Archive for the 'School of Ministry' Category

Guest Post | Practical Training for Future Church Leaders by Edward Upton

Ed-blogToday, welcomes guest writer, Dr. Edward Upton. Dr. Upton is the new President of the Cross Church School of Ministry.

Someone once told me, “If you have the intellectual capability to earn a higher degree, you have the moral responsibility to do so. We need ministers who know more, not ministers who know less.” I pondered that statement for several years while pursuing my Doctor of Ministry degree from Southern Seminary. I did not know exactly how that would play out in my life, but I knew that I felt God was calling me to be more involved in training younger ministers to be church leaders.

My Calling to the Cross Church School of Ministry

When Dr. Crawford left Cross Church to follow God’s call to Tennessee, I began wondering if some sort of leadership opportunity within the School of Ministry was something that I should explore. I entered into a season of praying and seeking God’s will for my life concerning the School of Ministry. I was in a good place (some of the most fruitful ministry I have ever experienced) as the Campus Pastor of the Neosho Campus. I loved what I did and loved where I lived, but I could never really get past the thought that kept coming back to my mind – that it was my job to help train the next generation.

Several weeks ago, Pastor Floyd and I had a conversation that led to me going home that evening and spending the night in prayer concerning what I felt God was calling me to do. And so, a couple of weeks ago, I began the process of saying goodbye to my brothers and sisters in Neosho to come to Northwest Arkansas to lead the Cross Church School of Ministry.

What is The Cross Church School of Ministry?

I have been asked often in the past couple of weeks what the School of Ministry is about, and what that looks like on a daily basis. I thought I would use this time to share what we are trying to accomplish through the school.

The Cross Church School of Ministry is a 1-year ministry residency that prepares leaders for life, ministry, and Gospel advancement globally. Cross Church believes in education, and we practice this belief with our staff. We believe that although theological education is vital and necessary to the health of the minister, a holistic education of church leadership goes beyond the theological education into helping future church leaders understand the rigors of ministry through practical, hands-on education that we can provide through our Cross Church organization.

Why You Should Consider Spending a Year with us at Cross Church

We believe that we have a responsibility to train future ministers in life. If you were to decide to come and spend a year with us, you would learn life in ministry, how to develop your own spiritual walk, how to develop spiritual disciplines, how to fight against your sin tendencies, and how to interact with others.

We also believe that we have a responsibility to train future ministers in the ministry of the church. The ministry of the church includes preaching, discipleship, evangelizing the lost, leading the church, how to set up church government, leading mission trips, church planting and revitalization, and developing mission and vision statements all through the particular track of study that you choose.

Lastly, we believe that we have a responsibility to train future ministers for Gospel advancement globally. This means that we are in the business of completing the Great Commission. We strive to train future leaders to develop churches that desire to see the nations come to Christ. We do this through both international and domestic mission trips, vision trips for church planters, and by developing relationships with organizations such as North American Mission Board and International Mission Board to become a pipeline for future church planters and missionaries.

A Unique Option for our Students

One of the really cool options that we offer our students in the School of Ministry is the opportunity to earn college and seminary credits during their 1-year residency if they desire. We offer credit hours at several colleges as well as most of our Southern Baptist seminaries. In fact, at one seminary, we can offer up to 24 credit hours, tuition free, toward a Master of Divinity degree.

The future is exciting and bright for the Cross Church School of Ministry! I am unbelievably blessed that God has opened this door for my family and me. If you know you are called to ministry, I would highly encourage you to check out the School of Ministry website,, and see if God may be calling you to come experience a year of hands-on ministry training at one of our 5 campuses. And while you’re at it, travel the world with us while being afforded the opportunity to earn some college or seminary credits too!

For the King and His Kingdom,

Dr. Edward Upton
President, Cross Church School of Ministry


Dr. Edward Upton is the New President of Our Cross Church School of Ministry

After four years as the first President of Cross Church School of Ministry and thirteen years of total, Dr. Jeff Crawford accepted the call to Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. We sent him out in Jesus’ name with blessing and love, and began the search for our next leader.

We Believed God Would Show Us Who He Wanted Here

Initially, we believed the person on our team most ready to lead this ministry other than Dr. Nick Floyd or myself was impossible for us to consider due to the vibrancy of his current ministry. We began to search outside our ministry, open and willing to follow God.

Then, I received a phone call from Dr. Edward Upton, the man we thought was an impossibility. He stated that the Lord had him up most of the night, putting on his heart to tell me, “Pastor, I think if you believe it is right, the Lord may be calling me to take over the Cross Church School of Ministry.”

This began several conversations, and the intervention of God occurred. The Lord made it clear to Ben Mayes, Nick, and myself that He was calling Dr. Edward Upton to be the new President of the Cross Church School of Ministry. Another miracle began to occur relating to who the Lord may want to take over as Campus Pastor at our Neosho campus in this exploding season of growth they are experiencing. God always meets our needs.

Ed and Eleanor-blogDr. Upton Has the DNA of Cross Church and is Ready for the Challenge to Lead This Ministry

While growing up in our ministry at Cross Church, Dr. Upton’s parents, who are now with the Lord, were faithful members of Cross Church, and faithfully served in our former Bus Ministry. Unquestionably, Ed has the DNA of Cross Church, and this is important to me.

After completing his undergraduate degree in counseling, Dr. Upton received his Masters of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry in Evangelism and Church Growth from The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

I believe wholeheartedly that Dr. Upton has been called by God to be the next leader of our Cross Church School of Ministry. He has served as the Campus Pastor at our Neosho, Missouri, campus for the last two years. God has blessed his ministry, and they have seen amazing, explosive, God-sized growth in attendance, salvations, and baptisms during his tenure.

Before coming to lead our Neosho Campus, he served at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, as both the Minister to Single Adults at the Plano Campus, and the Minister to Adults at the Prosper Campus. He brings to the School of Ministry great experience in the areas of small group development, church planting, and church growth, as well as possessing the academic credentials we believe are needed to lead this ministry within Cross Church. Furthermore, in his future, Dr. Upton may begin working on another degree, his Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Thankfully, God has used Cross Church Neosho to help prepare and launch Dr. Upton into this highly significant, influential, and investing ministry. Our Cross Church School of Ministry is our one-year ministry residency for God-called leaders, preparing them for life, ministry, and gospel advancement globally.

Ed is Supported by His Wife, Eleanor, Making A Fantastic Team

Ed is married to Eleanor, who is highly supportive of her husband. They are a fantastic team. Eleanor has an undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master of Business degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Ed and Eleanor have three children: Benjamin (6), Ruth (4), and Harrison (2), and Mayleen (16) will become a part of their family when her adoption is finalized this summer.

Dr. Upton’s Passion and a Shout Out to Dave Kinney

Dr. Upton’s passion is equipping people, especially God-called leaders. Every now and then our church may hear Dr. Upton preach, but it is neither his calling nor desire to be a Teaching Pastor consistently. His calling is to lead and invest in others to prepare them for life, ministry, and gospel advancement globally. He is a serious equipper and encourager to people.

I give praise to God for Dave Kinney, who has been serving in an interim capacity with our school of ministry and has done a fabulous job. Dave is twenty-six years of age, and has been doing a superb job leading our College Avenue Campus. He and Emily are a wonderful couple that we love so much and who have a tremendous future with Cross Church.

From Across America and the World, Come to the Cross Church School of Ministry

Please email Dave Kinney or Ed Upton today if you have an interest in attending the Cross Church School of Ministry beginning this August. You can see so much more about our school in this recent article.

Dave’s email is, and Ed’s email is Additionally, visit our Cross Church School of Ministry website at

Now is the Time to Lead,

Dr. Ronnie Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church
Founder, Cross Church School of Ministry
Immediate Past President, Southern Baptist Convention