By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Messengers to the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention during The Summit Nov. 10-12 will vote on the recommendations of the Vision 2021 Transition Team.
The report was to have been acted on at last year’s meeting in Chattanooga but was delayed for a year to give Tennessee Baptists time for additional input.
“We have responded to the concerns expressed to us and have taken them into consideration,” said Chuck Groover, pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Mount Juliet and chairman of the Transition Team.
Groover said the Transition Team sought to balance the input with the importance of “maintaining the integrity” of the report of the Vision 2021 Task Force that was adopted by TBC messengers in 2012.
“I think we have been able to accomplish that,” Groover said.
TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis expressed appreciation to Groover and Danny Sinquefield, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Bartlett, who chaired the Vision 2021 Task Force, along with each team member for spending “hundreds of hours over the past two years praying, preparing, and deliberating to guide implementation” of the Vision 2021 report adopted by the TBC in Bartlett.
“I’m appreciative of the simplicity, limit in scope, and priority of focus in the final product,” Davis said. “It remains an impactful expression of what the team discerns as from the Lord.”
Davis observed that if the report “is adopted by the messengers at the convention during The Summit in Brentwood, our network of churches will have clear compelling and courageous objectives set before them to accomplish over the next decade.
“The goal of impacting lostness in Tennessee like we have not seen in the last 50 years will take an unshakable unity, great resolve, total surrender to the Lordship of Christ, and a great spiritual awakening,” Davis added.
Groover noted the Transition Team also met with leaders of TBC entities and made adjustments in line with their requests and suggestions in preparing the final report.
The challenge faced by the Transition Team was one of working within the framework of the many passions of the Tennessee Baptist family, Groover observed.
“Tennessee Baptists have long dedicated ourselves to providing support to the entities that we hold dear and at the same time we have come to recognize the ever growing number of people across our state and around the world who have not responded to the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. With this in mind we must approach this strategic hour that God has allowed us with the resolve that as we are faithful in our sacrifices God will be faithful in His promise to meet our every need,” Groover said, citing II Corinthians 9:8, HCSB.
“Sacrifice is never easy, but as an act of faith it is an investment in the kingdom and to the glory of God,” he added.
“On two occasions, the convention has voted for an equal distribution of Cooperative Program gifts,” Groover said. He observed that in the Transition Team’s initial report last year “people came face to face” with what moving toward the 50/50 distribution will look like.
Groover noted that while concerns had been expressed about the ramifications of moving toward a 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Program funds between the TBC and the Southern Baptist Convention, it is still a key element of the adopted Vision 2021 Task Force report.
“In order to achieve an equal distribution of Cooperative Program gifts sacrifices across the board will be necessary,” he acknowledged.
While the target of the 2018-19 fiscal year for accomplishing the 50/50 distribution remains the same, the Transition Team gave more latitude to the institutions and Executive Board leadership in getting to that level. Equal adjustments will be made in the first three years while adjustments in the final two years will be dealt with in the normal budgetary process, Groover said.
The final report includes four recommendations for consideration by messengers.
Recommendation one deals with the “Five Great Objectives” recently proposed by TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis. According to the report the five objectives “were formulated through prayer, research, state-wide discussions within our TBC network, and influenced by direction from the Vision 2021 recommendations adopted by messengers to the 2012 Tennessee Baptist Convention.”
The recommendation states: “We now respectfully ask messengers to the 2014 Tennessee Baptist Convention to formally adopt for our network of churches and partners these Five Great Objectives which were affirmed in June by members of the Executive Board.
The objectives deal with the goal of having 50,000 Tennesseans annually coming to salvation, being baptized, and set on the road to discipleship through the ministries of Tennessee Baptist churches; revitalizing a total of at least 500 at risk and declining Tennessee Baptist churches; planting and/or strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches; increasing local church Cooperative Program giving that annually reaches 10 percent for the purpose of local, national, and global Great Commission initiatives; and increasing the level of annual giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions to $3 million for the purpose of supporting Tennessee mission work.
Recommendation two asks that everyone invited to serve on the boards of TBC entities, on TBC committees, and in elected leadership roles in and with the convention, as well as the Executive Board ministry staff, agree to enter a covenant of service in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. If adopted, the recommendation will be implemented in lieu of question 8 on the questionnaire currently used by the Committee on Boards and Committees, which now asks for a personal affirmation of the BFM, according to the Transition Team’s report.
Recommendation three deals with moving toward the 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Program funds by the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Recommendation four continues the protection benefit (death and disability benefit) to participating church staff members and an initial matching retirement contribution for new enrollees for two years.
The written report notes that the four recommendations “have the potential to alter the eternal destiny of millions of people in Tennessee, North America, and the world.”
Groover feels confident that the Transition Team was able to “maintain the integrity of the Vision 2021 report which was at the heart of our task,” he said.