FIRST-PERSON: Equipping the next generation
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- Over 18,000 students are currently enrolled in our six Southern Baptist seminaries. This is the largest number of pastors, missionaries and scholars we have ever equipped at one time and is a great praise to our God.
Due to the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention by courageous men and women of God, our six seminaries are now anchored in a deep belief in the infallibility and inerrancy of Holy Scripture. Our Southern Baptist Convention rose to the occasion to declare to the world, "We believe in the Bible!"
In our Baptist Faith and Message 2000, our convention of churches declared boldly:
"The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation."
The presidents of our six seminaries, their administrations and faculties adhere to these words unashamedly and courageously.
While the world is veering away from a deep belief in God's Word, we stand upon it with our very lives. Reading through our Baptist Faith and Message 2000 statement on The Scriptures reminded me that our churches should utilize this resource to keep before our people what we believe and who we are as Southern Baptists.
Never again do we need to fall away from a deep, abiding belief in the infallibility and inerrancy of the Holy Scripture in our churches, seminaries and colleges. While some may believe that we limit ourselves due to our beliefs, the reality is our six Southern Baptist seminaries are educating more seminary students than ever before in our history. Yes, conservative theology works!
I love our seminaries and their leaders
While I am a two-time graduate of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, I want you to know that I love all of our seminaries, their leaders, and the value they bring to our entire convention of churches and our future together.
Last fall, I was on five of our six seminary campuses. Before the spring semester concludes, I will have been on all six of our campuses. It does not matter which of the six campuses I am on, I feel I am among family and friends. Nothing excites me more than investing in the next generation of pastors, missionaries and scholars.
Our six presidents are men who are deeply passionate about their calling, their work, the seminary they lead, and the value that our seminaries bring to Southern Baptists and beyond. I want to urge you to pray for them and encourage them when you can. The value they bring along with their teams who minister alongside them is great not only for today but even into eternity.
For those who may not know the formal names and locations of our six seminaries and the year they were founded, the following is from sbc.net:
-- The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky (1859)
-- The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (1908)
-- New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana (1917)
-- Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California (1944)
-- The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina (1951)
-- Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri (1957)
Cooperation leads the way in equipping the next generation
Did you know that your church's financial support through the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention helps educate these 18,000 students? Any church that has a passion to see our future pastors, missionaries and scholars equipped in the Word of God to reach the world for Christ needs to do all they can to increase their generosity through the Cooperative Program.
Do you realize that 22.16 percent of the monies that come through our Cooperative Program nationally goes toward our theological education ministries? Yes, you and your church play a huge part and can play an even bigger role in educating and equipping our next generation of leaders.
A decade from now, whether a pastor is leading a church in Brooklyn, N.Y., Portland, Ore., Phoenix, Ariz., New Orleans, La., Cherokee, Texas, Ogden, Utah, or Westerville, Ohio, you and your church have invested in his future and advancement of the Gospel globally.
A decade from now, whether one of our missionaries is serving on the field in China, India, Jordan, Brazil, Spain or Nepal, you and your church have invested in their future and in the advancement of the Gospel globally.
A decade from now, whether one of our scholars is equipping the next generation at one of our six seminaries or in one of our Baptist universities related to your state convention, you and your church have invested in their future and the advancement of the Gospel.
A final word of testimony
I am so grateful for the equipping I received at one of our seminaries. To this day, it impacts my life. Thank you, Southern Baptists, for making it possible.
Every soul reached in the ministry entrusted to me, every mission field we have traveled to and invested in personally, every church we have planted globally, and each time I stand to represent you nationally and internationally, it is because you invested in me personally and in my education. 1,000 thank yous!