EDITOR’S NOTE: Baptist Press will be releasing in-depth interviews with each of the known candidates to be nominated as SBC president at the Annual Meeting in Anaheim. We plan to release our interview with Tom Ascol on May 2, Bart Barber on May 3, and Robin Hadaway on May 4. The interviews have been edited only for clarity, grammar and length.
DALLAS (BP) – Whether it’s from a video posted on social media or a microphone at the SBC Annual Meeting, you don’t have to listen to Bart Barber long before you know he cares about Southern Baptist polity. Barber, senior pastor of FBC Farmersville, Texas, is scheduled to be nominated for SBC president by Matt Henslee at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim.
“If I left the Southern Baptist Convention, I’d have to try to recreate it because it’s a joyful place to be,” Barber said.
Barber, 52, has served in a number of roles beyond pastor in the SBC. He’s the chairman of the 2022 SBC Resolutions Committee and was a member of the 2021 committee.
He also preached at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in 2017, served as first vice president of the SBC from 2013 through 2014, served on the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention executive board from 2008 through 2014 (including serving as chairman and vice chairman), served as a trustee for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2009 through 2019 and served on the SBC Committee on Committees in 2008. He also previously taught as an adjunct professor at SWBTS from 2006 through 2009.
Baptist Press sat down with Barber to ask him about his walk with Christ, his family, his ministry and pressing issues in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Why are you willing to be nominated to be the president of the Southern Baptist Convention?
I came to the end of my stubbornness. People have asked me to do this before this election cycle. It’s never something I’ve wanted to do at this time. But in prayer, I believed that God was calling me to do this. I believe for a while that God was calling me for some portion of just the rest of my life, however long I’m living here to play some role and I was happy with a small role, a big role or whatever else but to play some role in trying to make our convention healthier. I’m deeply concerned about what I think are some very unhealthy ways of talking with one another and about one another that are damaging our family of churches. There are ways that the broader culture is pushing into the way we’re behaving as believers. And you know, I’ve been trying to make a difference in that without holding any kind of elected office. I’ve believed that you might have more of an impact without holding an elected office than you would have holding it, but circumstances being as they are this year, after saying no for a long time, prayerfully, I came to the point that I said, OK.
Would you tell us about your salvation experience?
I was really young when I was saved. I was not quite 6. I’ll tell you as a pastor when 5-year-olds come to me, I’m pretty skeptical. Even though that was my experience because it would be rare. But I went to a small church, and we didn’t have enough people or enough money to be pulling the kids out into a bunch of different stuff so I sat in big church with everybody from the time that they booted me out of the nursery, and I was expected to be quiet and sit and pay attention.
My mother had this uncanny ability, while singing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus” to shoot a look from the choir loft to me sitting out in the pew that would make ice water run through your veins. I couldn’t fidget too much, I couldn’t chatter away and I couldn’t ignore things. As a result, I heard the Gospel early, a lot. The preaching in that church focused on the Gospel, on Jesus.
My mom also worked really hard, and my dad too, to help us learn early. So, at a young age, I understood the Gospel, understood that I was a sinner, repented of my sins, placed my faith in Jesus as my Savior, followed Him in baptism, confessed Him as Savior and Lord. That has been my testimony since that day. As I said, even I’m skeptical when a 5-year-old comes, but I’m 52 now. I think maybe it was real.