NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As the Southern Baptist Convention grapples with a slew of hot-button issues, Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC's Executive Committee, stressed to the thousands gathered at the annual meeting that sending missionaries out into the world is at the “heart” of the denomination.
“Sending missionaries is the heart of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Floyd, a past president of the SBC and former senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas told the more than 15,000 SBC messengers gathered on Tuesday.
“Oh, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a heart for other things. But I'm telling you — doesn’t matter whether you're a church, whether you're a convention, an association, a state convention, or you're a big ol’ commission like we are across America with all of these churches, listen, sending missionaries is what we are really about.”
“So I challenge you, pastors and laypeople today: Go back to your churches and begin to ask God to raise up people to go to the mission fields from your churches. The urgency is now.”
The theme of the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting, chosen by SBC President J.D. Greear, is “We are Great Commission Baptists.”
The denomination is wrestling with issues including sexual abuse, race relations, and a particularly tense presidential election. Floyd himself is facing calls for his resignation. But on Tuesday, he focused his message on the denomination’s strategic goals ahead of 2025.
“Vision 2025 is a call to reach every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation. This is the most urgent thing that we must do,” he declared.
Floyd said that over the next few years, the denomination plans to: Increase full-time, fully funded missionaries by a net gain of 500; Add 5,000 new congregations, giving the denomination more than 50,000 congregations; increase the number of workers in the field; address the denomination’s decline in reaching, baptizing and discipling 12- to 17-year-olds, and increase annual giving through the cooperative program.
“Oh, there are many things we can do, but what are the right things to do?” he asked. “What will fire our churches up?”
Floyd said the “eternal losses of the world” fall on the Church, adding: “It doesn't matter what our church size is or what our financial capacity is. Together, we can send 500 more missionaries overseas.”
He stressed the importance of reaching teens with the Gospel.
“If I don’t get anything else right the next four, five years — we must get this right,” he said.
“This is not the church of tomorrow. Don't say that. This is the church of today. This is the church of today and tomorrow, and it all starts with reaching them for Jesus Christ. You cannot baptize those you do not reach. You cannot disciple those you do not reach. The order is clear: We must reach baptize and disciple, teenagers.”
Floyd urged attendees to lend their support to Vision 2025 through prayer.
“We cannot be content doing ministry without the power of God,” he concluded. “We need to do ministry with His power and His power. When we pray, God places His power upon our lives.”