The commotion occurred after J.D. Greear, 45, a successful pastor from Durham, North Carolina, was elected president of the 15-million-member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Greear is the youngest leader of the SBC in 37 years, and he brings with him a fresh approach to ministry that could trigger a wave of growth as well as upset some hyper-conservatives.

Greear lives outside the traditional Baptist box. His church doesn’t even have the word “Baptist” in it. The Summit Church, which he started with 300 members in 2001, has now grown to 10,000 members who meet in nine locations throughout the Raleigh-Durham area.

The church’s worship has an exuberant charismatic flair. In a 2012 teaching series on the Holy Spirit, he told his congregation that it’s a sin to restrict speaking in tongues. But most of all, The Summit is aggressively evangelistic and missions-focused.

When Greear was elected on June 12, he said God is stirring the SBC and exposing “a startling amount of sin in our midst.” Greear said he welcomed God’s uncomfortable work “because whom the Lord loves, he chastens.” He was specifically referencing recent reports that SBC leaders have at times told women in abusive marriages that they should submit to domineering husbands. read more 

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