Editor’s note: Each year, the Illinois Baptist team explores the trends that shaped 2018, and forecasts their effect on the coming year.
There’s no time in living memory when there have been so many vacancies at the top of key SBC entities. The election of Paul Chitwood to the presidency of the International Mission Board in November fills but one of five vacant posts. Two seminaries (New Orleans and Southwestern), the Executive Committee, and LifeWay Christian Resources are all engaged in president searches right now.
There was a period of turnover after World War II that stretched over several years, and, of course, the Conservative Resurgence that swapped out leaders and philosophies of SBC entities over more than a decade. But this shifting of leadership gears represents the greatest change in the shortest time in living memory.
What is the effect of all that change in executive leadership?
In any organization, changes at the top mean changes in philosophy and style, the departure of some second-tier leaders and rearrangement of others, and—in general—a season of optimistic uncertainty.
People are glad there’s a new leader but unsure where that leaves them, and they are wondering about the new direction of the organization.
Multiply that times five, and the ripple effect is felt across the Convention.
If we consider the last round of changes at the top of the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, and LifeWay—and how long it took for the new leaders and their new plans to settle in—the SBC as a whole may be looking at two or three years of choppy water.