This week we journey to Indianapolis to attend the 2008 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I plan to cast my ballot in the presidential election for Dr. Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church, Lawrenceville, GA.
The Southern Baptist Convention is not about any individual. I've met a lot of nice people in the SBC during my lifetime whose life and service I would gladly choose to honor, but the presidency of our convention is not a "key to the city" to hand out as an honorary token of esteem. I've met a lot of skilled expositors or gifted leaders from whose gifts I have personally benefitted, but the presidency of our convention is not a "Lifetime Achievement Award" to mark someone's contributions. Rather, the presidency of the SBC fulfills at least two important roles.
First, the president of the SBC has the opportunity to be the foremost cheerleader and motivator to local church pastors and members in their service to the Lord. As such, I think that Frank Cox's example and message will be healthy to the churches of our convention. It is an example and message of faithfulness in ministry. Dr. Cox is still pastoring the first church he entered just coming out of seminary. His years there have not all been easy ones, yet he has persevered. Perseverance, as important as it may have been in the last decade, will (by my prediction) become an even more important ministry tool in the decades to come. His is also an example and message of sacrificial cooperation. North Metro sacrificially gives through the Cooperative Program. Theirs is an example worthy of commendation to our churches.
Second, the president of the SBC shapes the future of the convention through his appointments. I am confident that Frank Cox will make sound conservative appointments as our president. His stated philosophy of SBC polity is that we should select our trustees carefully and deliberately—making sure that we have the best trustees possible—and then trust our trustees to do their jobs well, holding them accountable to the convention not by neutering them and trashing our system of polity but by working through our polity as it has existed and served us well for several generations.
Until his nomination, I had never heard of Frank Cox. Now I find him successful enough to have accumulated the skills and relationships to be able to serve effectively as president, yet humble and just obscure enough (meant in a good way) to relate well to pastors from a broad swath of situations in our convention. I am far from the first to endorse him online. His blogging endorsements reveal a diverse informal coalition of support that includes people both east and west of the Mississippi; people at small, mid-sized, and large churches; people both closer and further to Geneva in their soteriology alike; and people transcending the generations in our convention.
In the face of that broad array of endorsements, I do not know that mine adds any momentum to his candidacy. Nevertheless, I am enthusiastic and hopeful in giving it, believing that Frank Cox represents precisely the sort of leadership that our convention needs in the coming two years.