Dr. Frank Page, President of the SBC, answers our questions about his revised and expanded release, The Nehemiah Factor.
NH: Do you feel that every believer is called to be a missional leader? Why do you believe that?
FP: I do believe that every believer is called to be a missional leader. Scripture is replete with examples of where the body is called to be witnesses, ministers, preachers, and persons involved in positive change. The division between clergy and laity is an unfortunate historical and denominational nuance which is not found in Scripture. While Scripture certainly calls some people to biblical roles of service, nowhere is the work of the church relegated only to a certain few. God’s command in the Great Commandment and God’s commission in the Great Commission remain steadfast for all believers of all ages.
NH: In your travels and ministry, what do you observe as the biggest obstacle to believers stepping into missional leadership? Is it lack of understanding of what’s involved, or apathy, or something else?
FP: There are several obstacles to believers stepping into missional leadership. One is false information or a lack of proper information. Many believe that they are not biblically called to be involved in missional leadership. As I said in the earlier question, Scripture teaches total involvement among the people of God. While He does call people to short roles and uses spiritual gifts to enable people in certain capacities, He calls us all to be people of influence and people who are making a difference.
Not only is there a lack of information, there is also a fear factor. Many people are afraid that they do not have what it takes in the area of personality or training to truly make a difference. It may be trite as some have said before that God cares more about our availability than He does our capability, but the truth is He wants us to be ready to serve. Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit will help us know what to say in certain circumstances and will guide us into the truth. We need to be far more dependent upon our Father to lead us even when we feel we are not as capable as we ought to be.
Third, there is an obstacle because of apathy and lethargy. We have bought into lies that the culture is not responding or that people are not listening. Unfortunately, we have used those false beliefs to excuse a lack of action on our part. It is sad when we allow culture to determine our actions. As stated earlier, we are in a day and time of desperate need of involvement, of excitement, of passion, and simply a revival of concern and action.
NH: You say that the principle of prayer can make great leaders of any personality type. Many people may think this applies to people in the Bible or other people, but not them because they are too shy, have made too many mistakes, and so on. What would you say to them?
FP: I wholeheartedly believe that prayer changes one’s willingness. Missionaries have for years encouraged people to pray for missions for they knew that if they prayed earnestly and passionately they could not help but get involved. It is true that many people think this is applicable to others and that somehow their sin, their lack of dominant personality types, and their past failures have somehow put them on the sidelines of service. This could not be further from the truth. This is using an excuse to sideline oneself when God has not chosen to do so. If our past sin must always keep us from serving our Lord, Paul would never have been used, Peter would never have been used, James or John would never have been used, etc. We desperately need to know that people of every personality type, people of every background can be used by our Lord. Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB) says “For I know the plans I have for you—this is the Lord’s declaration—plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God still has a plan. John 15:16 (HCSB) says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.” God has chosen us to bear fruit. He does not put an expiration date on that call!
NH: In the Introduction, you recall a pivotal moment that Billy Graham had with John F. Kennedy, and you write, “These pivotal times come not only for individuals; they also come for churches, denominations, and even entire movements. I believe this country’s larger Christian community currently stands at such a moment.” Can you expound on that? What is our responsibility right now as a Christian community in the US?
FP: I do believe the country’s larger Christian community currently stands at a crossroads moment. Billy Graham said it well when he called it an “irrecoverable moment.” I believe that our country is truly heading fast for a moral abyss. Societal and cultural structures that have long encouraged morality are eroding with a rapidity that is frightening. The Christian community stands as the salt and light to keep this ongoing decay and decline from occurring. If there was ever a time the Christian community was more needed, it is now!
NH: Conflict seems to create so many problems within the church, even dividing churches, and many believers seem ill-equipped to deal with it. Conflict is inevitable—how can we as believers grow to deal with it more biblically?
FP: Conflict is a fact of life in the church and out of the church. I cannot stress the following fact enough. The difference between every great leader and good leader is that leader’s ability to handle conflict in a biblical and appropriate way. The difference between every good church, mediocre church, and a great church is that church’s ability to handle conflict in a biblical way. Conflict, by its very nature, is unpleasant. It is not easy to deal with hurtful situations. That is why many people simply choose to hide or to sweep under the rug those things which are less than pleasant. In every instance, the evil one knows how to use that inaction or inappropriate action to bring further disunity in the body. Great leaders and great churches know how to deal with issues in Christlike, kind, and compassionate ways, but deal with it and not run from it!
NH: Besides releasing the revised version of The Nehemiah Factor, what is next for your ministry in 2013?
FP: The year 2013 will be a significant year for me. Another of our friends, B&H Publishing, will be publishing a book on suicide simply entitled Melissa. It is the story of my daughter’s death. It is my hope that her life and death will touch more people than I have ever touched in my life.
Also, Dr. Lavone Gray and I are working on a new project through New Hope on the subject of worship. It will come out in the spring of 2014. We are very excited about helping guide God’s people toward a more appropriate understanding of worship.