When David Crosby ’75, PhD ’89, talks about his qualifications to be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention, everything the pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans says is rooted in the idea of cooperation.
The work that Crosby has done to bring together the churches and pastors to rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, will play a major role in his nomination by former SBC President and fellow New Orleans pastor, Fred Luter.
In fact, when Luter announced he would nominate Crosby at the SBC’s annual meeting in St. Louis on June 14-15, he talked about Crosby’s “passion for the Body of Christ and for our convention” and his ability “to get a lot of things done to get the city back up and running.”
The list of ministries that Crosby and First Baptist lead in New Orleans and participate in across the globe is quite extensive. Crosby also has served in a number of leadership roles at all levels of the SBC, an organization consisting of nearly 16 million members in more than 45,000 churches in the United States and Canada, cooperating through nearly 1,200 associations, 42 state conventions, and the SBC.
When Crosby talks about cooperation, he’s talking about the importance of the SBC’s Cooperative Program, saying that he’s “bullish on continuing to do our missions together.”
The Cooperative Program is the SBC’s unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective state convention and the SBC missions and ministries.
Crosby says his church has given 10% of its undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program for the past 20 years, and total missions giving for the congregation has been at least 22 percent of its undesignated receipts in each of the past five years.
“We’ve donated more than $4 million through the Cooperative Program and another $2 million in special programs,” Crosby said. “I truly believe that cooperation is the right way to do the mission of the Church. I want to rekindle the cooperative spirit. We have become more independent minded than we used to be, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.”
Crosby believes that one point of differentiation between his candidacy and the other two announced nominees is that commitment to a strategic vision for churches working together as opposed to individual churches doing their own thing. The churches led by the other nominees “are hoping to give 2 percent, and don’t get me wrong, that’s a very large amount given the size of their churches. But if 2 percent becomes the model across the SBC, then the cooperative model will downsize by 50 percent, and that means we will have to lay off 2,000 more missionaries. To me, 2% is not a sacrificial gift.”
Crosby believes that the SBC’s International Mission Board has become a model and a tremendous asset, leading the way for and uniting individual churches.
“We all have pet projects,” he said. “We need a deeper sense of togetherness in our church. It’s a search for unity, for uniting our resources in a way that is part of the love that God does in his church.”
Crosby and his wife, Janet, have three children and eight grandchildren and a deep family connection to Baylor. David submitted a number of photos for this article, and each one included either grandchildren or a procession of Baylor and Truett graduates and former classmates. So it makes sense to start with questions about his two stints in Waco:
- How did your Baylor Experience shape your life? Baylor was a true education for me, a journey to find myself in the context of history and culture and to identify a future full of faith and hope.
- Which Baylor professor had the greatest impact on you and why? Daniel B. McGee was my chief professor for Ph.D. work. He was a premier ethicist with no tolerance for sloppy thinking and a determined faithfulness to Christ as Lord.
- The most memorable thing that happened to me at Baylor was… The worlds collided in my freshman year while taking Flanders’ Old Testament Survey and Morales’ Historical Geology. The old paradigms and certainties gave way to a solitary truth that has steadied me all these years: Jesus Christ himself as the only sure foundation.
- My favorite place on the Baylor campus is… I found a bench under a spreading oak tree in the quadrangle on my first visit to Baylor as a senior in high school. I sat down and thought about life and the future. I visited it numerous times. I determined that I would sit on that bench again when I graduated, which I did. This spot in the heart of Baylor’s campus became for me a place to reflect upon my life and its trajectory. Fourteen years later I tried to find the bench when I graduated again with the Ph.D. Alas, it was gone, so I found its approximation, sat down and once again traced the pilgrimage that has so often brought me back to this sacred place.
One thing that’s not on my resume is… My wife and I slept at the foot of an active volcano, Mount Arenal, in Costa Rica on our 25th wedding anniversary. The earth shook us all out of bed. We watched the fiery boulders bounce down the mountain and wondered if we would be obliterated by a great eruption.
- My approach to saying no for requests for my time or resources…“I am trying to focus on my church and Baptist relationships and trying to say no to things that are outside of those arenas.”
- The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is…“They’re just people,” my father would say when things went awry in the church, and we were feeling wounded. It was a way to forgive without losing our focus.
- The lesson I learned from my biggest success was…That Rudyard Kipling was right: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same” then you’re on your way to manhood.
- The lesson I learned from my biggest failure was…Life goes on. Don’t sweat it.
- My favorite Bible verse is… But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). This verse is full of hope and faith, and it affirms the presence and power of God even in our weakness and weariness.
- I get exercise by… Walking, doing push-ups, and crunches.
- For breakfast, I eat… Two eggs over easy with sliced tomatoes and half a piece of wheat toast and three cups of coffee.
- My favorite app is… BlueLetterBible.com is the simplest way I know to explore the original language of the text of Scripture, access a good lexicon, and read some relevant commentary.
- One cool thing that’s on my bucket list… I want to take a trip on the Amazon River.
- Everyone should read… “The Politics of Jesus” by John Howard Yoder.
- If I could walk in someone else’s shoes for 24 hours, they would belong to… I would love to be able to see the world from the point of view of a black American preacher like Martin Luther King or my good friend, Pastor Fred Luter. I struggle to put myself in their shoes. I don’t think white Americans like me have a clue what it means to be black in our beloved USA.