B21 Interviews with SBC Presidential Candidates: Ted Traylor

Ted-Traylor-99-pm-etBaptist21 continues the interviews with the men who will be nominated for the office of SBC President. Up next is Pastor Ted Traylor.

Give us a brief introduction to who you are.

This fall marks twenty years that my family and I have been at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola. Liz and I have two grown children. The small town of Pisgah, Alabama, is the place I call home. I was saved when I was ten and preached my first sermon at seventeen.

Sports have always been a big part of my life, and my early life goal was to coach. My natural gifting is to coach/shepherd/lead the church. In addition to serving as pastor, I have had the privilege to serve in various areas of Baptist life, including being a NAMB trustee and president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference. One of the things I enjoy currently is serving as moderator of the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association.

I post a blog at www.tedtraylor.com each Tuesday and Friday. It’s a great way to communicate regularly with my Olive family and ministry partners. I share about my life and speak to certain denominational issues from time to time.

Serving as president of the SBC is a massive time commitment. Why are you willing to commit to such a task?

The experience of serving on the GCRTF changed my life. My knowledge of the Southern Baptist Convention was enhanced and my vision for the denomination has a sharper focus. Before this year, I was happy to let others serve and lead. Investing time in the SBC has the potential to affect Kingdom work for generations to come. If we can give renewed emphasis to the Great Commission, this will be time well spent. Southern Baptists have invested much in me, and I see this as a time to give back.

How do you think your gifts and vision will help the SBC?

I am a team builder. In the coming year, a new leader will emerge at NAMB, IMB and the Executive Committee. I want to help these leaders get off to a great start. We need synergy and unity. I believe I can be an advocate for our entities going forward together, keeping our eye on the Great Commission.

What is one of the greatest strengths of the SBC? Why?

Our strengths include the commitment to Scriptural inerrancy, solid theological education provided through our seminaries, and a God blessed conduit in the Cooperative Program. However, the number one strength in my opinion is having the largest Protestant denominational missions force in the history of Christianity. The potential is staggering. The framework for world evangelization is in place. We must leverage what has been entrusted to us.

What is one of the greatest weaknesses in the SBC? Why?

It is spiritual stagnation. This is the only way to explain having 17,000 more churches than we did in 1950, yet baptizing 33,000 less people. We are big and comfortable. This attitude causes risk-taking next generation leaders to doubt the validity of the denomination. We need radical repentance and obedience.

What is one of the most encouraging trends right now in the SBC?

That groups like Baptist21 are interviewing the nominees for SBC President is an encouraging trend. We often hear of the disconnect to next generation leaders in SBC life. However, I see a keen and growing interest in these young leaders regarding the SBC. As I visit and preach on seminary campuses, I am encouraged with the quality of students I encounter. This is exciting, as one out of four seminary students in our nation attend an SBC school.

What is one of the most discouraging trends right now in the SBC?

The graph indicating the steady decline in baptisms in our convention of churches discourages me the most. Some report as many as 25% of our churches baptized no one last year. We must somehow place the tools and motivation in the hand and heart of a zero baptizing church to reverse that trend.

What kind of ministry should women have in the life of a local church? How is this applied in your church?

I like the affirmation in the Danvers statement that says, “In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim. 2:11-15, 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.”

Women at Olive are involved in various ministry roles. The offices of pastor and deacon as well as ordination are limited to men. Women teach women and men teach men in our discipleship endeavors.

What are some of the strengths of the GCR?

The greatest thing the GCR has done so far is getting people to dialogue about the Great Commission and our need to be more engaged. The title of the report speaks to its focus and strength: PENETRATING THE LOSTNESS – Embracing A Vision for a Great Commission Resurgence Among Southern Baptists. Lostness is the issue we must confront. We know the command, and GCR will help us get our arms

What are some of the weaknesses of the GCR?

People like specifics when it comes to a game plan. The GCR report is short on specifics. Our polity demands this. While the convention can request entities to consider various actions, we cannot direct them. That is the task of the trustees on each board. When we talk about phasing our cooperative agreements, people want to know the specifics and that causes tension. We cannot give it because the trustees must work the details. Creating these frustrations of the unknown future is a weakness of the GCR. We have not been able to get much traction with the core values component. If we could somehow embrace these in every area of denominational life, we would be the better for it.

Baptist21 is grateful for Pastor Ted Traylor graciously taking the time to answer these questions