By Randy C. Davis
President and executive director, TBMB

Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary.
— Baptist Press photo

I’ll never forget the phone call I received from Jeff Iorg when I became executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. It was a timely contact.

That first week was an overwhelming dive into the deep end of the pool of a new and unexpected calling on my life. That’s when I received a call from the West Coast. Dr. Iorg was president of what was then Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway). He was engaging, kind, soft spoken and a fount of the encouragement I needed in the moment. He’s continued that, and I’ve considered him a trusted advisor and friend since that day.

I am far from the only one who has benefited from his leadership. Thousands have. Jeff Iorg is a leader of leaders, and if there was ever a time when the Southern Baptist Convention needed a leader of leaders, it is now.

Randy C. Davis

That is why I was excited to learn that the Executive Committee’s Presidential Search Team has announced the recommendation of Dr. Iorg as the next president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s the best news related to the SBC we’ve heard in a while. I am thrilled at the news and filled with hope about our collective, collaborative, and cooperative Great Commission work regaining focus and moving ahead under his godly wisdom and guidance.

I am encouraged because at his core, Dr. Iorg is a pastor. He loves the local church and those who lead it. You could say he gets us because he’s been one of us. But he is also a church planter. Dr. Iorg has a Great Commission passion to advance the gospel and see some from every tribe, tongue and nation come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and become a member of a local church, even if that means planting one where one doesn’t exist.

For these past many years, Dr. Iorg has overseen the growth of Gateway Seminary and led the institution through a monumental and necessary relocation.

Along the journey he has authored powerful books such as The Painful Side of Leadership, The Character Of Leadership, and Major Change. Each of these have had a profound impact on my life and leadership, and it would benefit every pastor and ministry leader to read each of them.

Dr. Iorg led several sessions a few weeks ago during our TBMB staff retreat. He mentioned a phrase that resonated not only in my own heart, but also across our entire team. The impact was evident when we asked what was people’s key takeaway from his instruction. It was: “The mission matters most.” It was a stout reminder of why we exist as a state mission board and specifically what we are called to as disciples of Christ.

The SBC has wandered from its mission. Our great distractions have created great division that has led us away from our great mission to pursue the Great Commission.

We need and crave unity in our divided body, but unity will only follow the recovery of mission focus and organizational stability. Dr. Iorg has a blue-collar work ethic, a biblically grounded theological mindset, the global perspective of a missionary and the heart of a pastor.

He has the character and competency to be used by God to lead us in the missional recovery process at this challenging juncture of SBC history.

Join me in welcoming Jeff and Ann Iorg to Tennessee and in praying that Dr. Iorg will be the catalyst God uses to rally Southern Baptists back to the main thing of making Christ known among the nations.

It is a joy to be with you (and Jeff!) on this journey.

© Tennessee Baptist Mission Board

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