Q&A: Ronnie Floyd's journey to SBC president

NASHVILLE (BP) -- When Ronnie Floyd was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention last summer, it was a natural extension of his life's ministry, having spent years leading by example at the local church level and in numerous denominational roles.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd visits the Southern Baptist Convention offices in Nashville.
Photo by Rebecca Wolford
As SBC president, Floyd has exhorted Southern Baptists to plead with the Lord for spiritual awakening and for His empowering to fulfill the Great Commission. He also encourages churches to support the convention's Cooperative Program for missions and ministry, leading his church to give more each year.

SBCLIFE, the journal of the SBC Executive Committee, interviewed Floyd about the passions that mark his life:

SBCLIFE: Can you recount how and why you have made prayer such a priority in your life?

RONNIE FLOYD: Ever since I came to Christ, having a time with God has been very important to me. In the early 1980s, as I approached seminary graduation, W.A. Criswell preached a sermon at a Texas Baptist Evangelism Conference encouraging us to give our mornings to God. So I began to do that.

In the 1990s, I committed myself to a 40-day period of prayer and fasting with God. It changed my life. My book, "The Power of Prayer and Fasting," is the record of that change.

I've gotten up earlier and earlier and earlier throughout my ministry, so I take prayer and being with God very, very seriously.

In my recent eBook, "Pleading with Southern Baptists," I've tried to call the convention to come together in clear agreement, visible union and extraordinary prayer for the next great awakening and to reach the world for Christ.

SBCLIFE: What drives you to have such urgency about spiritual awakening?

FLOYD: Spiritual awakening has been big on my heart for many, many years, probably since the mid-'90s as a result of the time of fasting that God took me on. I shared that vision for a mighty revival and spiritual awakening at the Southern Baptist Convention when I preached the convention sermon in 1996 in the Superdome in New Orleans, La.

The following year, I spoke to 1.3 million men at a Promise Keepers rally in Washington, D.C., about how much America needs to wake up.

Everything I'm doing as president now is not something I'm trying to become. It's something that I'm very committed to and one of the things I've been committed to for many, many years.

SBCLIFE: Given all you do, how have you been able to prioritize family?

FLOYD: One night when I was a young pastor in a growing church, I was on my way home from church to prepare to go back for another meeting. I clearly remember being at a stop sign and telling God, "From now on, I will never sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry success."

To keep that commitment, made about 30 years ago, I began to take off most Fridays to spend the day with my wife Jeana and our sons Josh and Nick. My kids were very young at that time, babies basically, and I started really making that strong commitment.

When my boys were at home I was very committed to family, and now I have the privilege of being the grandfather of six grandchildren, so I try to be great at being a grandfather.

SBCLIFE: What does the local church mean to you?

FLOYD: I tell people all the time if we can't love what Jesus died for, then we're in real trouble. He died for the church. He loves the church. He's committed to the church. We need to be committed to the church. I believe in building the church of Jesus Christ, which of course is building the Kingdom of God. I consider myself a huge fan of the local church.

I was raised in a small Southern Baptist church with 30 to 40 people in attendance on Sundays. I didn't grow up thinking, "Boy, I can't wait to be a part of a church that has five campuses and speak to thousands and thousands of people each week." I didn't even know what that was. Nobody else did then either, really. Those are my roots. I still go back to those roots. That's who I am.

My small home church taught me the value of inerrancy and the value of winning people to Christ. They taught me what it meant to believe the Bible and never compromise it, and that's where I first learned how to win a soul to Christ.

SBCLIFE: How does personal evangelism impact ministry in your own backyard and your commitment to overseas missions?

FLOYD: We strive for a balanced approach to missions. A church that wants to give to go across the world and doesn't take care of its own church field needs to reevaluate. Acts 1:8 is about all. We need to do all.

I'm very committed about reaching this region for Christ. The church I serve as pastor, Cross Church, has five campuses in northwest Arkansas. I've been the pastor there for 28 years.

Our church has been very committed to evangelism. We are an evangelistic church. We try our best to do all we can to reach northwest Arkansas, America and the world for Jesus Christ.

SBCLIFE: How important do you think giving is in the life of a believer?

FLOYD: I have experienced God's blessing personally as I have practiced biblical stewardship through the years, and I call Cross Church members to tithe through the local church.

When I see national figures that show the deplorable amount of giving that the average Christian gives to his church, it just breaks my heart. It's disobedience to God, and we need to repent of it, turn from our sin, and give.

I believe the greatest secret to seeing the Cooperative Program explode is Christians in local churches beginning to honor the Lord with the first 10th of all that God has given.

People must not undervalue generosity.

You cannot out-give God. You are never more like Jesus than when you give. We need to all be givers to the honor and the glory of God to win the world to Christ.

SBCLIFE: What spurred/spurs your passion for the Cooperative Program?

FLOYD: My service as chairman of the Great Commission Task Force in 2009–2010 led me to two particular realizations -- the lostness of the world is urgent, and I must use my influence to reach the nations for Christ.

After the Great Commission Resurgence report was approved by the convention in 2010, Cross Church decided we needed to be cooperative. We put a lot of trust and faith in what Southern Baptists decided -- that we were going to get even more serious about the Great Commission.

Cross Church went from giving $32,000 through the Cooperative Program in 2005 to $700,000 in 2013. In 2005 and 2006 we gave an additional $189,000 each year to the SBC Executive Committee to be distributed according to the convention's CP Allocation Budget. We considered it all CP.

At Cross Church, we're budgeted to give $900,000 through the Cooperative Program in 2015, and we've made a practice of giving any overage as well. In 2014, the church gave an extra $50,000 through CP, for example, and in 2013, we gave $100,000 beyond our goal.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In the year just ended, Cross Church was the top Cooperative Program giving church in the Arkansas Baptist State Convention among more than 1,400 congregations. The church increased its CP giving from 0.26 percent of undesignated receipts in 2005 to 4.1 percent in 2013, reflecting an increase of just over 2,000 percent.]

Erin Roach is a writer in Nashville. SBCLIFE is on the Web at www.sbclife.org.
Download Story