Home Christian News Baptist Press Interviews SBC Presidential Nominee Bart Barber

Baptist Press Interviews SBC Presidential Nominee Bart Barber

We’ve been very much engaged in that. We’ve funded that to the tune of a lot of money without diminishing at all what we’ve done through the Cooperative Program at our church.

I think you guys were reporting on that and said that our contributions last year were 12.4 percent of our undesignated receipts. Actually, our contributions are 10 percent of our undesignated receipts. There’s always a lag that makes any particular year’s statistics look strange because we’ll pay last December’s portion in January, and we had a really big December the December before.

We give 10 percent of our undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program and we also faithfully support our local association.

We gave a very large Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year, the largest we’ve ever had. We eclipsed $75,000 in collections. We are very committed to ongoing missions operations. We have helped plant churches in Texas, helped plant churches in Montana, and a number of places. We’ve been involved in missionary work in Cuba and Canada. We’re all in on Southern Baptist missions.

Southern Baptists talk a lot about politics these days. Do we need to get back to a conversation on missions?

It is true and I think it mirrors what’s happened in our culture at large, where it’s the nature of politics to be totalizing and want to suck all the oxygen out of the room and make every conversation about that. Nobody can build and sustain a 24-7 cable channel devoted to talking about missions. There’s enough there to talk about. It covers the entire world. It’s spiritual warfare that’s ongoing every day, miracles are happening and leading people to Christ every day. We’d all be a whole lot better off if we heard those stories.

Yet, we have an appetite that’s probably not healthy for conspiracy and for anger. It’s hard to get angry about missions. We have an appetite for that. I think the best way for us to get back to that conversation about missions and an approach to missions is some repentance on our part for letting these other things become an idol. I think the main thing that we’re going to have to do, the missional conversation can’t happen on social media because so much of it is, you’ve got bots patrolling social media.

As the job of the missionary has gotten more and more dangerous and as the ability for nefarious governments to mine social media for information has grown, we’ve reached a point where we have to be more careful about how we communicate about what we’re doing beyond our shores in terms of missions.

As we’ve changed the way that we converse to move more and more towards social media, that puts that missional conversation at a great disadvantage because there is so many details that you just are never going to be able to share, so many things that are going be in a position of “Just trust us. We’re telling you, we have people all over the world. They’re sharing the Gospel. People are coming to Christ, but we can’t tell you the details.”

As a side note, I think the most fun assignment in the SBC would be on the IMB board of trustees or to work for the IMB where you actually get to know about some of this stuff. But, but in the end, what this says, I think, is we are in the infancy of this social-media thing. If you’re thinking on a historical scale where a year’s nothing, we’re in the infancy of that, maybe moving into the adolescence of that, and we don’t know what to do with it. We were not at all prepared for the unique temptations toward slander and conspiracy and prurience in a way, not in terms of like sexual prurience, but just the rubber-neck effect of when you drive by on the highway and you see a wreck, you want to look and see what’s going on there. In the same way, people who genuinely dislike the way that we have discourse with one another as Southern Baptists, who will say, “Oh, that notorious blog over there. They’re horrible. Did you see what they posted yesterday?” Even people who don’t like it, watch it for entertainment, read it, share it for entertainment. We’ve got to get over that adolescence because the missional conversation will never thrive in that environment.

We see so much division among Southern Baptists on social media. How would you pull them together and move forward?

You’re going to have to be content with me saying that I know some initial steps, but I don’t know that I know the full solution yet. I’d feel bad about saying we’ll figure it out as we go along if anybody had an answer to all of this, but it’s all so new. I do know some initial steps. I think one of the first things that we’ve got to do is develop some sort of a reasonable standard that has to be met for an accusation to be taken seriously.