Dave Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference, according to an announcement by Indiana pastor Todd Benkert.
Benkert, a pastor at Eastlake Baptist Church in Crown Point, Ind., said he wants “to nominate a small church guy and do a different kind of Pastors’ Conference [next] year.”
Miller “is a small church pastor,” Benkert said. “Dave has shown over the years both in his blogging and participating in convention life that he’s committed to unity in the SBC and he’s committed to broad participation among the various groups that make up the SBC. When we first spoke about a vision for the Pastors’ Conference, we were looking at [inviting speakers who were] diverse geographically [and in terms of] age, ethnicity, soteriology – all those things that make up who we are as Southern Baptists.”
A former SBC second vice president and Baptist Convention of Iowa president, Miller has pastored churches in Virginia and Iowa. His nomination was first mentioned publicly in a May 2 blog post by a group of 10 Southern Baptist pastors who refer to themselves as “Voices for a New Baptist Future.” All 10 are contributors to the SBC Voices blog – some as authors and some as frequent commentators – of which Miller is editor.
In a May 9 news release, Voices for a New Baptist Future, which includes Miller, stated they “believe that the Pastors’ Conference would benefit from a new emphasis and direction,” adding they “intend to move away from big names, from big churches and big productions to put on a Pastors’ Conference focusing on the exposition of scripture by Southern Baptist pastors for the edification of other pastors.”
If elected, Miller will work in conjunction with Voices for a New Baptist Future, Benkert said, to coordinate the 2017 Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix, the site of next year’s SBC annual meeting.
This year’s Pastors’ Conference, which will feature messages from key leaders and inspirational music and worship, will be June 12-13 at America’s Center in St. Louis preceding the SBC’s June 14-15 annual meeting there.
A Pastor’s Conference led by Miller, the press release stated, would include speakers’ dividing up a book or section of scripture and preaching through it expositionally.
“An effort will be undertaken to find excellent preachers from churches of 500 in average attendance or less who can preach powerful biblical messages,” the news release stated. “The focus will not be on the celebrity of the speakers but on the power of God’s Word. Special times of prayer will be included in which pastors can pray for one another and seek to bear on another’s burdens – pastors helping pastors.”
Benkert said that Voices for a New Baptist Future doesn’t “want what we are proposing here to be seen as a negative statement about past conferences or megachurch leaders or popular pastors. But we want to make a positive statement about the value of small churches in the SBC and the diverse landscape that makes us Southern Baptist pastors and churches.”
According to data from the SBC’s Annual Church Profile, Southern Hills has had an average worship attendance of 223 over the past five years and has given an average of 12.2 percent of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified channel for funding missions and ministries in North America and worldwide.
The congregation is engaging an unreached people group in Senegal, according to the news release.
Miller earned an undergraduate degree at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a master of divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
He and his wife Jennifer have four children and are expecting their sixth grandchild.
Miller’s presidential nomination is the second to be announced for the SBC Pastors’ Conference. Tennessee pastor John Avant’s nomination was announced April 27.
The last time there was more than one candidate for SBC Pastors’ Conference president was 2010, said then-Pastors’ Conference president Kevin Ezell. A spokesman for current president John Meador said an initial vote will be taken by show of hands, with a ballot following if necessary.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)