EDITOR’S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Serving as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention has been one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities in my life. I have now served for 18 months in this role.
In my final article in 2015 to our Southern Baptist family, I want to share five reflections.
1. We are a cross-generational convention
One of our unique strengths is that we are a cross-generational convention of churches. I was so encouraged to see more younger pastors and leaders at our annual meeting last June in Columbus, Ohio. I am convinced the more we focus on reaching our nation and world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we will continue to be a cross-generational convention. The more cross-generational our churches are, the stronger our churches will be internally and externally.
2. We are a multi-ethnic convention
Over 10,300 of our churches are non-white churches. In fact, 58 percent of the nearly 1,000 new churches we planted together last year in North America were non-white. The Southern Baptist Convention is becoming more and more diverse.
In 2014, Dr. Timothy George, the founding dean of the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, released a powerful article entitled “Troubled Waters.” In this article, he gave the following observation about our convention: Southern Baptists have become one of the most ethnically diverse and multilingual denominations in the country.
In my travels across our nation, I have found these very words to be true. This must continue to occur with an even greater acceleration for us to reach our own nation for Christ. The real key to becoming more multi-ethnic is that it occurs in our churches exponentially.
3. We are an influential convention
As the largest Protestant denomination in our nation, I believe our decisions and actions are influential. The decisions we make can impact other denominations and the greater evangelical world in a positive or a negative manner. This is why we must remain committed to Scripture as our final authority so we can point others to the Lord continually.
I believe there is another angle of influence that is far-reaching and long-lasting. There are many leaders who attend our Southern Baptist churches: CEOs, university presidents, elected and government leaders, teachers and school administrators, military leaders, and first responders. Millions of hard-working Southern Baptists desire to live out their faith in Christ.
This is why all we teach and do in our churches is significant.
4. We are a convention with many needs
We are not a perfect convention. We are a convention that has many needs. We are all sinners saved by the grace of God alone. Thankfully, God is actively conforming us into the likeness of Christ.
We have so many spiritual needs. Many of our churches are spiritually unhealthy. This is due to being led by and comprised of people like each of us that will sometimes make choices that are not the will of God.
At times, this results in things being said or written that are not godly and honoring to Christ and others. Yet, we are family. The challenge of navigating and leading is extremely difficult when our own culture within our Southern Baptist family becomes unhealthy. Often, this limits our impact in evangelizing, baptizing, discipling, even financing and sending others to be on mission with God.
Therefore, we must always see ourselves in need of the strong hand of God upon us.
5. We are a convention that responds to needs
Each time a crisis occurs in our nation and world, it is with confidence that I can say, “We are there as Southern Baptists.” Whether it is through our global response teams, our disaster relief teams, financial support, or prayer, we are there.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ being made known to all is the last great hope for this world. In these uncertain days in America and across our dangerous world, we must forward the impacting message of Jesus Christ.
This is why I believe our Southern Baptist churches will rise to give the largest offering in our history to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
More than ever before, there is a need for us to rise up and respond to the overwhelming needs in America and the world. If we are true to our history, we will.