NASHVILLE (BP) — In his office on the seventh floor of the SBC Building in Nashville, Ronnie Floyd sat down with Baptist Press to talk about his first fast-paced, meeting-filled week on the job as president of Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.
Floyd wrapped up his final sermon as pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., this past Sunday (May 19). And following the EC presidential search committee’s election of Floyd in April, he has hit the ground running getting ready for Monday (May 20), his first official day on the job.
During his interview, he discussed the challenges Southern Baptists face in today’s culture, and he shared how he has developed more of an appreciation for his new role.
“I know that I’ve got to lead in a way that is different than this position has ever had someone to lead,” Floyd told BP Tuesday (May 21), noting he has no desire to lead in a “business-as-usual” way. “Clear, strong, compelling, visionary leadership [is needed] because we can’t stay the same. There are some areas we’re just not doing real well in, but there are some areas we are doing exceptionally well in.”
Floyd’s comments came as this week’s Annual Church Profile report showed decreases in baptisms and attendance, while also showing an increase in giving. See related BP story.
“As we look forward,” Floyd told Baptist Press in a statement after seeing the report on Thursday (May 24), “it is time to press reset spiritually and strategically in the Southern Baptist Convention. Prioritizing and elevating the advancement of the good news of Jesus Christ into every town, city and county in America, as well to every person across the world, must be recaptured by every church.”
Bring Southern Baptists together
Floyd acknowledged there is too much division in the nation and Southern Baptist life. And Southern Baptists, he said, need a “refocusing of our mission” to spread the Gospel.
“I don’t remember a time when the American culture has been so divided, so at each other, so troubled from what this person says to that person says,” Floyd told BP.
“… I’m seeing a lot of disarray in the nation, a lot of division,” he noted. “And rather than many of our churches leaning towards a New Testament model of unity that is built upon the Great Commission and Christian love — taking the Gospel to the world — we’ve kind of entered into that discussion about how we’re just as divided at times as what the country is, and that’s not our role.”
He added, “We need to understand we need each other and if we really believe that people need Jesus then we had better come together to do everything we can to present the Gospel of Christ to every person in the world and make disciples of all the nations.”
Confronting sexual abuse
Another issue Floyd faces in his new role is helping lead Southern Baptists in their ongoing response to the sexual abuse crisis, reported on in the Houston Chronicle in February and in other media reports.
Floyd said he is focusing a lot of time and energy on how the issue will be addressed by Southern Baptists during the SBC’s annual meeting in Birmingham, June 11-12.
The response, he said, needs to be delivered in the most “Christ-honoring way to build the safest environment we can in our churches and stand boldly and courageously against all sexual abuse.”
“We need to leave Birmingham with there being no debate about where we are, where there are definitive actions that everybody knows … this is what we are going to do,” Floyd said, noting weeks of preparation before officially beginning his duties this week. “So, I’ve been after it … I believe deeply we’ve got to deal with that in the right way.”
A pastor’s heart
Floyd shared how he and his wife Jeana are both committed to the calling that the Lord has put before them to serve in their new roles.
Ultimately, Floyd said believes in the mission of Southern Baptists and wants to “give the best I have towards that,” he said. “God has called me here. I know that. And I’m walking by faith in that.”
He also expressed his support of the Cooperative Program — the SBC’s giving channel for missions and ministry — and how each church can elevate that support in some way. Cross Church has given nearly $11.5 million through the Cooperative Program during Floyd’s pastoral tenure, according to ACP data.
“Every church can do something,” he said. “We can do more. And I want to be faithful to whatever that more is. The Cooperative Program is the fuel that literally lifts and energizes and empowers everything we do.”
And Floyd shared his desire to influence younger generations and show them positive, strong leadership and to help lead an SBC they can be proud to cooperate with in the years to come.
“I get excited about the next generation … to hand them a convention that they will embrace and they will forward and they will love, they will want to pass it down to their kids,” he said. “Because of what? Structure? No. But because of a mission that is so worthy that it calls us to do whatever it takes.”
Floyd noted, “I’m a pastor. I’m going to lead from a pastor’s heart and I’m going to work hard in trying to bring us together and move forward together. And that’s what I’m going to do.”
This article was originally posted on bpnews.net.
I love you Cross Church! You are an amazing people of God. As I write these words, it is early Thursday morning, May 16, before my final Sunday with you as Senior Pastor on May 19. Already this week has been encouraging and emotional. Since Sunday morning early:
- Jeana and I have walked out of the worship centers of two campuses for the last time in our present role; special places where we have shared so many great moments with God’s people.
- Jeana and I spent hours on Monday afternoon with our entire staff team that we have loved so dearly and have invested in consistently for almost 33 years. Just think:
- For 31 summers in a row, we have conducted a staff advance for our Ministerial Staff and their spouses.
- For 32+ years, Jeana has met once a month, most months during the year with our staff wives.
- Jeana met with our staff wives for the final time on Tuesday, and on Tuesday evening together we received the first ever Legacy Award at an incredible event at Shiloh Christian School.
- So many things were noted regarding our years investing in our school, which has grown to become one of the finest academic schools in Arkansas and across America, as well as noted for their world-class athletics programs, all founded and supported with a strong biblical commitment centered our Christ our Lord.
- One thing noted is a commitment God put in my heart over a decade ago: that every student, before graduating from our school, would be given a global missions trip to share the gospel in a foreign culture and land. Since that was initiated, we have now mobilized over 1,100 high school students of Shiloh Christian School in over sixty trips into countries all over the world, with hundreds coming to Christ and these students forever shaped by global missions regardless of where they attend school in the future.
- Jeana and I spent time with people at a Wednesday night reception for at least three and closer to four hours—what a night. Honestly, every day has been filled with tears and last night at the reception, Jeana and I experienced continual weeping at the lives changed, the stories shared, and moved greatly by the faithfulness of so many people through the years.
Yes, Cross Church, Ronnie and Jeana Floyd love you. When we leave you Sunday in our final service together, we will be leaving family. The great news is that when we return to visit, we are coming home to our family again. One day, we will ultimately be reunited in the Holy city of Heaven.
Sunday will be Fantastic: Cross Church Worships Together in One Major Worship Service on the Campus of the University of Arkansas in Bud Walton Arena
This Sunday, all four campuses and all eleven services will meet together at Bud Walton Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas. Join us at 9:30 a.m. and bring the whole family. Childcare will be provided for birth through pre-K. Ages kindergarten and up will join our Cross Church family for this legacy worship service. Do NOT use any excuses to miss this day — it will be special!
I Will Preach My Final Message to You on Sunday Morning – Please do not Miss it
God has given me a word for us from His Holy Word of God, the Bible. With the growing, continuing, somber reality of our time with you coming to an end, I will preach the treasures of Christ and His Word that will prepare us for the future days ahead. Yes, while each of us will be in distinctive places and new roles in God’s family, we will still be in mission together as we have been for almost thirty-three years: Reaching the World for Christ!
Cross Church Will Not be Without a Senior Pastor for One Moment
After thirty-two years and seven months, this will be mine and Jeana’s last service as your Senior Pastor and wife. But Cross Church will not be without a Senior Pastor for one moment. Toward the final part of the service, I will hand over the leadership of our great church to Dr. Nick Floyd. Then, Pastor Nick will lead the church to commission me from our church as I take on my new calling as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee on Monday, May 20. This is a testament to our church family and our church’s Board of Directors and church leaders, understanding that Cross Church is the family of God and does not belong to any one of us, but to God alone.
The Summer Program of Giving Begins This Sunday, May 19, and Goes Through Sunday, September 1: Remember, we cannot receive an offering this Sunday, so give online or mail your weekly gift of generosity into our church office before Sunday!
This year only, we will add one Sunday of giving emphasis to our Summer Program of Giving. Why? On Sunday, May 19, as we meet for worship together at Bud Walton Arena, we are not permitted to take an offering. Therefore, we are trusting the Lord for you to give in advance of this Sunday or an make up your giving the following Sunday, give online, or mail your offering to 1709 Johnson Road, Springdale, AR 72762. Please be diligent and faithful in this task. Summer is a busy time of ministry and life change for Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, America, and the world, and we cannot do it without your generosity.
Go to the Holy Land with Us in 2020: June 29 – July 8
Dr. Nick and Meredith Floyd, your new Senior Pastor and wife by 11:30 CT on Sunday morning, will lead a trip we have already planned. Yes, Jeana and I are still going! All along, we have been planning to lead this trip together with Nick and Meredith, so that will make this trip even more special for anyone who determines to go with us. We will know more on cost later, but for now, set aside the dates: Monday, June 29 through Wednesday, July 8, 2020.
Cross Church Family, One Thousand Thank Yous!
Words cannot express what I feel today about you and for you. What a special bond and connection we share together. I am confident some pastors and churches are looking at all of this and wondering if all this is really true. Well, it is.
Yes, God has extended to me a new and wonderful assignment for next season in ministry, one that is limitless in reach and leadership opportunities for the gospel to be taken across the world. Yet, we leave you, our forever family. We have poured ourselves out to you for thirty-two years and seven months as your senior pastor and Jeana as the first lady of our dear church.
We have laughed together, wept together, grieved together, and ministered together all over this world to God’s glory, always forwarding the advancement of the gospel here, across America and the entire world. We have celebrated powerful spiritual moments and special occasions that only God Himself could afford us. What a ride! What a joy! What a mighty God we serve!
From the depths of my heart, I love you. Serving as your pastor has truly been a great spiritual and powerful experience for me. I give all glory and praise to the Lord. On Sunday, I will commend you to your next senior pastor, who we believe will lead you to places we have never been before!
To God alone be all the glory!
I Love You,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church