October 6, 1999

Wade will lead Texas Baptists well

___The election of Charles Wade to be the next executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas provides good news for all Christians who want to see God's kingdom expanded in Texas and beyond.
___We need look no further than his church, First Baptist in Arlington, to see that he has the commitment, compassion, courage and creativity to lead Texas Baptists into a new millennium.
___First Baptist Church in Arlington, which he has led for 23 years, is a model congregation among Texas Baptists. Of course, he alone did not undertake all this church has done during his tenure. The congregation is and has been blessed with outstanding laypeople and very fine staff members. But a church led by one pastor for almost a quarter century reflects the characteristics of that leader. Texas Baptists should be encouraged when they see First Baptist in Arlington and look to the future.
___"A church which succeeds in showing the face of Jesus to their community will be made up of people who are themselves growing to be like Jesus. If we are to have a Jesus kind of church, we must have Jesus kind of people," Wade wrote in "The Jesus Principle," his recent book. "The character of Jesus is reflected in the double dimension of reaching up in love and obedience to God and reaching out in love and compassion to people. His very character took the shape of the cross."
___That character has shaped First Baptist in Arlington under Wade's pastorate.
___The church is noted for reaching up to God. It is known for spirited worship, biblical preaching, strong Bible study, stirring music and faithful giving. First Baptist, under Wade's leadership, consistently has demonstrated its love for God.
___The church also is noted for reaching out to people. During the past 23 years, the church consistently has baptized between 100 and 200 new Christians each year. To Wade's and the church's credit, it has pioneered Mission Arlington, the premier church-based missions/ministry/evangelism program in the state. Mission Arlington involves hundreds of volunteers to support weekly Bible studies in more than 200 locations with more than 3,000 people in attendance. It dispenses the gospel verbally and also tangibly, providing clothing; medical and dental care; food, rent and utility assistance; and other helps for human need. Many thousands of lives have been touched, and eternity has been changed.
___Texas Baptists can expect similar Jesus-centered, people-helping ministries and emphases under Wade's BGCT leadership. We should expect similar focus, passion and strategy from the BGCT in the coming years.
___He has demonstrated commitment to proclaiming the saving name of Jesus to all people, whatever their background, color, language, gender and status. When some might have turned the focus of an inner-city church inward, Wade led First Baptist to embrace its community for Christ.
___He has demonstrated compassion. Mission Arlington has succeeded because Charles Wade and First Baptist members love the people of their community. They care what happens to them, in every way.
___He has demonstrated courage. Like a marriage, a long-term pastorate has its ups and downs. This pastor/leader has stayed the course courageously, and his church and city have been blessed by that resolve.
___He has demonstrated creativity. Mission Arlington and First Baptist have set the standard for finding ways to reach people-- with the gospel and with physical help. God has inspired; they have listened.
___Of course, some have criticized Wade's selection because he has been affiliated with a "group" within the denomination. Some have said he is too moderate, that he should represent "all" Texas Baptists.
___What worthy leader does not stand on principle in times of crisis? This has been such a time. Important Baptist principles and distinctives have been at stake. The health, vitality and very future of our state convention have been at stake. Charles Wade is a true visionary leader. He has stood tall and courageous through these days.
___Moreover, he has stood fairly. As convention president at two annual sessions, he ensured fair participation and respectful concern for all Texas Baptists. As executive director, he will involve all cooperative Texas Baptists of good will. His integrity demands that he be impartial and affirming.
___Pray for Charles Wade. A stake in eternity depends on how we cooperate to expand God's kingdom during the years ahead.
___ --Marv Knox

E-mail the editor at marvknox@baptiststandard.com.


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