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story.lead_photo.caption Photo courtesy Cross Church Dr. Ronnie Floyd and his wife, Jeana, raised two sons at Cross Church, where he became senior pastor nearly 33 years ago. Leaving behind "our Cross Church family and the relationships with so many people for so many years" was the hardest part of accepting a position with the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn.

To say the last two weeks have been busy ones for Dr. Ronnie Floyd, longtime pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, is an understatement of nearly biblical proportions. In a video released March 31, Floyd told congregants he'd been nominated for the position of president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee and would resign as Cross Church's senior pastor if he was confirmed.

Floyd had already served two years as a member of the SBC executive committee, from 1995 to 1997; as convention president for two consecutive one-year terms beginning in 2014; and as a president of the pastors' conference at the denomination's annual meeting in 1997. He also had been president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force since 2017. The Executive Committee leads the organization on the 363 days outside its annual two-day meeting.

On April 2, Floyd was elected by a vote of 68-1, according to Baptist Press, the denomination's official news service.

On April 7, Floyd, 63, spoke to the church he had served for nearly 33 years about his decision, saying "today I have to do something that I would have never thought I would have to do. I guess I thought I'd just die right here in the pulpit." But he said he was challenged by Revelation 3:7-13, a passage he spoke about in 2015, while he was president of the Southern Baptist Convention. At that time, he said, he told Southern Baptists "this (meaning the Bible) is not a fairy tale. The need is great, the hours late, and we must advance the gospel to every ethnicity in the world, whatever the cost, whatever the risk." He had, he said, no choice now but to answer when he was called.

"The influence of this position to reach the world" was what convinced Floyd he couldn't say no, he told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this week.

"At least 60 percent of the churches in America are plateaued or declining in attendance," he said. "People are coming to church less Sundays each year. This is an enormous challenge for every church in America.

"I want to mobilize the 47,000-plus Southern Baptist churches to do all we can to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all nations. Reaching the world for Christ is what motivates me from before the sun comes up until exhaustion each day, giving all I have every moment of every day until Jesus comes again or until He calls me home."

Asked what he was proudest of during his tenure at Cross Church, Floyd said "miracle upon miracle," but he told parishioners the church has seen 22,000 baptized and has 9,000 in attendance every week in 11 worship services on four campuses. It has also planted 148 other churches. "For many of you, I'm the only pastor you have ever had. We've been through a lot of life together."

In a statement on the Baptist Press website, Floyd elaborated on his goals in his new job.

"I will champion pastors, and I will champion churches. Churches are called to take the Gospel to the world. Convention entities, convention committees, state conventions, local associations -- our goal should ultimately be to assist churches because they're the ones that are anointed to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

"I live to see the day when the Southern Baptist Convention becomes known not only for being a great evangelistic force and not only for getting the Gospel across the world, but that we also will become known as the greatest multi-generational, multiethnic and multilingual denomination in the United States of America. We need to do everything we can to look in today's world like heaven is going to look one day."

Meanwhile at Cross Church, "this Sunday the Board of Directors will present, at all campuses via video, the man they believe to be God's will to be the next senior pastor for Cross Church," according to Brian Dunaway, director of communications. "Upon the announcement, the church will be presented with print material as well as a webpage they can visit to learn more about the selected successor. On April 28, the church will vote across all campuses on the selected candidate. This process is in accordance with the church's bylaws for selecting and presenting a new senior pastor."

NAN Religion on 04/13/2019

Print Headline: God opened a door

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