He was baptized by C.L. Overturf in 1938. He began that year preaching around Wilson County, Tennessee. He received his training from: Freed-Hardeman College, Henderson, Tennessee; George Peabody College; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. He received the B.A., the M.A., and the Ph.D from Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.
He was a prolific writer. He wrote books and for many brotherhood papers such as: Gospel Advocate; Firm Foundation; and for a while served as business manager and on the editorial council of 20th Century Christian. In 1949 he wrote a biography entitled, The Life and Work of Charles Edgar Little, Bureau Of Publication, George Peabody College. Dr. Little was a long-time teacher and friend at George Peabody College. Though a great preacher and writer, his greatest work was in the field of education. While in the Nashville area he served as Professor of Sociology at David Lipscomb College, 1944-1949. The following year he served as professor of Bible there. When the family moved to Kansas in 1950, he became Dean of Central Christian College in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The campus moved to Oklahoma City, becoming known as Oklahoma Christian College. He served the college as Dean until 1954. At that time the Bairds had been thinking of moving to Africa to do mission work. In 1937 James had made a world study tour in Europe, Egypt, Palestine, India, China, and Japan.
In 1981, he became publisher of the Christian Chronicle, a newspaper for members of the churches of Christ. The circulation of the paper grew from 3,600 to more than 100,000 and brought great recognition to Oklahoma Christian from its church constituency. Dr. Baird suffered a debilitating stroke in 1990 and died in February 1998. He was listed in Preachers Of Today, Volumes 1 & 4.