Evan: Tell us about yourself?
Bart: I grew up in a small town in Northeast Arkansas, attending small Southern Baptist churches. I came to faith in Christ when I was five, and then I surrendered to a call to ministry when I was eleven. I started preaching when I was fifteen and then took a pastorate of a small country church as a senior in high school. I left Northeast Arkansas to attend Baylor University, where I met my wife Tracy. I then went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary twice, serving at churches all the while in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. I’ve been at First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, since 1999. Our two children, Jim and Sarah, have been born while we have served here.
Evan: What keeps you optimistic about your local church?
Bart: The gospel is still powerful. Ours is a smaller town, but we are situated in a growing area. We have healthy lay leadership and a strong ministry staff. The pastoral team here is stable and encouraging. All of this is built upon a strong commitment to the inerrant word of God and to the proclamation of it. I’ve served in churches that were missing one or all of those factors, and yet, I believe in the long-term effectiveness of simple biblical preaching. The Holy Spirit changes hearts by way of the preaching of the word. With freedom to preach and a little patience on the part of the pastor, I believe that all good things are possible.
Evan: Are you optimistic about the SBC?
Bart: I am! The conflicts and mistakes get all of the headlines, but we’ve got thousands of missionaries and tens of thousands of churches. They’re doing a lot of good. Also, we have six of the top ten theological seminaries in the world situated within the SBC, and they’re all faithfully committed to the inerrancy and sufficiency of the scriptures. There’s so much room for optimism.
Evan: What are your current concerns?
Bart: The sexual abuse crisis is the major issue of our day, but I hope that we are on the right road to address it as it should be addressed. Pray for me as I try to lead in that area! The conversation ongoing right now about the content and use of The Baptist Faith & Message is much needed right now. I think that we can minimize for the next generation if we will work toward good solutions in that area today. We clearly need to achieve some consensus regarding the complementation vision of the pastorate, but I think we can and will do so in pretty short order.
Evan: How would you encourage churches to be involved in the SBC that are not as engaged currently?
Bart: I think we could all greatly strengthen our national SBC if we would all make sure first of all that our local associations were healthy, suitably funded, and well organized to address some of the training and credentialing problems that are bubbling their way up to the national SBC. It is increasingly clear that involvement at that level IS involvement in the national SBC in an organic sense, even though in an institutional sense we are non-connectional in our polity. As to the national SBC, the starting place is to send messengers! I hope that we’ll see a strong turnout in New Orleans next June.
Check out Doctrine and Devotion’s conversation with Bart Barber here.
I appreciate Bart’s willingness to serve and I have appreciated our interactions on social media. Join me in praying for him as he serves at First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas and as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention.