Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Georgia pastor Johnny Hunt announced March 9.
“When Steve Gaines shared his prayer journey he and [his wife] Donna had travelled, I was touched by his clear call to allow himself to be nominated,” Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., wrote in a news release stating his intention to nominate Gaines during the SBC annual meeting June 14-15 in St. Louis.
“Steve struggled with this nomination as he has always believed this office should seek the man,” Hunt continued. “With such a passionate desire for spiritual revival in our churches and nation, and knowing him to be a man of deep intense prayer, it brings joy to my heart to nominate Dr. Gaines.”
During the 11 years Gaines has pastored the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., the congregation has averaged 481 baptisms per year, according to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile (ACP). Previously, he pastored churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.
Bellevue’s finance committee is recommending that the congregation give $1 million during its 2016-17 church year through the Cooperative Program (CP), Southern Baptists’ unified channel for funding state- and SBC-level missions and ministries. That will total approximately 4.6 percent of undesignated receipts, the church told Baptist Press.
As of April 1, 2012, Bellevue began forwarding all its CP giving through the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC), the church said. Previously, it forwarded approximately $200,000-$340,000 annually in CP through the TBC, according to ACP data, and designated about twice that amount to be forwarded to the SBC Executive Committee for distribution according to the CP allocation formula, the church said.
The shift in giving methods resulted in an increase from giving 1.3 percent of undesignated receipts through CP in 2011 to 2.6 percent in 2012, according to ACP reports. Bellevue increased that percentage to 3.5 in 2013 and 3.8 in 2014. Between 2011 and 2016, the church has increased its CP giving by 278 percent.
The church’s Great Commission Giving totaled approximately $2.5 million over the past two years and is anticipated to be $1.3 million (6 percent of undesignated receipts) for the congregation’s 2016-17 church year, which begins April 1, Hunt said. Great Commission Giving is a category of giving established by SBC action in 2011 that encompasses giving through CP as well as direct gifts to SBC entities, associational giving and giving to state convention ministries.
Hunt said Bellevue has collaborated with the International Mission Board (IMB) to lead evangelism training in 34 countries since 2007 and “at the request of the IMB … has been a strategy church for Jinotega, Nicaragua, since 2007.” The church also reported a $150,000 gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions last year and anticipated an equal gift for 2016.
Bellevue is partnering with the North American Mission Board to plant churches in the Northwest and has planted 10 churches in other areas, including work with Native Americans in three locations, Hunt said.
Total missions giving for next year is anticipated at 18 percent of Bellevue’s undesignated receipts, the church reported, and includes the “Bellevue Loves Memphis” initiative, a service evangelism campaign launched by Gaines in 2007.
Through Bellevue Loves Memphis, Hunt wrote, “the church has demonstrated love for their city through meeting practical needs as a platform from which to share the gospel. Thus far, they have held 33 workdays. Their volunteers numbering 30,000 have served 106,505 ‘man hours’ on 945 projects resulting in 510 professions of faith.”
Gaines has served as a member of the SBC Committee on Nominations, a trustee of LifeWay Christian Resources, a member of the committee that proposed a revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 and chairman of the SBC Resolutions Committee. He preached the SBC convention sermon in 2004 and served as SBC Pastors’ Conference president in 2005.
Gaines said, “I would like to continue [current SBC president] Dr. [Ronnie] Floyd’s emphasis on seeking God for a spiritual awakening and revival. … I’ve been praying for an awakening for a long time, and that’s really my heart. I want the manifest presence of God in our churches and also in our denomination.
“… I also believe that we’ve got a real problem with our baptisms,” Gaines said. “We need to get back to personal evangelism and soul winning.”
Gaines’ presidential nomination is the second to be announced for the SBC annual meeting. North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear’s nomination was announced March 2.
Gaines is married to Donna and has four children and nine grandchildren. He holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)