Friday Five Interview – Dr. Johnny Hunt
Dr. Johnny Hunt is a well-known pastor, especially to America’s largest body of evangelical churches, the 44 million member Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Hunt is the Senior Pastor of one of the largest SBC churches in America, 1st Baptist Church of Woodstock (Georgia) and has served as President of the Pastor’s Conference. In 2008, he was elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention and served from 2008 to 2010. He has disciple thousands of men through his popular men’s conference and is a mentor to pastors, who regularly attend his Timothy/Barnabas retreats.
I’m honored to chat with Dr. Hunt, who stopped by for today’s Friday Five:
When did you first feel the call to pastoral ministry and what keeps you going?
I became a Christian in January, 1973. In 1975, I began to sense that God was calling me to vocational ministry. I was not sure as to whether I would be a pastor, a missionary, or be in education; I just felt a distinct call to surrender and to begin to prepare myself for what Christ had for me. I can concur with my mentor, Dr. Adrian Rogers, when he said that he had doubted his salvation but never his calling. In the early days, as I was getting grounded, there were things that would rattled me as it pertained to my faith, but I can also say that I have never questioned my call. My call keeps me going.
You served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2008 to 2010. What was this challenge like?
I had been requested for numerous years to allow my name to be put in nomination for President of the Southern Baptist Convention, however, it was not until early 2008 that I sensed a clear, clarion call to not only allow my name to be nominated, but I sensed deep in my heart that God was giving me a vision and passion and clear direction for the Great Commission Task Force. Only time will tell the difference that my two years may have made; but one thing that I can say without a doubt is that I am confident it was God’s sovereign will for me to lead.
There seems to be a surge in more substantive, expository preaching these days. As an expository preacher, how does that make you feel?
I was privileged to be taught expository preaching in1977 by the great Dr. Stephen Olford, the prince of expositors. He gave me such a great appreciation for exegetical preaching, allowing that which is lifted out of God’s Word to speak for itself, and being able to take a passage of Scripture, or a book in the Bible, and work verse-by-verse through it, keeping it contextualized, and allowing it to speak with the power of the Word and the gospel. To see many young preachers embrace expository preaching is a joy unspeakable and full of glory! I feel that there has been so much of a mind-set of being connected or being cool that we have moved away from being biblical. I rejoice in expositional preaching and expository preachers.
Southern Baptists are the largest evangelical denomination and yet they are often misunderstood. What is the biggest misconception about the SBC?
It could be a number of things, possibly our churches being autonomous. Some people feel that there is a denominational hierarchy that passes down what we are to preach or controls our churches, and nothing could be further from the truth. Every church is independent of each other; yet, as you know, we choose to work together through the cooperative effort of making a difference among our neighbors and the nations of the world. One of the things that we need to learn within the context of Southern Baptist life is that we must have greater trust of each other: our leaders, our pastors, and all of our denominational entity leadership.
I believe that God is going to bring that to pass.
You have a great ministry to pastors. If there was on piece of advice you could give to a young pastor, what would it be?
Nineteen years ago the Lord gave me a ministry that I have entitled, Timothy/Barnabas. You can learn more about it atwww.timothybarnabas.org. For the last 19 years I have been doing two things: attempting to instruct in the area of leadership, and encouraging young pastors. Every pastor needs a General in his life – someone out there ahead of him that has made some mistakes that can save him the heartache of going down the same paths. We all need a “Barnabas” beside us to encourage us, but we also all need a “Paul” to mentor and lead us. It is my prayer that God would use me to reach back to the generations behind me and add value to their work, their walk, and their witness. I encourage every pastor to have someone to speak into their life and to hold them accountable, and to always stay teachable. They should attend some conference that would enhance their vision, increase their passion, and encourage them in their daily walk.