EDITOR’S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Turning the tide means to reverse the course of events and move in another direction. It is time to turn the tide in the Southern Baptist Convention during 2016 in four specific ways:
1. Turning the tide in evangelism
I have written recently about the deep need we have to turn the tide relating to our evangelism through our churches. Somehow, some way, our pastors and church leaders must lead the way in being convinced again that evangelism matters.
If we truly believe in the Gospel, we will be evangelistic. If we are truly a people of the Gospel, how can we not want to see people come to Christ? We need to practice the Gospel we talk, write and preach about so much. Practicing the Gospel involves many things, but above all, it must involve sharing Christ with the intention of leading others to faith in Christ.
It is time to return to the urgency of being personal evangelists and active participants in churches. We must be intentional in leading people to faith in Christ, encouraging others to follow in baptism immediately, engaging in church membership vibrantly, and living on mission with God daily.
As a convention, we need to again celebrate evangelism. We have been way too hesitant to do so. Leave behind the analysts and the critics of evangelism. Jesus is more than clear as recorded in Matthew 4:19: “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”
2. Turning the tide in our nation
2016 may go down in history as the year America begins to find our way back to God or we depart from God even further. I believe the people of God will determine the future of America.
As God’s people, we need to pray like never before and we need to pray for the next Great Spiritual Awakening in America. Prayer is not inaction, but our greatest action.
In this pivotal election year in our nation, we need to educate ourselves on the candidates and the issues, not only at the presidential level, but also at each level of government and service. Relating to our nation’s highest office, we need to pray now for God to raise up His future leader for America. Prayerfully, God will have mercy on our nation in this hour.
I encourage you to consider leading your church to set aside a day or days for prayer and fasting for our nation. Additionally, pray for our nation during worship services. Another call to consider is turning an entire Sunday morning service into a time for prayer.
Cross Church is setting aside 21 days in January for prayer and fasting. We will conclude these days by giving the entirety of all 11 worship services to prayer on each of our five campuses. Yes, all 11 services that day will be focused on prayer. Pray for our fellowship as we go on this spiritual journey that will conclude on Sunday, Jan. 31.
3. Turning the tide in our upcoming Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis
Last year, we saw a very positive turn in our Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. We saw a positive turn in attendance, spirit and in the program itself. As we build upon last year, I believe we have potential to see a real upsurge on June 14-15 in St. Louis.
This can happen and should happen when pastors and church leaders determine the necessity to have representation from their church in St. Louis. Each church can bring messengers, so please reserve your space now.
Every church that invests financially in our Gospel work together through the Cooperative Program should come to St. Louis to learn more about the investment your church is making. Every church that is concerned about the reports of bringing home hundreds of our missionaries from the field should come to St. Louis. Unquestionably, any church that is concerned about the future of our nation should join us in our appeal to God to awaken America and empower us to reach the world for Christ. To this, we need to agree, unite and pray together.
4. Turning the tide in our financial support through the Cooperative Program
Last fall, I conducted conference calls with 400-500 pastors, talking to them about the need to increase their church’s financial support through the Cooperative Program. I have given a lot of my time privately and publicly on this subject.
Be encouraged! Churches are responding and we will see the results of this within the next year through the year of 2020. From smaller membership to larger membership churches, we are seeing a stronger growth commitment.
This is the time for each of our churches to pray through and begin to give more through our partnership ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Cooperative Program is the most strategic way your church can advance the Gospel through your state, our nation and the world.
Now is the time to turn the tide in the Southern Baptist Convention. It begins with me. It begins with you. It begins with Cross Church. It begins with your church. We can do this, if we will.