To maximize churches’ impact, Iorg calls for a ‘quiet’ and ‘efficient’ Executive Committee


INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – In his first address as SBC Executive Committee president and CEO to trustees Monday, Jeff Iorg presented a mandate to address issues that have been roiling Southern Baptists in recent years.

That assignment, he said, was to help the churches partnering through the Southern Baptist Convention maximize their ministry footprint.

“We are here to facilitate the work of Southern Baptists and their entities, to manage and – I choose this word carefully – minimize the administrative process. … It is our job to do our work quietly and efficiently so that we can get on with the real work of winning more souls to Jesus Christ,” Iorg said one day prior to the start of the two-day SBC Annual Meeting.

Noting that actions from the messengers this week will impact how the EC goes about addressing some areas, Iorg nevertheless pointed to subjects such as “the financial crisis” connected to an indemnification agreement with Guidepost Solutions.

That agreement requires the EC to cover Guidepost’s legal bills related to two lawsuits by former Southern Baptist leaders named in Guidepost’s May 2022 report on sexual abuse in the SBC. Iorg’s remarks came minutes after trustees approved a recommendation that the EC “continues to work toward ending all formal relationships with Guidepost Solutions.”

“We have spent more than $2 million, so far, on that indemnification agreement, paying those legal bills, and there is no end in sight,” Iorg said. “We have to find a way to manage that.”

He then called for a “workable financial plan to solve this situation” by the time trustees meet next year in Dallas prior to the annual meeting.

Multiple task forces will report during this annual meeting. Among them is the Abuse Response Implementation Task Force (ARITF), which will make known its desire for a permanent home in the SBC for sexual abuse response and reform.

“I am prepared to lead in responding to all three of those task force reports and recommendations,” said Iorg. Those responses will depend on actions of the messengers this week, but he added that he has been working “behind the scenes” to prepare “options that may be available to us.”

Another recommendation approved by trustees on Monday declined to recommend an amendment to the SBC Business and Financial Plan that would dictate entity financial reporting on level with the IRS Form 990. However, the EC requested entities, institutions and commissions to “maintain accountability and transparency … in their reports to the Convention.”

Over the next year the EC will work with those groups to review the Business and Financial Plan “to determine ways to enhance transparency and clarity of reporting to the Convention,” according to the recommendation. That report will be presented to messengers at the 2025 SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas.

Iorg added that the vote over amending the SBC Constitution will require the EC to think through how to address the impact, regardless of the voting results.

His path to accepting the president/CEO role was a “disorienting” experience, he shared earlier. A pathway to retirement from his tenure as Gateway Seminary president had been established, with Iorg expecting to settle into small-church ministry opportunities on the streets of Portland, Ore. Those plans changed on Jan. 23 when an expected candidate to lead the EC stepped aside and Iorg’s phone was swamped with texts and calls for him to consider the role.

In addition to encouragement from his family, Iorg cited his desire to pay back Southern Baptists out of “personal appreciation” for being mentored and discipled out of a birth family mired in “alcoholic chaos.”

“I’m standing here today because Southern Baptists changed my life,” he said. “Southern Baptists are a force for good. Our critics say we’re evil and corrupt and we’re neither.

“We’re a big family that will always have some evil and corruption somewhere in it. But collectively, we are a force for good.”


This story first appeared on Baptist Press.