A New Season and a Time to Build

By Daniel Darling

Today it was announced what is next for me and my family. I’ve accepted a position as Director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’ll also be serving as assistant professor of faith and culture at Texas Baptist College. I’ll continue to write for World Magazine as a columnist and contribute to USA Today.

It’s a bittersweet moment. The bitter is the fact that we are leaving our home in Tennessee and moving to Fort Worth. We have absolutely loved Nashville, as it has been our home for eight years. We love our community and our church at Green Hill, where I’ve served as an associate pastor. So the decision to leave here involved a lot of conversations, a lot of prayers, and some tears.

And yet we are so excited about what God is doing at Southwestern. I’m impressed with what Dr. Adam Greenway and the team are building at this historic institution I’m thrilled about the opportunity to lead and build out the Land Center for Cultural Engagement and help train the next generation of Christian leaders to preach the gospel, to shape the culture, and to shape public policy. We are also excited to move back to my wife’s hometown. My girl from Texas is going back home.

There are a lot of important conversations among Southern Baptists and the broader evangelical movement about our place in the world, about what it looks like to live faithfully in a culture that is increasingly confused and complex. We aim to be at the center of those conversations, helping drive the discussion in all sorts of ways and to help equip the local church.

In some ways, the disagreements we are having are not new, from the first century to the 21st, Christians have wrestled with what it looks like to represent Jesus in a fallen world. And yet today it seems we are increasingly divided, torn apart by tribalism, by the ways in which we communicate in this digital age, by cultural factors that are dividing almost every institution in American life.

What’s more, there is also an increasing hostility to Christianity in the West. Some of this is due to secularization. Some of it is due to scandal and abuse of power by Christian leaders. How do we respond to this moment? I think 1 Peter 3:15 gives us a word: we should “have an answer for every man for the hope that lies within you” and yet do this with “gentleness and kindness.” Both courage and civility shape our Christian witness.

In many ways, I’ve been engaged in these conversations myself over the years, from my time as pastor of a local church in the Midwest to my years working with the amazing team at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to my writing and speaking. I’ve always had a deep love for the local church and a love for politics and policy. This opportunity to lead the Land Center allows me to be in both of these spaces at the same time.

Lastly, I’m excited about the opportunity to help build something. I believe so strongly in the importance of institutions. We need Christians committed to renewing key institutions of American life and building new ones.

So I’m thankful to Dr. Greenway for this appointment and the opportunity to serve Southern Baptists. Please pray for our family during this season of transition.