I am so glad to be a Tennessee Baptist and excited about our future together! It has been an honor to serve on and chair the Acts 2:17 Vision Team as we have experienced the hand of God move mightily to bring us to the point of recommending this strategic vision to our Tennessee Baptist family.
In a lunch meeting a couple of weeks ago with one of our great Tennessee Baptist pastors, he asked, “What about the Acts 2:17 Vision are you most excited about?” I want to share with you the top 4 reasons I am excited about the Acts 2:17 Vision:
1. We heard from the Lord! We began our very first meeting with a season of prayer and have prioritized prayer in every meeting since. We prayed throughout the overnight retreat where we combed through all the collected data from the surveys and listening sessions. You prayed for us! Our prayer has been for God to help us see our state, our TBC family, and our future as He sees it, not how we might want to see it. We don’t want to settle for anything less than God’s preferred future for our state and TBC family!
2. We heard from you! Over 1,000 of you participated in listening sessions at last year’s Summit and in the first part of 2023. Over 500 survey responses were returned, which was a remarkable response. Not only did you show up and speak up, but we heard you clearly! It was amazing to hear the shared ideas and opportunities, challenges and convictions, pain points and priorities. Whether in Memphis, Murfreesboro, or Morristown, you spoke with a clear, united voice. Much of what you see in this vision came from what you shared.
3. Our team is unified! It has been a joy to get to know and work with this incredible team who have given an enormous amount of time and energy to this process. We’ve spent well over 80 hours praying and meeting together. Through all those hours, God has brought this team of pastors and laypeople, men and women, full-time staff and bi-vocational staff, from city churches and rural churches, new churches and historic churches, from all three Grand Regions to clarity, passion, and unity about the vision recommendation we are presenting to you.
4. This is a vision for EVERY Tennessee Baptist! Just last week, I received a text from a pastor friend in the state who said, “I’m just an average guy out here in a non-metro area who is not involved in the behind the scenes work of the convention through committees and boards, but this is the kind of stuff that gets me excited!” This is exactly the response we hoped and prayed to hear! This vision is not for certain leaders or certain churches or certain segments of our Tennessee Baptist family. This is truly for EVERY member, EVERY church, EVERY association, EVERY entity to rally around and advance together.
The only way EVERY Tennessean will hear the gospel in these next 5-7 years is if we are collaborating together so that EVERY pastor is connected, supported, and healthy; EVERY disciple has an active plan for spiritual maturity; EVERY child has a home and gospel foundation; EVERY family has a biblical vision; EVERY church has growing leaders called to ministry; EVERY city has healthy, effective, and multiplying churches. We’re in this together and EVERY Tennessee Baptist has a part to play!
Can you imagine what God might do in these next 5-7 years as we as rally together as a collaborative network of spiritually healthy churches reaching Tennessee and beyond for Christ?
Imagine the burned-out pastors that will be encouraged and strengthened and the impact that will make on their families and churches.
Imagine the churches that will find new life and growth as they collaborate with sister churches to reach their communities and develop fresh strategy to reach and disciple people.
Imagine the families that will be reached and equipped, the next generation that will be led to Christ, and the children that will have a gospel-centered home.
Imagine the hurting and broken in our churches and communities that will find healing and hope in Christ through the ministry of Tennessee Baptists.
Imagine every Tennessean having the chance to see, hear and respond to the gospel! This is the dream and conviction that drove us throughout this process. This is why we are passionate about the vision the Lord has led us to bring to you!
God has spoken, you have spoken, our team is unified, and EVERY Tennessee Baptist member, pastor, church, association and entity has a part to play! The time is now, and the opportunity is great … let’s go! B&R