By Karen Willoughby
For Triune Baptist Church, “traditional” also includes a missions mindset rooted in the Cooperative Program and discipleship rooted in Sunday School.
Located amid rolling hills and gated communities 30 miles southeast of Nashville, Triune Baptist has found a niche in a region where many Baptist churches worship with contemporary or blended music.
Founded just 26 years ago, the church’s worship center was designed to look “established” when it was built in 1997.
“The way we do things reminds the congregation of when they grew up,” Buntin said. “I made a promise when they approached me that the church would remain the same throughout my pastorate here.”
Triune Baptist gives the Cooperative Program “a lot of publicity,” the pastor said, in helping its members understand Southern Baptists’ channel of support for state, national and international missions and ministry.
“We talk about what we have and how we’ve been blessed and how we need to bless others. The church budget is three times the size it was when I came here as pastor. There’s none of us who haven’t been blessed and probably funded by the Cooperative Program.
“Things like our mission studies, our curriculum, our chance to go and do missions somewhere else with the International Mission Board or North American Mission Board — the Cooperative Program is our way of connecting and being connected back to,” Buntin said.
“We’re reaching little boys and little girls for Christ, and we’re helping start churches to reach people where we as our church can’t go, but we can send others who are called to do that,” he said. “We’re asked as individuals to give 10 percent back to God, and we felt the least amount we could give through the church was 10 percent, but we wanted to do more, so we give 11 percent.”
With the pastor’s background as a minister of education, Buntin said the church knows “you grow your church through Sunday School. You grow your Sunday School through new classes. We’re pretty much saturated, to the point where we’ve got to have new space to continue to grow.” A second education building is in the fundraising stage.
About 250 people gather each week for worship. Discipleship also takes place in video-based classes and through the church’s deacon family ministry.
“They each have so many family members they minister to and disciple,” Buntin said. “Our deacon body is strictly ministry.”
Locally, Triune Baptist collects canned goods four times a year — and has done so for eight years — to donate to a nearby Methodist church, which has a long-established food pantry.
“There’s no reason to compete,” Buntin said.
Locally, the church seeks to connect to the people who live in gated communities through such events as a “dinner on the grounds” with hamburgers and homemade ice cream.
“We’re trying to build community,” he continued.
“We can’t get in the gated communities, but we do prayerwalks. And we do direct mailings, though they haven’t done what I hoped they’d do.”
In addition to the Cooperative Program, Triune Baptist supports Southern Baptists’ seasonal missions offerings: Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions; Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; and the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions.
Each offering is collected on its designated day. Members go on a “Missions Walk” to the front of the worship center where they place their offering in a wooden box.
“Since the inception of this church, we have met or exceeded every one of our mission offering goals,” Buntin said.
Triune Baptist uses the children of church members to take up the offering each Sunday.
“It’s a time to worship together by giving,” Buntin said. “The children learn about being good stewards, they feel a part of the service — a very important part — and it means so much, too, to the many who are adults.”
Some people in the community might not appreciate Triune Baptist’s traditional ways, but other people would be drawn to the church because of them, Buntin said.
“If it was a perfect church I wouldn’t be the pastor, but we’re striving,” he said. “We’re moving forward. We’re reaching outside our church to reach people in our community. We’re stepping outside our comfort zone in some areas, but that’s all right. We’re trying to do things to gain access to the people.” B&R