Alabama Baptists are preparing to vote for a new president this Wednesday. I plan to nominate my friend Craig Carlisle for the position. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. Choices – Alabama Baptists, from my perspective, are served well by having choices. For the first time in 16 years, Alabama Baptists will have the opportunity to vote in a contested presidential election. Thankfully, there’s no scandal or agenda involved in this contest. Travis Coleman, from all accounts, is a fine gentleman, effective pastor, and faithful Christian. However, Alabama Baptists will be served well by having more than one great option for president. I have encountered many who lament that Convention “politics” is just that–a good ol’ boys club where the decisions are made before the convention ever happens. One way to refute that perception, I think, is to offer choices for leadership to Alabama Baptists.
2. Bridges – Look around the floor of the Convention. We are old. Our churches are aging and our leadership is aging. I believe we ought to be led by the older generation. They’ve been given wisdom and experience by God. However, as a young pastor, I long to see bridges built between older and younger Southern Baptists. I often wish that my peers would plug in, support, and let their voice be heard in denominational life. Craig Carlisle is a natural bridge builder. The first call from another pastor I received when I moved to Etowah County was Craig Carlisle. He took me to lunch, prayed for me, and offered to help me in any way he could. Craig does this regularly in our association. I have never known him to turn down a meeting with a young pastor or staff member, and he regularly works with them as peers in Etowah county. Young pastors and leaders need more than a pat on the head; they need older pastors who are willing to do what it takes to support them and speak into their lives. This sort of leadership is imperative for Alabama Baptists as we seek to plug the next generation into denominational life. Craig Carlisle embodies the seasoned pastor who is investing in the next generation.
3. Initiatives – I serve on the State Board of Missions as a trustee, and I rejoice at our meetings as I see what Alabama Baptists are focusing on. We are emphasizing church planting and church revitalization more than ever. I rejoice in this because, in my estimation, our attention must be in these areas if we are to reach an increasingly secular state. Craig Carlisle believes in these initiatives, and, so to speak, puts his money where his mouth is. Craig and 12th Street Baptist are passionate about church planting. Right now, they are working with NAMB missionaries Derek and Lindsay Allen of Christ Centered Church in Miami, FL.
Further, Craig led his church to move to another part of town in a revitalization effort. However, they maintain a mission church near their former location. Now, they are investing in other churches in Etowah county to help them go through the revitalization process. They even moved their own Bible school to another, smaller church last summer. We need a president who can set a high bar in helping churches think through revitalization.
4. Pedigree – We need a president who is a bona fide Alabama Baptist. Rock-throwing young guns with no skin in the game cannot lead us well, but a man who is a born and raised Alabama Baptist can. Craig has pastored churches in Alabama for 27 years. That’s almost as long as I have been alive (right, Craig?)! His church gives faithfully to the CP, and has been a standard bearer in Alabama Baptist life for years.
Craig has served as chairman of the State Board of Missions, Chairman of the Resolutions Committee, and in many other roles in Alabama Baptist life. He has earned the right to serve as president by faithfulness in so many roles.
5. Gospel – All these passions, all these portraits of faithfulness stem from Craig’s commitment to preach, teach, and live according to the Gospel of Christ. He will be a thoroughly Christ-like, Gospel-centered leader for an important time in our history. He will lead as a rock-solid, theologically conservative man with an undeniable pastor’s heart. I am thrilled to nominate my friend Craig because he is passionate about the Gospel of Christ.