New TBC president has passion to see churches reach the lost
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
JEFFERSON CITY — In Roc Collins’ new role as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention his learning curve will be minimal. Since becoming pastor of Indian Springs Baptist Church, Kingsport, 10 years ago, Collins has been fully involved in Tennessee Baptist life. He has served as president of the Tennessee Baptist Pastors Conference and this past year was chair of the TBC’s Executive Board.
Though born in North Carolina (the son of a Baptist pastor), Collins has strong ties to the Volunteer State. Both his parents were reared in Tennessee and Collins graduated from Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City. While in college he accepted his first pastorate — Briar Thicket Baptist Church, Bybee. “I have a heart for the state of Tennessee and I love Tennessee Baptists,” Collins said.
So, he’s ready to hit the ground running and he does so with the full support of both his family and the congregation at Indian Springs. He noted his wife Jeralyn and sons Ro and Noah were on board with his decision to accept the presidency if elected as was his church family.
“The church has been extremely supportive,” he said. “I told them in the beginning that if we couldn’t celebrate it together then I did not want it (the TBC presidency). They have caught the vision and we are celebrating,” he added.
His knowledge of the state convention has helped him recognize the strengths of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, Collins noted.
“We have strong leadership that is pointing us to winning the lost. We are constantly reminded in every meeting I attend that there are three million lost people in Tennessee,” Collins said. “The decisions made by the Executive Board and messengers to the convention are all geared toward winning Tennessee for Jesus,” he added.
Another strength of the TBC is its unity, Collins continued, citing the recently concluded Summit in Millington as a good example.
“We know that the Lord works in unity. When we (the convention) are unified, it gives the Lord fertile soil in which to work,” he said.
One area in which the convention has work to do is to help churches reach more lost people for Jesus Christ, he said. Though the convention is unified “we are not doing enough to see an increase in the number of baptisms,” he observed.
Collins reminded Tennessee Baptist churches that “if we seek the Lord Jesus first in our praise, in our worship, and in sharing the gospel, then He will take care of the rest.”
The new president has been on board with the Five Objectives of the Tennessee Baptist Convention since they were first introduced a few years ago by Randy C. Davis, executive director/treasurer of the TBC. The Five Objectives officially were adopted as goals for the convention by messengers to the 2014 Summit at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood.
The Five Objectives are:
(1) Seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship by 2024.
(2) Having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024.
(3) Planting and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches by 2024.
(4) Realizing an increase in annual local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024.
(5) Realizing an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024.
“If we are faithful to make disciples then He will provide for us the finances and people to serve new church plants and revitalized churches,” Collins observed.
His primary goal in 2016 is to encourage churches to reach more people for Jesus Christ.
“We may not get 50,000 baptisms this year but my heart is that the Lord will use me as a catalyst to help us start moving in that direction,” he said.
In order to accomplish that goal, Tennessee Baptists must be proactive in seeking the lost, Collins observed. “Lost people typically aren’t coming to our churches. We have to go out and get them.
“Specifically,” he continued, “our pulpits need to be filled with evangelistic fervor.”
The fervor from the pulpit then must “carry over to the pews,” the Kingsport pastor said.
“Our people need to be trained in evangelism, and more importantly, motivated to evangelize.”
He encouraged churches to take advantage of every opportunity in their community to share the gospel. For example, the Indian Springs congregation feeds the high school football team before every Friday night game and Collins serves as the team chaplain.
In the summer, Collins encourages Sunday School classes to have cookouts and to invite lost friends to attend. “They may not come to church but they may come to eat a hamburger,” he said.
“Whatever it is that will work in your community to point people to Jesus, use it,” he challenged.
Collins observed that there has never been a greater need for the light of Jesus Christ to shine in the world than now.
“I want us to do whatever it takes as a state convention to help our churches shine bright for Jesus Christ and I will do everything I can to help us pierce that darkness,” he pledged.