FRANKLIN — In November of 2014, messengers at the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention adopted the Five Objectives, a strategic 10-year plan for the ministry of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and churches throughout the TBC.
Nearly a decade later, the time frame for the Five Objectives is drawing to a close.
The Five Objectives were the vision of Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of TBMB, and were designed to shape the direction of the convention through 2024, the 150th anniversary of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The objectives were approved by the then TBC Executive Board (now Tennessee Baptist Mission Board) and adopted by messengers during The Summit.
The Five Objectives are:
(1) Seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship by 2024;
(2) Having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024;
(3) Planting and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches by 2024;
(4) Realizing an increase in local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024; and
(5) Realizing an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024.
With only 11 months to go before the “self-imposed end date” of the Five Objectives, Davis reflected on the past decade in an interview with the Baptist and Reflector.
“I believe they’re at least four positive takeaways,” he affirmed.
• “There was a heightened awareness of the fact that any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field,” Davis said/
• He noted there has been a clear focus on the Great Commission emphasis of lives being transformed with the gospel — thus, the language of “saved, baptized, and set on the road of discipleship.”
That phrase has been used by others across the nation, Davis observed.
“Tennessee Baptists were determined to keep the main thing the main thing,” he said.
“Seeing spiritually lost people come to know Christ was not a sidebar conversation. It was, is and will continue to be the primary focus of churches across our state,” Davis maintained.
• Davis also noted that during the last decade, the ability to adjust and make necessary changes in order to accommodate stated objectives and priorities was demonstrated.
• He also observed that having clearly stated objectives “has been very unifying. The last 10 years we have all battled the headwinds of national disunity and the cancellation culture. But in Tennessee, we have enjoyed a deep and abiding fellowship across our state.”
Davis believes that each of the Five Objectives were embraced by Tennessee Baptists.
“There has been appreciation and support for all five objectives and they all have had a positive Kingdom impact,” he affirmed.
The two that resonated the most with our churches were revitalization and GOTM. “Prior to COVID-19, 85 percent of all Southern Baptist churches were experiencing no growth and many of those churches were in decline,” Davis said.
After COVID, every church needed some type of revitalization. Having made church revitalization such a topic of conversation, churches now are far more ready to admit that they are sick and in need of revival. That culture shift is so very positive.
“The objective of churches being revitalized has been met,” he affirmed.
As a result of Tennessee Baptists recognizing that their state is a mission field, giving through GOTM has experienced incredible growth, Davis said. In 2014 Tennessee Baptists gave $1,532,060 through GOTM.
In 2023, Tennessee Baptists gave a record $2,262,288 through the state missions offering.
Davis also said that while some of the objectives were not met, the results were positive.
“We have seen more churches started than in any other 10-year period in our history and by the end of 2024, we will have seen more than 200,000 people baptized and set on the road to discipleship.”
In addition, he continued, though Cooperative Program giving has been flat as far as dollar amount, the decline in giving among some of our sister state conventions has been very pronounced.
“We take the wins and learn from the process,” he said.
Davis acknowledged that it “is always a very risky thing to have a stated numerical goal with a deadline. But this scoreboard was needed. The risk had to be taken.”
The TBMB leader said he hopes that Tennessee Baptists have viewed TBMB and the state convention as a whole “in a good light” because of the Five Objectives.
“The important thing, however, is how have they viewed their own communities and the state,” Davis said.
“If they have begun to see opportunities for gospel impact in their own towns and neighborhoods, then we can rejoice that we have been ringing this bell for the last nine years,” he observed.
“If they have ‘lifted up their eyes and looked at the field and have seen that they are white ready for harvest’ we can rejoice. If they now could clearly see that any way you slice it we are a mission field, we can rejoice,” Davis said.
As the TBMB prepares for the transition from the Five Objectives to the Acts 2:17 Initiative (approved by TBC messengers in November 2023 at the Summit in Chattanooga), the two strategies will be connected.
“The bridge between the Five Objectives and the Acts 2:17 Initiative will be the same bridge that links 1874 (the formation of the TBC) to 2024 (the 150th anniversary): the Great Commission,” Davis said.
He noted that a clarifying statement in the adopted Acts 2:17 report is “… until EVERY Tennessean hears the gospel.” That remains at the tip of the priority spear, Davis maintained.
“There are new opportunities to seize and present problems to address but the motivation to do so is advancing His Kingdom.” B&R