LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Become a missiologist and a mission strategist, Ronnie Floyd advised during a forum Oct. 23 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"One of the greatest things you can do is to become a missiologist in your community and a mission strategist for your people," Floyd, pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas, said in a discussion with Southern Seminary's president, R. Albert Mohler Jr. The forum was part of a series featuring influential Southern Baptist leaders. Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, appeared in a forum in August.
Floyd recounted his experience as pastor of the former First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., which transitioned from a mega-church to a multi-site church with four campuses, adopting the name Cross Church in 2011.
"People are drawn to fellowships that are on mission," Floyd said, noting that the intimacy of multi-site churches also helped promote the church's growth in recent years.
Floyd described the initiative of Cross Church members to study people groups in northwest Arkansas, enabling them to minister to an ethnic people group related to the Marshall Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean. When several in the Marshallese community became Christians, they collaborated with the Jesus Film Project to bring the Gospel to the unreached in the island nation.
"One thing Southern Baptists understand is lostness," said Floyd, who mobilizes small groups to share the Gospel by illustrating to them the dire need of unreached people groups.
In his challenge for pastors and lay leaders to become missiologists, Floyd urges them to conduct demographic studies and "know more about the community than the community knows about itself."
"The Southern Baptist Convention has never been set up for change," Floyd said, but he credited the Great Commission Resurgence with redefining North American missions to emphasize church planting and church revitalization.
Floyd chaired the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) task force in 2009-10 and has led Cross Church to become involved in several key cities as part of the Send North America church planting initiative of the North American Mission Board. Floyd also is volunteering with NAMB to encourage other large church pastors to join NAMB's Send North America strategy.
"Never has there been a better time to be a part of the Southern Baptist Convention than today," Floyd said, noting that churches are becoming more centered on convictions rather than programs -- thus changing the landscape of both the churches and the seminaries.
A student at any Southern Baptist seminary will "receive a real commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture and the Great Commission," Floyd said.
Furthermore, he said, graduates of Southern Baptist seminaries gain a passion for serving the local church, contributing to the renewed interest in church planting and global missions.
Assessing the current church landscape, Floyd described the scarcity of large churches during his seminary days prior to the mega-church era, and then commented on the decline of mega-churches in favor of multi-site church models.
"It's no longer about maintaining the place, it's about going on mission for God," Floyd said of the missiological focus of multi-site churches.
Mohler and Floyd discussed the shift from the "if you build it they will come" "Field of Dreams" mentality of mega-churches to the relational evangelism generated by the multi-site churches.
Mohler referenced a recent article in Outreach magazine that identified two reasons why churches choose the multi-site model. Churches either identify community needs that open the door for multiple sites or adopt churches with financial needs, both of which characterize the journey of Cross Church. "I don't think we have it all figured out," Floyd said, "but I'm willing to learn and grow."
Before ending the discussion, held at Southern's Louisville, Ky., campus, Mohler asked Floyd about the pressing theological issues in the Southern Baptist Convention, especially the debate concerning Calvinism.
"We need to be evangelists to reach lost people with the Gospel, we don't need to be evangelists for our theological persuasion," Floyd said, urging believers to listen to one another with unity in Christ.
Craig Sanders is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ronnie Floyd's conversation with R. Albert Mohler Jr. is available both in audio and video forms at Southern Seminary's website, www.sbts.edu. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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