By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
HENDERSONVILLE — Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor at Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., recently attended a gathering of Walmart shareholders. He said he was amazed, even awed, at the energy in the building during the week-long event.
After he left, though, he started asking himself some troubling questions regarding the church.
“It really dawned upon me, why isn’t our culture like that?” Floyd said during his sermon at the Tennessee Baptist Convention on Nov. 14 in First Baptist Church, Hendersonville. “Why is the church not as electrical in the sense of the passion and the fervency; the fire and the enthusiasm?”
Floyd said he later e-mailed Bill Simon, the former president and CEO of Walmart U.S., and asked him what was the secret to having such a lively environment.
“He wrote me back, and (said) something I’ll never forget,” said Floyd. “He said these words: Without culture, enthusiasm, and energy, we are just another store.”
Floyd said the church needs to understand, and adopt, that same mindset. He said churches should embrace the joy of worship by using the Biblical church at Antioch as an example.
“What makes us different? What sets us apart from the culture today?” he said. “The thing that set the church apart in Antioch was the presence and the power of Jesus.”
Floyd challenged the attendees to create those environments in their own church. “We’ve all been (in a service) when the presence of God has been so thick, and so personal, and so powerful,” said Floyd. “There’s nothing like it, is there? Those are the days when Jesus comes upon His church in a special way.”
Preaching from Acts 13, Floyd said the church at Antioch transformed into a model of what all modern churches should strive to be.
“Diversity escalated when the power of God came upon the church,” he said. “Leadership began to rise. Their focus was transformed. It wasn’t about them. It was about reaching and touching the world.”
Becoming like the church at Antioch isn’t so much about replicating their methods, but more about replicating their motives.
“We’ll never do it without the power and presence of Jesus being upon the church,” Floyd said. “If you want your ministry to have the reach of the church of Antioch, it must first have the heart of Antioch.”
Floyd said focusing on the power of God can bring about change, excitement, optimism and urgency — all of which were evident at Antioch.
“When Jesus came upon the church, there was a visibility of God that came to be evident,” he said. “The spiritual leaders were ministering unto the Lord. Praying, fasting, and ministering in the mode of pursuing God. An urgency came upon them, and they began to reach their city, and then, reach (beyond) their city into the masses.”
Floyd said he sees too many churches that simply go through the motions. He said the true purpose of the church is to do so much more than just gather on Sundays.
“Healthy churches send, and growing churches go,” he said. “Too many churches are content to do life and ministry without the power of God. We need to return to a new commitment of the simplicity of pursuing the heart of the church of Antioch. It was built in prayer, fasting and worshiping the Lord. That’s what sets us apart.”
Floyd concluded by saying that too many times Christians get so caught up in trying to “do church right” that they overlook what is most important.
“The question is not whether or not the singing was good or the preaching was good,” he said. “The question we ought to be asking after each Sunday is, did God show up? Because when He’s with us, that’s when mountains can be moved, demons can be delivered, souls can be saved and churches can grow.”