Editor's Note: At the beginning of June, Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, challenged Southern Baptists to work together to accomplish the Great Commission. The rest of this article shares three important steps to "moving forward together" in Floyd's original words.
Experience personal spiritual renewal. Every morning we must rise and spend quality time with God personally. We act the way we act sometimes because we are not living and abiding in Jesus Christ our Lord. When we would rather check our phone first than open the Bible and talk to God about our life, we indict ourselves.
We need personal spiritual renewal. We need spiritual renewal in our churches. We need to be filled anew with the Holy Spirit, daily. When we are content to live life and do church without the filling of the Holy Spirit of God and the power of God, then we will get what we are getting right now: schisms, factions, and divisions. This is not the way forward. We must find the way forward together with the presence and power of God.
Develop healthy relationships collectively. When we are not being filled with the Holy Spirit and operating with the power of God, dividing walls are built between us and celebrated. When our relationship with God is right, then most, if not all, of our relationships with others will be healthy.
The challenge before us is how our world is so filled with groups who identify with one another around an idea or a cause. While this is certainly not new, it is not the way forward together. When an “us versus them” mentality is existent within the Christian community, shame on all of us. We need to get things right with God and one another. We are family, not enemies.
This does not mean we neglect our problems or just try to get along. It does mean we need to conduct ourselves in a respectful and healthy manner as we dialogue in biblical conversations. When we are doing this responsibly, we are getting to know other people by listening to them and valuing who they are as people, not focused on what they can bring to our life or contribute to our specific cause. We must find the way forward together by having and developing healthy relationships collectively.
Focus continually on the Great Commission. Historically, Southern Baptist pastors and churches have been driven by the Great Commission. Each pastor and church eventually learns the only way forward together is continually focusing on the Great Commission. This will move us forward through the challenges we face, lead us to operate above the fray, and live for something bigger than any of us and our churches. This is the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
Anything that is not accelerating the Great Commission locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally is nothing more than a dead-end street. That is why we must rise up ... and be driven by something bigger than ourselves and bigger than our own churches.*
When we live, dialogue, deliberate, and decide our future together, we need to do all of this knowing the end from the beginning. We must do all these things by always envisioning eternity—where every nation, tribe, people, and language will be represented at the throne of God, worshiping Jesus Christ.
This is the way forward together.
*Ellipsis in sentence indicates removal of a date reference that was in the future when Floyd wrote the article, but is now past. It was removed to prevent confusion. The essential meaning of the sentence and paragraph are retained.