I cannot speak for you, but for me, a recipe has always been more of a “suggestion” rather than an absolute. For example, I love banana bread. When you google “The very best banana bread on the planet earth,” you will get at least 27,000 different responses to that inquiry.
Each recipe lays out specific instructions on how to make “the very best banana bread on planet earth.” Yet, I somehow look at that recipe and think to myself, “What would make this recipe better?” Then, I will add something to it or take something away from it.
I made this mistake in the last two loaves of banana bread I made. In the first loaf I was trying to be “health-conscious” and I thought the recipe called for too much salt. So, instead of following the recipe, I removed a large amount of the salt it called for. The result was a poorly cooked, poorly seasoned loaf.
In the second loaf I baked a few weeks later, I thought if I added chocolate chips and doubled the number of pecans, it would enhance the recipe. While this loaf was better, it was too sweet and too crunchy. Sometimes changing the recipe is not what is best.
I believe this to be true in the local church as well. Too often we find ourselves forgetting about how the Bible clearly lays out the recipe for what the local church is and what the church should be doing. We call this our mission.
However, we can very clearly get distracted from that mission and choose to add to or take away from what the Bible says we should be, who we should become, and what we should be doing. Henry Blackaby says, “The church was not commissioned to do good things, but God things.”
The same is true for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. For the past nine years we have pursued five very clear objectives for ministry. While we are coming to the final year of these objectives, the essence of baptizing the lost and setting them on the road to discipleship, planting and revitalizing churches, giving through the Cooperative Program, and growing the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions will all still be a part of our DNA as a convention going forward.
Still, through the Acts 2:17 initiative, we have heard from over 1,000 of you in listening sessions and received volumes of feedback through surveys. This November at The Summit in Chattanooga, we are looking forward to bringing to you a report which outlines what Tennessee Baptists sense is God’s preferred future for our convention. While many of the findings will not surprise you, the way we fulfill these new objectives will drive change throughout the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in the coming months and years.
The recipe from the Lord is coming together nicely. We are being careful not to deviate from His plan and purposes. As we plan to gather together in November, let us all just make sure we are coming together, not to just do good things, but to collaborate together to do God things! B&R — Hallmark is pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington.