Matt Crawford talks about how young pastors, SBC can connect

Matt CrawfordIt’s no secret that Southern Baptists are looking for ways to get millennials more involved in denominational life.

Matt Crawford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sebring, checks both of those boxes.

So, when I recently met with Pastor Matt as part of our ongoing series of Behind the Pulpit interviews with Florida pastors, I thought I would start with the topic of denominational involvement among young leaders.

I asked him what it will take to get more of his peers involved in denominational life. His answer showed wisdom beyond his years.

“I would say to those guys the value of those relationships that I’ve been able to benefit from in diverse and different areas,” Matt said. “It’s a blessing to be able to serve, but what you don’t realize, maybe, if you haven’t done it is how you grow through the relationships that you form.

“So, for example, I get to serve on a LifeWay trustee board, and my fellow trustee from Florida is Jimmy Scroggins. I think a lot of guys would pay good money to spend time with Jimmy and just talk ministry. When they did the Sharper conference a few months ago people were coming from multiple states all over just to learn from Jimmy and his team.

“When we had our last meeting in Nashville, we went to lunch. And he just asked me about ministry—how things were going here. Encouraging me. Really kind of mentoring me. So that’s wonderful to be able to go—and to serve and contribute—but also to grow in those relationships.”

I asked Pastor Matt if he thought there was a common thread among millennial Southern Baptist pastors who are not currently engaged in SBC life.

I think most often I probably hear a couple of reasons. They’re just busy. It’s just hard to fit in their schedule, and that’s certainly true for me with a young family—five kids—it’s very difficult. That’s the first challenge for our guys.

“The second is, some of them are frustrated. They read of controversies or divisions that are really unnecessary; they just think, ‘I’ve got them in my own church. Why would I want to be involved in that in my denominational family?’ But it’s still far more than worth it. And I think we’re getting better at that over time, I hope.”

This is my first blog post from my conversation with Pastor Matt. Check for others during the next few days.

This digital content will not be repeated in our August print edition, but that issue will include an edited version of Pastor Matt’s thoughts on a range of other topics as part of our regular “Behind the Pulpit” feature.

A video of our conversation also will appear on later this month. You can go now to the Witness’ YouTube channel at to see videos of H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in the Jacksonville area; Stephen Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in the Tampa area; Sam Rainer, pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church; Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater; Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church outside of Tampa; and, Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. He can be reached via email at, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor

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