I don’t think that any member of any church I ever pastored knew what the Executive Committee of the SBC was. The exception to that might have been the guy who pastored SBC churches for some years who paid much closer attention to all the SBC inside baseball talk. Aside from him, the EC might as well have been some group of no-name SBCphiles who look, feel, and sound important but do little that affects my local church. The EC is not even a tiny blip on the average SBC member’s radar. ‘Obscure’ wouldn’t be the word for it in regard to the many million SBC members. ‘Unknown’ would be a better word.
Now we have a new Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer, the former megapastor and former president of the SBC Ronnie Floyd. He has my full support. I don’t expect him to walk on water or raise the dead, though.
A. Harold Bennett (1979-1992), the first EC leader in my tenure as an SBC pastor, would always start out his report to the convention by explaining in a sentence or two what the Executive Committee was and what their job was. It was over my head then and didn’t hold much interest for me. Morris Chapman (1992-2010) and Frank Page (2010-2018) followed him and I thought they both did well.
I expect Ronnie Floyd to exhibit more energy in the task, not that the others were slackers. We could use some additional focus in the job nowadays. If he takes an interim pastorate somewhere, I’d see that as exactly the wrong signal. I don’t think the job can be done in the background and longer. Current challenges call for the EC CEO to give all of his energy and attention to the task. That is what Ronnie Floyd said he would do. Good.
Simply put, and this is my opinon and not a group effort with the other guys here: Ronnie Floyd is not the head of the SBC. He’s the head of the Executive Committee of the SBC. He’s not the chief vision guy for the SBC. The mission boards and seminaries already have visions. He is the main impetus for Cooperative Program vision and increase. If he fails to do well in that, he fails in the job.
Ronnie Floyd is not the leader of the SBC, although he is the day-to-day administrative leader of the SBC. He is not the shepherd of the convention, of any state convention, any association, church or pastor. Not one pastor has to follow his lead and not a single church has to pay the least attention to him. He is not the pastor of all the pastors in the SBC. I don’t need a denominational pastor and don’t think that the EC CEO, even with the most sensitive of pastor’s hearts, can do anything concrete to make my role as pastor easier.
He wasn’t elected to the job by the convention and, save for 84 executive committee members, not one of us had a vote on him for this job. His budget is less than almost all other SBC entities and all of the major state conventions. Not a few megachurches probably have budgets larger than the one he administers. His staff is small. IMB has around 4,000 workers. The seminaries have hundreds. Larger state conventions have many dozens. He has a handful.
All of this is reality, not criticism. And, none of it minimizes the job. If he fails it would mean that the SBC in a very public sense fails as well. I don’t expect that he will, though and I am completely open to being persuaded and motivated to tasks left neglected, resources being wasted, and challenges unengaged.
He has a megaphone and should use it. Through the Executive Committee he has a chance to bring forward ideas to the mob that constitutes the actual Southern Baptist Convention when it exists those two days of every 365. I’ll listen.
Ronnie Floyd’s predecessor coined the term “chief-encouraging-officer” as his title. I think that hit the right notes. Whatever mark Ronnie Floyd makes on the EC, I hope that “servant” figures prominently into it. Leaders are essential. Servant leaders are priceless.
See you in Birmingham, Ronnie, no doubt from a distance. You have my prayers and support.
Among those few staff members of the EC is one of the SBC’s most dedicated, tireless, and committed servants, Augie Boto. He has served as interim leader and has taken some hits from critics. We can be pretty harsh at times with each other but I for one appreciate his service. I’d expect that he will be recognized as the SBC meets in Birmingham.