FRANKLIN — “Every” is the key word in the recommendation the Acts 2:17 Initiative Task Force will present to messengers during the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention at The Summit on Nov. 12-15 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
The task force was launched at last year’s Summit in Cordova and the TBC president appointed the task force, led by Nashville pastor Jay Hardwick, for the purpose “of engaging Tennessee Baptists to discover God’s preferred future for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.”
The intent of the task force was to “draft a vision that would focus the energy, efforts and resources of the network of Tennessee Baptist churches, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and the institutions fostered by the Convention into the immediate and extended future of the Convention following the 150th anniversary of the TBC in 2024.”
The task force developed the recommendation after conversations with more than 1,000 Tennessee Baptists in listening sessions across the state, more than 500 responses to a survey, built on priorities gleaned from the listening sessions, more than 80 hours of prayer and discussion on the input provided and a commitment to seek God’s preferred vision for Tennessee Baptists. (For video, click HERE).
Their work also was guided by the urgency of the gospel. The population of Tennessee will increase by more than 500,000 over the next decade and at least 80 percent (5.6 million) of Tennesseans are unchurched.
In addition, there are 450-550 TBC churches currently without pastors, 9,000 children in the DCS foster care system and the mental health crisis rising at an alarming rate among the general population and especially pastors/ministers.
“After hearing from grassroots Tennessee Baptists from every corner of our state, more than 100 hours of careful analysis of thousands of points of data, focused and thorough discussion and prayerfully seeking the will of God, the Acts 2:17 Initiative team is placing before the TBC messengers a visionary path forward,” observed Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB.
“The Kingdom-advancing opportunities to seize and needs to meet as a network of churches are both urgent and impactful. We look forward to the work ahead as this vision is fleshed out by workgroups, should the TBC affirm this new direction,” Davis said.
Jay Hardwick, chair of the task force and pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, noted that in order “to reach every person and every community in Tennessee with the gospel, it will take every church and every Tennessee Baptist rallying and collaborating together. …
“We long to see every Tennessee Baptist church spiritually healthy and thriving, working together to reach Tennessee and beyond with the gospel. This is not a vision for a select few — we believe it’s a vision for every Tennessee Baptist church and entity, and every Tennessee Baptist to embrace and work toward together. This year’s Summit is just the next step,” he said.
“We will communicate what we have clearly heard from Tennessee Baptists and sense the Lord leading us to embrace together,” he said. “From the Summit, the deep work will begin that will involve even more Tennessee Baptists in building the objectives, strategies and metrics for each strategic priority.”
The recommendation is as follows:
The Acts 2:17 Initiative Task Force respectfully recommends that the messengers of the 2023 annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention affirm and adopt the following Vision and Priority Statements to guide further planning for the work of the Convention and its related ministries beginning in November of 2024 and beyond:
A collaborative network of spiritually healthy churches reaching Tennessee and beyond for Christ so that:
Every pastor is connected and supported for healthy ministry
Every member has an active plan for spiritual maturity
Every child has a home and gospel foundation
Every parent has a biblical vision for their family
Every church has growing leaders called to ministry
Every city has effective, multiplying churches
UNTIL Every Tennessean hears the gospel.
The Priority Statements include:
1. Fueling Church Collaboration
Establish a culture of Cooperation to advance the Gospel
• Engage ministry partners
• Connect churches and pastors by context and size
• Develop ministry leadership pipeline
• Multiply new churches in strategic areas
2. Catalyzing Spiritual Maturity
Equip Tennessee Baptist Churches with a plan to multiply disciples
• Prioritize Prayer
• Strengthen disciple making small groups
• Develop lifestyle witnesses
• Resource churches to deploy maturing believers
3. Transforming Family Impact
Engage Tennessee Baptist parents toward intentional faith formation
• Increase adoption and foster care utilization
• Help churches disciple children and youth
• Equip parents to disciple their children
• Resource families to address modern culture
• Strengthen gospel presence in private and public education
4. Confronting Mental Health
Expand mental health services for every church, pastor & staff member
• Create regional mental health resources
• Care for pastors, staff and their families
• Promote benchmarks of physical, relational, financial, mental and spiritual health
• Equip churches to address members’ emotional/mental health
If approved by messengers at The Summit, workgroups will be formed to begin “fleshing out how the Convention and related ministries can best implement these priorities,” according to the task force.
Workgroups will include Acts 2:17 task force members, may include pastors and ministry leaders, TBC institutional representatives, associational leadership, TBMB staff and content experts where appropriate.
Workgroups will develop specific objectives, strategies and goals with estimated financial requirements to address the priority. They will then submit final reports to TBMB board of directors for development of a Strategic Plan that will be presented along with a budget to messengers at the 2024 annual meeting in Murfreesboro.
Members of the Acts 2:17 Task Force are:
Jay Hardwick, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, pastor, chairman;
Melody Cain, Seymour First Baptist Church, pastor’s wife;
Donny Crass, Niles Ferry Church, Greenback, bivocational pastor;
Mathew Daniel, Whitwell First Baptist Church, pastor;
Jordan Easley, Cleveland First Baptist Church, pastor;
Clay Hallmark, Lexington First Baptist Church, pastor and TBC president;
Claude King, Murfreesboro, prayer specialist;
Dwayne Lewis, Nashville Baptist Association, church planting strategist;
Cliff Marion, Covington First Baptist Church, pastor;
Jeff Mims, Judson Baptist Church, Nashville, pastor;
Drake Nosco, Grace Baptist Church, Nashville, pastor;
Joel Pigg, Salem Baptist Church, Trenton, pastor;
Martha Pitts, Germantown Baptist Church, former state WMU president;
Ronny Rains, Clarksville First Baptist Church, pastor; and
Pete Tackett, Antioch Baptist Church, Johnson City, pastor. B&R