The “famous theologian” Bob Dylan said it well: “The times they are a-changin’.” I know, change is not a welcome word for some folk. Yet change, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. It is, however, sometimes necessary.
Did you know that lobsters have to shed their shells periodically in order to grow? If they didn’t go through that necessary process of molting, their inelastic shells would become their prisons and eventually their caskets. Shortly after vacating their shells, lobsters remain secluded for a number of days while their soft shells harden.
Not that lobsters have cognitive functions like humans, but can you imagine a vulnerable lobster looking at its old shell and longing to return to it because it was familiar and secure?
We sometimes fear the future and long for the past because the past is familiar. We feel vulnerable in times of transition and old shells feel safe. But like the lobsters, we have to change periodically or else our “shells” become our prisons and eventually our caskets.
The Tennessee Baptist Convention, as you know, is in an unprecedented state of transition. These changes, however, include so much more than changing addresses.
“Well, exactly what is everything going to look like when we’re finished with all this change?!?” Honestly, I don’t know. I just know that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done.
Baptism and membership numbers are not encouraging. Cooperative Program giving percentages continue to decline. Nine out of 10 of our churches are not growing; some are near death! And our state’s population has dramatically outpaced the growth and planting of TBC churches. These are critical days in Tennessee Baptist life.
But I want you to know that I’ve never been more excited to be a Tennessee Baptist!
Tim Tebow said regarding his uncertain NFL career, “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds it.”
I’m excited to be a Tennessee Baptist and to serve as convention president this year because, even though I can’t predict the future, I know God is already there.
When God called Abraham, He didn’t fill in all the blanks for Abraham. As a result, Abraham had to operate by faith. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
As a state convention, we are in this time of transition physically and strategically. We also need a spiritual transition, too. More than revivals, we need revival. We need a fresh encounter with God and an awakening to His heart and mission!
So, let us do “Whatever It Takes” to refocus our efforts on penetrating spiritual darkness with the gospel.
And part of that “Whatever It Takes” approach will include change. It must include change. Otherwise our old “shells” will become our prisons and eventually our caskets. For the sake of the gospel, we must not allow that to happen.