By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
Everyone likes to win. Even the most non-competitive people prefer winning to losing. Losing is a momentum killer. It’s a drain. It puts people on edge. Winning, however, builds momentum and breeds more winning. We don’t have to look any further than the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team to see the effects of winning.
Through the years, the Vols have had spotty success, but when they weren’t winning, there was criticism of underachieving. Fans, coaches, administrators — everyone — would get tense which was usually followed by a blame-game and a coaching change.
However, look at the past few years. Rick Barnes came into an average program, got some good-but-not-great players according to recruiting ratings, and developed them.
They’ve improved each year, won more and gained momentum. Over the four years Barnes has been coach, the team has gone from a cumulative two-year losing record (31-35) to a cumulative two-year winning record (57-15) and numerous conference and national awards. Thompson-Boling Arena is sold out and the team has brought significant positive attention to the state and the university.
Everybody likes a winner, and everybody likes being around a winner.
But Barnes, and especially his players, will tell you winning doesn’t come from sitting in the locker room watching game film or on the sidelines thinking and talking about basketball. Winning comes from the hard, gritty, sweaty, unglamorous work of pushing hard when nobody’s watching. It is discipline, accountability, perseverance, effort, and most of all, obedience. When the players listen to the coaches and do what they say, all the effort is focused on one thing: Winning.
So what constitutes a “win” for the follower of Jesus Christ? Two words: Complete obedience. That comes from submitting to His Lordship.
What constitutes a “win” for the local church? Two words: Transformed lives.
It might be just one transformed life a year or hundreds. It is a beautiful thing to see salvations result from an intentional, outwardly focused, sustained evangelism effort by a local body of believers. And let’s not discount a single win. Every person whose eternity is changed from death and hell to an eternal walk with the Lord Jesus constitutes a massive win.
But we need a lot more wins. Wouldn’t it send a charge through our state if winning people to Jesus gained momentum and every church wanted more of it? I believe it is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit, and I believe the revival that would sweep across our state and beyond would become a snowball of salvation that would create an avalanche.
That’s the dream; that’s the objective.
The mission of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board hangs on our wall at the Church Support Center in Franklin: It reads: “Making Christ known by serving churches.” Our staff talks constantly about fulfilling our mission. Basically, we’ve boiled that statement down to three simple words to help us keep our focus and to help you understand why we exist: “We serve churches.” Period. Otherwise, there is no reason for us to exist, so we take that mandate very seriously.
We serve churches in a variety of ways and through a diversity of ministries, but everything we do is ultimately to help churches win people to Christ. At the 2014 Summit, messengers from Tennessee Baptist churches affirmed the Five Objectives.
The first of those objectives is to see at least 50,000 people annually become saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship.
The good news is that where many other areas across the Southern Baptist Convention have unfortunately seen a decline in baptisms, we here in Tennessee have seen baptisms holding steady.
However, holding steady isn’t good enough. We’ve hovered between 20,000 and 23,000 baptisms per year for awhile now. With every passing year that our baptisms don’t significantly increase, our state is increasingly becoming more spiritually lost because our state’s population is growing exponentially.
Growth is outpacing spiritual growth. We want to see the number of people coming to Christ exponentially increase and surpass population growth. For that to happen there must be a disciplined, committed, and obedient effort to pray for the salvation of our family, friends and neighbors followed by a saturated effort to share the gospel.
The theme for this year’s Summit will be “By All Means … Win Tennessee.” The more we’ve thought about our annual meeting the more 1 Corinthians 9:22 has settled on our hearts.
Paul was a tenacious scrapper. There was no quit in him. He was willing to pay any price so that “by all means (he) might save some,” and that’s what he did until God called him home.
Any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field with white fields ripe unto harvest and people desperate for the healing only Jesus can provide. Would it be to our Lord that what we say of Paul would be said of Tennessee Baptists; that we are “tenacious scrappers for the gospel.”
Let’s share Jesus with someone today, and by all means, let’s win Tennessee!
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.