A New Day In Dallas
by Spence Shelton
Spence Shelton is the founding pastor of Mercy Church in Charlotte, NC. Spence served as the pastor of small groups and spiritual formation at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham for 10 years before being sent out by The Summit to plant Mercy Church. He is the co-author of The People of God and has partnered with Tim and Kathy Keller to produce small group resources for The Meaning of Marriage and Jesus The King.
My name is Spence Shelton and I serve as the lead pastor of Mercy Church in Charlotte, NC. Three years ago My family and I, along with a team of people, were sent out by the Summit Church to plant Mercy Church here in Charlotte.
With our upcoming SBC presidential election, I want to share with you why I believe J.D. Greear is our man for the presidency at this critical juncture in our denomination’s history.
J.D. was my pastor for 13 years and my boss for 10 of those years. J.D.’s second week pastoring The Summit was my first week attending as a sophomore at UNC. J.K. Rowling’s Sirius Black said “if you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” I’ve grown up in many ways under his leadership and offer the following to you as an insider’s take on J.D.’s readiness for this role. Also please know J.D. did not ask me to do this and Mercy does not receive any funding from The Summit Church. In other words… I’m not on the payroll. Ok here we go:
He has proven character.
The closer I get to J.D., the more I’m around him, the better man I am. I am challenged to trust Christ more and yet encouraged by what God has done in me up to this point. His family is awesome & in good community, and he is guarded by great accountability with his fellow elders he willingly submits to. This is the kind of man I am seeking to be in my life & ministry. I’m not there yet but I want to be a man whose family is better for his leadership & whose friends and church are better not just for his skill, but because they know the man. This man’s character should, if nothing else, have been abundantly evident in seeking unity in our convention by withdrawing his own name from this election two years ago.
He is a proven leader.
The Summit has grown pretty significantly for years now and any leader knows that requires constant good decision making. It also requires building a strong team of people. He accepts criticism and deflects praise to his team. He consistently platforms others, trying to shine light on their gifts & abilities. He knows the church flourishes when their gifts are used. It should not surprise us that world class writers, counselors, preachers, teachers, pastors, & strategic leaders all flourish at the Summit Church. Perhaps the best example of this is the creation of The Summit Network. Which came about because we wanted to plant churches AND because guys on staff were being developed in their gifting. And instead of us “hitting our ceiling” and leaving, J.D. led the charge to create a next step where Summit would lose their best leaders by sending them to plant churches. Now more people worship at Summit plants than do at The Summit Church. Gaining By Losing indeed.
He’s a contagious evangelist.
Listen, one thing is becoming ABUNDANTLY clear to me. There has been a gloriously dropped ball in personal evangelism in the past 35 years by….wait for it… we ”evangelicals”. The 1940s are calling and they want their baptism numbers back. J.D. modeled for me both relational & one-time-encounter evangelism. We need to recover the joy & familiarity of evangelism. He’ll push all of us there just like he pushes Summit Church. You can’t attend Summit for more than a month without being asked who your “one” is you are hoping to see come to Christ this year. Look into their baptism numbers and this track record will speak for itself.
Thomas Fuller is attributed with first saying “The night is darkest just before the dawn.” Indeed we’ve been through a dark couple of weeks that is exposing an extended time period of darkness we’ve been wandering in. But Crisis is an opportunity to forge something new. And I believe SBC2018 is that opportunity. To shift to a new day where men and women of all color unite together to push the gospel forward in prayer-filled expectation of a great awakening in our day.
So I’m voting for a new day in Dallas next week. I hope you will join me.