I was thrilled when I heard that J. D. Greear was going to be nominated for SBC President. Then, I was equally dismayed when I heard that our SBC establishment was going to run somebody against him. It’s fascinating to me that we keep saying that we want young guys to be engaged in our convention, but then we aren’t supportive when some of our best young guys actually do. And make no mistake—J. D. Greear is one of our best young guys. Then again, maybe we want our sharp young guys to be involved; we just don’t want them to be SBC president.
We’ve seen this kind of thing before, however. I remember when my friend Dr. Frank Page announced that he was running for convention president in 2006. He was serving at FBC Taylors at the time, in my own state of South Carolina. Immediately, the establishment machine went into high gear to oppose him. In spite of that, he was elected by one of the smallest margins ever, was a great SBC president, and today serves as our outstanding SBC Executive Committee President.
Perhaps some people just have an aversion to the Carolinas. I suppose we’re outliers to some degree—we’re a long way from most Southern Baptists. Yet, if our SBC history tells us anything, it’s that some of our greatest preachers, professors, and leaders are from the Carolinas—men like Shubal Stearns, James Petigru Boyce, William Screven, John A. Broadus, Basil Manley, Richard Furman, Daniel Akin, Frank Page, and Billy Graham. In my opinion, it’s not too early to add J. D. Greear to that list. I support J. D. Greear for SBC president for many reasons—here are my top 5:
- He is passionate about God. In a world where many young, successful pastors are passionate about themselves and their brand, J. D. is passionate about our Triune God and his glory. He has ordered his life, both personally and professionally, around his belief that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” As a result, both his character and his calling reflect his heart’s pursuit of God.
- He is passionate about the Bible. J. D. Greear is a product of the Southern Baptist resurgence. He came to Southeastern Seminary after its transition, and he had the privilege to study under conservative seminary professors. While there, he was taught the value of good exegesis and expository preaching. Today, while many young pastors of mega, mega churches exchange biblical exposition for the shallow, pragmatic advice of a life coach, J. D. mines God’s word weekly to provide his people with a solid diet of good theology and its larger implications for their lives, the church, and the broader kingdom of God.
- He is passionate about the gospel. The concept of a “gospel-centered” life isn’t a cliché for J. D. Greear—it’s who he is. The gospel is at the heart of his life, his preaching, and the vision and mission of The Summit Church. People come to know Christ weekly through his ministry and are baptized into the life of the church. But that’s not where it ends. J. D. understands that people must understand the impact of the gospel on every area of their lives if they would fulfill God’s kingdom purpose. As a result, he is a champion for personal discipleship as the end goal of the Great Commission.
- He is passionate about church planting. God has blessed and enabled J. D. Greear to grow a great church in the Raleigh/Durham area, but he’s not interested in growing his own kingdom. That evidence can be found in his commitment to church-planting throughout North America (and the world). Through its SBC-affiliated network, The Summit Church is sending out church planting teams to urban centers in desperate need of the gospel. There is nothing a church can do that’s more missional than plant another church—J. D. Greear is modeling this for Southern Baptists today.
- He is passionate about the local church. D. Greear’s willingness to serve as President of the Southern Baptist Convention at this strategic time is evidence of his commitment to our convention. While young pastors are disengaging from SBC participation at an alarming rate, J. D. remains committed to our Southern Baptist ideals: he affirms the BFM 2000, the mandate of the great commission, and the value of the cooperative program as a means of funding our shared missionary endeavors. J. D. understands, however, that the Great Commission was given to the church, not a denomination, and that the only hope for a strong denomination is to fill it with strong “gospel-centered” churches. As a result, his goal is to see our convention filled with healthy churches who reproduce themselves for the glory of God.
I’ve had the privilege to know J. D. Greear since our days at Southeastern Seminary. He was younger than I, of course, but it didn’t take me long to recognize that he was a man of singular giftedness. Since then, it’s been my privilege to serve in the Carolinas with him and to observe as God has used him to transition and grow The Summit Church into one of the largest and strongest churches in the SBC. For all of these reasons and more, I support J. D. Greear for SBC president—and you should too!
Dr. Bill Curtis is the founding pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church, in Darlington, SC, co-founder of The Pillar Network for Church Planting, former Trustee Board Chairman of the North American Mission Board, and award-winning author of Engaging Exposition, 30 Days to James, and Exalting Christ in Micah. Follow him on Twitter @billcurtissc.