The outgoing president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) board of directors, Brian Kinlaw, admitted, “When I began my service on the board, I had no clue about the scope of the work that is done by our convention in the state and globally. I grew up attending a Baptist church, I went to a Baptist college and graduated from a Baptist seminary, but I still had no understanding of the scope of the work that is carried out in and through our state convention.”
Brian Kinlaw calls his time serving the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina a “tremendous experience.”
After serving four years on the BSC’s board of directors, two of those years as an officer, he calls it a “tremendous experience.”
The inside view of BSC’s ministries gave Kinlaw a perspective he had not previously known. “It was one of the great privileges of my life and ministry to not only serve on the board, but to serve as the vice president and president of the board and to serve on the Executive Committee,” he said.
Born in the small town of St. Pauls, Kinlaw is now the pastor of Southview Baptist Church in Hope Mills, just a few miles north of his hometown.
He grew up attending Great Marsh Baptist Church in St. Pauls and accepted Christ as his Savior at the age of 12. After graduating as the class valedictorian of St. Pauls High School, Kinlaw headed to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, planning to pursue a career in medicine. “Somewhere in my sophomore year, God began to do a work in my heart that made me realize the medical field was not what I wanted to spend my life doing,” he said.
“In a matter of a few weeks I had three separate conversations with three different people who had no idea that I had spoken to the others – my brother, my best friend and my pastor. Each of them said they always thought I would end up in ministry.” The three did not know that Kinlaw was in the middle of an inward struggle to find God’s plan for his life.
God used their comments to confirm a new direction. He changed his major from pre-med to religion, finished his sophomore year at Wilmington, and transferred to Campbell University. Kinlaw later continued his education at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, earning master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees. While a seminary student, Kinlaw served as a student pastor at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Vander, then became the pastor of Pleasant Union Christian Church in Lillington, which he described as “a conservative, non-denominational church.” He became the pastor of Southview Baptist Church in 2002. Kinlaw is a team player. “I enjoy collaborating,” he said. “In most cases, a gathering of the right people can come up with better decisions and choices and can have greater wisdom than any one of us can alone.”
When a fellow pastor, Chris Dickerson, asked if he could nominate Kinlaw to serve on the BSC’s board of directors, he considered it could be a “neat opportunity to learn more and to be part of something bigger than my little world and what was happening in the church where I pastor.”
The lessons turned out to be much broader. “It’s helped me to grow in my own walk with Christ and my own leadership abilities within the local church,” said Kinlaw. “I grew as a leader from the observation of godly leadership in our convention and interacting with the convention staff and other pastors and leaders.”
He discovered that “Kingdom work is being accomplished for the glory of God in small towns and in big cities across our state – in mega churches, in small churches and in everything in between. I’ve been able to see and hear the stories of what God is doing across our state,” he reflected. “I’ve been able to meet and interact with amazing men and women: pastors, lay people, associational missionaries who genuinely want to see the kingdom of God advanced and who give their lives to do that.”
Kinlaw’s view of BSC’s leadership grew, also. “I discovered that our convention is led by a person that I believe to be a man of tremendous vision, integrity and prayer in Milton Hollifield.
“Also, he has assembled a very talented team of men and women who serve North Carolina Baptists and the Kingdom well for the glory of God.”
The convention’s primary strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making” proved to reshape some of Kinlaw’s ministry vision.
“It’s challenged me to think through how we can develop a culture of disciple-making within our body of believers. I think that is where the focus needs to be for the health and growth of the church,” he said. “I believe the convention has become crystal clear on the strategy to impact lostness through disciple-making. … All departments of the convention are collaborating to see the strategy carried out for the glory of God. There is a very clear focus on what the convention is seeking to accomplish.”
Another part of BSC’s vision is “absolutely crucial” according to Kinlaw. He said the focus on church revitalization demonstrates that the leadership has “acknowledged the growing number of churches that are in decline or have plateaued, and they are taking steps to provide support and leadership to those churches.
“While I believe church planting is still a crucial aspect of what our convention supports, this renewed emphasis of helping these established churches reclaim a fresh vision for kingdom impact in their communities is one of the highlights of the last few years.”
Some significant structural and procedural changes were made to the board of directors during Kinlaw’s presidency. “We did our best to try to overhaul the board of directors’ meetings to better align our work with the strategy of the convention.”
The board’s leadership and the convention staff worked together to develop a new format that would better enable the work of the board to strengthen and support the mission and strategy of the convention. Kinlaw said it was a necessary adjustment and would “take years to see that fleshed out and matured.”
His prayer is that North Carolina Baptists will have a “fresh awakening to the glory of God that would inspire us to reflect Him to our world and to make disciples,” he said. “I believe when we see God for who He is, and when we live out the passion for His glory, then we will have a burden for those who do not yet know Him.”
Kinlaw said his service on the board increased his burden for many needs.
“Churches across our state have to take an honest look at themselves and face the realities of plateau or decline in growth. I believe the work of the Kingdom is too crucial, and the brokenness of the world around us is too great for churches to simply seek to survive.”
For those who are considering service on the BSC’s board, Kinlaw offers some advice: “Serving on the board is both a tremendous privilege and great responsibility. It enables you to have a front seat to what God is doing through North Carolina Baptists both in our state and across the globe. … You get to work with some of the most wonderful people who love Jesus and call North Carolina home. I would strongly encourage ministers and laymen to prayerfully consider serving on the board.”