Within hours of the conclusion of our 2015 Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio, shots rang out in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, taking the lives of nine people. Within nine days of the conclusion of our 2015 Columbus Convention, the United States Supreme Court redefined marriage. When you think of all that has occurred in our nation since these two tragedies, we do not even live in the same America that existed while we were in Columbus. The entire landscape has changed.
This is why we must gather more people than we have gathered in many years to our upcoming convention in Saint Louis. We need to do all we can with all we are and all we have to gather them by the thousands.
With all that is at stake in America in 2016, from the ongoing battles we face regarding religious liberty, to the approaching United States presidential election, to the reality that over 74 percent of our own churches are plateaued or declining, to the deep need for revival in the church, to the racial violence in our nation, to the tragic killing of the unborn, to the persecuted Christians around the world, to the tragic growing refugee crisis globally with an estimated 7.6 million displaced in Syria and northern Iraq alone over the last five years, to the depth of the lostness of the world, and to the decreasing of our own mission force across the world in this most urgent hour, we need Southern Baptists to come to Saint Louis. It is time to gather the family like never before. We are in a crisis and we must come home.
I cannot and will not walk away from continuing a strong call and leading forward toward the need for the third Great Awakening in our nation and to reach the world for Christ.
Therefore, our theme for the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention will be: Awaken America, Reach the World. Yes, we need to also: AGREE . . . UNITE . . . PRAY. The logo for our 2016 Southern Baptist Convention in Saint Louis is done in midnight blue, indicating the midnight hour that we find ourselves in today and the urgency to see God awaken America and reach the world! You may be thinking that this is very similar to last year’s theme. You are correct. It is. I am convinced it is God’s heart for us and we must agree, unite, and pray for God to awaken America and that we will reach the world for Christ.
Our Scripture for the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention is Acts 4:31: When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.
Ronnie Floyd is senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas, and serves as president of the SBC. This essay is excerpted from his presidential report to the SBC Executive Committee on September 21, 2015.