John Thweatt says that over the course of his life, meetings have never been his favorite.
But as he wraps up two years of serving as president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, he said he’s found he’s thoroughly enjoyed it — even the meetings.
“I never would’ve thought that I would’ve been president of Alabama Baptists,” said Thweatt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pell City. “I’m amazed I got this privilege.”
He noted a few highlights, lessons learned and things he would love for other Alabama Baptists to know.
Alabama Baptists have a lot of thriving, “incredible” ministries, and watching them at work was a good reminder to keep the Great Commission central and work together to accomplish it, Thweatt said. That means everything from disaster relief work to collegiate ministries.
“When you actually see state missionaries at work firsthand, and see the Cooperative Program through all the committees and other parts, it reminds you how important it is for all of us to be on board, for all of us to be team players,” he said.
Thweatt also said that one of his favorite parts has been getting to visit with churches around the state and getting to know pastors of all ages.
“It’s been great to get to know such a wide variety of pastors in other places that I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” he said.
Walking with pastors
As he walked alongside pastors going through hard times and heartaches of different kinds, he’s been encouraged by their commitment to Christ, to their churches and to the task Alabama Baptists are accomplishing together.
“It’s inspiring how even when things in their families’ lives are incredibly hard, they continue to love their churches and give their time for the state ministries,” Thweatt said.
As he has met with pastors, Thweatt said he’s also seen the importance of having both young pastors and seasoned pastors involved in the conversation.
“As a convention, we need to keep trying to find a way to continue to engage younger pastors,” he said.
“We need the fresh ideas and we also need that seasoned wisdom, that combination together,” Thweatt added.
He said his prayer is that as a state convention, Alabama Baptists will continue to work to bring a diverse set of people to the table.
“My prayer is that we will reach young pastors and do everything we can to reach across minority lines so we’re a better picture of heaven,” Thweatt said.
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, called Thweatt a “leader of leaders.”
“All Alabama Baptists can be proud of how John Thweatt has stewarded his influence as president,” he said.
“His wise counsel has benefitted many people, including me. I have grown to appreciate even more his wisdom and wit as a person and as a leader during these past two years,” Lance added.
Thweatt has been “fair minded and balanced” in dealing with people, Lance said. And he said Thweatt leads his own church well too.
“John is a faithful biblical preacher who takes the task of proclaiming God’s Word very seriously,” he said.
“He is also a compassionate pastoral leader who sought to never neglect his flock while serving as president. He is loved and admired by his people.”