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‘Every Way That I’ve Served Southern Baptists, It Has Left Scars’: Bart Barber Elected SBC President, Accepts Challenges That Lie Ahead

With that said, Barber explained that he has seen some “unhealthy ways” in which secular politics have dominated conversations in the SBC recently.

“The SBC can’t enact a law that tells churches they can’t talk to right wing media or have opinions about politics, because Christians need to have opinions about politics and we need to be engaged in politics,” Barber said, expressing nevertheless that theology needs to lead the way in that.

“The best way that we can do that is to point people to our beliefs and the beauty of them, the strength of them, the way that they unite us within the Baptist Faith & Message, and ask people to lead on that foot and to have the type of Christian love and fraternity toward one another that causes us to listen to people who have taken the same beliefs in Scripture and applied them differently politically,” he said concluding his answer.

Attendance numbers in churches have been on the decline, especially after the pandemic, a media outlet pointed out, asking Barber how he views the decline and how he would inspire the flock.

“The fact of the matter is, some of the numbers that we’ve been depending on have not been really very good indicators of health for churches for quite some time,” Barber replied. “So I think some of what we’re seeing right now is some solidification numbers around something that’s honestly more reliable.”

Barber was referring to a survey the SBC takes every year, called the Annual Church Profile, which asks churches to indicate Sunday school attendance numbers and number of baptisms. Many churches don’t track church memberships well, Barber explained, citing that some never take members off their lists, often making church membership numbers inaccurate. “We have to be careful about what numbers we’re using to compare to see what’s going on,” Barber said.

“The Word of God works,” Barber shared regarding his inspiration to churches. “The effort to go and to share the gospel with people around us works.”

People who run hard after what culture tells them will make them happy, healthy, and joyful are very dissatisfied, Barber stated. With suicide rates rising among young people, mass shootings taking place in our nation, young men struggling to decide how to navigate their future, and people asking what’s going wrong in this world, the church is going to see people respond to the gospel, Barber argued.

“If we’ll spend more time worrying about that and less time fighting over our differences on Twitter, trying to find ways to own the guy who thinks differently than I am—we might find that really God’s plan was a good plan all along,” Barber said.

Barber was asked if the pressures Litton faced this last year in his only year as SBC president had any effect on his decision to accept the role.

“I’ll just say this,” Barber replied. “Over time, with charity, God teaches you how to thank him for the hardships that you’ve been through in your life.” Barber went on to explain that this isn’t the first difficult season in which he has served the SBC.

Barber served as the chairman of the 2022 SBC Resolutions Committee and as a member on the committee in 2021.