Archive for November, 2015
It was the late 1980s. Our church was buzzing and growing. God was moving powerfully. We had just moved into a new Worship Center and all of a sudden, transition was inevitable. While our numbers gained greatly, we also saw a few individuals and families depart. As any pastor would be, I was troubled.
This Was an Important Moment for Me
God had raised up a man to walk with me through those days of transition. His name was Ron Lewis. He joined me on the journey to help the church as we advanced toward reaching our region with the Gospel, and he listened to me share about a few individuals and families who had departed our church. As a pastor, you know what it is like: we do not want to lose anyone and while God is bestowing our church with countless blessings, Satan sidetracks us with one little issue.
I will never forget what Ron Lewis told me that day.
Ronnie, Never Let Anyone Outside of Your Circle of Love
Sitting in a Bonanza restaurant, we were working through how we could sustain momentum in our church. Ron looked at me and said, “Ronnie, never let anyone outside of your circle of love.” I will never forget those words.
Ron expounded on his remarks. He shared that if my heart was big enough to forgive continually and love unconditionally, the very same people who may leave today may come back around in the future. Even today I hear those words resounding continually: “Ronnie, never let anyone outside of your circle of love.”
How Our God Has Used Those Words in My Life and Ministry
I took Ron’s counsel to heart immediately. Additionally, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the words of the great scholar and teacher of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Oscar Thompson. He taught us continually, “The moment you experienced the love of Jesus Christ at salvation, you chose to forfeit the right to whom you would love.” Boom! At that moment, God did a major work in my life personally and as a pastor.
Starting that day, I have never let anyone outside of my circle of love! I do not have the right to love this person and not love that person. Jesus sets the bar: Love all people! Yes, unconditional love for all people. Even for a pastor and his family, there are times we are pressed on this issue. However, love and forgiveness always win!
Pastor, Learn to Forgive People
Pastor, let me share three simple actions you can take to never let anyone outside your circle of love. Every pastor needs to be a forgiver!
1. Take People to the Lord in Prayer
Pastor, there will be people in your church who will hurt you and even offend you deeply. Others will lie about you or cause problems in the fellowship. Still others will leave the church, even after you have won them to Christ, loved them, discipled them, and cared for them through some of their deepest pain. How should you respond?
Take them to Jesus in prayer one by one. Call their name out to the Lord in prayer. I am convinced that if I pray for people who have hurt me or tried to hurt the church, I will never let them outside of my circle of love. Sometimes we want to talk to everyone else about what they have done. Insure that you talk to God about them. He is the only one who can keep your heart soft and sensitive to Him and others.
2. Forgive Continually
Forgiveness is a way of life for a Christian, especially for a Christian leader. Please do not take it lightly. Do not try to turn the rattlesnake of unforgiveness into your pet or friend. If you do, it will strike you with a poison that will eventually destroy you and eventually your ministry. A pastor and his wife cannot let Satan win this battle! He will destroy you, your marriage, your kids, and perhaps even your leadership in the church. Unforgiveness and bitterness never has a place in the life of a pastor and his wife. Forgive continually.
3. Let it Go
Regardless of what has been said, written, or presumed about you, let it go. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Forgive continually. Then, let it go! You cannot go forward holding on to a past hurt. You cannot go forward resenting people, situations, or the church itself. Let it go!
Never Let Anyone Outside of Your Circle of Love
When you do not let anyone outside of your circle of love, eventually many will come back to you. I’ve lived long enough and pastored the same church long enough to see this occur. If I had not prayed, been forgiving, and let my personal pain go, my heart would have never been open to someone’s return or been able to invite them to return to us as a church family.
My challenge to you is very simple: Pastor, never let anyone outside of your circle of love! Remember, the moment you received the love of Christ into your life, you forfeited your right to choose whom you would love.
Now is the Time to Lead,
Ronnie W. Floyd
When vision is clear, concise, and compelling, people engage it. When the clear, concise, and compelling vision is shared consistently and effectively, people begin to embrace it. When people engage and embrace the vision, they will support it financially.
170 years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention began with a clear, concise, and compelling vision. In our founding charter the focus was singular: “for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the Gospel…” This is why we came into being in 1845.
Reaching the world for Christ is the way we communicate this vision today. When you visit our convention’s website at www.sbc.net you will find this phrase at the very top. According to our 2014 Annual Church Profile, we have 51,094 churches and congregations that unite around our vision as Southern Baptists.
Personally, as a pastor and as the current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I am absolutely thrilled we are communicating our vision like this. It is who we are and what we are about. We are 51,094 churches and congregations that come together to reach the world for Christ.
We Need to Come Together Around Our Vision
Our churches, associations, state conventions, and entities need to come together around our clear, concise, and compelling vision: Reaching the world for Christ. When we communicate our vision consistently and effectively, we will lead others to not only engage in our vision, but also embrace it.
Peter Greer and Chris Horst spent two years studying organizations including businesses, educational institutions, parachurch ministries, and churches. The result of their work is Mission Drift, which analyzes stories of organizations who have undergone mission drift and those who have remained mission true.
When we drift away from our missional vision of Reaching the world for Christ, we also drift away from God’s power. Whenever we drift away from the power of God, we will inevitably drift away from our vision.
Our churches, associations, state conventions, and entities can communicate one thousand different things. However, there is only one common vision that has served as the gospel thread to keep us together for 170 years: Reaching the world for Christ. This is what we need to communicate consistently and effectively to one another and to this world: We are a network of 51,094 churches and congregations that come together to reach the world for Christ.
Money Will Follow This Vision
I am convinced money will follow the vision of Reaching the world for Christ. People will give more money to our churches when we accomplish and forward this vision regionally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. Churches will give more money to our associations when this vision is being accomplished in our communities. Churches will forward more money through the Cooperative Program when they are convinced that state conventions and entities are supporting and assisting our churches in this grand, singular vision of Reaching the world for Christ.
Churches do not exist for the Southern Baptist Convention. Our associations, state conventions, and entities exist for our churches by supporting and assisting our churches in Reaching the world for Christ. Our vision is not and cannot be about saving our convention. Together, we cooperate to accomplish the singular vision of Reaching the world for Christ. Money will follow the vision.
This is Not About…
This is not about my church or yours. This is not about an association, state convention, or entity. This is not even about the Southern Baptist Convention.
Together, we cooperate in working toward forwarding, advancing, and completing this vision of Reaching the world for Christ. Therefore, each church, association, state convention, and entity as well as all of us must do all we can where we are with what we have to Reach the world for Christ.
If We Truly Believe
If we truly believe in the gospel, we understand that people without Jesus are lost spiritually and in need of personal salvation in Christ alone. Therefore, we cannot have any greater vision than Reaching the world for Christ. When we believe this convictionally, this conviction will get ahold of us.
And when it gets ahold of us, money will follow this vision. More money will come from people to churches, from churches through the Cooperative Program, and from state conventions through our Southern Baptist Convention, and from our Southern Baptist Convention to the world.
Reaching the World for Christ… Now is the Time to Lead,
Ronnie W. Floyd
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is currently serving as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.7 million members in over 51,094 churches and congregations nationwide.
To request an interview with Dr. Ronnie Floyd
contact Gayla Oldham at (479) 751-4523 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.