Roc Collins, the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s newly named Director of Evangelism, sits down with Radio B&R to discuss his new role and the vision he has for seeing Tennessee Baptists reach their spiritually lost communities with the gospel.
Chris Turner: Hello, and welcome in to this edition of Radio B&R. I’m Chris Turner, your host, and today, I’m joined the—by Roc Collins, recent pastor in Kingsport at Indian Springs Baptist Church, and recently, our most former convention president at Tennessee Baptist Convention and currently, the new Director of Evangelism for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. Roc, thanks and welcome to the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Roc Collins: Thank you, Chris. It’s great to be here. Uh, I’m excited about what lies ahead.
Chris: Well, that’s some of the stuff we wanna talk to you about. What is it that lies ahead? What is you’ll be doing? Since this is a new position really and—and with a focus and with our five objectives, what is that you’ll be doing?
Roc: Well, my primary objective is to help us reach 50,000 baptisms a year. As you know, that’s our number one objective that we hope to reach by 2024, with an average of 50,000 baptisms a year. We have a lot of work to do, but that’s what I’m here to help us do, and I realize I can’t do it. I even realize that the whole state of Tennessee can’t do it, but I know a god who can do it if we’ll make ourselves available to it.
Chris: Now, when you look at this opportunity, uh, obviously, you enjoyed and loved being a pastor [01:13] [crosstalk] and being a pastor [01:14] [phonetic]
Chris: Why would you leave that position to take a position like this?
Roc: Well, there’s only reason, and that’s because God called. Uh, I had been asked many times. I was at my church for 11 years, and I was asked many times, “How long will you stay,” and I have assured my people and others who would ask that I would not stay one second longer than what called had called me here for, and as soon as he called me somewhere else, I would be obedient to that. I loved Indian Springs, a great church. Uh, God blessed our time there. That’s family to me after 11 years, you know. My kids great up there, and so I love them very much, but I have no doubt in my mind that God has called, and my church was very affirming, uh, when I announced what God had said to me. Uh, they affirmed that and supported me and encouraged me, and I’m grateful for that.
Chris: Now, did—the year that you were president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, you obviously from Mississippi to Mountain City or from Memphis [02:14] [crosstalk] to Mountain City, uh, preaching.
Chris: Uh, what did you see during that year that might have, uh, h—had an impact in—in making this decision?
Roc: Well, one thing I have to say is I love the state of Tennessee. So I saw a lot of dear, precious souls. I met a lot of saints of God. I saw a lot of churches who were on fire and excited about what God was doing, but I also saw that our numbers didn’t weigh out everything. Our baptisms are not increasing across the state as they need to. So I became very concerned about that, and as I traveled the state, God began to burden my heart with the fact we need some urgency. We need to understand that the time is short, and we need to be serious about fulfilling the great commission which he’s called us to, and as president, that was the overarching theme that God spoke to my heart. It’s later than we think.
Chris: And that’s one of the phrases that has kinda become a catchphrase coming out of the, uh—out of the convention, but talk a little bit about that phrase and—and the whole idea that it’s—it’s late but not too late. It has become kind of a signature statement for you, but it has a lot more meaning than just that — than the signature statement.
Chris: Y—you had said earlier that you felt like the Lord really gave that to you early in your presidency.
Roc: Yes, uh, it was, uh, February, uh, March that God just put that phrase in my heart, and I kept thinking, “It’s later than you think,” and I was feeling an urgency to reach our state, and I was burdened for that fact, and for months, that—that continued to ring in my mind and in my heart, and as we drew closer to the convention and he was laying that message out for me, uh, I—I had all my—my texts ready, and I had all the whole outline in place. I had what I was gonna say, and then, middle of October, he spoke to me and said, “It’s not too late.” I said, “I—I know, Lord.” He said, “No, it’s not too late, and it began to ring afresh. This is why he was getting me urgent, but he also wanted to remind me that there is still time, and that’s the message I wanted to bring to Tennessee Baptist. We need an urgency, uh, to answer the call to win our state for Jesus, but we need to understand that, as late as it is, it’s not too late yet. As long as we have breath in our lungs, it’s not too late, and so we need to be proclaiming that message with urgency.
Chris: Yeah, I know you’ve—today is actually your first day in the office, and you need a little time to find your office before you can, uh, uh, state to develop strategy, but one of the things that you’ll be doing is helping develop strategy for that first objective in helping churches grab hold of that whole idea of, uh, reaching and baptizing and discipling [05:04] [phonetic], but as you’ve looked across the state, what do you feel that needs to be done? Where—where do churches start? What’s the first thing that needs to take place as far as moving towards that goal?
Roc: Chris, I believe the number one and the overarching need that we have before we’re gonna win—win, baptize and disciple 50,000 a year is we’ve got to get serious about prayer.
Chris: Mm hm.
Roc: And I believe, if we begin to pray and seek God’s face, he will ignite that urgency in us. We will come to the realization that we can’t do it, but he can, and we will follow him. So we must be undergirded with prayer. That’s the number one thing, and, uh, in the near future, I hope to begin to establish prayer outpost, if you will, all across this state, and I know—I know there are folks who are not able to get out and go door to door or—or even, you know, maybe there are other issues that keep them from being to be, uh, a witness in an effective manor, but they’d be willing to pray. They will be just as important to anybody that’s a witness. So the first thing is I wanna see us have some prayer outpost around this state, uh, and so I’m gonna look forward to doing that. Secondly, we’ve got to fan the flame. Uh, as we seek God to pour out his spirit to lead us and inspire us and excite us, then we need to fan that flame. So we need to be encouraged in Evangelism, but we also need to be talking about it, and part of our encouragement needs to be talking about it, and we should never say, “Well, that church just baptized one or two. Thank God that bap—that church baptized one or two.
Chris: Yeah, that’s one the things, you know, Randy has talked about in—in—when he does executive director, uh, uh, talks, uh, cuz what if that one was your mother or father [06:53] [crosstalk] or brother.
Roc: That’s exactly right.
Chris: So that one obviously definitely [06:54] [crosstalk] makes a difference.
Roc: It matters.
Roc: And whereas I have put out a—a—a desire or at least sort of a goal, if you will, that, uh, President Steve Freeman is gonna be carrying as well, uh, we wanna baptize 17 in 2017, and if e—if we have 3,000 baptize 17 in 2017, we’re at 51,000 . So we’ve already met our goal.
Roc: And we’ll create a new one.
Roc: Uh, the truth is we have about 2,000 church that report an annual church profile. So that may be a realistic number to look at, and if they would do 17 this year, that’d be 34,000, which would be a great increase as well. So, uh, that’s where we wanna start — 17 in ’17, and I know there will be some churches who say, “You know, we can’t baptize but one or two.” I say, “Thank God for that one or two,” and then these churches who can baptize more than 17, let’s get it, you know. Let’s—let’s get some of those churches doing 400 and 500 baptisms, and we can—we can pick up the slack in some of those churches that can only get 1 or 4 or 6 or whatever. Uh, so it—again, it’s gonna be all of us working together to make that come about.
Chris: Yeah, so, as you really look at the future and the opportunity, uh, there’s been some great groundwork that’s been laid over the past couple years, as Tennessee Baptists have affirmed those five objectives.
Chris: We’re starting to see more and more churches grab a hold of—of the five objectives with cooperative programming, giving up, this past year, golden offering through the roof. We’re seeing a lot of churches that have been, uh—have entered into a revitalization process over 200 of our churches, and then we are seeing, uh, an escalation in the number of new churches, but all those, uh, objectives really point towards that first objective. Talk just a little bit about the success of those other four in relation to that first one.
Roc: Well, that first one is absolutely essential. Uh, if we fulfil the other four, it will be great, but if we do not fulfill the first one, we will have failed. As much as all of them are as—as important as the other, that number one is important—important because that’s—that’s the regeneration. That’s where lives are changed. So we’ve got to reach that first one. In the process of the reaching the first one [09:19] [inaudible] winning baptizing, setting on the road to discipleship 50,000 people a year, then we’re gonna see churches revitalized. We’re gonna see the opportunity to plant new churches. Our giving through [09:29] [inaudible] program will go up. Our golden [09:32] [inaudible] will go up because we’re producing. Uh, I am most confident that people wanna be involved where something’s happening.
Chris: So it sounds like you’re saying that the—that Evangelism and reaching people for Christ is the key to a successful church.
Chris: What a noble concept.
Roc: [09:51] [inaudible]
Chris: Well, Roc, we’re extremely excited to have you not only as part of our Tennessee Baptist Mission Board family and staff but just in Tennessee and what lies ahead. Uh, thanks for—so much for not only being here but being a part of our podcast today.
Roc: Thank you. It was my joy.