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N.C. pastor offers insights into SBC nomination process

Matt Capps, lead pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C., served as chairman of the SBC’s Committee on Nominations this past year.

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Nominations is responsible for presenting nominees to messengers at the SBC annual meeting for individuals to serve in a variety of capacities across SBC life. These positions include members of the SBC Executive Committee; trustees for SBC entities, institutions and commissions; and members of standing committees, except certain positions on the Credentials Committee.

According to SBC bylaws, the SBC president appoints the Committee on Committees, which nominates the Committee on Nominations (along with the chairperson), which is presented to messengers at the annual meeting for approval. The Committee on Nominations serves for one year, and members work throughout their year of service to review potential nominees to fill the various vacancies across the SBC.

The Committee on Nominations is required by the SBC bylaws to release its initial report containing the list of recommended nominees no later than 45 days prior to the annual meeting. Any changes made to the initial report are reflected in the first day’s bulletin at the annual meeting.

Matt Capps, lead pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C., has served as chair of the Committee on Nominations for the past year and will formally present the committee’s report to messengers attending 2024 SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. The Biblical Recorder spoke with Capps about the committee’s work and his role as chairman. His responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity in some places.

The Committee on Nominations has the weighty task of nominating individuals to serve in leadership roles with the likes of the Executive Committee, the six SBC seminaries, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board and more. As such, the individuals nominated have the responsibility of stewarding those entities, and our cooperative work as Southern Baptists, into the future. In light of that, how has the committee approached its work?

Our 68 committee members prayerfully approached our work to bring the best possible slate of nominees we could. As a committee, we understand that the nominees we present to the Convention will be tasked to collectively steward the mission of the entity to which they are assigned. Our entities are in need of faithful Southern Baptists who not only believe in the mission and work of our convention but also have leadership experience and expertise. Each one of our Committee members worked diligently to this end, and at the conclusion of our work, the committee was unanimous in the slate of nominees to be presented at the annual meeting.

What does the committee’s overall process look like?

After the Convention votes to approve the Committee on Nominations at the annual meeting, committee members receive a notebook in November that outlines the roles and responsibilities of the committee. We then begin networking and recruiting. The committee meets several times in the months that follow until finalizing the initial list of nominees in March. Following the March meeting, there are usually a few questions to be answered or holes left to fill, so a sub-committee is formed from the larger committee to complete the task and bring forth the final list of nominees for the Convention to vote on in June. 

What are the criteria for potential nominees?

Many of the criteria are outlined in SBC bylaw 15, which provides requirements for eligibility to serve. As the committee brings forward nominations for each role, there are several criteria that we are taking into consideration. First, we examine their church’s Cooperative Program (CP) giving. Second, we ensure that each candidate has been a resident member of a Southern Baptist church in their state or territory for at least three years. Also, we make sure that the nominee or their spouse did not serve on the previous year’s Committee on Committees, or that they are not currently serving as a trustee or standing committee member. Finally, we ensure that the nominee is not receiving CP funds.

How did you go about finding potential nominees?

The nominating committee consists of 68 representatives, two people from each state or defined region of our Convention. Each representative works with their state counterpart to network with pastors, local associations and state executive directors, as well as receiving recommendations from Southern Baptists.

Our desire is to bring forth nominees who will represent the Lord Jesus Christ in their service on each committee and institutional board and embody the mission of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

We also understand that our Convention committees and entity boards have various needs, like individuals who understand and are experienced in areas of finance, corporate leadership, real estate development, legal matters and human resources, among other things. Each entity is also required to maintain a balance between the number of church-related and non-church-related workers for their board positions. That balance is specified in the SBC bylaws.

What are other things the committee looked for in nominees?

Above and beyond the criteria outlined in the Convention’s constitution and bylaws, we asked each nominee to disclose if they had any questions or hesitancies with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and none did. Even more, we inquired about the nominee’s church and its policies and procedures regarding protecting the vulnerable. Finally, we have tried to be mindful of things like age, gender and ethnicity, which reflected our desire for the nominees to represent the growing diversity of churches in our Convention.

What advice would you have for someone, either pastor or laity, looking to get more involved in Baptist life?

The focus of Baptist life is found in the local church. If someone would like to be involved in Baptist life, it starts with leading and volunteering in their church family. Beyond that, serving and attending associational, state convention and SBC annual meetings is important. The most important thing anyone can do is pray for our Convention and the entities that are assigned to specific tasks. Prayer should always be our first response, not our last resort. I think we would all do well to remember the real purpose of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is to cooperate together under the sacred effort to reach people with the Gospel both here and worldwide.

This article originally appeared in the Biblical Recorder.