Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Floyd, Funds, and the Future

During the summer of 1989 I had the privilege to serve as a youth intern for the First Baptist Church of Springdale, Arkansas. That summer was the first exposure I had to big time ministry and to a pastor who would go on to have a major impact on my spiritual DNA, Dr. Ronnie Floyd. As part of my internship, I was allowed to sit in on various staff meetings. It was in one of those meetings, in the summer of 1989, that I witnessed Dr. Floyd unveil a campaign for the church called Vision 2000. It laid out a strategy and vision to put the gospel and preaching ministry of Dr. Floyd and FBC on national television. It was a big and bold move for a church tucked away in “nowhere” Arkansas. Since that summer God has blessed FBC Springdale mightily. They have become an internationally impactful church as the vision of not only a national but global television broadcast ministry came to fruition. There is virtually no city that you can travel to in the U.S. and not run across Dr. Floyd preaching. In fact, just this Monday I was in Oklahoma City and the first thing I saw on the TV in my hotel room was Dr. Floyd. Amazing.

But this past Sunday something even more amazing was announced at FBC Springdale. Dr. Floyd announced to both campuses of the church, that under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, FBC Springdale would be ending its national and international television ministry. They are doing this for one reason: to allocate more money to missions via the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is a bold move. It is a Great Commission move. It is a move that smacks of “he must increase and I must decrease.” In the world of “celebrity” evangelism, you rarely see TV preachers bowing out and saying good-bye to the fame. But this is not a move about individual fame, it is a move about the Gospel’s fame. FBC Springdale will be in a position to make some bold moves with the funds previously allocated for television.

When I came to Grand as its pastor I was asked by numerous people if I had ambitions to launch a television ministry at our church. I think some of what drove those inquiries was the knowledge of where I’d come from. You see, years after the summer of 1989, I returned to FBC Springdale to serve under Dr. Floyd through Shiloh Christian School. I also served a brief stint on the original launch staff of the Church at Pinnacle Hills, the second campus of FBC Springdale. My response to the television inquiries was “No way!” I was adamant about saying “no” to TV for several reasons:

1. TV costs BIG bucks. And you can spend a LOT of money on TV and still look bad. Much of what I see on TV in terms of “church” services looks really cheesy. It takes BIG, BIG bucks to look good on TV. I'm talking about lighting, audio quality, staging, camera angles, etc. FBC Springdale is on the short lists of those who do it right but they also have to pay to do it right.

2. In my opinion, the vast majority of people who watch Christian programming are already Christians. I cannot justify the expense to preach to someone who’s already saved. Most non-believers dismiss and/or make fun of religious broadcast television. Yes, there are the individual stories of people who flip on the TV in a moment of crisis and are changed by a TV preacher’s sermon. But that is not the norm.

3. The “TV preacher” market is saturated. I have to ask the question: Do I want to be on TV because there is a need, or do I want to be on TV because I WANT TO BE ON TV?

4. Given the incredible options with media and technology today, I’d rather spend money on something other than television to spread the Gospel: webcasting, iPhone apps, web apps, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

So kudos to Dr. Floyd and kudos to the great people of FBC Springdale. May God continue to use them in mighty ways to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Northwest Arkansas, America, and the World.


Luke said...

Great post Jeff. I enjoy hearing your commentary on the SBC and on the local area. I'm actually right now a student intern at FBCS, so I found this post incredibly relevant.

Jeff Crawford said...

GREAT place to learn ministry, Luke! Bless you and thanks for reading.