Neil Franks, lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Branson, Mo., said Wells, who is director of missions for the Tri-County Baptist Association in southwest Missouri, has what Southern Baptists need "more of."
"When I moved to Branson over four years ago, Jim was among the first to welcome me, encourage me and pray for me," Franks said. "He continues to be a confidant both to me and any pastor who will receive his friendship. Ten years into his leadership of Tri-County Association, instead of simply maintaining the status quo, he led us through a transition of becoming a more 'local church focused' association. This change has led to a more effective ministry where relationships have been strengthened among the churches. Even more important than that, greater resources have been devoted to helping local churches accomplish their God-called tasks in their communities with less focus on building larger denominational structures. We need that type of leadership in the SBC."
Wells also is a role model for reaching out to and encouraging younger leaders and embracing innovative new technologies, Franks added. "I could say much more about Jim and his effectiveness in ministry, but here is what you need to know: Jim has a heart for all types of people -- the lost, the saved, the church member, the pastor, the staff member, and we need that energy toward caring and concern more than ever in the SBC."
The Tri-County Baptist Association, which Wells has led for 10 years, received the "Church Planting Association of the Year" award in 2004 from the Missouri Baptist Convention. He has been a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention's executive board and the SBC Executive Committee.
A member of Hopedale Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., Wells previously pastored Oakwood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., for 16 years, leading the church to increase its Cooperative Program giving from 8 percent to more than 16 percent of undesignated receipts. He was in the pastorate more than 32 years. He has served SBC registration secretary since 2002.
A Missouri native, Wells holds a master of divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., along with degrees from Hannibal-LaGrange College and Central Missouri State University.
Wells and his wife, Judy, have one daughter, Dana.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.
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