By David Leavell
President, Tennessee Baptist Convention
I’ve been so encouraged by our cooperative work as Tennessee Baptists in the past 12 months. Together, we are making a difference for Christ in Tennessee. In the East, Middle and West grand divisions, churches are joining hands and hearts to share Jesus with a lost and dying world. I love the acrostic T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More).
I played basketball growing up. It was my passion. I learned a team dynamic early in life. Everyone must function as a single unit for our team to have success. Everyone doing their part was critical.
It was an early leadership lesson in the work of the church to which God would later call me. With Christ as our Head, we function together to extend and expand the Kingdom of God here on earth. That is why God values unity among us. As believers, we are all part of the body of Christ.
The John 3:16 Challenge has a been a process to help us hone our efforts for the purpose of personal soul-winning. We live in a mission field called Tennessee. Our state is lost, hopeless and desperate for forgiveness, meaning and purpose and that is what the gospel offers in full supply! That is why the gospel is called the Good News! Suicide, incarceration and opioid addiction are prevalent in our state. Yet, Jesus is the Prince of Peace!
It is critical that we continue our cooperative efforts to reach our state for Christ. We must redouble our focus on personal evangelism. We cannot evangelize in heaven!
Now is the time to evangelize! We must take the John 3:16 Challenge to share John 3:16, once a week, with a lost person, with the intention of leading them to personal faith in Jesus Christ. If we can grow our people in discipleship and obedience, to the point of sharing Christ in the normal traffic patterns of life, it will be a game changer.
According to the most generous statistic that I’m aware of, only 10 percent of the people in our pews have ever shared Christ personally with a lost person. Growing that number to 20 percent or 40 percent would radically impact our state for Christ.
The bottom line is that we don’t have the active evangelistic workforce to impact lostness in Tennessee. We have the evangelistic workforce. They are in our pews each Sunday. Currently, we don’t have the obedient workforce. In Mark 1:17, Jesus said, “Follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.” This must be an area of focus for each person, church and association in our state.
We have a wonderful state convention. I praise the Lord for Randy C. Davis, president and executive-director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. We have an amazing state staff of leaders. We have a compelling vision in the Five Objectives. We have churches that love each other and the work to which God has called us. We are making a difference! Let’s keep “our hand to the plow” and continue in the good work that God desires to do in Tennessee!
It has been an absolute honor, privilege and joy to serve Tennessee Baptists this year.
Thank you for this opportunity. I want to thank my wife Vicki and my family J.D., Laura, her husband Nathan, and Walker, for letting Dad be gone more than normal to meet, greet and challenge Tennesseans in the good work of the gospel.
I also want to thank my church family at First Baptist, Millington. I absolutely love them. They have been so gracious to allow me to spend a considerable amount of time loving on pastors, associations and churches across our state.
I pray that their investment will result in Tennessee coming under the banner of the cross!
Keep the SON in your eyes! B&R