A time for choosing

The following statement constitutes my best effort at a nomination speech for Frank Page of Taylors, SC, for the office of Southern Baptist Convention president. I am confident that Forrest Pollock will do a fine job on his own, but we all know that these nomination speeches are worked and reworked, edited and re-edited by groups of men concerned to elect their nominee. I am concerned to elect Frank Page. Therefore, I offer this draft as fodder for the biggerwhigs who might actually stumble across this little blog of mine.

My Fellow Messengers:

The Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, threatened as they were by factions and loyalities and different views on the gifts, that they were to keep their pecularities and preferences from splintering them into a thousand pieces. The only way that the apostolic admonition would work, he told them, was if they did everything in love, which would never fail them.

Southern Baptists are a diverse lot. We have emergent leaders and resurgent loyalists — young bucks and old curmudgeons. We have small churches and megachurches and all churches in between. We are from the Northeast and the Southwest, from the West Coast and the East. Some of us are traditional, others are innovative. Some can’t see anything right with the bureaucracy, and some seem beholden to it. But in all these things, Southern Baptists must remember that the only answer for Corinth — and the only answer for us — is to pursue faith, hope, and love.

I rise to place into nomination for the office of convention president a man who exemplifies these spiritual virtues. His name is Frank Page, and his leadership is needed.

Frank Page is a man of great faith. Throughout his ministry, Pastor Frank has followed the call of God to churches where the harvest was thin and the people were discouraged. From declining attendance to growing membership, from a loss of evangelistic zeal to a hot-hearted passion for the lost, the churches Frank Page has led have faced the difficult task before them and risen to the task. He has been creative in his ministry philosophy, but never compromising in his biblical fidelity. He has been willing to attempt new strategies for training disciples, but never has he faltered in his commitment to the inerrant Word of God. He’s always told us where he stands, but he’s never demanded that we agree with him to join the harvest field alongside him. Whether we are Calvinist or revivalist, elder-ruled or pastor-led, altar-callers or holy-rollers, Frank Page has the experience, the courage, and the wisdom to get us all pulling in the same direction without letting non-essentials break our fellowship.

Frank Page is also a man of great hope. He dreams big dreams about the future of our convention, and the future he sees is bright. But Frank’s hope for our convention is not built on battles won or victories celebrated from former days of evangelical vibrancy. Frank Page believes that the only way our hopes can be achieved is if our perspective is honest. There are questions about the stewardship of our convention resources that need answering. There are concerns about narrowing trends that need addressing. Things are not all roses in our convention, nor have they ever been. Ours are not halcyon days of integrity and accountability, but neither are they dark ages of systemic decay and dishonesty. These are not the best of times, but neither are they the worst of them. Frank Page knows that the time has come for Southern Baptists to consider ourselves, to examine our convention’s work and measure it by the Word of God. He knows that we cannot be blind loyalists, nor can we be disgruntled critics. If we are going to seek first God’s Kingdom in our generation, we better make sure it is God’s Kingdom we are seeking. Frank Page will call us to hope again that Southern Baptists can put our petty differences behind us and get moving again toward the hope and future that God promises to his people.

Finally, Frank Pages is a man of love. He loves the Lord and his Church. He loves the Word of God and he loves seeing people’s lives changed by it. Frank Page loves the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Program, because he knows that together we can do more than we can if we go it alone. Love, it is said, is measured not in words but in deeds. When it comes to showing his love for this convention, he does it by leading his church to give sacrificially and consistently to support the work of more than 5000 foreign missionaries, and to underwrite the ministries of all our seminaries and agencies. To paraphrase the book of James, “Do you see a man who says he loves the Southern Baptist Convention, but does not support the Cooperative Program? I ask you, can that love save us?” The Southern Baptist Convention should be led by men whose support for our ministries is unquestioned — a man who leads by example is the only leader Southern Baptist will follow. Frank Page loves our convention greatly, but his loyalty is to Christ uniquely. He will lead us courageously to adopt the same priority.

I urge you, my fellow messengers, to support a man who supports our convention. To vote for a man who holds the faith without compromise, hopes the best and works to achieve it, and who loves the Lord, the Church, and all the churches that constitute this great convention. I urge you to support Frank Page for convention president.

Thank you.”