The Georgia Baptist Mission Board (GBMB) is set to nominate a new Executive Director. The new director will replace Dr. J. Robert White, who plans to retire this December after 26 years at the helm of the organization. White may best be remembered for constructing the GMB’s opulent $45M headquarters on Sugarloaf Parkway in Gwinnet County.
Outgoing Christian Index Editor Gerald Harris described White’s tenure as follows:
To Georgia Baptists, White’s retirement announcement signals the end of an era – an era of heavenly blessings and substantial growth. Baptist life is sometimes characterized by many dangers, toils, and snares, but for many Georgia Baptists the last 25 years have been like a spiritual Camelot. He will be greatly missed, but his staff and Baptists across the state will savor the next nine months of his leadership.
Georgia Baptists should not be surprised that the Index, which is itself a division of the GBMB, would remember its own leadership so fondly. Nor should they be surprised that the man tapped by its CEO search committee, Thomas Hammond, has already been written about as effusively by the state Baptist paper. Hammond is currently the Pastor of First Baptist Church Alpharetta (FBCA). In an article published today, announcing Hammond’s candidacy to replace White, Gerald Harris wrote:
Thomas brings a passion to win the lost, a deep respect and love for pastors, and a vision for the future of Georgia Baptists. Thomas comes with a heart for serving ethnic churches, encouraging young pastors, and equipping all churches of all sizes to share the Gospel with the lost.
Hammond would bring a wealth of experience to the role for which he will be recommended. He has provided outstanding leadership for First Baptist Church of Alpharetta. During his pastorate at the Fulton County church he has led the congregation to be among the top ten fastest-growing churches in the Georgia Baptist Convention in the large church category for three years, planted two churches with plans to launch a third this month, and invested heavily in starting new churches.
This is high praise from Harris. However, can the Christian Index be trusted? The answer is “no”. Here’s what a former member of First Baptist Alpharetta with close ties to top Southern Baptist leadership stated to me this afternoon after I shared with him the news of Hammond’s nomination:
This is a complete lie. It’s amazing how the good ole boy network spins things. FBC Alpharetta was down 30% year over year in attendance in February of this year. They did not plant three churches. They tried to plant a college church in Dahlonega and stopped sending support when – after three years – the plant couldn’t support itself and closed its doors. I know that pastor well. They inherited the second church and did nothing with it for 2 years. It still remains closed. The third church was planted by about 5 churches in the Atlanta area. The only reason they are claiming credit is a lot of their members were fleeing FBCA. I know those members that left. And if good leadership is having over 25 staff members quit in a three year period then I don’t understand leadership…And if you can name me 1 ethnic church he has helped or supported – I’ll give all my tithe this year to him. FBCA was 99% white. They stuck the Hispanic and Persian ministries in the closet on Sunday nights…I’m happy for that church. They finally have a pilot who isn’t flying the church into the side of a mountain.
Given the numbers at FBCA and Hammond’s unsuccessful record at the North American Mission Board, it’s clear that The Christian Index is not a trustworthy source for Georgia Baptist News. Rather it’s biased and self-serving. Nevertheless, The Index has provided the obvious reason Hammond was nominated for the post:
At Alpharetta Hammond has increased the Cooperative Program giving of the church from one percent to six percent. The church budget has increased by 25 percent in the course of his pastorate and has been the top giving and top baptizing church in Roswell Baptist Association since his first year as pastor.
To put the matter simply, Hammond purchased his job by spending other people’s money. The Cooperative Program is perhaps the most wasteful program in all of evangelicalism. It perpetuates a Good Ole Boy network where success is not measured in souls won and discipled but dollars delivered. Pastors, instead of serving and committing to their churches, bilk them for all the CP money they can get into order to move to high-paying convention jobs. Georgia is ground zero for this activity. I encourage all Georgia Baptists to contact their elders and church finance committee members and demand that support be pulled from the greedy, ungodly cabal that is the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.