TBMB leader Randy Davis looks back at Jan 2019 to discuss bivocational ministers, Baptist Collegiate Ministries on mission through disaster relief, Cooperative Program and GOTM giving and prayer.
Chris: Hello and welcome in to this special edition of Radio B&R. I’m your host Chris Turner, and we’re joined here with Randy Davis, our state exec. Randy, welcome in.
Chris: Well this is one of those things that we’re trying to do a monthly retrospective, just kind of a monthly update with you to kind of get an idea of what’s going on not only in the Tennessee Baptist Mission board, but across our Tennessee Baptist Churches over the month of January. This month we had a really big event that’s actually turned out to be a big event in our Bivocational ministers retreat.
Randy: I think that is something that is just so powerful and effective that is being done. My wife Jeanie and I have been involved in this Bivocational pastors retreats since probably a decade and a half ago. We got involved while we were still in the pastorate, and then coming here we’ve been invited back each year. She normally leads a breakout session for the wives, and I have an opportunity to preach a time or two, and it’s really one of the highlights of the year. The growth of this annual retreat with the Bivocational pastors and their wives has just grown tremendously. It’s taken place since we’ve been involved each year at Conference Center in Pigeon Forge, and the people love the facility, they love the atmosphere, they love the environment of being in the mountains in east Tennessee. It is just a very very exciting time together.
Chris: Talk a little bit about why it is such a big deal. We have really a large number of our pastors in Tennessee are Bivocational. I don’t think most people recognize how big that number is.
Randy: Yeah, I would say that, and I’ve heard this from others, that a minimum of 60% of the pastors in Tennessee are Bivocational. The number of churches that have a pastor that is either Bivocational, he has a vocation apart from his ministry there as the churches pastor. Our churches that have pastors that might be full time, but in order to make ends meet they’re wives have secular jobs to make ends meet, then you’re probably talking about 75% of our churches in that kind of category if not more. But here’s the thing about the Bivocational type of pastor. I see that number growing tremendously within the next 10 to 20 years. I think it’s gonna be so many of our churches are gonna be in a position where they in need of a Bivocational pastor, I think because of the lack of pastors that are out there, every week when I talk to a DOM he’ll tell me he’s got nine or 10 or 12 churches open in his association. And they all tell me the same thing. They’re having a hard time finding pastors. So I think the gentleman farmer that becomes the pastor, the person that is the engineer that becomes the pastor, is gonna be a rapidly growing trend in the near future.
Chris: Well, and we’ve seen that certainly across our state with really guys coming from a broad range of vocational backgrounds. And taking over that role, it’s really someone from the church probably rising up to fill that role. Possibly on a temporary basis but then it kind of becomes a full time, part-time gig for them, doesn’t it?
Randy: Well, it does, and I think it’s gonna be incumbent upon networks of churches like the TBMB, to work with other ministry partners to make pastoral training readily available. For these folks that have full time vocations and yet they wanna know how to study the word in deeper fashion, in preparation for messages, how to put together sermons. How to lead a church. So it’s incumbent upon us to step up to the plate and as we serve churches, and as we serve these heroes to be there as a resource, and I think this is one of the things that this conference does. There’s a great deal of networking and equipping sidebar conversations that helps these pastors. This year we had a record number there, we had almost 300 Bivocational pastors and their wives, and Chris the … I started thinking about it on the way back to Nashville from East Tennessee. I met at this conference that worked outside the pulpit as chemist, one is a professor of engineering at the University of Tennessee, one is a schoolteacher, one owns a commercial construction company. Another gentlemen just flipped houses. You had … there’s a Bivocational pastor that leads procurement for Oak Ridge Laboratories, there’s just a lot of these pastors that are just remarkable, remarkable heroes.
Chris: One of the things that were just talking about a little bit ago in a meeting is just the spirit among this group of pastors. They really have a sense of comradery just because of a shared unique calling.
Randy: The time every single year that we’ve been involved, there have been more than one pastor that has articulated I was ready to quit, and now I’m ready to go back. One of the men that led a devotion this year for us, a Bivocational pastor, those were almost his exact words. When he left last year he was ready to quit, ready to throw in the towel but somehow some way they just keep on going, and this is their mountaintop retreat literally and figuratively where they get spiritual fuel to keep on going.
Chris: Yeah and that’s one thing if someone’s listening, they can certainly can contact us here at the TBMB for next years retreat and get some information on that, and also John Parrot one of our state missionary’s has done a great job on leading that over these past few years and he’s also available to give some good information. One of the other unique opportunities that has taken place in January is our BCM’s on mission doing disaster relief. And we had a really good turn out of college students that are participating in that.
Randy: Yeah just during their Christmas break before they started class back we had well over a hundred, hundred and twenty or more university students that went over to help in disaster relief and rebuild projects over in an area that was devastated by the hurricanes in North Carolina. This is also a trend we’ve had university students participating in disaster relief efforts on the Texas coast, the Florida coast, and Louisiana, and there is a youth movement going on in disaster relief right now, and I just so appreciate those BCMs from across our state that are involved in this much needed ministry.
Chris: There’s just been a great partnership the past few years between our disaster relief volunteers across Tennessee and also our BCMs. One of the things that I heard while I was out there and had the opportunity to go out and shoot some Golden Offering For Tennessee Missions video, because Golden Offering does help support that opportunity to get these young folks on mission. But volunteers from Sevier Heights and some from other churches that were there just talked about how much they enjoy having the college students and the energy that they bring, but their receptivity to learning, and really that passing of the torch, and that’s really one of the things that’s been really at the heart of this. Our BCMs are, they’re the next generation, and DR is a really important bible ministry for us.
Randy: Oh, absolutely. In 2009 when I was pastoring at First Sevierville and president of the convention, I went across the state and visited in over 40 of our different associations. And I asked the question, “What is the most relevant thing that your churches are involved in that our state network of churches is doing through the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board?” And there were two replies almost constantly. One was that partnership missions were closing in on four decades of partnership missions around the world and here at home. But the disaster relief was always mentioned as one of the most relevant ministries we have in connecting our churches with meeting needs of the hurting across our country.
Chris: Yeah, and it’s one of those things, we’ve had a great generation of folks that have been involved with DR for a long time. And like they talk about, if we don’t pass that on, and it’s one of the most practical ministries that we do is Southern Baptist, and it’s Tennessee Baptists, and so it is encouraging to see younger folks get involved in that. I mention that it is funded by, some of it, partially by Golden Offering For Tennessee Missions funds. We seem to be doing pretty well right now with our Golden Offering for this fiscal year.
Randy: Yeah, over the past five or six years we’ve seen the Golden Offering For Tennessee Missions grow by 25, 26% which is pretty phenomenal. And this year we’re on pace to set another record, and I just appreciate so many Tennessee baptists giving through the Golden Offering For Tennessee Missions to impact lossness right here in our own state. Every penny of the GOTM stays right here in Tennessee. The GOTM is to Tennessee Missions, and our state what Lottie Moon Offering is for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Offering is from North American Missions is. It is vitally important. One of the biggest bulk of our GOTM funding goes to church revitalization and church planting, as well as engaging the loss another large portion of that offering goes to Compassion Ministries right here in Tennessee. So GOTM is vital.
Chris: It really does go hand in hand with Cooperative Program. Why don’t you talk a little bit about where we are in Cooperative Program, but Cooperative Program really does enable us to have a structure in place to help our churches reach people for Christ, for being able to come alongside of them in church revitalization and help them get from where they are to where they wanna be. Just talk a little bit about where we are with Cooperative Programs. We actually finished last year really well, and just talk a little bit about the start we’re off to this year.
Randy: Last year we met budget and exceeded budget This year, we’re right on track to meet budget again. We’re coming to the conclusion of the first quarter of our fiscal year, and things are tracking in a good manner. I praise the Lord for churches that have upped their Cooperative Progam percentage. Our goal by 2024 is to see every church giving 10% of their mission’s dollars through the Cooperative P`rogram. 10% of what people are giving through their churches. That’s not foreign, matter of fact the vast majority of the 93 year history of Cooperative Program, churches were at 10%. Just 1986 churches in Tennessee were at 11%. And through that giving, great mission sending organizations, world class seminaries, incredible compassion ministries, all of those were built, and the opportunity to impact the darkness, the spiritual darkness that’s out there where the gospel has never been as ready as it is right now. The funding mechanism for that is this mission’s mutual fund we called the cooperative program. Tennessee Baptist churches last year reversed a long trend by raising the percentages for the first time in about 25 or 30 years, and I’m very very thankful for that.
Chris: One of the things you’ve talked constantly about in relation to Golden Offering and Cooperative Program but really everything else that we do here at the Tennessee Baptist Mission board is that any way you slice it Tennessee is a mission field, and we talk about the way that we reach our mission field but you really opened this year in our staff meeting with an emphasis on prayer. So just kind of as we close out this monthly update for January, what are some things you could be encouraging Tennessee Baptists to be praying for in relation to reaching people for Christ here in Tennessee?
Randy: I would say pray for healthy churches first. The churches are the front line. They’re at the tip of the spear. We’re just here to support keeping that spear sharp and I would pray for our churches, that they’d be unity of churches, that our churches would be healthy, and that our churches would be focused on the outside, not on the inside. They wouldn’t focus on themselves, they’d focus on the mission field where they are. I would pray for that. And then I would pray that we would continue innovating in order to serve these great churches, that we would not attempt the same things because we’ve always done it like that, but we’d be willing to get outside the box. The last thing I’d ask folks to pray for is to pray for a lot of our pastors and church staff members. Satan is really attacking these champions, and they are dealing with things that are very, very heavy. The opioid addiction that is sweeping our state is affecting so many families, and tragically too many of those families are the ones that are leading our churches that are being affected by it. Their kids, and grandkids. So lift our pastors and their families up to the Lord in prayer. Love on your pastor.
Chris: Yeah, and last thing we would certainly would add to that is, it comes out of our theme from our last summit, and just other things that we’ve done, if we’re gonna win Tennessee, a great place to start in winning people for Christ here in Tennessee is to pray for the spiritually lost that are around us. We definitely wanna add that.
Randy: We’ll look forward to hearing in February. There’s some … February is a packed month. There’s a lot of ministry going on, and so we’ll look forward to hearing from you again at the end of February, and thanks for joining us today.
Chris: Thank you so much Chris.