By Transition Team
Tennessee Baptists met in Bartlett for our annual convention meeting Nov. 12-14, 2012 and approved the call for a new vision for the people, churches, and entities of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The approved proposal was known as Vision 2021, and it offers a vision for how we can collectively push back the spiritual lostness that engulfs so much of Tennessee, North America, and the rest of the world while encouraging renewal and revitalization for churches across our state.
A transition team was approved and given the responsibility to guide “a process toward accomplishment of the actions” of the Vision 2021 recommendations adopted in Bartlett. The team explored many far-reaching avenues over the following 24 months that would lead to the accomplishment of the recommendations. It has been a thorough process that has included prayer, listening to the Lord, and hearing from people across our great state. With clarity and focus, we bring these four simple yet impactful recommendations to you for your consideration.
Additionally, we joyfully offer you a positive update of Vision 2021 actions already in motion as a result of the Vision 2021 recommendations adopted by the 2012 convention.
Finally, at the conclusion of this report, we humbly request that TBC churches and Great Commission Partners continue moving toward full acceptance of these four recommendations for the purpose of fulfilling our shared mission as a network joined together in the mission of growing God’s Kingdom.
Making Progress: Vision 2021
The adoption of the Vision 2021 recommendations in Bartlett has served as marching orders for the Implementation Team and the Executive Board since November 2012. It has been the goal of the Implementation Team to honor the mandate of the convention in guiding the future direction of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The four major themes, TBC vision and mission statements, core values and priorities that were adopted by the 2012 convention and articulated in the Vision 2021, have guided the work of the Executive Board and the Implementation Team.
A Call for Spiritual Awakening
We prayerfully sought the Lord through solemn assemblies held across the state during 2013. Many of our churches and associations have continued to experience these solemn assemblies as we, God’s people, seek Him to provide a great spiritual awakening in Tennessee.
This focus on prayer continued throughout 2014 as Executive Director Randy C. Davis has met with approximately 4,500 people in all 95 Tennessee counties for the purpose of praying for revival among Tennessee’s churches and salvation among our 3.65 million spiritually lost. There is a true heart cry to see God’s Spirit move in a powerful way across Tennessee.
Establishing a Regional Presence
The Vision 2021 report recommended “the establishment of a strategic regional TBC presence.” The approved 2014-2015 Executive Board missions and ministry budget, and the current staff organizational structure, are aligned with this “regionalized” recommendation and will operationally support seven geographically defined Harvest Fields. There is still an operational center for the support of our network of churches, but there has been a dramatic decentralization of staff by disbursing Executive Board ministry and missions personnel across the state and closer to the fields in which they labor.
Moving Forward: Vision 2021 Recommendations
Recommendation One: Five Great Objectives
The following Five Great 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. 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 2014 by members of the Executive Board. The goal is to accomplish these objectives by 2024, the 150th Anniversary of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
The Mission of Executive Board Ministries is “Making Christ Known by Serving Churches.” Over the next 10 years we believe working toward the following Five Objectives will help us accomplish that priority resulting in:
Realizing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually coming to salvation, 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.
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: Confessional Convictions
Southern Baptists have been a confessional people since our establishment in 1845. That was formalized at the 1925 annual meeting of Southern Baptists held in Memphis. Those early leaders were both missional and doctrinal. We believe Tennessee Baptists see the need to re-establish our doctrinal conviction to unity and truth while simultaneously rededicating ourselves to a commitment of cooperation.
The Vision 2021 transition team recommends 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 Executive Board Ministry Staff, agree to enter a covenant of service in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
In order to eliminate confusion, add clarity, and strengthen confessional conviction, this recommendation will be implemented in lieu of Question 8 on the Questionnaire currently used by the Committee on Boards and Committee on Committees, which now asks for a personal affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
We now respectfully ask messengers to the 2014 Tennessee Baptist Convention to formally adopt this recommendation in order to help preserve the Baptist identity of our shared work and to strengthen the integrity of our mission.
Recommendation Three: 50/50 Cooperative Program Giving by 2018-2019
Messengers to the 2010 Tennessee Baptist Convention hosted by Grace Baptist Church, Knoxville, and again at the 2012 Tennessee Baptist Convention hosted by Faith Baptist Church, Bartlett, overwhelmingly adopted the goal of moving Cooperative Program giving from 60/40 distribution between TBC and SBC work to a 50/50 distribution respectively. In 2012, messengers approved the recommendation to be at 50/50 or equal Cooperative Program distribution by the 2018-2019 budget year.
We now respectfully ask the messengers to the 2014 Tennessee Baptist Convention to request the Executive Board of the TBC to consider budget allocations in accordance with the parameters below — see chart. (These percentages were developed in cooperation with the leadership of each entity shown. The percentages of previous years are provided for comparative purposes.)
Recommendation Four: Minister’s Protection and Contribution
In response to a messenger’s motion from the floor during the 2011 Tennessee Baptist Convention, and in light of the distribution of shared sacrifice for the sake of global Great Commission work, we recommend that:
1. The protection benefit provided to participating church staff members at the cost $294 per year per staff member or approximately $924,000 per year continue, and be funded by the Tennessee Baptist Convention. (This premium provides a death and disability benefit to covered staff.)
2. The Tennessee Baptist Convention continue to provide funding for the church retirement plan matching funds (Maximum of $17.50/month; $210/year) in the following manner:
a. That these initial matching retirement contributions through the retirement plan be invested for two years for new (i.e. first time) enrollees.
b. Beginning in fiscal year 2016, churches that have been in the program longer than two years will be encouraged by TBC and GuideStone staff to continue the $17.50 per month matching retirement contribution on behalf of pastors and staff. This amount will be discontinued through the Convention Operations budget beginning in fiscal year 2016 with the exception of first time enrollees as stated above (a).
The impact of the adoption of this recommendation will be approximately an additional $456,000 available for Great Commission causes supported by Cooperative Program funding.
We now respectfully ask messengers to the 2014 Tennessee Baptist Convention to formally adopt this recommendation in order to enable churches, pastors, staff, and the TBC to financially plan appropriately and to enable more accurate future Great Commission giving projections.
Requests of Great Commission Partners
The Vision 2021 Transition Team requests that: the Great Commission Partners of the Tennessee Baptist Convention work cooperatively to identify and recommend any changes deemed necessary to continue the implementation of the goals articulated in the Vision 2021 report and adopted by the Convention in its 2012 meeting in Bartlett beginning with the following:
1. The Executive Board work with all TBC Great Commission Partners in a collaborative and cooperative manner to utilize Cooperative Program funding in a unified effort to accomplish our five 10-year objectives. With approval, progress is to be reported to the convention every other year.
2. The Executive Board study the efficiency, effectiveness, and make-up of the board of directors and report its findings no later than the 2016 annual TBC meeting.
3. The bylaws and covenants of our Tennessee Baptist Great Commission partners be examined and updated as needed, reporting back to the annual meeting no later than the 2016 annual TBC meeting.
4. The Executive Board reallocate up to four percent of the annual budget for the purpose of Cooperative Program promotion and administration prior to considering any other budget items or percentages in a manner consistent with the patterns established shortly after the establishment of the Cooperative Program in 1925. This was reaffirmed by the 2010 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and is permitted under the Business and Financial Plan of the TBC.
The four recommendations presented today have the potential to alter the eternal destiny of millions of people in Tennessee, North America, and the world. Collectively, Tennessee Baptists have not faced a more daunting task than the one before us at this moment in our history. It is a tremendous challenge, yet God is able. Our decision today is not a referendum on God’s ability; it is a statement of our faith and commitment to truly become — in the power of Christ – a people joyfully obedient to the command of the Great Commission.
We must face our current challenge as those who have gone before us, with the full assurance that God is with us and that the Holy Spirit empowers us.
Vision 2021 Transition Team — Chuck Groover – Chair, Bob Brown, Corey Cain, Jamie Work, Larry Robertson, Rob Armstrong, Randy C. Davis, Michael Ellis, Danny Sinquefield, Bruce Chesser, David Green, and Dean Haun