By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Even during a worldwide pandemic, God has done and “will continue to do wonders among us,” affirmed Bruce Chesser, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, and president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Due to the cancelation of the in-person Summit originally scheduled for Brentwood Baptist Church, Chesser gave an abbreviated message during the Virtual Summit.
“I had expected to share a message at Summit and preach in a more traditional way,” he noted, “but it’s an honor to be able to come to you in this way.” Chesser, who will serve another year as president, said he planned to present his original message at next year’s convention.
As he reflected on the past year which introduced COVID-19 to the world, Chesser said his thoughts have continually gone to a passage in Joshua just prior to Joshua leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land. In Joshua 3:4, he told them, “You haven’t traveled this way before.” He went on to add in verse 5, “Consecrate yourselves because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow.”
That message holds true today, Chesser said. “I’ll guarantee you Tennessee Baptists that your pastor never took a course in seminary or college that taught him how to lead a church during a pandemic.
“Those classes were not offered. No church knows how to navigate these waters. We’ve never been this way before.”
Chesser challenged Tennessee Baptists to keep their eyes on God. “He will do wonders among us. There is a great day coming, and I believe with all of my heart that God is going to bless us through this. And when we come out of this, we’re going to see God work in incredible ways.”
He observed that in the days following COVID, people have used “words like recalibrate, regather, refocus and reclaim, all of those words that start with ‘re.’
“I’m praying for one more word that starts with ‘re’ and that is revival. I’m praying for God to send revival among Tennessee Baptists and that He would call us to realize that we can do nothing apart from Him,” he continued. “We need Him more than we need revolution politically or financially. We need Him more than anything else because He is the one that holds life and death and eternity in His hands.”
The Hendersonville pastor encouraged Tennessee Baptists that it does not matter where their churches were in January, February or March before COVID. “The church that I pastored in January really does not exist at this moment.”
“We now have a new base level from which we’re going to work,” he said. “And, by the grace of God, I’m going to keep my eyes on the Lord and I’m going to hold to those promises. And we’re going to reach men, women, boys and girls in the name of Jesus Christ.
“God is going to do a new thing among us and the days ahead are as bright as they’ve ever been,” he noted.
Chesser challenged churches to not look at where they were and become discouraged. “Draw a baseline where you are right now and begin to work, to grow, to reach people, to see people saved, to see people baptized, to see people discipled, and to see people be brought into a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
“I don’t have to tell you that the harvest is plentiful. There are plenty of people in Tennessee who need the Lord Jesus.”
He encouraged churches to welcome people back as they return to church but challenged them to not get comfortable.
“Let’s go out into the highways and hedges, and in Jesus name, reach men and women and boys and girls in the name of Jesus Christ. Let’s see what God is going to do in the days ahead. I believe that we are headed for some of the greatest days in the history of our churches,” Chesser concluded.
— Listen to Chesser’s message at www.TBCSummit.org.