Saturday, November 23, 2013

I Guess I’m “That Guy”‎

Our family loves Disney World. My wife and I decided a long time ago that a major priority for us would be to focus on spending quality time doing fun things with our kiddos. Thus, and partly due to the cathartic effect a trip to Disney World had on me after living, working and serving through Hurricane Katrina, it is now part of our regular routine (as we can afford it).

We each have our favorite thing to do while visiting the happiest place on earth. A perennial favorite of mine, since it opened in April of 2007, is the Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland. The attraction is a 10-minute “digital interactive puppetry” show in a 400-seat theater where two Disney Cast Members work behind the screen to tell jokes and interact with the audience. Early in the show the actors, through remote camera work, pick out an unwitting rube to be the butt of an ongoing gag. This innocent participant is known as “that guy.” Throughout the routine, “that guy” is jokingly belittled and the crowd gets quite a chuckle at his expense. It is pretty funny right up to the parting final dig from Roz, the task-mastering monster boss.

Apparently, I have become “that guy.” No, I don’t mean the Laugh Floor’s “that guy” who is more often than not surprised to be cast into the limelight (although I will admit that I did have the inglorious, albeit cute, privilege of being the chosen object of that smile-begetting day-long joke a couple of years ago. I even have the button). Rather, I am referring to being identified as “that guy” as it relates to speaking up as a dissenting voice in public settings. Let me be clear… I do not want to be “that guy.” Although I am an extrovert whose personality has oft been described as “high strung” and/or “tightly wrapped,” folks may be surprised to know that I often resent feeling as if I have a responsibility to trudge off into “that guyness.” I’d much rather focus on good things, things that edify and unite, things that encourage and sooth. Thankfully, I spend most of my personal and pastoral life in that vein. However, over the last few years, I’ve found there is a need to speak up, especially in the area of our cooperative efforts in denominational issues. I’m well aware that some would not interpret certain of my actions (most recently a motion I made at our state convention) to be commensurate with what I am describing as a desire to quietly shepherd the flock God of which he has entrusted to my care. However, I know from whence come my actions and I am at peace about raising my concerns even though I know others are not.

Since 2004 I have been acutely aware of what I’m ashamed to identify as abuses of authority in areas of leadership in Baptist life. Ok, call me naive as you clean up your “spit-take” but this realization is not coming from being unaware of such a state of affairs, it is about disappointment.

Over a number of years I have noted several disappointing displays of overreaching leadership. Some of these transgressions have been of a sort that should engender concern from onlookers, yet concern is conspicuously absent. So I’ve wondered, is this absence of concern due to the comfort others feel from blindly trusting those who have led us through the difficulties of the past? Does it come from a place of mindless loyalty to an organization or individual? Is its genesis from an apathetic attitude toward minutia which is better left to the purview of the leaders (since that is why we have them)?

Concerned people must stand up and ask difficult questions. It is the responsibility of those who are invested in an organization to faithfully contend for the best practice of that organization. When it appears someone is covering up information, unduly influencing situations for personal and or professional advancement or trying to manage information so as to not confuse the huddled masses, someone, anyone must say something. They should educate themselves about the issue, understand the facts, seek wise counsel, use appropriate means and above all, carry on with a humble and Christlike spirit. Such a stand, of course, will not be without considerable ramifications.

You might become known as “that guy.” Further, you’re intentions are likely to be questioned. Those who rally around the concern you stand against often unite and will subsequently hurl disparaging remarks in your direction. Others will be amazed that you are “dumb enough” to speak up and ruin “options for future ministry.” Some will just shake their heads in a disapproving nod. You might be labeled a liberal, a Calvinist, a troublemaker, an elitist, foolish, or an attention seeker. Others, simply because you dared to challenge someone, will think of you as the enemy of what is right and good. I ask you to keep your chin up and press on.

The most perplexing thing for me has been the question of why so many will not take the time to listen to the concerns expressed. Whether or not they stand with or against you, many simply will not engage. For whatever reason, they remain satisfied with the status quo and will often not spend the time to look into the concerns raised.

Time for an admission. Hello, my name is Jay and I am a proponent of openness and transparency. I know there are times when discretion is necessary. Of course there are things that are of such a private and intimate nature that complete confidentiality is required. I accept that idea and attempt to function accordingly in my personal and pastoral life. However, I rarely see the need for such secretive back room whispers in cooperative convention life.

Here are a few examples from my own experience. Not wanting the attention this type of vocal dissonance might bring, I’ve tried to point out areas I believe need to be addressed with a Christlike spirit (although I have been accused of mean-spiritedness). Much to the chagrin of some and irrational anger of others I have spoken up when I felt it necessary.

1)      I spoke on the floor at the 2004 SBC in Indianapolis regarding the sole-membership issue. Tuesday morning, June 15th with time extended toward the end of the Executive Committee’s report I expressed concern over what I understood to be inappropriate and heavy handed tactics of the Executive Committee regarding the sole-member issue. It’s not that I was against sole membership (although I certainly had my doubts) it is that our news outlet (which, by the way, falls under the control of the Executive Committee) had not been balanced in reporting both sides of the issue. In fact they only ever presented one side of the issue. The NOBTS website, on the other hand, had presented equal treatment including papers and input from a number of individuals on both sides of the debate. (page 54 of the 2004 Book of Reports #48).

2)      The following year I spoke up again at SBC meeting in Nashville when the Executive Committee allowed another year to pass without giving any outlet to the dissenting voices who had opposed the sole-member issue. To make matters worse, I felt as though our seminary president was being implicitly maligned and that the opinion of the Board of Trustees (who the convention elects to govern the institution) was being squelched. (page 66 of the 2005 Book of Reports #39).

3)      I made a motion at the 2010 Convention asking for the GCR documents to be unsealed. At the time of the convention many had questions regarding the Great Commission Resurgence report. I simply asked for transparency on the part of the task force in order to help the body better understand the issues which were addressed. However, in speaking against my motion two key arguments were presented. First, it was posited that my motion would require the task force to “break its word” to those who were invited to offer input in task force meetings. Second, the suggestion was made that if my motion were to be adopted “no future convention committee will allow the recording of its deliberations.” Anyone who is familiar with basic rules of logic can see that neither of these arguments against my motion necessarily follow. A few points: 1) the task force was not given the authority to make a promise of anonymity (although I do not mind the action, to then use it as the reason to suppress the publication of the proceedings is unfortunate at best), 2) The proceedings and deliberations of the task force is what I was interested in, not the testimony of the invited guests. The recording button could have simply been turned off when guests spoke or the published material could have simply not included their contribution, 3) although a professor from Southern Seminary spoke against my motion suggesting it was some sort of political issue, I can assure you this was not a political issue for me (in fact, I can’t imagine what political issues might have been in play). Don’t you just love when people who don’t know you make assumptions about your actions that have nothing to do with reality, 4) to suggest that passing this motion meant that no other committee would allow their proceedings to be recorded is a basic logical fallacy. In the end my motion failed and the information remains sealed. I’d venture to say the sealed information will be of a sort that many will wonder why it was sealed to begin with. For that matter, were it important or incriminating enough to be sealed would 15 years be long enough? (page 57 of the 2010 Book of Reports #20).

4)      Then, of course, there is the issue of Louisiana College. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that I have spoken up on numerous occasions. Some of which I will address at a future date on this site.

5)      Most recently, and because of the concern I have had regarding overreaching influence, I made a motion to point out that the Louisiana Baptist Convention Articles of Incorporation and its Bylaws do not allow a seated voting place for the state Executive Director on any of the four Boards of Trustees. I will address this issue in detail on this site soon. But let me be clear, nowhere in the Articles of Incorporation or in the Convention Bylaws is the Executive Director given ex officio voting privileges on any of the four Boards of Trustees of the convention. I challenge anyone to examine the 1) ex officio representation of the elected President of the Convention (Articles of Incorporation VIII, Section 4), then compare that to 2) the explicitly delineated role of the Executive Director regarding ex officio status permitted on the Standing Committees, not the Boards of Trustees (Bylaws Article III, Section 9) and 3) the evident spirit of the rules guarding our entities against undue influence (Bylaw Article IV, Section 10). This is true even with the 2007 wording change from “service” to “election” (which was passed without discussion). The change of wording has no bearing on the spirit of the article to guard against those who would otherwise wield undue influence. Especially when you consider Bylaw Article IV, Sections 1 and 2 which clearly express continuity of spirit regarding the protection of our Committees and Boards against allowing an inappropriately long tenure. Read it people! (Again, I will comment more on this issue soon).

Folks, let me be clear, long ago I gave up the desire to “be someone” in church or Baptist convention life. I would hope my self-deprecating transparency would testify to this. It is true, I did allow my name to once be nominated for Second-Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention years ago, but here’s the deal, not only did I lose that election… Friends, I forever have the humbling privilege to be able to say that I was that guy who came in LAST to Wiley Drake. Needless to say, fear of what others might think of my particular perspective was set aside many moons ago. I just want people to gather data, be informed and act as those who have the ability to think independently.
I have pastored for 17 years and I am not a politician nor am I interested in fruitless debate (although I do love healthy philosophical sparring). For years I have steered clear of blogging and the corresponding social media attention it garners, but at this point I believe it is time to speak up. Clearly, if one hopes to have a voice one must have a media outlet that offers a vehicle for information dissemination. So, here I am, sitting in the theater, a willing participant. I’ll be “that guy” …
… Although, I suppose it would be more appropriate to identify with Roz since, “I’m watching, always watching.” ;)
(just a parting nod to my Disney compatriots)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Dad, the Poet

My father has quite a way with prose. In fact, in my opinion, a few of his works ought to be published. My favorite musing of his has to do with his recollection of a night staying in a Greyhound Bus station in Louisville... but I digress. From time to time I will likely post a poem or two of his, if for no other reason than it will fill up space. Seriously though, generally speaking they are really good.

Apparently, while he freshly pondered fatherhood and the future paths his boys might one day take, dad decided to write poems about my younger brother and I. Presented for you here, chronologically, are the poems about me and my little brother Ben.


Someday maybe Jay will be
An athlete folks will pay to see,
Or maybe to the Congress sent,
Or even become President.
So devilishly handsome he,
A movie star's what Jay might be.
With his strong and powerful voice
A preacher's job may be his choice.
Say, what if Jay, a doctor bold,
Should finally cure the common cold.
Or maybe he will follow me
And try his hand at poetry.
Yes, I'm convinced that Jay can be,
Anything he wants to be,
But mom says he should wait some more,
At least until he's three or four.


Little Benji's quite a guy
With curly hair and spirits high.
A bouncy-step variety,
The spice of life for mom and me.
So much like his brother Jay,
Yet different in a special way.
His smiling eyes just seem to tell
He'll win your heart and do it well.
Each night he meets me at the door
Same question as the night before.
Right after I park the car,
"Daddy bring me candy bar?"
In quiet times I talk to God
And tell him that I find it odd,
That He's blessed me, spite all my sin,
With number 2 son, little Ben.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Purging is Complete

We (the Trustees of Louisiana College) received word yesterday (via email from President Joe Aguillard) of the new Committee Chair appointments made by our incoming Chairman, Rev. Tommy French. The Chairman has full authority to select those who will serve in this capacity (I actually support this practice). The 6 Committee Chairs, along with the 3 Officers of the board make up the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.

For those keeping score, all but one of the Committee Chairs have been replaced (another former committee chair, Rev. French, was elected Board Chairman and is making the appointments). None of the 3 Board Officers were reelected by the Board. Thus, only 2 of the 9 members that make up the Executive Committee served on the Executive Committee last year. As a side note, not one "vocally dissenting" member was chosen for service in this capacity. Please pray for transparency and clarity of direction for us as we move forward.

PS: Please don't read this as sour grapes. At this point I am more than satisfied with my role. However, I would like to thank former Chairman Gene Lee for giving me the privilege of serving in that capacity.

A Well Handled Motion

This past summer the Southern Baptist Convention convened in Houston, Texas. On Tuesday, June 11th I offered the following motion from the floor:
“I move that a list of all convention elected trustees (including the name, church, state and term) be made available through the convention website ( preferably through a tab added to the homepage for convenience access.”

On Tuesday, July 2nd I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Augie Boto, Executive Vice-President and General Council to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mr. Boto called to let me know that the website did indeed have what I had been looking for. He took the time to walk me through finding the material and explained that it had been up for a while. After he showed me where to find the information, I must say, felt quite silly. I had looked all over the website for trustee information and came up short. Access to the information was not entirely intuitive but it was there to be viewed.
For those interested, I am happy to announce you can find a complete list of all entity trustees by going to On the homepage, you will find a green banner labeled “Directory of SBC Services.” Click on that banner and a pop-up window will be displayed with information on all SBC services and entities. Under each of the 12 entities for whom the annual convention elects Boards of Trustees you will find a link titled “Trustees” (“Members” for the Executive Committee) to a pdf listing the pertinent information.
A quick check at allowed me to see that sometime between Tuesday December 16th and Thursday, December 18th of 2008 lists of elected trustees were added to the Directory Services pop-up on the homepage. I’d like to thank Mr. Boto for his timely response to my concern (within a month after the convention). I’m also very appreciative for the gracious and personal way he handled my request as well as the way in which he has made himself available to answer my questions. I believe our churches and the messengers to our convention have a friend in Augie Boto.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Inaugural Post

I first wrote and posted this article for the members of our congregation on our website. Dave Miller contacted me to ask permission to post it on his well-read and respected site at It was so well received that I subsequently wrote a postscript for his page. Dave was gracious enough to allow a lengthy thread to run its course. As my first blog post I have copied and pasted the original text and postscript in its entirety from the sbcvoices site.

True Courage and Conviction: Jay Adkins’ Statement regarding Louisiana College (Postscript added)

by Dave Miller on May 3, 2013 · 191 comments
NOTE: Jay Adkins has sent in a postscript to his article, in response to some of the comments. It is attached at the bottom of the post. 
Jay Adkins is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Westwego, LA, and a trustee of Louisiana College. He has firsthand insight into the sad events that have taken place there in recent months, and speaks with both courage and conviction. I contacted him and received permission to republish his letter in full. You can read it at his site, here.
Here is Jay Adkins’ statement in full:
A personal statement regarding recent events at Louisiana College:

One of the most encouraging and influential moments of my young life was when, after a very difficult season of our junior football league, my dad put his arm around me and told me that he was proud that I never gave up and that he looked up to me for not being a quitter. He has remarked similarly through the years. Considering my ‘love language’ is affirmation, I suppose it’s no wonder that his early encouragement has helped to shape me into the man I am today. Indeed, I do not give up. It’s a running joke in our family. Both my wife and father regularly refer to me as “conquer boy.” However, as I have grown up I’ve also come to understand that I have limitations. There are things that are outside of my control and times I’m unable to fulfill my responsibilities because of those outside influences. In fact, I believe there are times when, for integrity’s sake, one must be prepared to walk away from a situation in order that one’s name not become besmirched by its affiliation with the questionable actions of others.

This is how I felt when I left the Louisiana College Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday evening. For me, this meeting was the culmination of 7 months of growing frustration. I left Tuesday night embarrassed, saddened and disenchanted by what I had witnessed. By Wednesday evening I had spoken with a number of trustees encouraging them to consider resignation and had prepared a 2+ page statement outlining why I was going to resign my position on the LC board. It was a scathing retort regarding my personal growing concern and subsequent frustration since our September meeting of last year. Then Wednesday night God spoke to me through my 13 year old son.

Both of my boys have witnessed my struggle over the last few months and I’ve probably done a disservice to them by not better shielding them from conversations with my wife regarding my concerns. Michelle, Quint and Canon have been patient with me as I have spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with my responsibilities as a trustee, while also attempting to prepare for dissertation work on my PhD. Once again, I am reminded of how God has blessed me with these three very special people. Wednesday evening, my oldest son Quint (who at 10 could articulate 4 of the main arguments for the existence of God better than most Christian ministers I know) walked in my office and over to where I sat behind my desk where I had been working on my resignation letter. He asked me what I was doing. I told him I was working on my resignation notice. He asked, “are you really gonna resign?” I began to explain to him how I, at some risk, attempted to point out problems. I had tried to keep others from resigning over the last few months. I had attempted to present coherent arguments based on sufficient and, at times, empirical evidence. I had begged for transparency. I had even suggested that we allow certain individuals to defend themselves before the board, but to no avail. I told him that I saw no other course. I even read him portions of my resignation letter. He paused and then asked in a quiet tone, “Dad, do you believe you are doing what is right… if you do why would you ever give up?” That statement hit me hard but it was nothing compared to the following clarion call. I was moved before he even spoke because it seemed he was a bit choked up. He then asked, with the hint of a tear in his eye, “Dad, even if you knew no one in the world would ever, or could ever be saved, that no one would listen to you, and that no one would respond to your message, would you not still preach and tell others about the Gospel?” I sat there, with tears now in my eyes, shocked and pondering how such clarity could come from someone so young. Can you imagine… the early affirmation from my dad about not giving up becoming a challenge to me through the encouragement of my son so many years later. I am a blessed man.
So, for what it’s worth and/or for those who care, I will NOT be resigning from the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College. I remain steadfast in my commitment to present truth, call for transparency and challenge those who abuse power. I will not be dissuaded. I will continue to refuse to sign the confidentiality agreement (just as I have refused to do so the last few times it was handed out), not because I intend to leak information but because I believe it to be inappropriate and because in 15 years of pastoring I am fully able to discern what should be kept confidential and what can and should be trumpeted from the rooftops. Please know that I am speaking only for myself, not the board, and not for any others on the board who might have dissented with the recent actions of the board. Not only do I feel that making this statement is important, I believe it is necessary considering my fiduciary responsibility to Louisiana Baptists.

There are good men and women serving at Louisiana College who deserve a board that can be trusted to protect the integrity of the institution as a whole. There are precious students at LC who deserve the very best formal education that can be offered. To those who have been mistreated please know that I, for one, am sorry and that a few of us have worked hard to make things right. Some of the most kind and faithful men and women I know work on the LC campus and serve as trustees. The encouragement and comradery we have shared has been a great blessing to me. But with that said, I am also embarrassed.

I’m embarrassed over the needless loss of three godly men from our faculty. One of which was voted teacher of the year (whose recognition was conspicuously dropped from a chapel service). I’m embarrassed that of 41 SACS accredited institutions of higher education in the state of Louisiana, our school—the Christian school—is one of only three either on warning status or probation. I’m embarrassed that we have had five Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs during the current president’s tenure. I’m embarrassed that we have dismissed a report from outside investigative counsel who actually interviewed persons involved in certain allegations and yet accepted a report from an internal committee that interviewed no one. I’m embarrassed that we have lost Dr. Chuck Quarles, a godly and humble man whose scholarship is impeccable and whose love for missions and God’s messengers is second to none. I’m embarrassed that we clap and celebrate a 10 million dollar pledge while smugly dismissing the gracious gift of what might have been over 60 million dollars for the Caskey School of Divinity. I’m embarrassed that we have spent so much money on legal fees and unrealized grandiose schemes while our campus facilities are in disrepair. I’m embarrassed that our state Executive Director has had an inordinate amount of influence over our proceedings. LC is the only one of the 43 Baptist colleges (connected to a state Baptist Convention) whose by-laws in effect make the Executive Director’s position a permanent voting board member. The Baptist schools in states like Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas and the 9 Baptist schools in Texas, among others, have no spot at all for the Executive Director since it might be considered a conflict of interest considering the financial relationship the school has with the state convention. In fact, for over 100 years (until a by-law change in 2008 in meetings preceding my first board meeting in December of 2008) LC also did not allow a permanent voting position for the Executive Director. I’m embarrassed that because I am a board member I have been perceived as someone who doesn’t care, won’t stand for what is right and/or sits idly by while the school suffers. However, in the end I’m most embarrassed that I was going to resign. I was going to quit. I’m sorry the thought ever entered my mind. I’m not a quitter and I want to set an example for my son like my dad set for me. Pray with me that God will be glorified and the work of restoring the school that we love will be everyone’s priority.

I’m aware this is an uphill battle. We have four new members coming on before our next meeting and then will have five new ones who’ll be voted in during the November meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Please pray that God will guide the selection of those who will serve the school and please continue to pray for the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College… not that we will be unified… but that we will act responsibly regarding the school we hold in trust.

In His Grip,

Jay Adkins

A postscript from Jay for SBC Voices

I did not enter this process without considering the cost. I knew very well that some would not approve of my statement and would most likely reject the idea that a trustee should even make such a statement. I am also aware that those who do not have all the information surrounding a certain happening will also have deficient responses. Thus, although it would be appropriate for me to say nothing and allow insufficient information to shape the responses of those who might not agree with me (and for that matter even those who agree with me) I believe it expedient to point out what I have not done. I have disclosed no confidential material, no executive session items and I have not presented the wording, originators nor the totals of any motion or motions made. Nor, as I’m sure has been presumed, was it I that leaked the information sent to the local paper in Alexandria (although I can’t say that I didn’t want to). The purpose of my statement was simple. First, I wanted to announce that I was going to stay the course when I had intended to give up. Second, I was frustrated by the perception that I was a part of a board that did not and/or would not hear the concerns of others who also appears to simply rubber stamp the administrations agenda. Finally, after much prayer and consideration (and because were I to resign I had intended to say far more on the subject) I believed that this was a necessary action regarding my fiduciary responsibility as one who continues to hold in trust Louisiana College.

The outpouring of support from alumni (and others) has been astonishing… even overwhelming. I had no intention of seeing my statement on a nationally perused blog. The only issue I’d take with umbrage is regarding the assertion that I have “popped off.” Might I point out to those reading this blog… I don’t even have a blog. I choose not to spend my time bloviating over the minutia of Baptist life and theological nit-picking. I rarely even read blogs (including my dad’s… sorry pop). I do not appreciate the innate culture of mud-wrestling so many blogs seem to perpetuate. I prefer to spend my time working in theology and apologetics. However, I would like to make this point. When one exhausts all (and I mean all) possible appropriate actions, including but not limited to utilizing parliamentary procedure and allowing certain important processes to run their course and nothing changes, we each—all of us—have the responsibility to say something. In this case I have concluded there is no other way to bring to light the concerns I have carefully expressed in my statement. As a trustee I have every right to express my concern to our board and as a Louisiana Baptist I have every right to express my concern to the convention at large. To be able to accurately and articulately answer some of the questions being raised on this webpage I would have to break confidences which I do not believe to be appropriate at this time. Suffice it to say were I to choose to “pop off” the wake would be devastating. So, ramble on my friends. My wording was intentional, measured, prayerful and even self-deprecating. I would that all who are concerned, whether elected or rejected, speak up when they see areas that do not jive with what is right and good. As an elected trustee… it is my duty. Blessings, and thanks to those who’ve offered words of encouragement.