Editor’s note: Dave Miller served as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention for a year following the annual meeting in New Orleans in 2012. He wrote about his year “at the table” for the June 17 Illinois Baptist.
A little over a year ago, I got a call from a blogging friend who asked me if I’d allow my name to be placed in nomination for second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Stunned, I told him I would consider it. After a lot of prayer, I decided to go forward with the process.
No one, including me, really thought I would be elected, but it happened.
One of the reasons I agreed to be a candidate was to raise awareness about the whole Baptist world that exists outside of the mainline Southern states. Being a Baptist in Iowa, or the Dakotas, or Minnesota, or Wisconsin, or Illinois is different than being one in Alabama, Mississippi or Texas. I like serving as a Southern Baptist in a new work state and I wanted to raise a little awareness of the work we do.
I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. First, the SBC, while far from perfect, is led by some pretty competent and capable leaders. I got into blogging a few years ago as an outsider who was upset about a few things and wasn’t afraid to express that displeasure. But as time went on, I realized that while I still don’t agree with everything everyone does in our entities, we are well served by godly men.
Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, is exactly the leader we need at the helm during difficult days. If you don’t read Thom Rainer’s blog, you ought to. We have some remarkable men as seminary presidents, and leaders at the IMB and NAMB are working to extend the Gospel around the world.
Second, I’m excited about the movement toward greater racial diversity in our leadership. A prominent black leader at our Orlando convention a few years ago: “Dave, there has not been a single black man on that stage.”
I promised him I would join him in calling Baptists to a greater inclusion of ethnic leaders. It was my great privilege to serve this year alongside President Fred Luter. Beyond that, we have seen entity leadership positions show greater racial diversity. We haven’t arrived yet, but we have taken several steps in the right direction.
Lastly, the SBC is truly a grassroots organization. I’m a pastor of a small- to medium-sized church in Sioux City, Iowa. We are at the outer limits of the Baptist world! But, because of the democratic, grassroots nature of the SBC, I had an opportunity that I never thought I would have.
We are part of something wonderful as Southern Baptists. The challenges are great and work is never going to be easy. But we have a firm foundation in God’s Word, and an unequalled opportunity to share, through Cooperative Program missions, in perhaps the most aggressive world missions program in church history. And we have a powerful living God.
I am thankful to be part of Southern Baptists and consider this last year as a convention officer, representing Baptists in the Midwest, to be a great privilege.
Dave Miller is pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, and editor of the blog SBC Voices.