EDITOR’S NOTE: The following interview of Ted Traylor, one of the three SBC presidential candidates, is to be published in the May 6 edition of The Christian Index.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–J. Gerald Harris, editor of the Christian Index (www.christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, conducted the following interview with Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., and one of three announced candidates for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Index: With two strong candidates already having been announced as nominees for SBC president, why did you decide to have your name also submitted as a nominee?
Traylor: Three reasons:
Working through the GCR experience this year has changed me. I have seen the critical need we have as Southern Baptists to be a better missional people. My understanding of our potential has been deepened. Before serving on the task force, I was more inclined to let someone else serve and lead. The past year’s experience gives me a unique perspective.
The Lord prompted my heart during the GCR process. I began praying to know His specific will.
I sought and received wise counsel from trusted friends.
The Olive Baptist deacons affirmed my nomination. Friends from various sectors of SBC life encouraged me.
Index: What would be your vision for the SBC as the president of our convention?
Traylor: My vision is to see our convention of churches embrace the missional vision of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.
Index: What would be your criteria for selecting the Committee on Committees?
Traylor: We are in a day like no other in the SBC. New leaders will soon be in place at IMB, NAMB, and the Executive Committee. The Committee on Committees must seek strong, effective leaders to serve on our trustee boards.
I would look for Baptists from our state conventions who would nominate deeply committed servants of Christ. These people will be key in helping our new leaders be successful in Kingdom work. The Committee on Committees appointees need to be great givers, missionally involved people of godly character, and be resolute in their commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message (2000).
Index: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Southern Baptists today?
Traylor: Without doubt it is the need for spiritual awakening. We need revival and passion for what brought Southern Baptists together in 1845 — sending the Gospel to all nations.
Index: What are our greatest strengths and weaknesses today as Southern Baptists?
1. We are a people of biblical orthodoxy.
2. We are the largest Protestant denominational missions force in the history of Christianity.
3. The Cooperative Program is our central and profound conduit of Great Commission financing.
4. We have a strong provision of theological education. One out of every four seminary students in the United States attends a Southern Baptist school.
1. We are in a state of spiritual stagnation.
2. There is a disconnect with next-generation leaders.
3. Our goal of ethnic diversity still remains more theory than reality.
Index: What role do you think the SBC president will have in helping to implement the GCR Task Force report?
Traylor: Implementation of the report, if adopted, will rest with the trustees and leaders of our entities and the Executive Committee. The SBC president should be a major voice in this, as he will have interactive opportunities with those doing the implementation.
This is one reason I am allowing my nomination. Since I experienced the task force process, I will have a working knowledge of it. I am deeply committed to the Cooperative Program and getting that funding to our missionaries to push back lostness in the nations.
Index: I understand the GCR Task Force has really reinforced the CP. What would you do to undergird that particular emphasis?
Traylor: The GCR Task Force is committed to and excited about the Cooperative Program. I have the joy of a pastoring a church with a long history of enthusiastic support for the CP, and I will continue to be a vocal proponent. This genius plan deserves our support. We can and must give more.
I will call on churches to increase their percentage of CP giving. I will encourage state conventions to increase the percentage of CP funds directed to the SBC. The GCRTF is ready to reinforce the CP, and I would use my voice to champion that effort.
Index: Baptist Press indicated that Olive’s CP percentages have been reduced since you became pastor. What is your response to that statistic?
Traylor: I found the printing of Olive’s 1989 Cooperative Program percentage to be an odd addition to the Baptist Press release. I do not recall ever seeing that statistic in a previous nominee announcement.
[BP NOTE: Baptist Press published information about long-term CP giving trends for both Bryant Wright (http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=32489) and Jimmy Jackson (http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=32760), who also are nominees for SBC president.]
In my first 10 years at Olive, we averaged approximately 15 percent annual giving to the Cooperative Program. Olive has always been mission-minded. However, we found ourselves high in giving and low in local involvement.
Olive has sought to raise our local mission work in Pensacola with the establishment of the Ministry Village at Olive. This is a deep commitment to ministry evangelism in our own Jerusalem. In addition, we have planted churches in Cleveland, Ohio and San Diego, Calif. This is in response to the challenge of the North American Mission Board.
We have also extended our international reach with ongoing work in five nations. During these past 10 years, Olive has remained at what we consider a strong commitment to the Cooperative Program at the 10 percent level of undesignated receipts.
Index: Do you see any conflict of interest in being president of the SBC, a member of the GCR Task Force and chairman of the NAMB presidential search committee? Can you remain objective as you serve in each of these three high-profile roles? Some Southern Baptists may perceive this as a concentration of too much power in the hand of one individual, similar to what we have seen in Washington. How would you respond to this perception?
Traylor: The short answer is I see no conflict. If one perceives serving in denominational life as a place of power, they are in the wrong place. I did not seek the roles at NAMB or GCR. They sought me.
Leadership includes having influence. If elected, I hope to use my influence for the good of the SBC and not for personal position or power.
Index: What do you think can be done to reverse the decline in the Southern Baptist Convention?
Traylor: We must have revival. That begins with local churches and local pastors. The local church is headquarters in Southern Baptist life. That is where revival must begin.
Our churches collectively can and should come together in solemn assembly and cry out to God in repentance, asking for fresh anointing. Only then will we reverse the decline. Elected or not, I plan to be a part of this endeavor.