As of Tuesday, Ronnie Floyd is the new President-elect of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. I assume the ‘elect’ part of his new title will be dropped after Sunday when he officially resigns as the Senior Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas. It is clear, however, that his dual status this week has not prevented him from hitting the ground running. This is a good thing since we are now 68 days away from the 2019 Annual Meeting in Birmingham, AL. There’s no time to waste.
Yesterday Baptist Press did a story on a number of conference calls Dr. Floyd has already had with various Southern Baptist stakeholders. These groups included groups such as the Great Commission Council (entity heads), Large Church Roundtable, Mega-Metro pastors fellowship, Convention Advancement Advisory Council, ethnic fellowships, associational mission strategists, and prayer leaders. He also spoke with bivocational and small-church pastors, state executives and presidents, and young leaders active with the B21 organization.
The issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention are numerous, but the most pressing issue facing Southern Baptists heading into Birmingham is the reality of sexual abuse in our churches and the way in which this reality has been dealt with in the past. This was one of the issues that Dr. Floyd addressed on yesterday’s conference calls.
Here’s Floyd’s statements on the issue as reported by Baptist Press:
It’s ungodly, it’s sinful, it’s criminal and obviously we would be against it. But how we get to the common path of what we do, that has become the issue.
Before Birmingham it will be our goal to get in a room [with SBC leaders] and come to a common solution we can all agree upon, where we will not have a bombing in Birmingham, but we will have blessings.
When Southern Baptists leave Birmingham, there should be no doubt about where the SBC stands on the issue of sex abuse and everything we’re going to try to do to help the churches, everything we’re going to try to do to have safe environments for our children and the vulnerable, and to do everything we can to extend repentance of any of our actions, and move forward in relationship with … a clear convictional, compelling and compassionate commitment and declaration.
Some have expressed concern about Dr. Floyd being saddled with this issue at the beginning of his term as EC President. I appreciate the concern, and I agree that Dr. Floyd did not create the situation in which we now find ourselves. There is no sense in which he should be blamed for the way the Executive Committee mishandled things prior to his election. He wasn’t there. He wasn’t in charge. Southern Baptist should be willing to give him a clean slate as he begins his tenure.
However, Dr. Floyd has been elected to lead the Executive Committee. Leaders are often given the responsibility of leading in and through situations that they themselves did not create. When a new pastor comes to a new church, he is not responsible for all of the things that happened before he arrived. He is, however, given the responsibility of leading the church forward. That often means dealing with the mess that was left behind prior to his arrival. If he fails to deal with the mess that he did not create, it will soon become his mess.
I am confident that Dr. Floyd understood this coming into the job. I am hopeful that he will seek to lead us well in this area. It’s actually the primary reason that I moved from being opposed to Dr. Floyd’s election to now being hopeful and supportive. I believe that Dr. Floyd is a strong leader, and the EC needs strong leadership right now. The lack of a leader had become a real problem. We could not afford to go into Birmingham without a permanent leader at the helm of the Executive Committee. I only wish that the search had not dragged on as long as it did.
I believe that Dr. Floyd has what it takes to lead us forward. After his election on Tuesday Dr. Floyd said, “It will be to that end, that end of reaching the world that I will give my life…in this next season–100 percent, from before daylight until exhaustion, until Jesus comes or until He calls me home.” That is the kind of commitment we need for this season in the life of our convention. I am praying for Dr. Floyd as he continues to hit the ground running.