The essentials of our identity lie in whom we serve, our relationships — in our being and not just our doing. It is important for us to know these core aspects of our leaders. The fact that Ronnie Floyd self-consciously and intentionally identifies himself by his relationship to God, his family, and his church is encouraging, because to our new SBC President, Christianity is not dusty books or rules (not to denigrate those things in the least), but a relationship with a God who sacrificed His only natural Son to pay the price of sinners He adopted as His children.
Christianity is far less about what and far more about whom. Who are you? Whose are you? And who is He?
Who I Am
by Ronnie Floyd
July 7, 2014
As I serve as President of the Southern Baptist Convention this next year, I want you to know who I am. I really desire for you to know who I am personally. Not just stuff like, I love chocolate of all kinds, I cannot stand peas of any kind, I like being on the beach, and I jog several days a week while listening to podcast. But I want you to know meaningful things like:
I am a . . . Follower of Jesus Christ
Even though I was raised in the church, it was not until I was fifteen years old that I became a genuine Christ-follower. I was at a Saturday night prayer and fellowship experience for young people, where I repented of my sins and turned in complete faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone for my salvation. On the very next morning, I professed my faith publicly and that evening, I was baptized by immersion.
I was . . . Raised in a Small Membership Church
I was raised in a small membership church; in fact, we had about thirty to forty people attend weekly. During some of those great days I even saw attendance surge to sixty or more. When we had revival services, the place would be packed. Yet, from most of my youngest childhood memories, my pastors were bi-vocational; men who worked during the week in a secular job and then pastored our church on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Churchmanship was everything to my Mom and Dad. How they loved the church and brought us up to do the same. They were outstanding leading laypersons, Dad, a deacon who genuinely cared for people, and Mom, a Bible Study Teacher. I have written of my small church roots before and I would hope you would go here to read about it.
Many believe that you forget all your small church roots once you are in a larger church, but I have never forgotten it. I cherish my roots in a small church and credit my home church for serving as the very heart of what I have been and am in ministry today.
I have been . . . Educated in Baptist Institutions
I left for college after graduating from high school in a small town in Texas of 5,000 plus people. I knew nothing about college. Mom and Dad did not graduate from high school. Yet, they were hard workers, Mom working at J.C. Penney as a clerk, and Dad, a door-to-door salesman. So when it came to college, no one coached me, absolutely no one. I was even told by one of my high school teachers that I would never make it!
It was in God’s providence that I ended up in Brownwood, Texas, attending Howard Payne University. I struggled in that initial year of college. But I soon matured some and once married, my last full year, I became a straight A student.
On one occasion, after being criticized by someone I believed to be highly important because I believed the literal truth of the Bible, I determined, “I don’t know what seminary is, but I am going, and getting all of the degrees I can, and then you cannot make fun of me again.”
After graduating from college, I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In that setting, God took me up in my faith and academic desires. My grade point average in my Master of Divinity was very high, and in hindsight, I think that if I had been coached appropriately, I would have gone for a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Yet, I knew no one. I had no mentorship. I was asked if I wanted to be a pastor or teach in a college or seminary. At that time, I believed I would continue serving as a pastor. Therefore, I was counseled to get into their Doctor of Ministry degree program. I did, and received my doctorate degree.
I . . . Serve as a Pastor
Since my junior year in college, I have served as a pastor. I first served on the weekends only. My second pastorate was full-time while I was still in seminary. I drove back and forth to Fort Worth, fifty plus miles a day, four days a week while I completed my Master of Divinity degree. My first four churches were in Texas, all connected to my degrees and/or upon completion of them. Then, in 1986, I was called to Springdale, Arkansas, to serve as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Springdale, what is now a multi-campus church called Cross Church. I have served as a pastor of a local church thirty-seven years.
I . . . Love my Wife, Children, and Grandchildren
Upon falling in love with Jeana, we were soon married on December 31, 1976, by her Dad, who served as Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Rotan, Texas. Jeana graduated from college with a Music Degree. In 1980 and in 1983, we had our two boys, Josh and Nick. Josh is a proven state championship high school football coach who moved this summer from Springdale, Arkansas, to metro Birmingham, Alabama, to be Head Coach at the Huett-Trussville High School. Nick is one of our Teaching Pastors at Cross Church and also serves as Campus Pastor of the exploding Fayetteville Campus. He is a great leader and preacher of God’s Word.
Josh and Kate have three boys: Peyton (8), Parker (6), and Jack (4). Nick and Meredith have two girls and one boy: Reese (7), Beckham (4), and Norah (1). We have just finished spending five days at the beach together. I so love my wife, children, and grandchildren.
I am . . . Serving as President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Without question, as I begin this journey of serving as your President of the Southern Baptist Convention, it is a great joy, but also an overwhelming responsibility; therefore, please pray for me. Please remember, as I face challenges and make decisions, each of these will come filtered through everything I have written in the above paragraphs. Additionally, they are and will be filtered through many years of serving Southern Baptists at every level, including on the national level in many areas.
Finally, friends in Christ, I hope you will understand who I really am and will pray for me over this next year. I need you and your church to pray for me now by name more than ever before. With love and appreciation for you, this is who I am.
— Ronnie Floyd is Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas and President of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination.