BALTIMORE, Md. – Ronnie Floyd, one of three Southern Baptist Convention presidential nominees and pastor of an Arkansas church, on Sunday blamed the denomination's declining number of baptisms on "cool" pastors who are more concerned with keeping up with popular culture than having a singular focus on glorifying God.
"Some of us have a heart to be so real with people that we just think if we're cool enough, we're going to get [the numbers]," said Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. "We're never going to be cool enough to win our towns, our rural settings, to win our cities, to win the nation, to win the world, to win the nations. We're never going to be cool enough; the only thing that's going to bring that is a binding movement of the spirit of God that comes only when we are going up to be with God."
Speaking on the first night of the 2014 SBC Pastors' Conference, Floyd urged Southern Baptist pastors to re-adjust their motives in ministry and revealed several statistics showing a number of churches are struggling to evangelize the next generation's unchurched.
"Do we need to experience the single eye for the glory of God when we have 60 percent of our churches who did not baptize anyone from ages 12 to 17? Do we need a single eye for the glory of God when we have 80 percent of our 46,125 churches that did not baptize or did baptize from zero, which is none to 1, of people who are ages 18 to 29? Do we not have a great need for the glory of God to come upon us in a fresh way when over 25 percent of our churches did not report one single person reached and baptized for the glory of God? And do we not need a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit when we know that a year ago, we have experienced as a division of churches the worst drought in baptisms in 62 years and now, just reported a few days ago, we're down another 1.46 from the other negative stat a year ago?"
Floyd then turned his focus to pastors who he described as preoccupied with appearances rather than the Great Commission.
"Some of us would rather be known for the way we dress, or the kind of music we sing, or our style of preaching, or the way we choose to live more than being distinguished by the powerful presence of the glory of God," he said.
Drawing on the story of Aaron and the golden calf, the potential SBC president showed such pastors are consumed with being among the people while others are up on the mountain in the presence of God.
"In our day we hear a lot more about coming down to be with the people than we do about going up to be with God," he summed up. "Could it be we're getting what we're getting in our churches at times and [what we're] getting ourselves as a division sometimes because we're a lot more committed to being down with the people more than we're willing to be up with God."
The Arkansas pastor of the multi-site Cross Church admonished Aaron-style pastors saying, "when you're not where you're supposed to be, you don't think right, you don't act right, you don't live right, and you don't lead right."
Floyd reminded church leaders that spending time with God is more important than pleasing the people and urged them to pray for an awakening in their hearts, churches and their country.
He concluded, "The future of our leadership, the future of our church and the future of the Southern Baptist Convention will be discovered by one thing and one thing alone – us going up to be with God."
Floyd's Sunday sermon falls in line with his vision as possibly the next SBC president. In an interview with Baptist Press, he expressed a desire to lead the convention into mass prayer for a "great awakening" in preparation for an "accelerated" plan to preach the gospel and evangelize the unchurched.
He explained Sunday that history shows that there can be no change without prayer. "You can study any element of church history, any element of any of the movements of God in the Scripture. It is always preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God's people," he clarified.
The 2014 Pastors' Conference started Sunday evening with sermons from Floyd, H.B. Charles and David Platt. The two-day event before the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention concludes Monday with messages from Tony Evans, Rick Warren and Francis Chan.
Watch Pastor Ronnie Floyd's Interview With CP: