by truly loving churches and pastors well. I want every pastor in the SBTC to know I love them in the Lord and I believe in what God has called them to do, not only be there to walk alongside them in every way, but to help them fulfill the dream of what God wants them and their churches to be. 

I’ve always felt the future for state conventions is incredibly bright. As a national convention, we’re able to move a large body forward, but that connection [with pastors] really comes on a state level and associational level—walking together through heartache and victories in ministry. Those relational connections happen in the state conventions or associations. 

Q: How will the pandemic and quarantine of 2020 impact our fellowship of churches going forward?

I believe the reality of this moment is that there are no experts on future ministry now. In years past, before the pandemic, there were experts in the SBC.

This thing turned the world upside down in a way no one could have imagined or forecasted, and it affects us in ways none of us could have predicted. We’re in a unique time in the history of the church globally—not only specifically in states or the SBC, but a moment in the church where we’re going to have to figure out how to connect with churches and culture in a completely different way than we ever have. 

I’m not saying some [traditional] things will not work in the future, but the way we engage is going to have to be different. For me that’s an exciting thing. God’s going to utilize the pandemic in a way that causes us to be more creative, to be more intentional and to leverage technology in a greater way for kingdom expansion. As hard as the pandemic has been on pastors, churches and conventions, I think God is doing something we can’t see. God is in our tomorrow waiting on us to get there. I pray there is going to be an incredible movement of God because of the position it’s going to place churches and organizations in to reach people. Knowing that the pandemic didn’t take God by surprise, I believe he’s not going to waste something that turned the world upside down. My prayer is that he’ll take this pandemic and usher in a new gospel movement that will turn the world upside down. However, none of us truly knows the best way going forward; that’s why I think networks like state conventions are more practically valuable and relationally valuable than ever before.

I don’t think God’s going to waste this moment in church history. My hope is he will use it as a catalyst for the gospel like never before.

I think God may do some things through the pandemic that will shake up the church and ministry organizations from the status quo. Some of what we’ve already done will not connect with people in the future. People’s lives have changed, their priorities, the way they do things; we have got to be forward thinking about how to engage post-pandemic.

What the great depression was, a generational marker—everything was classified as “pre-depression” and “post-depression”—is what COVID is today. Even now as we talk church attendance, we say “before COVID” or “after COVID.” This is a generational marker so that 100 years from now the church will still be talking about a shift that took place in 2020. I am choosing to believe God is going to show up post-COVID in a greater way than we’ve seen in our lifetime. 

Nathan Lorick quote

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge for the convention’s work?

First, we’ve got to figure out how to best advance the mission of God post-COVID in a post-COVID world, [as discussed earlier].

Second, we need to focus on the mission that God created us for and called us to as Southern Baptists and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. We cannot be distracted by all this noise out there that seeks to pull us away from the mission.

Third, specifically for the SBTC, God is moving the world to Texas in an expedited way, more than we have ever experienced. We must be laser focused on evangelism and church planting, helping struggling churches have new life to reach their communities. The SBTC will continue to commit to serving and assisting churches in their pursuit of fulfilling the Great Commission, because the time is too short, the lostness too great and God has given our generation a greater opportunity to reach Texas than any generation before us. 

Those are the greatest challenges of the hour.

My dream and my hope is that this is what God’s called me to for the rest of my ministry. I want to serve faithfully like Dr. Richards has and want to give it all I have. Somebody asked me to fast forward 20 or 25 years—to the time for me to retire. What is one thing we want to look back and say “Nathan accomplished that”? The answer’s simple: I want to be a man of God who walked closely with God and was known as a man of integrity, because if I don’t have integrity, none of those other accomplishments matter. I want to be known as a man of God, who loves pastors well and serves churches well. I want to pour out my heart and passion to see Texas won for Christ.

Q: How would you address the divisiveness of our age?

I tell people I feel as honored today to be a Southern Baptist as I did the day I stepped into the pulpit of my first church at age 24. I could not believe God allowed me to be part of a network of churches that sends missionaries around the world and trains up the next generation of church leaders. I could not believe that God would be so gracious to me to allow me to be part of that family making such a global impact.

If you fast forward 16 years from that moment, I’m still honored and humbled God would allow me to be a Southern Baptist. I’m not a Southern Baptist because of what everybody else thinks or tweets, but because of our doctrinal conviction, the mission God has placed us on together, and the opportunity he has entrusted to us. So I would encourage people to remember how good God has been to us to allow us to be part of a global network and remember that God has given us a mission together to focus on.

We’re at our best when we are absolutely sold out to things God has called us to. We have to get to a place where the burden of the lostness of our culture outweighs being bothered by secondary and tertiary issues in the SBC.

If we’re just gut level honest, the enemy doesn’t have to attack us when we’re attacking each other. The Scriptures never tell us to devour each other, but that our enemy is the devil. We are told to try to outdo each other with honor—walking in a spirit of love and community.

At the end of the day—because of God’s goodness and faithfulness, I believe he’s still going to use Southern Baptists—imagine what we could do if we were truly on mission together.

Q: What’s our greatest strength? 

The SBTC is going to stay focused on what really matters: our convictions on the inerrancy of Scripture, and our cooperation within the parameters of the BF&M 2000. We’re going to continue to link arms with pastors and churches all across Texas to reach lost people, plant churches and strengthen churches. We’re going to be resolved to carry out what God has entrusted to us as a network—and that is to do everything we can to see Texas won to Christ. The SBTC is a family of churches that is unified in doctrine and missions methodology. We’re unified in spirit and we’re going to keep going forward. That’s what Dr. Richards has led us to be and I plan on absolutely continuing that legacy with laser focus going
forward.

Q: A final word?

I’m humbled and honored to serve the churches in this capacity but also want to make sure that these churches know that Dr. Richards has been the greatest leader for the SBTC that we ever imagined. He has led us to such a place of clarity and unity that I am humbled to stand on the shoulders of a spiritual hero and giant of the faith. We honor him for how he has led faithfully. Everywhere I go I tell people that if I could just serve with his integrity and focus on moving the kingdom forward, we’ve got a bright, bright future.

Editor
Gary Ledbetter
Southern Baptist Texan
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