On Sunday, Oct. 13, First Baptist Church Morristown, where I have the honor of serving as senior pastor, celebrated its 210th anniversary as a church.
Over the years we have had some incredible pastors (including our very own executive director/treasurer, Randy C. Davis).
The lay leadership of the church has always been progressive and visionary. I prayed and contemplated what the Lord would have me say to this strong ship of Zion on her birthday. I want to say the same words to all our churches as I end my year as your TBC president.
What is it that constitutes a great church? Is it the size of our membership or the beauty of our buildings? Is it the ability to boast of our leadership or glory in our bank accounts? No, I believe what constitutes a great church is whether or not we keep our priorities on target with our Savior and the Word of God.
A great church, therefore, is a church that makes a great commotion about three biblical priorities:
(1) We must make a great commotion about the great COMMANDMENT!
When Jesus was asked by one of the scribes, “What is the greatest of the commandments?” Jesus responded by quoting the She’ma out of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.
Mark 12:29-31 says: Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Jesus said there was nothing greater than fulfilling these two commandments and what a difference it would make in our churches and communities if we followed them enthusiastically.
(2) We must make a great commotion about the great COMMISSION!
The Great Commission is our marching orders. The chief function of the New Testament Church is to impact lostness in our community, our state, our nation, and around the world.
Matthew 28:19-20 tells us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Is your church serious about reaching the lost for Christ?
(3) We must make a great commotion about the great COMPASSION!
In Matthew 25 Jesus told us to make a big deal about the hurting and the helpless!
Matthew 25:35-40 reminds us: “ ‘… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ”
Are we making a great commotion about the great commandment, the great commission, and the great compassion? These three areas are not optional! They are to be our primary focus!
Here’s my encouragement to all our Tennessee Baptist churches — The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing … and these three things must be our main thing!