As the Rev. Ronnie Floyd nears the end of his second term as president of the 15.3 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, he’s often asked if he’ll be glad when it’s over.
After all, it’s a demanding job to serve as the public face of the largest Protestant denomination in the country.
Floyd, 60, is often called on to articulate the denomination’s stance on major issues, from same-sex marriage to immigration. Then, there’s the travel. In the past two years, Floyd has crisscrossed the country meeting with Southern Baptists in churches large and small to listen to their hopes, concerns and needs.
He has traveled to Cuba to meet with Southern Baptist missionaries spreading the Gospel in the communist nation. He has pushed for unity in the denomination of autonomous churches as membership continues on a downward slide. He and others in the denomination also have pushed for an end to racism and emphasized the need for Southern Baptists to spread the Gospel to the world, all while tending to his own Cross Church flock spread across five campuses in Northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri.
Despite the demands of the job, Floyd said he’s sorry to see his time as president end. Delegates will elect a new president when they gather in St. Louis on Tuesday and Wednesday for the denomination’s annual meeting.
“I will miss everything, the entire experience,” he said. “I have no regrets other than I wish I had two more years to serve.”
According to convention rules, presidents are elected for a one-year term and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. That means another term is not an option.
Even though his term is ending, Floyd isn’t counting down the days like a kid waiting for summer vacation. He’s thinking about what still needs to be done. With more time Floyd said he would emphasize the need for evangelism even more.
“Prioritizing evangelism again in our lives and churches is imperative,” he said. “We need to emphasize personal evangelism as well as church evangelism. We must hold high the dynamic need of reaching our own town, community, or city for Jesus Christ.”
During his terms and throughout his more than 38 years as pastor, Floyd has consistently emphasized the Great Commission. The Great Commission is found in the Book of Matthew. Jesus, resurrected from the dead, tells his disciples what they must do: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
To Floyd, the commandment is a call to action. He’s so passionate about the need for increased evangelism that he calls it the denomination’s No. 1 need.
“We must reach people that do not know Christ personally,” he said. “This begins with personal evangelism, but also involves our churches in the vision of winning their towns to Christ. Being able to return to the priority of evangelism will take care of other challenges before our churches.”
With more time, Floyd said he would also encourage churches to get lay people more involved in the life of the church.
Read more at ‘Whatever God wants’.