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Johnny Hunt’s Network of Nonprofit and For-Profit Businesses

By Kim Roberts
johnny hunt
Pastor Johnny Hunt speaks at Hiland Park Baptist Church on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Panama City, Florida. (Video screengrab)

Well-known Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leader and pastor Johnny Hunt has occupied positions within the denomination that provided access for his and his family’s network of nonprofit and for-profit businesses, according to reporting by Baptist News Global.

Hunt was disgraced last year when the SBC Executive Committee released its report that included a credible accusation he had sexually assaulted a married woman. Hunt maintains that the “encounter,” though inappropriate, was consensual.

Arising from a childhood of poverty and a dysfunctional family to a position of leadership and respect in the country’s largest Protestant denomination, Hunt became pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia, in 1986. As the Atlanta metro region grew, so did the church and Hunt’s influence.

Hunt was an early pioneer in the media distribution of sermons through cassette recordings. His ministry grew to include authoring books and speaking at conferences.

Seemingly innocuous at the time, an early contemporary Christian music (CCM) group, NewSong, attended First Baptist Woodstock when Hunt was pastor. The lead singer’s son, John Carswell, married Hunt’s daughter, Deanna. This connection would prove important in upcoming years as Hunt’s business interests grew.

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In 1996, Hunt was elected president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference. In 1997, Southeastern Seminary—his alma mater—established the Johnny Hunt Chair of Biblical Preaching. A decade later, in 2008, he was elected SBC president.

In 2018, Hunt left his position as lead pastor of First Baptist Woodstock and became senior vice president of Evangelism and Leadership at the SBC North American Mission Board (NAMB), a position that seemed to provide opportunity for increased entanglement between Hunt’s businesses and the SBC.

Business Entanglements

NAMB has been a client of Johnny Hunt Ministries, a nonprofit that handles Hunt’s conferences and speaking engagements. Hunt is CEO, and his wife and two sons-in-law are listed as officers.

Hunt was the past CEO and a frequent speaker for New Song Ministries Inc., which manages the Xtreme Conferences for students and the WinterJam Tour concerts—events promoted within the SBC. New Song Ministries is now led by Eddie Carswell, John Carswell’s father and the former lead singer of NewSong. It has conducted business with the NAMB and is intertwined with other Hunt-related businesses. In 2020, New Song reported revenue of $12.9 million.

johnny hunt network
On Dec. 31, 2012, Johnny Hunt speaks at a Winter Jam concert event. (Screengrab)

About 1994, Hunt started and served as chair of the Timothy Barnabas retreats to help prevent burnout of pastors and their families. In 2012, he began partnering with the NAMB to present the retreats and offer scholarships to pastors who otherwise could not afford to attend. In 2018, the same year he joined NAMB as senior vice-president, Hunt gave the ministry to the NAMB with plans that it continue for years to come. The retreat ministry is now called Refresh by NAMB. Its revenue in 2018 was almost $900,000.

Hunt has created a new retreat for ministers through Johnny Hunt Ministries, called Advanced. The next retreat is slated for October at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa.

Travel for Timothy Barnabas and Advanced retreats has been organized by 3H Travel, a travel agency operated by Hunt’s daughter, Holly Hixson.

Any group that utilizes Hunt’s books or materials, including NAMB, New Song Ministries, Timothy Barnabas, and Johnny Hunt Ministries, will interact with 3H Publishers. Hunt’s wife Janet is the chief financial officer and secretary for the company.

Tour buses for conferences and concerts are provided by Carswell Motorsports—owned by Hunt’s son-in-law John and employing some of Hunt’s grandchildren.

Several of the Hunt-related businesses are located at 309 Bell Park, which is also a limited liability company to which they pay rent. Hunt’s son-in-law John owns this business also.

Wood North American MIssion Board NAMB hunt
NAMB logo

Although the NAMB has a conflict of interest policy that discourages “business transactions with a trustee or employee, or a business enterprise in which a trustee or employee has an interest,” it has frequently been a client of Hunt’s and his family’s businesses.

Hunt and the NAMB did not respond to questions by Baptist News Global about the network of businesses and the potential conflicts of interest raised by their interactions with the denomination.

In March, Hunt filed suit in federal court against the SBC, SBC Executive Committee, and Guidepost Solutions for defamation in reporting what he calls a “brief, inappropriate, extramarital encounter with a married woman.”

He resigned his position as senior vice president of NAMB in 2022 after the report was released.

In November 2022, four pastors “restored” Hunt to ministry after an “intentional and an intense season of transparency, reflection and restoration.” The SBC Credentials Committee is now considering if two churches whose pastors are platforming Hunt should be removed from friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention.

This article originally appeared at MinistryWatch

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctor from Baylor University. She has homeschooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.



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7 thoughts on “Johnny Hunt’s Network of Nonprofit and For-Profit Businesses”

  1. Bryan C. Bailey

    Thanks for continuing to shine a light on all of this. One of the biggest regrets of my life is moving to atlanta to work on his staff. Nearly took my own life in 2013 after all I went through… and while I wanted to take vengeance into my own hands, the Holy Spirit and the wise counsel from godly friends helped me to choose a different path. I’m grateful for God’s grace that allowed me to begin the lengthy process to forgive him and others in that church that wounded me deeply. I refused to give up… I decided my joy was no longer for sale, and in light of the gospel my grudges didn’t make sense anymore.

    “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis‬ ‭50‬:‭20‬

  2. Hi Bryan,

    Sorry for the abuse and trauma you have endured in Atlanta.

    Would you mind sharing any of the mistreatment that led to your suffering?

    One thing that adds a new level of clarity in this story, is that there are conflicts of interest in place, that is suppose to prevent a mixing of money. But it doesn’t seem to work evidently.

    If you don’t feel comfortable sharing here in a public forum, I can understand.

    What I am trying to do from the current unveiling of the extensive and pervasive abuse in churches, is get feedback on how the true church, should respond to it, and then take that information to utilize it for a new infrastructure of church transparency that will provide better protection of the sheep from wolves.

    I was so blessed to read your post because your healing has involved The Great Physician. It is He who restores us for His name sake. You are living proof of that.

    May God continue to bless and heal you everyday.

    1. You make a good point about policies for “conflicts of interest” being in place and yet situations like this arising. It’s a pretty common tale. Policies regarding conflicts of interest, harassment, abuse, employee rights, etc, etc, are only as effective as the people enacting and enforcing them.

      Churches are already more loosely overseen by government authorities than other organizations. Combine that with the deference, leeway and lack of accountability that churchgoers tend to give to their leaders and you can see why a church and/or it’s leader(s) can have all the right policies and still wind up embroiled in scandal, hiding misbehavior and using their position for inappropriate financial gain.

  3. While it matters a great deal to the victim, whether the “encounter” was consensual or not has no bearing on the need for him to be disqualified from being a minister.

    This article only provides more weight supporting the necessity of that disqualification. It also also gives more evidence of his lack of integrity and ethics.

    His brazen act of being the victim is not fooling (almost) anyone.

    Leaders who abuse their power, show favoritism, and fleece the sheep are the very ones God called out through the prophets. I shudder for the future of the church at large in America if true repentance does not come soon.

  4. Enough of pastors being entrepreneurs and creating multiple income streams. Typically they use their church to field test their products they then offer through their non-profit to a wider audience. But they are receiving payment for sure. Also enough of excusing this behaviour under the guise of ‘increasing our impact’. We need pastors heads and hearts in their local church.

  5. The church already has a conflict of interest policy. It is over 2000 years old. ““No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” These “pastors” flagrantly ignore the words of Christ in order to enrich themselves and spread their fame and power. They pat each other on the back and applaud one another. Instead they should weep and howl, but they are blind and lame. I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

  6. He’s got every base covered that’s for sure. He appears to be a very greedy man by his behavior.

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