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SBC President Ronnie Floyd at the 2015 SBC Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

When Ronnie Floyd was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination was coming to grips with the truth. After several years of describing many churches as “plateaued or declining,” leaders started speaking in frank terms about why, year after year, key measures like church membership, worship attendance, and baptisms were down denomination-wide.

“We are clearly losing our evangelistic effectiveness,” one Baptist leader said in 2014, the year Floyd was elected to his first term.

Things looked bleak, and for the first time in a while, the pressure wasn’t coming from outside opposition or controversy. Rather, the SBC seemed to be at an impasse.

Before his presidency, Floyd was already established as someone who could provide direction. As the pastor of a Southern megachurch, he led his congregation to a regional, multi-campus strategy and a new name—from First Baptist, Springdale, to Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas.

That is perhaps Floyd’s greatest legacy: He has reminded us that revival starts with prayer, and prayer starts with humility.

As chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, Floyd helped lead Baptists to renewed commitment to a unified purpose—albeit with some difficult adjustments and plenty of debate over proposed funding changes between national agencies and state conventions.

But when Floyd was elected as SBC president, he looked not to drastic measures or sweeping changes—but to prayer. Unified, solidified, corporate prayer. Prayer that asked Baptists of all stripes to set aside differences for something greater than themselves: pleading with God for a great spiritual awakening.

Putting greater emphasis on the SBC annual meeting, Floyd called Baptists to Columbus, Ohio, in June of 2015 for a special prayer meeting to together confess sin—like racism and evangelism apathy—and to move forward as a humbled Convention that prioritized the work and mission of God.

In advance of the prayer meeting, which will happen again this summer in St. Louis, Floyd kept everyone in the loop through regular blog posts and columns distributed via Baptist Press and state Baptist newspapers. Throughout his presidency, he hasn’t hesitated to use the power of the pen (and keyboard) to inform, encourage, and challenge Baptists about the state of the SBC and our desperate need for spiritual awakening.

At the Southern Baptist Convention next weeek in St. Louis, the Tuesday evening session of the meeting will again be devoted to prayer. That is perhaps Floyd’s greatest legacy: He has reminded us that revival starts with prayer, and prayer starts with humility. For calling us together for that purpose, he deserves our thanks.

Editor’s note: Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, will be nominated for First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention when the SBC’s annual meeting convenes in St. Louis June 14.

Dr. Doug Munton, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, Illinois

Dr. Doug Munton, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, Illinois

Illinois Baptist: What lessons from your ministry in the Midwest do you think Southern Baptist pastors would benefit from, especially in transforming the prevailing culture?

Doug Munton: The power of the Holy Spirit is not limited geographically. We have found that loving God and loving people really matters. A church that is true to the Bible and that teaches that truth clearly, powerfully, and relevantly can impact the culture.

We have found that God can do things that some say can’t be done—“You can’t grow a church in the Midwest. You can’t reach old and young people. You can’t cross racial barriers.” These things are not too great for God and he is at work doing those things in churches across the Midwest.

IB: It appears that the SBC is fragmenting along lines of theology and philosophy of missions. Are you concerned about that?

Doug: I am concerned about our fragmentation. We can overcome differing views of soteriology, worship styles and other issues through love and respect. Unity in our fellowship can be a powerful tool for our mission.

I do hope we will be careful not to throw away the Cooperative Program and our cooperative mission approach. We can find ways to be more effective in our mission. But the Cooperative Program can be a great blessing to our mission work together. I want to encourage that cooperation.

IB: Are you concerned about the future of the Cooperative Program?

Doug: The effectiveness of the CP should not be taken lightly. It is why we have been able to send so many to the mission field in days gone by. It is a blessing to our seminarians. And, in Illinois, it has allowed us to cooperate together to do so much more than we could do separately here, nationally, and internationally.

IB: What about being a Southern Baptist in today’s culture challenges you and excites you?

Doug: These are the best of times, these are the worst of times. (I should use that line as the opening of a novel!) We are weaker in evangelism than ever in my lifetime. We have sent missionaries home from the IMB for lack of funds for the first time ever. But we also have young people who will sacrifice all for the cause of Christ. We are making strides in racial unity that give me encouragement for our future. And, our call for spiritual awakening is exactly what is needed at this time.

Perhaps we will see God move in our day as never before. May it be so and may our fellowship of churches seek God and his direction more fully than ever.

Munton is presently unopposed for First Vice President. The election will be held on Tuesday afternoon, June 14.

Meat me in St. Louie

ib2newseditor —  June 3, 2016

Embrace you inner foodie and sample some of the best food St. Louis has to offer while in town for the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention.

Food Firsts | All these became popular at the 1904 World’s Fair  

DrPepperIn 1804, Thomas Jefferson signed a check for the expansive Louisiana Purchase, and Lewis and Clark started their march from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. A short 100 years later at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the way was paved for the most American of all discoveries, fast food. And franchises.

TedDrewesVisitors to the Centennial expo sampled hamburgers, hot dogs in a bun, ice cream in a cone, and Dr. Pepper—all for the first time. While you’re in St. Louis, try some of the region’s current specialties.

Turn that cup upside down! Ted Drewes famous custard is so thick, it won’t move even when inverted. Others have copied the concept. Ted has 3 locations.

Top Dog | Here are winners from The Feast magazine list

Carlos’ Hot Dogs | 6th and Olive, Downtown
Portugal Native Carlos Periera serves up jumbo dogs to a happy lunchtime crowd. They’re grilled and topped with his mama’s secret sauce. The dogs, that is, not the crowd.

Dogs ‘n Frys | 503 Paul Avenue, Florissant
Of his 27 specialty dogs, owner Mo Mangal’s favorite is the PB&J dog with bacon.

HotDogWoofie’s Hot Dogs | 1919 Woodson Rd., Overland
If you’re missing your beloved Chicago-style dog, Woofie has it, even made with the real deal Vienna Beef. It’s called “the hot dog with dignity.”

Steve’s Hot Dogs | 2131 Marconi Ave., St. Louis
Musician Steve Ewing has a thriving second career peddling his famous hickory smoked, then grilled dogs.Tops on the list is the Gorilla Mac & Cheese dog (pictured).

Ribs and more | As recommended by Baptists who are hearty eaters

Pappy’s Smokehouse | 3106 Olive Street (about 2 miles from the Convention Center)
Best ribs our reviewer has ever had (and she’s from Memphis). The only drawback is that you might wait in line an hour or two.

Fitz’s | 6605 Delmar Boulevard (about 8 miles from Convention Center, but worth the trip)
Known for root beer (they make it right there) and other sodas, the restaurant is diner-y and family-friendly.

Crown Candy Kitchen | 1401 St. Louis Ave. (less than 2 miles from Convention Center)
Famous for candy, ice cream, and chili.

TheHillThe Hill
There are 52 restaurants in this Italian-American neighborhood. It’s the place to go for pasta. Take I-64 (Highway 40 West) to Kings Highway South. Exit on Shaw and follow your nose.

‘Live this’ way

ib2newseditor —  June 2, 2016


Pastors’ Conference to focus on evangelism

The 2016 SBC Pastors’ Conference will explore a charge given by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:5-6:

“But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close.”

“I don’t think anybody can deny that we are at an all-time low in evangelism,” said Pastors’ Conference President John Meador, who chose “Live This” as the conference theme. “I don’t think anyone can deny that no one is going to change this unless that pastor does. And because of those truths, I think this Pastors’ Conference is critical and crucial.”

The conference, which begins the evening of Sunday, June 12, features eight speakers preaching on the key Scripture passage (left to right, above):

• Jack Graham, pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas
• Greg Laurie, pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, Ca.
• James MacDonald, pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicagoland
• Byron McWilliams, pastor, First Baptist Church, Odessa, Texas
• Noah Oldham, pastor, August Gate Church, St. Louis
• David Platt, president, International Mission Board
• Jimmy Scroggins, pastor, Family Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.
• Ed Stetzer, executive director, LifeWay Research

During the Monday afternoon session, pastors are invited to breakout sessions with conference speakers and other leaders on how to equip and encourage church members in evangelism.

The Pastors’ Conference, June 12-13 at the America’s Center in St. Louis, is free and requires no advance registration. Childcare for children ages birth through 12 years will be offered during all conference sessions. Kids ages 4-12 may register for a conference provided by Children’s Conferences International at Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers also will offer childcare for newborns through age 5.

For more information about the Pastors’ Conference, schedule, speakers and worship leaders, go to

My history attending the annual Southern Baptist Convention is not as long or as deep as many. Occasionally I meet someone who will tell me, “This is my 40th SBC,” or “I haven’t missed a convention in 25 years.”

Though my father was a pastor and then director of missions, I didn’t attend my first SBC until 1992. That year the convention came to Indianapolis, as close as it had been in many years to the Chicago suburbs where we lived. A friend from church suggested going, “because it’s rarely so close.” Indeed, the SBC would not come within 500 miles of Chicago for another 10 years. So we went and took my dad along with us.

Little did I know that only five years later I would be flying to only my second SBC in Dallas, to be voted on as a vice president with the newly formed North American Mission Board. I haven’t missed an annual SBC meeting since then. This year, Lord willing, will be 20 in a row.

If you haven’t been to the convention before, or can’t go often, this is the year.

I share this personal history to say that I really do understand why the average person may not regularly attend the annual SBC. Unless there’s a controversy or crisis of some kind, the SBC is often left primarily to professionals who have travel budgets, and pastors who may direct part of their family vacation time there. Perhaps that’s why attendance at the SBC has only topped 10,000 three times in the last 15 years. Peak attendance during the conservative resurgence of the mid-1980’s was over 40,000.

But now, let me challenge you to attend the June 14-15 SBC in St. Louis this year. As my friend said, it will be years before it’s this close to Illinois churches again. If you haven’t been before, or can’t go often, this is the year.

More importantly, this year’s elections and other actions will be significant. It was announced just last week that Illinois’ own Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist, O’Fallon, will be nominated as First Vice President. I’m really excited about that. I hope hundreds and hundreds of Illinois Baptists will be there to support this outstanding Illinois pastor for this national role.

The election for president this year also presents a significant choice between pastors with notable differences, not just in ministry experience, but in the areas of doctrinal conviction and missions cooperation. Illinois messengers will want to study these in advance of the convention, and arrive prepared to support the nominee who best represents not only their own churches’ practices and convictions, but also the direction that they feel is best for our Great Commission cooperation as Baptist churches in the future.

Normally Illinois ranks about 15th of 42 state conventions in the number of messengers it sends to the national SBC. But the last time the convention was in St. Louis (2002), Illinois ranked 5th, with 611 messengers from 193 churches. And in 1987, the previous time the SBC was in St. Louis, Illinois churches sent 1,373 messengers. Yet last year only 139 messengers from Illinois churches attended the SBC in nearby Columbus.

To encourage messengers to turn out in record numbers this year, IBSA will be hosting a reception for Illinois Baptists at the St. Louis convention center, on the Monday night following the Pastors’ Conference and just prior to the convention’s start on Tuesday morning.

Whether this year is your 40th SBC, or your very first, I hope you will make the SBC in nearby St. Louis a priority this year. What happens at the SBC is really up to folks like you and me.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at

The Illinois Baptist editors asked the SBC Presidential candidates this question: What are the three greatest challenges facing the SBC? Here are their replies:

David CrosbyDavid Crosby
First Baptist Church, New Orleans

1. We must get out of our buildings and into our communities. We are plagued with the mentality that people “go to church.” This says that “church” is a location somewhere. We need the reverse: “Churches go to people.”

I want us to expand the presence of our churches in their communities. I will seek to foster strategies of compassion ministries that keep us in touch with neighbors in need and open wide the doors of loving witness. These ministries break down racial and class barriers and help our churches look more like our communities and more like heaven. This is our future.

2. We must bring a message of hope to our churches and our culture. The primary metaphor for being in the world as believers is not warfare. It is light. Anyone in darkness is thrilled to see a glimmer of light. Our warfare mentality has had the unintended effect of stealing hope from our hearts and our message. An angry and fearful posture in the world is unwise, unfounded, and unchristian. Losing the culture wars is no loss at all compared to losing the message of a living hope.

My daily reality is the hardscrabble world of urban New Orleans. I will lead the SBC from the perspective of this highly diverse and difficult mission field where God’s people shine like stars and loving engagement brings true hope.

3. We must be cooperative. Southern Baptists are distinguished from other groups in that they actually do mission together, not just independently. Cooperation, we believe, is biblical and is a superior strategy for accomplishing the world mission of the church.

The spirit of cooperation has waned, but the need for it has not.

As SBC President, I will not talk or act as if a return to the society method of supporting our cooperative work is progress. I will cultivate and promote a cooperative spirit. I will demonstrate cooperation by continuing to give a substantial percentage of the undesignated receipts of my church to our unified giving plan.

Steve GainesSteve Gaines
Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis

Three of our greatest challenges in the SBC are: spiritual awakening, soul winning, and stewardship.

Regarding the second challenge, the SBC is in a 15-year downward trajectory in baptisms, the longest in SBC history. In 2014 we baptized 100,000 fewer people than in 1999. Regarding the third challenge, we recently called 1,000+ IMB missionaries home due to financial deficits.

In my opinion, the first challenge, our need for spiritual awakening, is the most important. If prioritized, it can solve the other two.

The SBC needs fresh wind and fire from heaven. That will only come when a spirit of prayer and repentance captivates our pastors, lay leaders, church members, associations, state conventions, and SBC entities.

I will seek to lead our SBC to prioritize passionate prayer in each person’s personal life, and encourage the development of specific prayer strategies for pastors, church members and all who serve in our SBC agencies. Without spiritual awakening, the SBC will continue to decline. God can do more in revival in one hour than we can do in years without it.

Both the early church (cf. Acts 2:1f) and missions (cf. Acts 13:1f) were birthed in prayer meetings. Prayer and revival caused the early church to win multitudes to faith in Jesus. Prayer and revival also made the early believers strong financial stewards who gave generously. When we pray, we will evangelize and make disciples. God will also activate his angelic army to defeat our enemy, the devil, and thus advance his kingdom in our churches, Convention and culture.

If chosen to lead the SBC, I will give myself wholeheartedly to help the SBC experience spiritual awakening to bring glory to God through souls being saved, people being discipled, financial resources being made available, and more missionaries being sent out to the ends of the earth.

JD GreearJ.D. Greear
The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

First and foremost, we need a continued re-awakening to the gospel. Historically, revival has begun not with lost people getting saved, but with the church getting “re-converted” to the gospel, which then leads to massive evangelism. I know we feel like we live in a dark age, but if we look at the last four awakenings in the Western world, we see that the conditions in our country are riper for revival now than at any other point since the Great Awakening.

The time is right. The harvest is ready. So we need to boldly ask God for what we know he wants to give us. And our entities need to respond accordingly. The Convention doesn’t exist for sake of the entities or the state conventions. It exists for the Great Commission. We must constantly re-evaluate everything we do in light of that.

Second, we need to bring a new generation of Southern Baptists to the table to partner with older generations in the cooperative missions of the SBC. There is a new wave of excitement about the SBC, but many newer generations of churches are still sitting on the sidelines. We need to take personal responsibility for the entities of the SBC and step up to own the mission. We must join with a faithful older generation to sacrificially give, support, and serve in these entities, boards, and institutions.

Third, we need to see diversification in the leadership of the SBC. About one in five churches in the SBC now is predominantly non-Anglo (praise God!), and we want to see our brothers and sisters from these non-Anglo backgrounds join us in leadership. I believe we are at a kairos moment in this. We should strive to see SBC leadership reflect the diversity of the SBC—culturally and racially, including younger and older, more traditional and more modern. We are united by The Baptist Faith and Message (2000) and our passion for the Great Commission. I believe that our greatest days are yet ahead!

Dr. Doug Munton, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, Illinois

Dr. Doug Munton, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, Illinois

Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, Ill., announced April 26 he will be nominated for First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Media release — Illinois Pastor Doug Munton to be Nominated for First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention 

“I am excited to hear that Doug will be nominated for this national role, after experiencing his strong leadership here in Illinois as our state convention president and as longtime pastor of one of our leading churches,” said Illinois Baptist State Association Executive Director Nate Adams. “Doug has all the qualities I would hope for in SBC leadership. He is a conservative, cooperative, humble, thoughtful, missions-hearted pastor who will lead both as statesman and by personal example.”

The nomination will be made by John Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Springfield, Mo., during the SBC’s annual meeting in St. Louis June 14-15.

Munton, 56, has pastored FBC O’Fallon for more than 20 years, during which time the church has grown from 550 to over 1,600 people in average attendance and has baptized about 2,000 people. In the 2014-15 reporting year, the church gave just over 8% of budget receipts through the Cooperative Program—Southern Baptists unified method of supporting missions and ministry.

He served as president of the Illinois Baptist State Association for two years, and is currently on the SBC’s Committee on Committees. His wife, Vickie, is the president of the Ministers’ Wives Conference this year at the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis. The Muntons have four adult children and will soon have their seventh grandchild.

Asked about his reasons for allowing his name to be submitted in nomination, Munton said, “I want to see a continued move in our Convention towards racial diversity and unity. I want to encourage our churches to participate in missions through support of the Cooperative Program. I hope to encourage prayer for a spiritual awakening in our convention and nation.”

The 2016 Southern Baptist Convention will be held at the America’s Center in St. Louis June 14-15. The election for First Vice President is slated for the Wednesday afternoon business session.

Statements from and about Doug Munton, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, Illinois