Senior Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Springfield
In our most recent Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board meeting, the Administrative Committee brought a proposal to change the name of our current standing governing body from “Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention” to “Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.” The proposal overwhelmingly moved forward in bringing the possible “name change” to The Summit in November, seeking the affirmation of messengers.
During the discussion at our Board meeting, there were several questions and positive comments made regarding the effects of a name change. I believe that as we, Tennessee Baptists, progress toward our future it is imperative that everything we do reflects who God has called us to be. Personally, I believe that adopting a new name not only reflects who we are, but it also promotes a freshness for the vision that is before us.
In 2014, messengers at the Summit in Brentwood adopted the Five Objectives that call for seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship; having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized; planting and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches; realizing an increase in annual local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent; and realizing an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million — all by the year 2024. Everyone knows that this is a “God-sized” vision; but most importantly it is a “God-centered” vision. As we set our sights to the future in penetrating the spiritual darkness with the light of the gospel, we are on a focused mission. Therefore, reflecting that mission in our name is indicative of our focus.
Names are very important in this life. Names are often more than terminology. This is certainly true in God’s economy. Threaded throughout the Bible, we see God change the names of individuals to reflect the new mission He appointed for their lives. When God made a covenant with Abram, He changed Abram’s name (to Abraham) to reflect the nature of that covenant in Genesis 17:5. Furthermore, Jacob (to Israel) and Saul (to Paul) had the same experience and encounter with the Lord. One may deduce that names are important to God and are reflectors and refractors of the mission at hand. Such is true for Tennessee Baptists. Understanding that the name change only reflects the current Executive Board itself and not the larger network of churches called the Tennessee Baptist Convention, it is still a significant milestone as we execute the vision and the mission of reaching with the gospel over three million spiritually lost people in our state.
I am so proud of the work and progress of Tennessee Baptists and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside our Executive Director-Treasurer Randy C. Davis, our convention staff, our TBC entities, and those willing to serve on the Board and committees. Together we are progressing toward an awesome future as we provide the hope of heaven through the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are in danger of perishing. I am thankful for the “beautiful feet” of Tennessee Baptists (Romans 10:15).
This is the mission, this is our purpose, this is the future, and we truly are a “Board” on a very important “Mission.”