Next-Gen Leader: New Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear

By Leigh Harper, October 17, 2018

If it were solely up to you, how would future SBC conventions look different?

I’m hoping to see them more streamlined and more mission-focused. Business needs to be done, but it needs to be done efficiently. And, because we are group of churches that cooperate for the purpose of mission, that should be what defines our gatherings, not political discourse or squabbling about more secondary theological differences. I also think it is worth exploring whether the conventions could be done every couple of years.

Can you share a particularly momentous, memorable or game-changing moment for you in your ministry?

Several years ago, as I was preaching through the book of Acts, the leaders of my church and I became convicted about the way we were approaching our own ministry. We read of people like Lydia, who was so beloved that the community came and wept at her funeral, and of Philip, who brought great joy to his entire city. We began to ask ourselves, ‘Does our community view us like that? Are we a source of great joy to them, and if we died, would they weep?’ We didn’t like the answers.

It was at that moment that we turned a corner as a church. No longer did we want to be a church merely in our city. We wanted to be a church for our city. We wanted to serve the most broken areas of our city so that Raleigh-Durham would have great joy because of our presence. So, we began a ministry we call ServeRDU, immersing ourselves in some of the neediest areas of the city and asking God to apply the healing of the gospel.

The response we’ve seen in the years since has been overwhelming. At one point, a couple years in, I was invited to speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. rally in Durham. This was a big deal, and I was incredibly nervous. I wasn’t even entirely sure why they had asked me to come. But backstage, just before I went on, one of the organizers noticed how nervous I was. And he said, ‘You know why we asked you here today? Because wherever we find a need in our community, we find someone from your church. They don’t always know exactly what they’re doing, but they’re always there.’

What do you wish the rest of the world knew about Southern Baptists?

At our core, we are not a political force with an agenda—we are just a group of people in churches who are trying to believe what God’s word says, love Jesus and pursue his mission. We didn’t come up with the word of God; we are only trying to represent it.

J.D.’s Favorites

Breakfast food A peanut butter protein shake or a waffle—depending on how responsible I’m feeling
Movies “Braveheart”; “Chariots of Fire”; “Dumb and Dumber”
Song you can’t get enough of “Livin’ on a Prayer”
Vacation destination Outer Banks, North Carolina
Quote “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Form of exercise CrossFit: the exercise that starts in the gym and ends on your Facebook page
Household chore Assigning kids the household chores
Travel must-have If I have an iPad with Kindle on it, I feel like even if I get delayed or stranded I’ve got great resources to take advantage of the time.

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