Arkansas megachurch pastor and author Ronnie Floyd will step down from his pastoral role after being elected this week to serve as the next head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.
“We sought the Lord, through prayer, fasting, and really believe that God, really, this time, issued a call to [me and wife], and that we needed to be willing to put ourselves under the authority of the process of letting ourselves be looked at by the committee,” Floyd told The Christian Post last week, explaining that he was initially pursued for the position starting last fall.
“We asked the Lord for a declarative vote, and it was way overwhelming. … So I'm very, very grateful for that. And we accepted it. This coming Sunday, I am resigning after 32 and a half years [of ministry in Northwest Arkansas.]”
Floyd, who was instrumental in forming what is now known as the multicampus Cross Church and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is said to have baptized over 22,000 people. He will take over a role that was vacated over a year ago by former Executive Committee President Frank Page.
Page stepped down citing an "inappropriate relationship.” Page had served as president of the Nashville-based Executive Committee since 2010.
Floyd explained that he obviously has strong emotions about leaving Cross Church. He informed the congregation last Sunday that he was nominated for the role and his eventual departure could be possible.
A few days later, it became a reality via a 68 to one vote at a meeting of Executive Committee trustees in Dallas on Tuesday.
After making the announcement Sunday, Floyd explained that he heard from congregants' testimonies of how his ministry has impacted their lives and walks with the Lord.
Floyd, who also heads up the National Day of Prayer Task Force, told CP that he initially went and interviewed for the position the week after Thanksgiving. It was in February that Floyd received a call informing him that the committee wanted him to be the next president.
As leadership transitions at larger churches can sometimes be difficult, Floyd explained that the board of directors at the four-campus, over 25,000-member Cross Church, has been discussing for over two years how to handle the day that the 63-year-old Floyd either got called away or would no longer be able to pastor.
“And so we have we have a succession plan that will kick in the order here with the church,” Floyd said. “Talking to the church about that, I told them Sunday that we have been planning this for the last two years plus and I will let them know more in the future, depending on what happened this week.”
Considering his predecessor as head of the SBC Executive Committee left the position due to a moral failing, Floyd assured that he takes accountability measures to keep his walk with the Lord pure.
“More than anything, rising early and starting my day with God,” Floyd said. “I've done that for decades, and spending time in the word and prayer and writing. Also trying to build a team of people around me that hold me to accountability — from staff members to lay people that are close in the leadership of the church.”
Floyd also said a key for him is not placing himself in a vulnerable position.
“Vast majority of the time, I travel with somebody with me. And when I was president of the convention, I did probably 90 to 95 percent of the time.”
The SBC Executive Committee was formed in 1917 to act on behalf of the SBC between sessions. Its offices in Nashville were established in 1927.
As SBC has faced over a decade and a half of membership decline, Floyd said that he would like to see the SBC put its energy and resources to “reaching the world for Christ.”
He wants to see the Gospel presented to people across the world in order to make disciples of all nations.
“And so that's where I'm going to put my focus, that theme of reaching the world for Christ,” he said. “I will filter my decision making to really encourage us to heighten evangelism at our convention.”
Over the last two months, the SBC has had to deal with the impact of a Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News investigation that found that there were over 700 victims of sexual abuse by 380 Southern Baptist leaders since 1998.
As a result, SBC President J.D. Greear called for 10 churches highlighted in the investigation to be evaluated. Days later, the SBC Executive Committee bylaws workgroup cleared six of those 10 churches of acting indifferently.
An amendment to the SBC constitution has been proposed that would allow the denomination to remove churches that do show an “indifference to addressing the crime of sexual abuse.” The amendment will be discussed at SBC’s annual meeting this June in Birmingham, Alabama.
“There have been cases of sexual abuse exposed but as a denomination and convention and churches, we stand against all sex abuse,” Floyd said. “And so, therefore, we have to navigate through what is the best thing we need to do this June in relation to it, making that vision work.”
The Southern Baptist Convention is not a top-down denomination and does not govern churches, Floyd added.
Floyd has also been among a group of conservative evangelical advisers who have informally engaged with the Trump administration, though his engagement with the administration has been nowhere near as heavy as many other evangelical leaders.
With that, Floyd has been among evangelical leaders that have had dinners at the Trump White House.
Correction: April 8, 2019:
This story has been corrected to state that membership at Cross Church is 25,000, not 8,000. Also, Ronnie Floyd did not help found the church (it was founded in 1870). Floyd did expand the number of campuses from one to four.