The great English evangelist, Leonard Ravenhill, who went home to be with the Lord in 1994, has this challenging epitaph on his headstone: “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?” As Tennessee Baptists, these are some of the questions we have spent the past 12 months answering with our Acts 2:17 Initiative vision team. We have diligently evaluated the things we are living for.
Throughout this process of discovery, the Acts 2:17 team has been reminded by our friend Claude King that what we are doing is not seeking God’s will for Tennessee Baptists, but we are first and foremost seeking God’s will. In other words, what we have sought to do is to determine where God is already working all across the state of Tennessee in the lives of our people and our churches.
We have diligently sought the places where God was making inroads into people’s lives and into communities through local churches. We have listened to the testimonies and hearts of over 1000 Tennessee Baptists in listening sessions, and we have spent hours meeting together and praying.
The ultimate goal has been to determine where God was working and fulfilling His will so that we might join Him and His work as the Baptist people of Tennessee.
This process has been long, and while we have many of the answers, we still have questions. In the days to come leading up to the 2023 Summit, you will hear from the Acts 2:17 Vision Team as to where God is asking us to join Him on mission across our state. Many of these things will not take you by surprise because you also sense where God is already working. Other new points of priority will challenge you, your church and our convention.
To join God is going to mean a huge adjustment of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in order to align with God’s will. We are going to have to use new terminology, new ways to think about funding new causes and initiatives, new methods for fulfilling God’s mission, and a new focus on EVERY Tennessean. Any time God brings about change it costs something of us.
My friend Rob Rash says, “Some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.” While we count the cost of change, we have kept ourselves focused on the value of God being at work in the midst of our people, churches and convention as never before!
At this year’s Summit, you will hear a report from the Acts 2:17 Vision Team and you will be asked as Tennessee Baptists to adopt this new focus which will move us through the 2030 church year. These are exciting times, but let me issue a warning from our friend, the late Adrian Rogers who said, “Be prepared! As soon as God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, the devil opens the doors of hell to blast us.”
Come to the Summit! Come prayed up! Come with expectancy that we will see the manifest presence of God in our midst! Come ready to see God move in a powerful way! B&R — Hallmark is pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington.