Great Commission work is like having a balanced diet and Acts 1:8 is the recipe.
You know the recipe: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” However, it is one thing to know the recipe, it is quite another to actually cook up Great Commission work. I believe Tennessee Baptists are great cooks.
April is the month we celebrate North American missions and offer support to Southern Baptist missionaries through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. As is so often the case, Tennessee Baptists rise to the occasion. Proof? Tennessee Baptists have given an average of over $4.4 million annually over the last five years through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. I believe our generosity flows because we see the need to saturate our country with the gospel.
Think about how that financial amount has multiplied. That’s about $22 million in half a decade for our North American Mission Board work. Of all of our state and regional Baptist conventions, Tennessee is consistently a leader in generously supporting our national Great Commission work.
On behalf of the North American Mission Board and its missionaries located across our country, thank you Tennessee Baptists! This is money you gave to support NAMB over and above your systematic Cooperative Program giving that also plays a vital role in advancing mission work at all levels.
But Tennessee is sending far more than financial resources. We are sending people. Tennessee Baptists have partnerships with Cincinnati-Dayton and the Ohio Baptist Convention, the Denver, Colorado area through SendDenver, and the New England Baptist Convention.
The Partnership Missions Team of the TBMB is helping personalize missions by connecting Tennessee Baptist churches and associations with fruitful, Kingdom work.
We’re not just sending mission volunteers. About eight years ago, one of our great, young Tennessee pastors, Ben Mandrell, left an established and growing church in Jackson to plant a church in West Denver. He traded fertile spiritual soil for the fallow spiritual rockiness of that megacity. That church, Storyline Fellowship, is now one of the largest and fastest growing churches in Colorado.
That is a spiritual oasis in a sea of spiritual lostness, but we need more of them. Denver’s lead Send City missionary David Howeth said, “Denver has such a huge regional influence. The impact of this city is global. It’s one of the few major cities that has a state capital in the center of influence in its state, and it’s the 15th largest city in the country.
My dream is for [the entrepreneurial spirit of church planters] to merge together with the gospel to impact the world with a movement across the Rockies and that sweeps across to the West Coast.”
What an amazing vision, but it needs support from others to become a reality. Here’s where Tennessee Baptists, our giving through Annie Armstrong and the Cooperative Program and the need meet. Ben’s church may be rapidly growing but with nearly 4.5 million people in Denver, there is a Southern Baptist church-to-population ratio of 1 church for every 20,138 people. We have to be involved there. The spiritual needs of people cry out for a gospel witness. Tennesseans are not the kind of people to give their hard earned money to excess and extravagance, but we do give generously and consistently of our resources to where there is need, and there is a need.
Like Tennessee, anyway you slice it the rest of our country is a mission field, too. Every square mile of God’s earth is a mission field. Jesus compels us to go to all of it. I am thankful that we can partner with the North American Mission Board to push back spiritual darkness by planting churches, caring for hurting people and introducing the spiritually lost to the saving grace of Jesus in places like Denver, Cincinnati, Dayton and other great cities across America. That’s why as you give through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering this year, I would encourage you to kick your generosity up a notch.
Let’s cook up something great this year. Let’s give and go.
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.