A best-selling author popularized an illustration to show the importance of knowing your priorities. He filled a bucket with sand and pebbles and then attempted to put the big rocks in the bucket. There was no room.
However, when he first filled the bucket with the big rocks, then added the sand and pebbles, it all fit, and what didn’t fit wasn’t essential.
The point: If we want to live lives with impact and purpose, we must identify what’s truly important.
We have been rock sorting at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Back in January, I shared with some of our leaders at TBMB what I considered to be six “big rocks” with which we as the TBMB need to fill our buckets over the next 18-to-36 months.
(1) We must stay doggedly focused on our mission to “Make Christ known by serving churches.” This is non-negotiable. “We Serve Churches” is a primary topic of conversation every week. We keep it before us, and we know that is built on relationships, one of our core values.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, our staff has made more than 100,000 personal contacts with pastors, ministers and other church staff to ensure we do everything we can to support with excellence the broad spectrum of TBC churches. We know it is all about Jesus and His bride, the church!
(2) We must face unexpected challenges head on while not allowing ourselves to become distracted from the mission of serving churches. Remember: We. Serve. Churches. We live in an environment of rapid change, emerging conflict and societal upheaval. The pandemic was just one of those challenges but there are many more.
It is easy to become distracted and experience mission drift. However, we believe challenges present opportunities and our goal is to leverage those challenges in ways that help us serve churches.
(3) We must push hard and finish The Five Objectives well. At the 2014 TBC Summit in Brentwood, the following goals were affirmed by TBC messengers:
1. To see at least 50,000 spiritually lost Tennesseans saved, baptized and set on the road of discipleship annually by 2024.
2. To see at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024.
3. To plant and engage at least 1,000 new churches by 2024.
4. To realize an increase in annual church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024.
5. To realize an increase in giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024.
Notice these objectives have a target date of 2024. The Apostle Paul tells us to run the race in such a way to win the prize. The prize is maximizing what we do as a convention of churches for the glory of God. Let’s finish strong.
(4) We must complete with excellence the Acts 2:17 Initiative launched at the 2022 Summit in Memphis. This has been a remarkable effort to go prayerfully before the Lord in agreement and unity to seek His preferable future for TBC churches.
Over 1,000 of you participated in listening sessions and over 500 pastors and leaders took part in an important recent survey. Over the coming months, we will share the findings and begin the implementation of a new direction. These new Great Commission-anchored priorities will take us beyond 2024.
(5) We will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Tennessee Baptist Convention when we gather in Murfreesboro in November, 2024. That’s where our first convention was held, and the convention formed. The celebration will begin at this year’s Summit in Chattanooga. While it is an occasion to “remember the Lord our God” and how He has blessed, it is also a time to look forward and set our vision on how we as a network of churches can serve God in the future.
(6) We must seize the golden opportunity that Ford’s Blue Oval City presents TBC churches. This massive electric truck manufacturing plant will employee more than 10,000 people and increase the overall population of West Tennessee by more than 90,000 people over the next 10 years.
So many of those people are unchurched, coming from across the country and around the world, and have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel. This is all-hands-on-deck for churches across our state as we have an aim to plant at least 40 churches in that area in the next decade.
Projections are that our entire state will grow by more than 500,000 over the next decade. We need to double-down on the effort to revitalize existing churches and plant new churches in Tennessee. These newcomers need to hear the gospel. Will they hear it from Tennessee Baptists?
There is of course room for sand and pebbles even if we focus on these six big rocks. But we must be committed to the big rocks if we are to accomplish this God-sized assignment.
It is a joy to be with you on this Matthew 6:33 journey. B&R