The state evangelism rallies were held at regional sites this year in hopes of creating a wider reach for the event. Below is coverage from the rallies in East Tennessee (hosted by Carson-Newman University) and West Tennessee (hosted by Union University).
Gaines: Jesus was, is and always will be Lord of all
By Lonnie Wilkey
JEFFERSON CITY — Evangelism is not a new concept, observed Steve Gaines, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova.
The earliest Christians evangelized Roman citizens and Baptists need to be evangelistic as well, Gaines told participants at the East Tennessee Evangelism Rally held Sept. 18 at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City. The event was sponsored by Carson-Newman, the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and Jefferson County Baptist Association.
“We can’t serve the Lord with a zipped lip. We have to talk to people about the Lord,” he said.
Taking his message from Philippians 2, Gaines emphasized that Jesus was Lord before He even came to earth and that He is Lord today and will continue to be Lord in the future.
Gaines noted that early Christians were persecuted by the Romans because they refused to say Caesar was Lord. “They could only say Jesus Christ is Lord,” he said.
The same principle holds true today, Gaines continued. “The Republicans are not Lord. The Democrats are not Lord. The president is not Lord. The governor is not Lord. Jesus Christ is Lord.”
He reminded those present that Jesus is Lord in every situation, whether it be disasters, diseases, death or dealing with demons. But, Gaines added, Jesus does not go where He is not wanted or invited. He cited the occasion when Jesus was asked to leave the area when he cast the demons out of the demoniac into a herd of pigs and they plunged into the lake.
Too many churches today have left Jesus out, Gaines said. “There’s a lot of churches that need to let Jesus back in,” he said. He reminded Tennessee Baptists that the church does not belong to them or the deacons or the pastors. “It is Jesus’ church. Let Him in and let Him do what He wants to do.”
Not only was Jesus Lord and is Lord today, He will be Lord in the future, Gaines said. “Jesus was Lord while He was on the cross, and He will be Lord when He comes back to earth,” he promised.
Mike Clowney, head football coach at Carson-Newman University, shared his testimony during the rally. Clowney, who played football at Carson-Newman under the late Ken Sparks, noted that when he came to college, he was looking to “party,” but instead “found the Word of God and that was what he was looking for the whole time.”
Clowney acknowledged his transformation did not happen overnight but occurred “a little bit at a time” over the years. “It is amazing what Christ will do with us when we get out of His way.”
Roc Collins, director of strategic objectives for the TBMB, reminded those at the rally nearly two-thirds of the residents of Tennessee do not know Jesus Christ as Lord. He challenged them to share the greatest story on earth — “Jesus still saves.” B&R
Hallmark: Gospel sharing is a mandate, not a request
By Avery Chenault
Union University student writer
JACKSON — Church members and leaders gathered in Union University’s G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel on Sunday, Sept. 11, for the West Tennessee Evangelism Rally.
The night featured worship and a message from Clay Hallmark, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Lexington, Tennessee.
Sponsored by the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, the rally was held following a series of breakout sessions throughout the afternoon aiming at equiping and encouraging believers to spread the gospel throughout Tennessee and beyond.
Hallmark’s message focused on Luke 14:15-24. His sermon sought to inspire local believers to evangelize the state of Tennessee.
“The majority of our neighbors, the majority of our friends, the majority of the people who live within the shadow of our church building are lost and headed to hell without the love of Jesus Christ,” Hallmark said. “That means tonight their life is hanging in the balance.”
Hallmark addressed the audience on the declining rates of faith and church participation throughout Tennessee and urged Christians to seriously consider the faith and spiritual life of those around them.
He encouraged the audience to “take the field” on matters of faith, discipleship and eternal life and to prioritize evangelizing the state of Tennessee and beyond.
Despite the changing cultures, Hallmark reminded the audience that the call to make disciples has stayed the same.
“The mandate of Jesus Christ, the master, has never changed,” he said. “The great commission is still the marching orders of every believer, every church and every Sunday School.”
In reference to Luke 14:15-24, Hallmark continually reminded attendees to regularly invite unbelievers to the banquet table of Christ. In addition to evangelizing unbelievers, Hallmark encouraged Christians to seek after and encourage those who are curious about faith.
“All around us people are seeking Jesus,” Hallmark said. “The seed requires a sower who will go into the field and sow the seed.”
Hallmark concluded his message by giving the opportunity for attendees to rededicate their life to Christ and refocus their efforts on evangelism and by once again reminding attendees of the urgency and importance of evangelism.
“We have the opportunity to see lives forever changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Hallmark said. B&R