Newly Elected TBC President, David Green, discusses ministry, evangelism and the direction of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Chris Turner: Hello, and welcome into this edition of Radio B&R. I’m your host, Chris Turner. I’m joined today by Baptist & Reflector editor Lonnie Wiley. Lonnie, thanks for being in with us this morning.
Lonnie Wilkey: Thanks, Chris. It’s my pleasure.
Chris Turner: And then we also have a special guest with us today, David Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greenville, and our newly elected Tennessee Baptist Convention president. Just elected a couple of weeks ago in Jackson at our annual summit. David, welcome.
David Green: Thank you, Chris. It’s an honor to be with you.
Chris Turner: Well, David, we’re really looking forward to this next year. We know that you have some plans that you really would like to really unfold for Tennessee Baptists over this next year as you have this opportunity to serve. But I know that you and Lonnie share a long history. You’ve been a part of this board and a part of convention life for quite a while, and pastor there in Greenville. And of course Lonnie has been editor of The Baptist & Reflector. In fact, I think Lonnie interviewed Noah when he stepped off the boat. So, Lonnie, fire away of the question there and get us started.
Lonnie Wilkey: Well first, David, I do want to say congratulations. I’ve known you a long time and I would say you’ve earned your stripes as a Tennessee Baptist. You’ve been a leader in our convention for many years. Just reflect on, I think you first came on the … it was then executive board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 2004. Of course now it’s the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. But reflect on your first few years with the board and the differences you’ve seen and the convention over the past, I guess, 14 years now.
David Green: That is a loaded question. When I first came on the board in 2004, I was fulfilling an expired term and the TBC was just about to be in some tremendous transition, not only from leadership to places where we would have our next building, selling out previous building, and ways of doing ministry across the state and region instead of centrally located. Just so many different things were about to take place, and they were all necessary. They had to take place, so it was great to be a part of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board or the Tennessee Baptist Convention back in that time, but its beautiful to be on this end now and look back and see just the return on that spiritual and emotional investment that we had.
Lonnie Wilkey: I know you’re seeing some of the fruits of your labor being here in the new facility for the first time because you helped with a lot of the planing and the sale of the old facility. Is that correct?
David Green: That’s correct. Yeah I was able to serve on the different committees with the executive board, when we called it that. I was on the administrative committee for a couple of years. And part of that responsibility let me be on the transition committee, sub-committee for the property. That was exciting to see how our previous property was going to be sold. We had some great offers and they didn’t materialize, but eventually we did have a good offer and it was great to see us be able to come into this place and be able to do it debt-free, and let God lead the way that way, good.
Lonnie Wilkey: So what do you think about the new facility here in Franklin now?
David Green: I think it is beautiful. It is a facility that we can use all of it. Before we used, we had twice as much space but we only used half of what we had. The other building had so much deferred maintenance, that it would have cost us so much money to have continued doing what we did there, like we are doing it here. So we are much more effective in the way we are doing ministry. The new structure of the way that we do ministry is so much more effective and so much more intentionally evangelistic I think than it used to be.
Chris Turner: You know, one of the interesting things about this building that William Maxwell, our business administrator mentioned to our board members back in September is that at the end of this first year in this building, our electricity costs, were $93,000 less than the last year in the old building, so just from an efficiency perspective, you know, stewardship obviously is one of our core values, but from a stewardship perspective, just in electricity alone, we saved $93,000. If there was any questions if we needed a new building or not, you mentioned deferred maintenance, I think that answered the question.
David Green: Definitely needed it. And to be here where we are, as apposed to where we were, is such a benefit too I think.
Chris Turner: Yeah, definitely.
Lonnie Wilkey: David, when you were elected as president a few weeks ago, did you ever have any idea that you would even allow your name to be put into nomination? What does it mean to you to be elected president of our state convention?
David Green: First of all, I was as surprised as anybody when I was asked to have my name put in for nomination. It means to me that I get the opportunity to serve Tennessee baptists. Its very humbling, its a blessing, and I have a very supporting church, very supportive wife and family, that encouraged me to allow my name to be placed in nomination. I actually, when I received the phone call asking me if I would consider doing it, or just allowing my name to go out, the first person I met with was my wife. I called her, I said, “Look, well you know, lets talk tonight about it. I’m not going to make any decisions right now.”
David Green: And I told the person that asked me, “I’m going to pray about this about three days.” And it worked out where I could pray about it, and I time to pray about it with my wife, and then visit with a few key leaders of my church. I met with all the staff. I said, “This is going to be a big deal this year, as far as time away.” And our associate pastor is fantastic, and the rest of the ministry staff is fantastic. And they all encouraged me to do it, and they were willing to fill up the time that I am not able to make when I’m at home.
David Green: And the church has been very supportive too. The deacons, I met with the chairman of deacons and our leadership, lay leadership in the church. And they were encouraging as well. So I checked the boxes first, and then after doing those things and feeling like I got a green light from God to go ahead and do it, I did.
Lonnie Wilkey: Of course you were elected by [inaudible 00:07:23]. I’m sure that makes you feel humbled as you said that the Tennessee Baptists have placed their confidence in you for the coming year. What are some of your goals and dreams for the convention this next year?
David Green: As far as goals and dreams, I want to say first of all, I want to keep encouraging Tennessee baptists to do well what they are already doing so well. I don’t want to seem to feel like I’m coming in trying to fix stuff. Tennessee baptists are great people and for years have been a leader in state conventions in our country. And so I want to encourage first of all, what everyone is doing right. Secondly, personally, for me, I want to continue to model and to promote intentional, personal, evangelism, not just something I am telling everyone else to do.
David Green: When I stop at roadside parks as I travel across the state, I want to find somebody to witness to. Its not going to be about finding that one person a day to check off the box, its about a way of life and I want to share Christ by the way I live, by the way I act in public, by the way I, and it does boil down to a personal testimony, a witness of the Biblical Gospel account. It has to come down to that. And so as I promote evangelism across the state, I want to do it with Biblical integrity.
Chris Turner: You had mentioned earlier about the direction we are going as a state, that we really have, the five objective have really been kind of a focus since the messengers of 2014 affirmed those five objectives and really decided, “Hey this is the direction we want to go as Tennessee Baptists and focus on these five things, with you know evangelism, and discipleship, and church revitalization, and church planting or new churches [inaudible 00:09:32] programming and golden offering,” that really kind of focused us and it really does seem that we are starting to reap a benefit from that focus with baptisms being up this past year. I think [inaudible 00:09:45] Collins said 2% or something like that, so there really, we seem to be getting some momentum going that has kind of aggregated from all of us having a collective vision. What do you see on that front.
David Green: I see that the objectives have definitely made a difference. We don’t need to be doing a hundred things well, we need to be doing a four or five things great, and that’s kingdom work, and when you boil it down to our objectives that is the work of the Gospel. That’s doing what God called us to do and then funding it the way Baptists leadership has said that we should fund it for nearly 100 years now. The cooperative program, I am a huge champion of the cooperative program. I believe that we should always give through the cooperative program. Too many people say, we give to it, we don’t give to it, we give through it, because it meets so many needs outside of just what we are doing here at our ministry center or what’s happening in our universities, or what’s happening in our adult homes, our children’s home. It reaches out of the state and with the goal of getting toward that 50/50 split is great. And I think if we cut our some of our things that we, our preferred items.
David Green: If we cut out some things there, and measured 50/50 like a lot of states do, and we don’t do that, we don’t count 50/50 like a lot of states do that are getting there already, we would have been passed that already.
Chris Turner: Yeah. When you look at the ministries that churches are being helped with, you know one of the things that we say here that Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, is you know, so what is it that you do. We serve churches, period. And so we exist for that reason. But, you know, as we all work cooperatively together, really it is that first objective to see people come to Christ, saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship.
David Green: Absolutely.
Chris Turner: And you know, I mean, you personally, and course your church, you know, has that history of missions involvement, evangelism. So I mean, those really, you are an extension of where you’ve led your church and what the people in your church have been leaders doing.
David Green: Right, not long ago, we had an opportunity to do an event where we were doing some back to school items, and we were, we had it set up with local agencies in town asking our church if it would be okay if we come to your church and do it. I’m like, “Please come to our church and do it.”
Chris Turner: Yeah.
David Green: And, we provided 300 or 400 backpacks full of school supplies from our church and then some other people came in and said, ” Hey, we are going to do school clothes.”
David Green: And other groups came in and said, “We are going to do other items for families, with like groceries and things.”
David Green: And in between each group that came in, I met with them all and shared the Gospel, and that Saturday morning, between 8:00 and 12:00 we had 41 people pray to receive Christ.
Chris Turner: Wow.
David Green: And the neat thing for me on that day wasn’t that they all came into First Baptist Church, because they came from all over the country. And we helped get those people in other churches that they were already familiar with, were already going to, and help promote baptism in those churches as well. So we get to do that with several events throughout the year. We see 100s of people saved and baptized, that don’t just get baptized at our church. Which is fun to come along that need to be growing as well.
David Green: Its kind of like when Jesus met his first followers and they were fishing and they weren’t catching anything. And Jesus told them where to catch things and when their nets started to break they wound up having to call the other boats to come and help with the fish. And I think churches need to get back to that – helping one another to reach the world for Christ.
Chris Turner: Yeah, its one of the things that I felt like just the, coming out of the summer this year, and the spirit at the summer this year, there really seemed to be a great sense of unity. And people really looking, there was a lot of networking in the foyer in between sessions, and just a lot of good fellowship, and it really seems to bode well for where we are going as Tennessee baptists. So how do you help that this next year as president of the convention.
David Green: By continuing to promote that which is good.
Chris Turner: Yeah.
David Green: And by modeling that which is right, what every Baptist Christian needs to model. And that’s a lifestyle of evangelism. I am afraid in not just Tennessee baptist life but in baptist life in general, we spend a lot of time nowadays, things that we don’t fully understand to the detriment of the one thing that we do understand. And that’s the great commission. And if we could be Great Commission Christians, with biblical integrity and biblical discipleship, then we could cut out a lot of those debates that tend to divide us and be united over the person of Christ.
Chris Turner: You know that seems to be one of the things that I felt like with out summit this year, there was that, maybe that’s the thing where the unity came from, is that there really did seem to be that focus on the whole win Tennessee, and moving towards that like, there are six million, or whatever it is number of spiritually lost people in our state. That is our priority. That’s was defines us as baptists, so yeah it was good to do that. Do you see a momentum building in our state? It seems like we are reaching some sort of critical mass, I mean the Lord really seems to be moving in Tennessee.
David Green: Oh I agree completely. I want to see churches across the state as they focus on evangelism and discipleship, all of us, especially me. I wan tour baptism numbers to increase. We should be baptizing over 100 every year and most churches need to double and quadruple. I need to double and quadruple. And I am not the poster child for doing everything right. I think we need to stop for a minute and see what we are doing wrong and let the strength of God truly be made perfect in our weakness and we are never going to do that until we get genuine and transparent and say, “You know, there’s so much stuff I’m not getting, there’s so much stuff I’m not doing right, but I want to be willing to let the Lord use me, I want to be willing to let the Lord use our churches to do His work.”
Lonnie Wilkey: David, I know you because of your past experience with the board and your knowledge of the state, you sort of have and advantage I think as you begin traveling, I know you are going tomorrow to Union University for a trustee meeting, talk to us a little bit about our institutions and how you thin our institutions fit in as we try to meet the five objectives across Tennessee.
David Green: I am a fan of all of our ministry partners. I wanted, you mentioned back, that you know, I want to take it back to when I was on the board before. I am excited now to be able serve with Randy Davis. And I never got to do that before. I went out the year after, I served with Randy for a year, when I was president of the Executive Board back in 2012, when Randy came on. And I was able to get to serve with Randy that first year, almost that first year because I was the chairman of his search committee, that brought Randy to TBC, and I take no credit there, God did that, and I’ve never had a chance to serve a full year with him. I’ve watched and seen the way Randy has let God use him to bring our ministry partners to a better point of unity than they have ever been. And I am excited to see that.
David Green: I am a big fan of our Union University as well as Carson-Newman University. I’ve got members of my church that are trustees as Carson-Newman. My daughter attended Union and finished their nursing school a year and a half ago. So I am blessed to have had a part of both of our university families.
Chris Turner: Great.
David Green: So and the adult homes, I love what our adult homes do, and the way that they ministry to adults with special needs. That is a special place in my heart. I have a 28 year old son that has autism, and so I appreciate anybody who reaches out to our mentally handicap, or special need adult population, because it is a huge need and I am grateful for what they do and especially plugged in to that.
David Green: Children’s home has always been a big part of our ministry at First Baptist Greenville. We’ve got members on their board that are members of our church and deacons in our church and so our church family at Greenville has literally through the years been a part of each of our ministry partners, so its a blessing now to get to serve as part of their boards and encourage them in doing what is right.
Lonnie Wilkey: During the coming years as your travel across the state, how can Tennessee Baptists pray for you?
David Green: Pray for my family while I am away. Its always going to be in this order: family, church and church family, and then the Tennessee baptist family. And that’s okay if your are third. You know. [crosstalk 00:20:24] Your forth if you count Jesus, because He’s first, but being third or forth on my agenda list is not a bad thing. But in that order, pray, pray for my wife. Pray for my son, my son works at public’s, at 28 years old he works at Public’s and we are responsible to get him to work, and bring him home, so definitely pray for him. Pray for my daughter. She is a neonatal intensive care nurse at Children’s Hospital in Johnson City. So just pray for her. And pray for our church family. Pray for my staff, that they are able to be able to do what they are doing and do it even greater than last year.
David Green: Pray that I will have safety while I travel, wisdom while I answer questions, and most of all, while I am out in the state, pray that I practice what I preach. Pray that I do model personal intentional evangelism as a way of life. Those are some of the things.
Chris Turner: Well David, we look forward to the year ahead, i think its going to be a great year, there’s great momentum. There was just a lot of excitement about your election as president. You are a steeped Tennessee baptism. You have served in a lot of ways. You know Tennessee Baptists, you know the convention, you know the mission board, and so obviously you are bringing a lot to the table in that and obviously your heart, seeing people come to the Lord, seeing us work together as Tennessee Baptists so I think that Tennessee Baptists can be proud that over the next year, they’ve got one of their own, a champion of what we are trying to do as a body of believers, group of believers, churches working together for the sake of the Great Commission.
David Green: Certainly
Chris Turner: So congratulations on your election, and we look forward to talking to you more along the way.
David Green: Well thank you and I would be remise if i didn’t say I have know the past presidents of the convention for years. And they have all set the bar so high. My goal is to not duplicate one of them, my goal is to be who God made me to be.
Chris Turner: Absolutely.
David Green: And just continue just doing the level of good work that they have all done. They are all just great guys. And to just to be listed in their ranks is a blessing.
Chris Turner: Absolutely.
David Green: Thank you.
Chris Turner: Well we have had a great run of presidents but there has been a unity of focus. Every one of those gus over the past several years have been about that evangelism piece, seeing people come to the lord, working together, you know moving forward as a people.
David Green: Yeah. If we don’t focus on that, we are not worthy of our real estate.
Chris Turner: That’s right
David Green: We’re not
Chris Turner: That’s right. Well like [inaudible 00:23:23] says, if we, and Randy too, if we accomplish the second through fifth objectives, but we don’t accomplish the fist objective, we really haven’t accomplished what we say that we are as great commission people.
Chris Turner: So anyway that’s great, be sure and pray for our president, David Green. Pray for his church, and its not just an individual that gets elected as president of the convention, its a whole church body that also is along for the ride, so pray for them. And we just look forward to the year ahead, so thanks for being with us.
David Green: My pleasure. Thank you so much.