One of the most brilliant and insightful Baptist bloggers and thinkers among us is a church history professor at SEBTS named Nathan Finn. Dr. Finn boldly asserted in a blog post entitled, “The Varieties of SBC Conservatism” that, ” you have a Southern Baptist Convention that is more conservative now than it was in 1975, but it is divided as it has ever been; the divisions are simply different in the present context.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Dr. Finn delineates the division in SBC life far better than I am capable of doing. However, suffice it to say, that our beloved SBC is splintering and separating into many different camps. Healing the divisions and disunity in SBC life is no small matter.

Why? Jesus prayed for unity among his followers because he recognized that evangelism is hindered where there is a lack of unity (John 17:21).

The primary purpose for which the SBC exist is to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth and to disciple men and women in the faith of our Lord. Unless our convention experiences healing, wholeness and unity, our evangelism, missions and ministry in the SBC will continue to suffer. For the sake of the gospel and the mission of the SBC, we need to elect a president who can bring our convention together in unity under the banner of Christ.

The divide between the Calvinist and the Semi Arminian is growing wide. The divide between the emergent church movements/missional groups and traditional approaches to church planting and development is widening. The divide between the cessationist and the continualist is growing wider. The divide between the generations- as astutely observed by Dr. Jimmy Draper several years ago- is growing wider. All you have to do is just look around you at the annual SBC meeting and you’ll notice that there is obviously a divide and disconnect between Black Baptists and White Baptist. Not only is our convention fractured and divided, we’re also beginning to see signs of decline, and decrease documented in the Annual Church Profile.

I believe this decline and decrease is a direct result of our lack of unity. The question before us is how and when will we heal the disunity and division in the SBC? Where do we from here?

From my vantage point God has placed the burden, vision unction and anointing on one man to lead the SBC at this critical hour out of the morass of division, disunity and documented decline, That man is Reverend Les Puryear, pastor of the Lewisville Baptist Church in Lewisville, North Carolina.

There are three reasons why I will nominate Les Puryear to be president of the SBC:

1. Brother Les will continue the practice of our current president Dr. Frank Page of including and involving men and women in the life and leadership of the SBC that previously have never been invited to the table. Brother Les will only appoint and involve Baptist who affirm the 2000 B, F and M totally without out caveats.

2. Brother Les will reach out to all ethnic minorities in SBC life as did Frank Page and work to make sure that they are also seated at the table.

The fact that I’m doing his nomination speech is indicative of this.

 3. Brother Les will be able to relate to small Church pastors that make up 80% of our SBC churches, while possessing the leadership skills and academic acumen to relate to and lead pastors in our convention who pastor much larger churches. I agree with Dr. Frank Page, It is time for the SBC to elect a small church pastor as president. Les can relate because his church averages approximately 200 in worship.

Finally, the story has been told of a scene during the days of slavery in America where the women slaves were required to take their babies to the cotton fields while they chopped or picked cotton. On one occasion a mother could not locate her baby in the cotton field and after an extended period of searching, the idea was presented that all the slaves join hands and march down all the cotton rows together. This is what they did and in doing so, they soon found the baby. Unfortunately, by the time they found the baby, the sun and dehydration had taken its toll and the baby was found dead. Some one then remarked, “Had we joined hands sooner, we could have saved the baby.”

My brothers and sisters it is not to late to save the SBC baby, but we must join hands and hearts now under the banner of Christ and Les Puryear for tomorrow may be to late. I urge you to elect Les Puryear president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

May 30, 2008, 3:00 PM