By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
Children have a way of getting to the heart of the matter, don’t they? Their questions come at you unfiltered and often at the most unexpected times. That’s the way my daughters were and that is the way my grandchildren are. Their forthright insight can often catch adults unprepared.
The question my grandkids most often ask is the “why” question. You know:
“Papa, why is the sky blue instead of yellow?”
“Why is the grass green instead of purple?”
“Why do birds sing so loudly?”
They ask “why” constantly. Their curiosity about the world around them is off the charts. We were there once, you and I, where the world held so much wonder and we wanted to know the reason behind the natural order – and a host of other things. Unfortunately, the wonderment of a child gives way to the distractedness of a teenager, and eventually yields to the responsibility of an adult.
Somewhere in that transitional process the “what we do” and the “how we do it” slowly invades our thinking, and the “why we do it” fades to an afterthought. However, we’ve got to recapture the why.
It’s been about two months since the world transitioned to lock-down mode because of the COVID-19 global pandemic causing a major shift in everything. It blew up “normal.” I’m sure, like me, this forced time of isolation has given you some space to reflect on many things.
During this time our TBMB staff has literally talked with thousands of pastors, helping many to navigate through these uncharted waters. The thought that persists and has settled on my soul for both our churches and for TBMB ministries is “why.” “Why do we do what we do?” This is a great time to ask the question.
We’re all familiar with John 3:16. The what in John 3:16 is that whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have everlasting life. The how in John 3:16 is God giving His only begotten son.
But why? Why would God give His Son to save sinners? It’s simple. For God so loved the world. Love is God’s why.
I was called to ministry when I was 16 years old and God gave me an incredibly deep love for the local body of Christ, the church.
That love for the local church has guided me for the past 45-plus years of ministry.
The church is the Bride of Christ; the Body of Christ. The way in which we meet as the church has been disrupted by coronavirus, but has it disrupted its mission? That’s why this is a great time to ask the “why” question and remind ourselves of why we do what we do.
For the past several years we’ve been refining out mission, vision and values here at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. The process has distilled our thinking. Our why is that we believe every town and city in Tennessee needs healthy, Kingdom-focused, gospel-sharing, disciple-making churches.
Our “what” is summed up in three words: We. Serve. Churches. We exist as an organization to serve local churches so that we can best accomplish our why. Clearly defining our why has shaped our strategy and focused our budget. What’s more, we are choosing to allow the inconvenience of this pandemic to disrupt our conventional thinking to explore new ways for how we might be even more effective in accomplishing our “why.”
How about you, personally and your church? How are you leveraging this pandemic as an opportunity to reconnect to your why?
The year 2020 will be a historic milestone upon which we’ll look back for generations to come. When you and your church look back, what will be the Ebenezer you raised. Press pause on the how and the what, and ask yourself the most important question that begs a clear response: Do I have an answer for the “why” question?
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.