FRANKLIN — Since November, Tennessee Baptists have been asked for their opinions and dreams for the future direction of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
And, they have responded overwhelmingly to the Acts 2:17 Initiative, said Steve Holt, church services director for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
More than 1,000 Tennessee Baptists have participated in at least one of the following: the listening session held at last year’s Summit at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova; 24 regional sessions throughout the state since January or approximately 10 auxiliary groups, Holt said.
Holt noted that the Acts 2:17 Vision Team, charged with developing the vision and direction of the Tennessee Baptist Convention for the next 10 years, worked with Auxano, an organization that provided trained facilitators for the listening sessions.
“Auxano told us that if we had about 500 participants, we could get a good sampling of all the responses. We more than doubled that number,” he said.
Prior to last year’s Summit, Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said the initiative “could become the most consequential process in the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s history, and at its heart is us working together in seeking God’s preferable future for our network of churches.”
Holt said it was imperative that the Vision Team heard from grassroots Tennessee Baptists before embarking on the task.
“We wanted to hear from the heart of Tennessee Baptists,” Holt stressed.
Davis agreed: “The interest and involvement of Tennessee Baptists has exceeded expectations. And I am thankful.”
“We all have a hunger to find and follow God’s direction in a cooperative effort to advance His Kingdom,” Davis added.
The next major step in the Acts 2:17 Initiative process is seeking the input from pastors via a survey being facilitated by Lifeway Research. We look forward to hearing from every Tennessee Baptist pastor.”
During the sessions, Tennessee Baptists responded to three general questions.
(1) What is a current, significant challenge your church cannot face on its own?
(2) What part of your community needs fresh thinking when it comes to gospel impact?
(3) If God has His way in our Tennessee Baptist mission fields over the next 10 years, what would we be celebrating?
Among the themes gleaned from the responses include how churches can deal with social issues, the impact of churches in their communities, how to involve younger leaders, and many more, Holt said.
“We know that the themes that emerged from the listening sessions will influence the Vision Team as they seek God’s preferable future for Tennessee Baptists,” Holt said.
He said the Vision Team will begin sorting through the responses in May and hope to bring a preliminary report to messengers at this year’s Summit in Chattanooga. The final report is expected to be presented at the Summit in 2024 in Murfreesboro, which coincides with the convention’s 150th anniversary, Holt added.
The Acts 2:17 Vision Team is comprised of: Jay Hardwick, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, chair; Melody Cain, First Baptist Church, Seymour; Ronny Raines, First Baptist Church, Clarksville; Cliff Marion, First Baptist Church, Covington; Martha Pitts, Germantown Baptist Church, Germantown; Jordan Easley, First Baptist Church, Cleveland; Drake Nosco, Grace Baptist Church, Nashville; Matthew Daniel, First Baptist Church, Whitwell; Joel Pigg, Salem Baptist Church, Trenton; Donny Crass, Niles Ferry Baptist Church, Greenback; Pete Tackett, Antioch Baptist Church, Johnson City; Jeff Mims, Judson Baptist Church, Nashville; and Dwayne Lewis, New Season Baptist Church, Nashville. B&R