Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Worship and praise served as the anchor points for this year’s Summit.
The conference, which is the annual gathering of Tennessee Baptists, was held Nov. 14-17 at Brentwood Baptist Church.
Below are brief recaps of the services that were held during Summit. (Coverage of the Sunday night worship service can be found HERE).
TUESDAY AFTERNOON SERVICE
McLaurin: We will always be better together
By David Dawson
BRENTWOOD — When he studies the early church from Acts 2, Willie McLaurin sees a church that “walked together, worshiped together and witnessed together.”
He believes churches in Tennessee could accomplish so much if they adopted that same mindset.
McLaurin, who serves as vice president for Great Commission relations and mobilization at the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and is a former staff member at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, was the featured speaker at the Tuesday afternoon worship session for the 2021 Summit at Brentwood Baptist Church.
Delivering a message entitled “(We are) Better Together,” McLaurin called for Tennessee Baptists to combine all their efforts toward reaching the same goal — sharing the gospel.
“The early church was so efficient and effective because they made sure that the main thing stayed the main thing,” said McLaurin. “Wherever they went, they were witnessing.”
McLaurin said present-day churches could have a greater impact if they didn’t get distracted by trivial issues. “There is not one problem in the church today that soul-winning can’t solve.”
McLaurin called for churches to be unified congregations. He noted that churches shouldn’t be divided over worship styles and other issues. Instead, he said, churches should be unified in their urgency for sharing the gospel.
“We are not playing a game of ‘tug-of-war’ with church against church,” he said. “We need to ALL get on the same side of the rope and pull together.”
McLaurin went on to say that a unified church exalts the savior, explains the Scriptures, edifies the saints, embraces the spirit and evangelizes the sinners.
McLaurin also called for churches to be spirit-filled congregations.
He said churches should display a “living, breathing urgency” for the gospel and should always be “telling and celebrating” what God is doing in their lives. He said the church should love others like Jesus loved others.
He said these things can be accomplished only when the Holy Spirit is welcomed.
“We don’t need a feeling of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “We need a filling of the Holy Spirit.”
Lastly, McLaurin called for churches to be devoted congregations — devoted to the Lord and devoted to each other.
“We were designed to be together,” he said.
He said times of fellowship, Biblical teaching, prayer and “breaking bread” together are especially significant, and he encouraged those in attendance to “pray expectantly and pray earnestly.”
McLaurin noted that, “God can do more in a moment than we can do in a lifetime.”
In his closing prayer, McLaurin asked for the Lord’s forgiveness for the times when our churches “have been competitors instead of colleagues.” B&R
TUESDAY EVENING WORSHIP
Full day concludes with worship
By David Dawson
BRENTWOOD — Weariness didn’t prevent worship on Tuesday night at Summit.
After a full day of convention procedures — including business discussions, elections, breakout sessions, committee reports and more — the messengers at the annual meeting of Tennessee Baptists gathered in the sanctuary, this time for worship, at Brentwood Baptist Church.
The service included music by the choir from First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, along with the Brentwood Baptist Church orchestra. Bruce Chesser, serving the final days of a two-year term as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, delivered the president’s address.
The service, which marked the last session of Tuesday’s schedule, opened with the hymn “Revive Us Again” — a seemingly fitting selection for messengers and convention staff who had been on the church campus since the early morning hours.
The worship music also included dynamic renditions of “Jesus Saves” and “I Will Not Be Shaken.”
Chesser, senior pastor at FBC Hendersonville, then delivered the annual president’s sermon, in which he examined an often overlooked element in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
“We like to talk about the Samaritan as the hero of the story,” Chesser said, “but what about the innkeeper?”
Chesser noted that the innkeeper in the story provided food and medical care to the injured traveler after the Samaritan continued on his way. Chesser urged those in attendance to be modern-day inn-keepers to those in need.
“We are living in a world where people are beaten, robbed and left for dead,” Chesser said. “The bright spot (for them) should be our churches. The church is the inn. And you are the innkeeper.”
Chesser said that appearances can often be deceiving when it comes to someone’s circumstances. Even those who appear to “have it altogether” can be overwrought with troubles.
“Everybody hurts,” Chesser said. “From the pastor to the janitor, everybody hurts.”
It is here, Chesser said, when the world needs the church — and the believers — to step forward and show love and compassion.
“The world doesn’t know where help is coming from, but we hold the truth in our hands,” Chesser said as he raised his Bible.
“God help us be good innkeepers in the days ahead,” he said. B&R
WEDNESDAY SERVICE: CONVENTION SERMON
Glenn: Jesus surrendered only to God’s agenda
By David Dawson
BRENTWOOD — Despite the constant stream of text messages, social media posts and e-mails that are exchanged every day, the world continues to have communication problems, said Mike Glenn, senior pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood.
Preaching the convention sermon at the Tennessee Baptist annual meeting on Wednesday afternoon at Brentwood, Glenn said there is an on-going issue with communication, even among believers.
“The problem is not that we don’t have the right book or that we can’t get on the right page,” he said. “The problem is that we don’t have the right Person.”
Too often in today’s culture, Glenn said, people base their value on what others think or say instead of living for the Lord, and getting their worth from that.“As a society, we have let the wrong people name us,” Glenn said. “We go to the world to find out who we are. And the world always gets it wrong.”
Glenn said the overarching worldview — especially prevalent among advertisers — is that a person can live out all of their dreams if they simply pursue them hard enough. But this is a deceptive philosophy, he said.
“The truth is, you can’t really be anything that you want to be,” he said. “But you can be everything God intended for you to be.”
He said the ultimate example of this was Jesus.
“Jesus knew who He was and He knew what He was supposed to do,” said Glenn. “He was totally surrendered to the Father’s agenda.”
Glenn noted that “name dropping” seems to be a popular activity in the Nashville area. He said he will often hear someone say that they “know” a famous star, when in truth, they’ve simply passed by the famous person at the mall.
He said Christians can be guilty of this, too. They claim to have a close relationship with the Lord, he said, when they really just brush by Him.
“There are too many Tennessee Baptists who are name-dropping the name of Jesus,” he said.
Glenn said many believers try to make deals with God — “if You do this, then I will do this” — and they fail to understand His sovereignty.
“Most of us have a contract with God instead of a covenant,” he said.
Glenn said the Christian life can sometimes be similar to a game of pick-up basketball.
When the teams are being divided up, “the best player always get to be captain — and he gets to choose his team. You always hope he chooses you, because you know his team is going to win.”
And if that player does choose you, Glenn said, the rest is easy. All you have to do to win the game “is just feed him the ball,” Glenn said.
Glenn concluded by saying that the world is looking for answers. And while Christians can’t necessarily provide them, they can at least point others in the right direction.
“When people ask, ‘can you help me?’ we should respond by saying, ‘No, but I know a Jesus who can,’ ” Glenn said. B&R
MESSAGE FROM RANDY C. DAVIS
Davis encourages Tennessee Baptists to follow Nehemiah’s example
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — When it comes to dealing with bad news, Randy C. Davis believes strongly that it’s important to follow the example of Old Testament prophet Nehemiah instead of modern trends.
“When we see bad news around us, we turn to Facebook (and other media) and give answers as to what people should be doing. When Nehemiah was brokenhearted about the destruction of Jersalem, he fasted and prayed,” Davis reminded messengers during his report at the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood.
Not only did Nehemiah fast and pray, he tried to make a difference. “Nehemiah dreamed an impossible dream.”
Reading from Nehemiah 2, Davis reminded messengers that Nehemiah did more than dream.
He took the initiative and got permission from the king to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and then waited on God. “Where God guides, He provides,” Davis said.
“Was the dream impossible? Yes. Was it impractical? Yes. Was it Imperative? Yes,” Davis said. The people took hold of Nehemiah’s challenge and rebuilt the wall, he said.
Davis noted that Tennessee Baptists need to follow the prophet’s example. “Our people are not overburdened; they are underchallenged,” he said.
The TBMB leader cited examples in Tennessee Baptist history where Baptists rose to the challenge and built institutions that exist today — Carson-Newman University (from Mossy Creek Baptist Seminary), the Tennessee Baptist Convention itself when then affiliated with Union University, the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home, a hospital in West Tennessee and more.
Davis cautioned that there will be naysayers who will say the work can’t be done and will point out failures in the past. He cited Sanballat and Gesham mentioned in Nehemiah 2.
“Sanballat and Gesham are still around in our Baptist churches today. They just have different names,” he said.
“There is some good work going on in Tennessee,” Davis said. “Tennessee Baptists, let’s rise up and build like we have never before. Let’s don’t get off the wall.” B&R