Is there a relevant reason to cooperate, network, and associate as Baptist churches in Tennessee? That is a question I have been asked by others and have myself prayed over, wrestled with, and lost sleep over for weeks during the Spring of 2010. Before I came to terms with the new ministry call God was issuing to leave the local church pastorate and join a state missionary work, I was sincerely seeking an answer to that pointed question. Some had said that there was no future in denominational life, and presiding over a work that was possibly dying was not appealing to me. However, what I did find appealing was being radically and completely obedient to the Father’s call on my life. Therefore, I decidedly and desperately sought an answer, and the bottom-line truth is that the Tennessee Baptist Convention does have a great purpose and a great future!
What God revealed is very simple, yet profoundly significant, and the answer He provided was birthed out of constant reality in 34 years of pastoring His people.
HERE’S THE POINT:
- It is all about Jesus. He said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” It is not about our methodology, it’s about our Master and His mission.
- When there is a clearly defined mission, we understand the point. We have such a purpose articulated by the Lord Himself in what is commonly referred to as The Great Commission. With His great work, He has promised to provide His power and His presence as we accomplish His purpose.
- Effectiveness, efficiency, and joy are realized to their greatest potential when we accomplish His purpose TOGETHER. Be it a church of 30 members (as in the case of my first pastorate), or a church of 4,000 members (as was the case in my last pastorate), the mission to accomplish and the joy of the journey are better when the people are together. Jesus prayed for unity in His high priestly prayer. The disciples were in “one accord” the day the church was birthed.
- The responsibility of The Great Commission was not given to the IMB, the NAMB, the SBC, or the TBC. It was given to the local church. Any denominational organization is merely a collaborative effort of a network of churches working together to accomplish The Great Commission. In other words, the TBC exists to connect, serve, encourage, equip, and exhort the 3,000 churches within our region that have decided together to reach the estimated 3,650,000 lost people in the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee Baptist Convention has a great purpose. That purpose makes the point very obvious.
It is a joy and great honor to be on this journey as we work together in the shared vision of reaching our state for Christ.