CORDOVA — Tennessee leads the Southern Baptist Convention in the ratio of baptisms to population; a Hispanic church plant was awarded the Luke 15 award; and Tennessee Baptist Convention President Clay Hallmark challenged Tennessee Baptists to remember, repent and return to the Father in the President’s message during the Tuesday night session of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s annual Summit, Nov. 15 at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova.
Roc Collins, evangelism specialist with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, reported that Tennessee ranked third in the Southern Baptist Convention with 14,185 baptisms behind Florida (18,268) and Texas (18,180). However, in terms of the ratio of baptisms to state population, Tennessee ranked first with a population of 7 million compared to Florida’s 22 million and Texas’s 30 million.
Collins also reported the top 10 Tennessee churches in numbers of baptisms:
1. Long Hollow Church, Hendersonville, with 1,388 baptisms.
2. First Baptist Church, Cleveland, with 535 baptisms.
3. Faith Promise Church, Pellissippi campus, Knoxville, with 431 baptisms.
4. Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, with 282 baptisms.
5. New Vision Baptist Church, Battlefield campus, Murfreesboro, with 278 baptisms.
6. Thompson Station Church, Central Campus, with 240 baptisms.
7. Silverdale Baptist Church, Bonny Oaks campus, Chattanooga, with 184 baptisms.
8. Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, with 164 baptisms.
9. Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, with 157 baptisms.
10. Wildersville Baptist Church, Wildersville, with 145 baptisms.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of TBMB, awarded the Luke 15 award to Faro Iglesia Bautista, a Hispanic church plant in Paris. The Luke 15 award is given each year to a church that baptized one person the previous year. Davis noted that in 2021 approximately 200 Tennessee Baptist churches saw one person come to faith in Jesus Christ.
“A person with a carnal mindset might say, ‘You mean there are churches that only baptized one person?’” Davis said. “But what if that one was your drug addicted son? What if that one was your precious granddaughter? In Luke 15, the shepherd went out and searched diligently until he found that one lost lamb and brought it back and had a great celebration.”
As a new church plant, Faro Iglesia Bautista baptized its first new believer in 2021.
Following these reports, Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington, brought the President’s Address from Matthew 7:21-23 and Revelation 2:1-5.
In a sermon titled, “We are the mission field,” Hallmark declared, “The largest mission field in Tennessee right now is sitting in the pews of Tennessee Baptist churches” because “Tennessee Baptist churches are filled with cultural Christians who are not committed to Jesus Christ.”
While crime, suicide, pornography and other social issues continue to rise across the state, the greater tragedy is that churches are powerless because they have “substituted the power of God for programs, processes, and personalities,” Hallmark said.
The solution, Hallmark said, is found in the principles of Revelation 2:1-5: remembering how far we have fallen, repenting of our faithlessness and returning to the Father.
First, Tennessee Baptists must remember how far they have fallen. “We have forgotten our purpose and promoted our own agenda,” Hallmark said. “Many Tennessee Baptist churches could close their doors tomorrow, and no one in the community would notice.”
Second, Tennessee Baptists must repent of their faithlessness. “We must turn back to the Savior,” Hallmark said.
Finally, Tennessee Baptists must return to the Father. “We need to do the works we did at first,” Hallmark said. “We need the Holy Spirit to rearrange our hearts. We need to do a new thing.”
Remember, repent and return, Hallmark concluded.
“Let’s do a new thing.” B&R — Lovell has written about Baptist work for more than 20 years. She lives in Spring Hill.