The Southern Baptist Convention has a new leader. Dr. Ronnie Floyd’s new official title is the president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. His inauguration was a clear presentation and celebration about the goodness of the Lord to place Dr. Floyd in this role for such a time as this.
Sharon and I were present at this event, along with the other Missouri Executive Committee members: Daniel Carr, Monte Shinkle and James Freeman, III. Also from Missouri was Dr. Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and several from his team.
The inauguration service was an authentic worship time with powerful worship songs and testimonies that were about Dr. Floyd and his ministry. More importantly, the testimonies were about the work of God through a man who humbly seeks the Lord with a whole heart.
The story was told about Dr. Floyd by one of his ministry friends. This friend was passing through a small town in West Texas. He knew that Dr. Floyd pastored the small church in that town. He was passing through and stopped at the one store in town and asked the aged proprietor about the church. His responses were mostly in monosyllables.
He then asked the man if he was around when Dr. Floyd was pastor. The man said he didn’t reckon so and his face continued to illustrate that he was thinking about the question. Dr. Floyd’s friend pressed the conversation and said he really thought this was the place where Dr. Floyd started his pastoral ministry. Then the senior’s eyebrows went up, a smile crossed his face, and he blurted out, “You mean Brother Ronnie! Sure I know him.”
Such a narrative demonstrated the commonness of our leader of Southern Baptists, whose job is to set the tone and vision for the cooperative work our churches do toward reaching every region, state, this nation, and the world with the gospel. Dr. Floyd can do that in a much different, sustainable way than the annually elected SBC president, whose primary job is moderating the Annual Meeting and making appointments.
The other thing I noticed was how each of the other SBC leaders of ministries and institutions expressed their delight in joining Dr. Floyd in reaching a common, cooperative vision. In my years of service on the Executive Committee, I have never heard the SBC entity heads speak with such a common voice of cooperation. It is a new day!
Dr. Floyd articulated his vision for changing the SBC culture on a single 5.5 x 8.5 card and a smaller one with a smaller font on a 3 x 5 card that fits nicely in a front shirt pocket.
Those cards were everywhere. At every place at the banquet, and then in the Baptist Building at 901 Commerce, Nashville, Tenn. The words were on the monitors inside the building. There were copies next to the Executive Committee member’s copy of the freshly printed 2019 SBC Annual. The idea is to keep the message of transforming the culture of the Southern Baptist Convention in front of us as much as possible.
Each card beckoned with a message of vision and a fresh hope of cooperation among the people called Southern Baptists. The message on the cards was Dr. Floyd’s five-fold vision. Let me restate those five keys:
1.Living and breathing Gospel urgency
2. Empowering all churches, all generations, all ethnicities, all languages
3. Telling and celebrating what God is doing
4. Loving others like Jesus loves
5. Prioritizing, elevating and accelerating generosity
The vision is to reach every region, every state and the world for Christ.
Then, as an addendum at the bottom of the card is the statement: Whatever the cost, whatever the risk, this worldwide mission thrust must be our priority.
I join Dr. Floyd in acknowledging we cannot do this on our own. Southern Baptists have great mission boards and the scope of their work is breathtaking. Southern Baptists have been given the stewardship of the largest number of students ever in history preparing for ministry. In our flesh this is unsustainable. We need a mighty movement of God.
Let’s face it. At the state level and the SBC level, we are in a war and it’s not against one another. We don’t fight against flesh and blood. It is easy to point fingers at certain people and say they are to blame for the things that give us grief. But the Bible is clear: There is an enemy working to divide and divert.
It is time for God’s people to declare, “Enough!” Let us make a humble rediscovery of the call of God to prayer and take spiritual authority over what is evil within us and in the world.
Let us ask the Father to demonstrate His power and might to transform our wicked hearts and awaken our culture to our desperate need of His presence in our everyday lives and in the missions and ministries He has called Missouri Southern Baptists to support with prayer and resources.