NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–On his first day in the office as president of the Executive Committee, Frank Page emphasized a desire to build relationships and establish a covenant of trust among Southern Baptists.
“I know these are days of transition and days of challenge for Southern Baptists in many different settings and many different ways. I’m well aware of that and more aware every day,” Page said Oct. 4 at the Southern Baptist Convention building in Nashville, Tenn. “We need to have a renewed trust in our Lord and His precious ability to pull things together.”
Page led the Executive Committee staff in their regular Monday morning prayer time, drawing upon a sermon he heard years ago that addressed the question, “What is the greatest compliment ever to be given?”
Perhaps the most well-known compliment, Page said, is found in Matthew 25:23, where the master says, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Another great compliment, Page said, is what Jesus said of John the Baptist: “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).
“But perhaps one even greater was found in Acts chapter 13. It’s a place where Paul is reciting Israelite history …,” Page said. “In that process, he says something in verse 22. It says, ‘He raised up for them David as king, to whom also he gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse a man after my own heart.””
Page said his challenge to himself and to the EC staff is that they would seek the heart of God, “seek His direction, and in so doing seek to be more like Him in our actions, in our reactions, in our interactions, that we would be more like our Lord and have His heart as our heart.”
After the devotion, Page said he would be encouraging staff members to tell about recent experiences of sharing Jesus with people.
Calling his predecessor, Morris H. Chapman, a soul-winner, he said, “Just know that I expect all of us to share Christ. You know what I’m talking about — in our normal traffic patterns of life.
“I will assure you that I’m not going to ask you to do something that I do not already do and regularly do,” he said. “In fact, I’ve been able to share Christ several times, probably more than a dozen times in the last week.
“That’s because I’m on the airplane a lot and people can’t get away from me,” he added, smiling. “Sometimes it’s just a short discussion, such as with waiters or waitresses.
“I’m not going to be checking roll or anything like that, but I’m going to be expecting all of us to say, ‘God, give me somebody that I can share Christ with at some point. Set up a divine appointment. Help me know who it is that I might develop a relationship with … that I can share the Good News with.’
“Some of those are transient. We know we’ll never see that person again. Others we can pray for every day and we’ve got relationships with them. Just know I want our staff here to be soul-winners, sharers of the Gospel,” Page said.
Page urged the staff to mention the first names of the lost people they’ve encountered so that the group can pray for those specific people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
“I don’t mind starting,” Page said before talking about his sharing the Gospel with a man during a flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta.
“His name is Dean,” Page said.
“I had an old preacher friend one time give his testimony and he said, ‘Boys, now when I was lost, I was lost real good.’
“Dean is lost, pray for Dean, please,” Page said. “He’s very lost.”
Staff members also named individuals with whom they had shared about Christ over the past several days. Several shared the names of people they have been praying for over a long period of time.
After prayer time, Page described his first steps as a new entity leader in a context of building trust.
“One of the things that I’m working hard on is building relationships,” Page said. “That’s why I’m going to be gone a good bit this fall. It is my intent, for example, to go and meet with every state exec within the first year. By the end of this year I will have visited 17 or 18 of them. I’ve visited half of that number already.”
Page said he also has visited with half of the seminary presidents and half of the other entity heads within the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I am in contact every day with at least one if not two or three or four pastors, trying to build relationships with pastors and churches. I’ll be out in as many churches as I can get to,” he said.
Referring to the multitude of opinions about the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention, Page said, “… I am trying to build relationships and trying to establish a covenant of trust to say, ‘Our old ship is in trouble. But with relationships and the power of the Lord, we can turn it around.
“Without relationships, we’re sunk.”
As he works to build a covenant of trust throughout the convention, Page said he also desires to build personal trust with Executive Committee staff.
“I like honesty. If you’ve got a problem, I want you to come to me and tell me that. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you. You won’t hear it from someone else,” he said. “I like to build relationships. If you’ve got a prayer concern that you’d like to share with me, you know my e-mail address. You can share it with me. You can come see me.
“I want there to be openness. I want there to be a trust level. I want there to be a collegiality — professional, yes, but one that reflects we’re in this together. We’re brothers and sisters first and foremost,” Page said.
“I’ve been trying to share that with entity heads, with pastors, with EC members. This is the way it’s going to be. I want us to build a covenant of trust in our convention.”
The Executive Committee staff welcomed Page and his wife Dayle with a pizza lunch later that day, during which the two entertained casual questions from the staff ranging from how the couple met to what types of books they enjoy reading.
Page officially assumed the role of Executive Committee president Oct. 1, succeeding Chapman, who served in the position for 18 years.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.