By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
It will be a monthly “retrospective” of what is happening not only in the TBMB but with churches across Tennessee, said Chris Turner, director of communications for the TBMB and host of Radio B&R.
In his first podcast (Episode 22 of Radio B&R), Davis emphasized the Bivocational Ministers and Wives Retreat held in Pigeon Forge (see stories and photos throughout this issue).
The retreat is powerful, effective and has a positive impact on bivocational pastors, Davis observed. “My wife, Jeanne, and I have been involved in these retreats for more than a decade, while I was still in the pastorate.” He noted that he preaches “a time or two” at each session while Jeanne Davis leads a breakout session for ministers’ wives. “It’s really one of the highlights of the year,” he said.
Davis noted the retreat for bivocational ministers and their wives “has grown tremendously. … The people love the facility (the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge), they love the atmosphere and they love the environment of being in the mountains of East Tennessee. It is just a very exciting time together.”
The TBMB leader noted there are estimates that a minimum of 60 percent of the pastors in Tennessee are bivocational and he expects the number to grow in the future. “I see that number growing tremendously in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said, citing fewer full vocational pastors. Davis said directors of missions across Tennessee “all tell me the same thing. They’re having a hard time finding pastors. So, I think that the gentleman farmer or the engineer that becomes a pastor, is going to be a rapidly growing trend.”
The influx of bivocational pastors will make it imperative that “networks of churches like the TBMB, work with other ministry partners to make pastoral training readily available,” Davis observed.
Those pastors who have full-time jobs want to know how to study the Bible in deeper fashion and know how to prepare sermons and how to lead a church, he continued. “It is incumbent upon us to step up to the plate, and as we serve these churches led by the heroes who are bivocational pastors, to be there as a resource.”
Davis also cited the work of Baptist Collegiate Ministry during the month of January. More than 120 university students served on disaster relief teams in North Carolina during their Christmas break, he said. “There is a youth movement going on in disaster relief right now and I just so appreciate those BCMs across our state that are involved in this much needed ministry,” he said.
Both BCM and DR ministries are funded in a large part by the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. Davis is excited about the recent growth of GOTM.
“Over the past five or six years, we’ve seen the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions grow by about 25 percent, which is pretty phenomenal. And, this year we are on pace to set another record,” Davis continued.
“I just appreciate so many Tennessee Baptists giving through the GOTM to impact lostness here in our own state. Every penny of the Golden Offering stays right here in Tennessee. The GOTM is to Tennessee missions and our state what the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is for international missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is for North American missions.”
Davis added that the largest bulk of GOTM funding goes to church revitalization and church planting, in addition to engaging the lost through compassion ministries. “The Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions is vital,” he stressed.
Davis noted that Tennessee Baptists met and exceeded last year’s budget because of their giving through the Cooperative Program. “This year, we’re right on track to meet budget again. We’re coming to the conclusion of the first quarter of our fiscal year, and things are tracking in a good manner,” he observed.
“I praise the Lord for churches that have upped their Cooperative Program percentage. Our goal by 2024 is to see every church giving 10 percent of their mission dollars through the Cooperative Program,” Davis said.
As he looks at the month of February, Davis encouraged Tennessee Baptists to pray for healthy churches in Tennessee. “The churches are the front line. They’re at the tip of the sphere. We’re just here to support keeping that sphere sharp.”
He also urged Tennessee Baptists to pray that churches will be united and focused on the “outside,” not the “inside.” Davis also asked for prayer for pastors and church staff members. “Satan is really attacking these champions.”