By Roc Collins
Everybody has a name. It represents who you are. My given name identifies who I am and is used whenever I write a check, go to the dentist, or order a coffee at the coffee shop. Your name is your identification.
Sometimes names are changed, as we see in the Bible. When Jesus met Simon Peter, He said to him, “… you shall be called Cephas.” How awesome is that? Jesus saw Peter not for who he was then but who he would become. Peter was a fisherman by trade but Jesus saw that he would be a “Rock” for the Kingdom. It did not happen immediately, but after many ups and downs, failures and victories, and even a few denials, Peter came into his potential. In fact, he stood like a “Rock” on the day of Pentecost and preached the gospel with such conviction that 3,000 were added to the church. And that was just the start. A careful study through the Book of Acts reveals that Peter continued to be a mighty minister for the Lord and was used greatly for the sake of the Kingdom.
Tennessee Baptists have a great name. Our state bears the honorable nickname, “The Volunteer State,” earned in 1846 during the Mexican-American dispute over the state of Texas. When Governor Aaron Brown sent word from Nashville that he needed 2,600 volunteers to go fight to save Texas, within a week an astonishing 30,000 men responded. Tennesseans are ready to step up for others. What a great name to bear with distinction.
We also bear the name Baptist, a proud identification of our great heritage as people who exemplify that name by faithfully baptizing believers as a public profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptists have had their ups and downs, struggles and victories, but we have always returned to the foundation of our faith in Christ.
Our Executive Board has served with distinction through the years. This name identifies the board for its leadership in the work of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The Executive Board must always keep the mission of the TBC in the forefront of its endeavors. Randy C. Davis has given exemplary leadership to our convention and has placed before us five “God-sized” goals for the future, that by the year 2024 we would be:
(1) Seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship by 2024;
(2) Having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024;
(3) Planting and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches by 2024;
(4) Realizing an increase in annual local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024; and
(5) Realizing an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024.
Those are God-sized objectives and Tennessee Baptists affirmed those Five Objectives at the 2014 Summit as our collective direction over the next several years.
This year at the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Sevierville, the Executive Board will present a motion to change the name of the Executive Board to the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. Why? Like with Peter, this name will better identify who we are and what we are about. We are Tennessee volunteers. We are Baptists. And we are on a mission.
Make no mistake about it. We have a mission and it is inextricably linked with our Five Objectives. It comes directly from Jesus when He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, NAS). Our name will not make us fulfill this mission, but every time we hear the name “Tennessee Baptist Mission Board” it will bring to mind who we are and that we are fulfilling the mission of winning the spiritually lost of our beloved state and world for Jesus.
Come on, Tennessee Baptists. We have work to do!