Southern Baptists must recognize God as our strength and lead evangelicals into the future with His Light and the truth of His Word, Ronnie Floyd said at the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s February 22–23 meeting in Nashville.
“Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, . . . in this dark hour in America, when we wrestle within ourselves to not become downcast or discouraged with all that is happening in our nation,” Floyd said, “we must respond in obedience to what the Lord is telling us in Psalm 43. We need the power and the guidance of the Holy Spirit so we will be anchored to the Truth of God and to the Lord Jesus Himself alone.”
In his last presidential address to the SBC Executive Committee at its Winter meeting, he delivered a sermon anchored in Psalm 43 and Habakkuk 3:16–19, exhorting Southern Baptists to lead evangelicals to a future steeped in obedience to God’s Word.
At Floyd’s invitation, a large contingent of Southern Baptist state convention executives and presidents, SBC entity leaders, and pastors attended special meetings February 23 and 24 to discuss SBC doctrine, fellowship, the Cooperative Program of financially supporting Southern Baptist work, a “crisis” in evangelism, and the spiritual, cultural, and political health of the US.
“The churches of the Southern Baptist Convention need to rise up in this dark, dark hour in America,” he said. “We need to proclaim this Word to the church, and to the lost of America: Put your hope in God. God is our Savior. God is our God.”
Southern Baptists must be leaders in evangelism, worldwide outreach, partnerships secured by the Gospel, and fellowship and cooperative economic giving, Floyd said.
He called Southern Baptists to remember the doctrinal stand on biblical inerrancy taken at the 1979 SBC annual meeting in Houston.
“Therefore now, thirty-seven years later, we have six seminaries that are robust in their belief in the Bible and the Gospel, committed to their mission, equipping an estimated twenty thousand men and women for Gospel ministry throughout the world. And in that dark day thirty-seven years ago, when biblical and theological maze was happening, leaders led by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the Word of God . . . , cried out, ‘Send your light, send your Word.’ And God did it.”
He referenced the late SBC president Adrian Rogers and the sacrifice many leaders made to turn the SBC toward biblical truth.
“These leaders did not pay this high price to bring home hundreds of missionaries from the international mission field,” Floyd said, “to see evangelism become forgotten in our churches, to see the selfishness that distorts our stewardship of life and the Gospel, or to see us consume one another with skepticism, criticism, and cynicism, that creates a culture of schisms and divisions, rather than a culture that thrives on Gospel advanced through partnership and cooperation.
“Furthermore this price was not paid for Southern Baptists to become like some exclusive club that is so narrow we cannot cooperate with other evangelicals and even beyond,” he said. “I want to remind you that our own Baptist Faith and Message 2000 calls us to cooperation. . . .”
He urged Southern Baptists to unite by focusing on the positive and refusing to be led by negativism.
“We need hundreds of Southern Baptist statesmen to rise up courageously as leaders and lead so big, and so high, they will not settle for anything in this Convention that does not help us build a Christ-centered culture that leads to our fellowship in Gospel partnership,” Floyd said. “We need the kind of leaders who will rise up and value one another, and respect one another, and relate to one another, and communicate effectively, not just with your little tribe out here, but with all generations and with all ethnicities, not just a bunch of people that . . . look like you.”
The price was not paid thirty-seven years ago so that Southern Baptists could “ever neglect widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor,” he said. “Nor was this price paid to see us give leadership that succumbs to the culture in which we live in today. And certainly this price was not paid for us to see our annual Southern Baptist gatherings become so small we’re unable to mobilize thousands upon thousands of pastors and laypeople to our missions annually.”
Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, referring to the eighty-five to ninety leaders who would attend the special meetings the following days, said, “I appeal to you Southern Baptists, please pray for us.”
Many leaders were in attendance during his message, as were members of a group of sixty-seven students from Southern Baptist seminaries and Baptist colleges, accompanied by eleven adult chaperones, who participated in the Student and Young Leaders Conference.
Floyd urged Southern Baptists to attend and promote the 2016 annual meeting, themed “Awaken America: Reach the World; Agree, Unite, Pray” and announced key outreaches scheduled in Saint Louis. His June 14 National Call to Prayer will seek God for spiritual leadership, revived churches, the next great spiritual awakening, and the future of America.
Floyd will continue his campaign for racial reconciliation, holding a National Conversation on Racial Unity June 14, with key participation by Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I place value on other groups. I’m not sure why we do not want everyone to win in our family,” Floyd said. “As president I have been very committed to doing all I can to help build a healthy culture of love and fellowship and Gospel partnership. I have placed people in the same room together so they would stop talking about each other and start talking to each other.”
After Floyd’s address, K. Marshall Williams, president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC and pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offered the closing prayer, included here in part.
“We pray, Lord, that You wash our hearts clean. That You create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. God, we need revival; we need You. Lord, help us to manifest, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, fruits of repentance, that Lord we might, with radical obedience, and implicit and an inexplicable unity, usher in revival in the church, that will lead to a spiritual awakening in our land.
“ . . . We pray, Lord, that you bind us together that we might recognize that we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and Satan’s ranks of emissaries of wickedness. We have to fight the battle where the battle is. So God, we passionately pray tonight, that You move in our hearts individually, and collectively, that we might come together and rise up and be the people of God in these last and evil days.
“Thank you, Lord, for what You’re going to do.”
Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press and is a member of First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. This article first appeared in Baptist Press.