I spent the last few years researching legacy churches, specifically four churches in the Southern Baptist Convention: Bellevue Baptist, FBC Dallas, FBC Jacksonville, and FBC Orlando. At some point, I’ll get around to publishing something about them that is more manageable than a 300-page dissertation.
In the meantime, I’ll share four quotes from their senior pastors. These quotes came from personal interviews I did with them for the study.
Steve Gaines on why he is leading Bellevue Baptist to be less infatuated with numerical growth:
“I don’t design a worship service to attract people. I don’t try to build a ministry to attract people. This is a fundamental, core conviction of mine. I design a worship service and an overall ministry that attracts the presence of the Lord and then the Lord attracts the people. I believe that with all my heart. We are not putting on a show. We are not primarily people focused. We are God focused first.”
Robert Jeffress on the three stipulations he made before coming as pastor of FBC Dallas:
“I said, ‘If I come, we’re going to need to do three things. We are going to need to completely re-energize the ministries of the church and that entails a whole new staff. We’re going to need to recreate the entire campus, a whole new facility here, and then we’re going to re-establish our presence in the media both locally and nationally.’”
Mac Brunson on his leadership style that combines a traditional top-down structure with a more collaborative culture at FBC Jacksonville:
“Anything with no head is dead, and anything with more than one head is a freak. Somebody ultimately has to pull the trigger. But the fact of the matter is, you don’t have to pull the trigger on every cotton-picking thing that comes down the pike. You know, somebody else can make the decisions.”
David Uth on the demographic changes in Orlando and how FBC Orlando is responding:
“And so as I pastor a church, I’ve got to ask myself a question. Did God know this was coming? Sure He did. So is there a reason He planted this church here? Yes. And does that reason have anything to do with those who are coming here? And the answer is yes. And so I felt like, and we feel like, we must look like the city. We must reflect, if we’re going to reach the city, if I want to reach fifty percent of the population, I better do things that aren’t Anglo only.”