Southern Baptists have proven and affirmed upon several occasions our commitment to stand on the Word of God – that the Bible is truth without any mixture of error. We stand on this truth as stated in the Baptist Faith and Message and its call to take the gospel to every person in every town, every city, every state and every nation. Our commitment to inerrancy starts at the local church, but when it comes to our cooperative efforts, it must be carried through at every level.
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We as leaders should be committed to this – not just in our belief in the inerrant Word of God, but in strengthening our commitment as a Great Commission people to becoming a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual convention of churches. These two are not mutually exclusive, but go hand in hand.
One key to a healthier culture in the SBC is to empower all churches, all generations, all ethnicities and all languages for gospel service. This is one of the main reasons we are restructuring our staff at the SBC Executive Committee to include three separate positions for multi-ethnic relations and mobilization. It’s also one of the main reasons I was so intentional about my presidential appointments in 2015 and 2016.
Among the many responsibilities that fall to the president of the SBC, making committee appointments often gets the most scrutiny. The process requires due diligence because it is one of the most significant long-term effects of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. When I served in the role, one of my greatest desires was for us to move forward in racial unity, and I knew that committee appointments were essential to that.
At that time, around 20 percent of our churches were multi-ethnic, and I was determined to match or exceed that number in our committee representation. In 2016, we had a Committee on Committees that was 22 percent non-white. At that time, this was unprecedented in our history, but it has now been surpassed by our current president, J.D. Greear. I am convinced that this intentionality is fundamental to a healthy future in the SBC.
Strengthening our commitment to becoming a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual denomination begins in the local churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and should be carried all the way through our presidential appointment process and trustee appointment process.
It’s my prayer that Southern Baptists remain a people of The Book while also realizing we have no choice but to become as diverse as possible – both in our churches and our leadership. This is imperative if we are going to reach the people of America and the peoples across the globe. Now is the time to lead.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ronnie Floyd is president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.)