PHOENIX—Doug Richey has completed his one-year term as chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Nominating Committee, an assignment he described as “extremely enjoyable and eye-opening in terms of the quality of people we have involved.”
The pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs addressed the convention here on Flag Day, June 14, commending the work of the 70 committee members. Their work was approved by messengers with minimal debate. It is significant, too, with 85 first-term nominations from the 35 state conventions getting placed in key positions of service.
“You get an opportunity to talk to people from New York to Hawaii, from Texas to Michigan,” Richey said. “They all share the same critical characteristics of Southern Baptist identity, and yet they’re vastly different in other respects. It’s exciting to see the diversity, the kinds of people that make up the Southern Baptist Convention and how they contribute to something that really does accomplish a tremendous amount of work in the Kingdom.”
Richey spent the first few months after becoming chairman in Orlando, Fla., in relative calm. In October 2010, he began to get familiar with the workbook that committee members use. After devoting time in the winter months to his fellow Missouri committee member, Jody Shelenhamer, to identify the best candidates from Missouri, Richey began preparing for the Nominating Committee meeting in March at Nashville, Tenn., which is the crown jewel of the process.
With the naming of a sub-committee to handle decisions up to the Phoenix convention, Richey settled in for the inevitable resignations and complaints about certain selections. He said the first two weeks in June were the most challenging, with eight slots needing to be filled. But it all got done on time and very smoothly.
He described the journey as “a lot of legwork by phone” and “coordinating all that traffic.” Always prepared, he became familiar with the most controversial cases in the event that any were brought to the floor. Sure enough, he was called upon to handle three inquiries that were met without any ultimate changes to the body of work, which was adopted by the messengers.
Richey expanded the system used to nominate people to serve on the SBC’s boards, commissions, and committees by factoring in such things as membership integrity, missions activity, and church planting. The previous model was based on three items—membership, giving through the Cooperative Program, and baptisms.
Richey’s committee took a look at the relationship between average attendance and total membership, which hints at membership integrity and could lay a foundation for future committees to tackle the weightier matter of whether a church has church discipline.
“That gives us a point of reference,” he said. “We’ve not asked that question before.”
The church planting question produced a surprising result. A total of 94 percent of the nominees were directly involved. Another positive number was the average tenure of pastors in their churches—101/2 years.
“The process that we followed required prayer, trust, diligence, and discernment,” Richey said.
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor