Louisiana pastor David Crosby, one of three pastors to be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president in June, responded to six questions Baptist Press posed to each candidate.
Crosby’s nomination was announced March 24 by former SBC President Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.
Among Crosby’s leadership roles at the association, state convention and SBC levels, he has served as moderator of the New Orleans Baptist Association, Executive Board member of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and member of the SBC Committees on Committees and Resolutions. He is a trustee at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
During the 20 years Crosby has pastored First Baptist Church in New Orleans, the congregation has given between 7 and 15 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, Luter said in nominating Crosby. The church has averaged 658 in worship and 24 baptisms annually over the past five years, according to data from the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Previously, Crosby pastored churches in Texas and Mississippi.
Crosby holds a doctor of philosophy degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a master of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The new SBC president will succeed Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, who was elected to the first of two one-year presidential terms in 2014.
Q&As with each of the other two nominees – Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines and North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear – also appeared on Baptist Press. BP requested each nominee to respond within 150 words to each question.
David Crosby’s answers to BP questions
BP: What influence on the Southern Baptist Convention do you pray to have during the two consecutive one-year terms that an SBC president typically serves?
CROSBY: I hope to renew a spirit of cooperation among our churches. We are all experiencing the reality of America as a mission field. Any true mission setting requires more cooperation, not less, to share an effective witness. On the mission field you must set aside your differences and rally around the true core of the gospel. That is where we are now in our nation and our world.
We have a wide-open door that will help us evangelize our nation and present the full wonder of the gospel – the love of our neighbors. This love may be expressed corporately in compassion ministries initiated by our churches to address local needs. I hope to help foster such ministries. This strategy of outreach will put us in touch with the many residents of our communities who are distant from us culturally and provide bridges for powerful witness.
BP: If elected as SBC president, in what ways do you envision calling Southern Baptists forward in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission and undergirding the Cooperative Program?
CROSBY: We communicate our true relationship with Jesus through love of neighbor. If we fail to love, we are just an annoying noise. Any future revival of the Great Commission will be linked to our keeping the Great Commandment. The notion that these two great commands of Jesus are in tension is a true absurdity. We will never faithfully represent the Savior without both the words and the deeds of the gospel. All of our churches have multiple ways to love neighbors in need. Let’s grab our bandages and go help them.
The Cooperative Program is suffering from the notion that designated giving to our individual entities is just as faithful to our cooperative work as supporting the unified giving plan. We will continue to see layoffs and the downsizing of our cooperative mission enterprise until and unless we have a revival of support for the Cooperative Program.
BP: Describe ways you have led your church to be involved in Great Commission outreach through Southern Baptist cooperative missions and the Cooperative Program.
CROSBY: We have adopted an unreached people group in Africa in response to the challenge of the IMB. We have made 15 trips with many different individuals from our church.
We are fully engaged in the cooperative mission work in New Orleans. Our church sponsors a new church plant and is working on a second one. The North American Mission Board and the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) are our partners in serving the homeless population and children who come to school hungry. The LBC also partners with us in our ministry that recruits, trains and supports foster families in our region. We work hard to connect the words and deeds of the gospel in all compassion ministries. We have seen many people come to faith in Christ with this strategy.
BP: In what ways do you see the SBC president coming alongside leaders of the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, GuideStone Financial Resources and the convention’s six seminaries to undergird and encourage their respective ministries?
CROSBY: The greatest encouragement I could give as president to our entity heads is to be a cheerleader for the Cooperative Program. I will do this faithfully.
I am happy to represent a pastor’s perspective in meetings with our denominational leaders. For more than 40 years I have been the pastor of local churches that gave generously and faithfully to our unified giving plan. I have made more than 30 international trips to work with our missionaries. I have served at all levels of our work together. I am prepared to help us process the challenges that lie before us and develop creative strategies to address them.
I see much to admire in the new generation of young pastors and church planters. They are courageous and committed. We have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and heaven as our home. We have no reason to be fearful, angry or discouraged.
BP: If elected as SBC president, how do you foresee speaking to the next generation of Southern Baptist leaders to be involved in expanding the convention’s Great Commission work?
CROSBY: The next generation will inherit from us a unified giving plan. I hope that they will support it and not let it languish. We have no proposals on the table that I know of that will keep our cooperative work healthy and whole apart from the Cooperative Program or something like it.
Our young leaders need to put their hands and their eyes on our cooperative work. We should develop scholarship programs that will help young pastors go overseas to work with our missionaries. When we get to know our missionaries, we love them and see them for who they are – faithful servants of Christ who represent us well around the world.
Our state conventions should be highly valued. I am a Southern Baptist because my father went to a Texas Baptist college. Our witness for Christ has been magnified through the various associations and conventions.
BP: What do you see as the key moral issues of our day, and how can the SBC president represent Southern Baptists as America increasingly moves away from Judeo-Christian values?
CROSBY: The greatest moral issue is our flagging love for the lost and dying around us. We must get out of our houses of worship and into our communities. Unless we renew our love for our neighbors, we will never renew our witness.
Jesus introduced race in His story of the Good Samaritan in order to make it abundantly clear that love of neighbor involves loving people across ethnic, economic and cultural barriers. The tendency is universal in the human heart to pull into ourselves, into our own group and shut out the rest of the world. We must love the world enough to give of ourselves.
I am less concerned with the moral drift of the culture than I am with the moral drift of people who call themselves Christians. If we do not look like Jesus in our behavior, we will certainly not sound like Jesus nor represent Him faithfully in our world.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)