Dr. David Hardage is the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Hardage earned a Doctor of Ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University. He has served as a pastor and interim pastor, and served in leadership roles in faith-based and educational organizations. Visit TexasBaptists.org.
Dr. David Hardage enjoys a broad view of Baptist churches in Texas. The Baptist General Convention of Texas executive director visited Houston Baptist University to talk with Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for HBU. About 5,300 Texas churches are represented by the BGCT.
Texas Baptists, as they are known, are integral at colleges and universities like HBU. Baptist Student Ministry programs evangelize young people, and provide growth and discipleship opportunities to help grow believers.
“From the time the convention began, one of the primary reasons for it was education,” Hardage said. “Our people continue to believe in education and in providing a Christian foundation and a biblically based education for students from Texas and beyond. One of the newest areas of emphasis – and HBU is key in this – is the area of apologetics. We really want to teach and help our younger generation know how to contend for the faith.”
The Texas mission field is truly vast, with a state population nearing 30 million. With shifting times, churches and ministry leaders must reach people in new ways.
Hardage said, “The culture is more challenging than it’s ever been. Society is changing. I’m in a different church every Sunday. As an example, not all, but many of them have the same mindset. It is, ‘We need to reach the young families.’ My response to that is, ‘Yes, you do. I hope you reach every single one of them. And then when you do that, let’s talk about the other 75 percent of the households of Texas.’”
Hardage sites statistics from a recent BGCT report which estimates approximately 25 percent of Texas households are unmarried people, 25 percent are empty-nesters, 25 percent are young families, and 25 percent are households of various compositions.
Churches and ministries, in many ways, no longer must travel in order to reach people of all cultures. Thousands of people have moved to Texas, bringing their cultures, religions and languages with them. Such factors make having a network like the Texas Baptists even more helpful.
In addition to assisting churches in reaching their local communities, the Texas Baptists supports evangelism, discipleship, missions, legislative advocacy, and offers counseling resources. In all the organization does, its purpose is summarized in its official missional stance: “Lives, families, communities and nations are transformed as ordinary Christians take extraordinary steps of faith in obedience to God.”
Hardage is humbled by his role as leader of the Texas Baptists. “I always say I had no expectations or aspirations to be in this role,” he said. “What it really boiled down to is that I had been in the church and the association and worked in the institution – I think the Lord led me to this place.”