Have I told you lately how thankful I am for your prayers? While this summer has been a whirlwind of activity for my family, it has been clear that God is at work.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of baptizing my oldest son, who came to fully understand his need for salvation at the Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center. I can’t tell you how awesome it was, as TBC president, to witness quite personally how God is still using the resources of the TBC to bring lost souls to Himself. The Lord is at work in our state!
A couple of months ago, I asked you to consider a question: “Why TBC?” Why should we make it priority to be involved in the Tennessee Baptist Convention? As we approach our annual convention in November, the theme of which will be “Exalting Jesus through Shared Vision,” I want to spend the next few months answering that question.
Here’s the first answer I’d like for us to consider: involvement in the TBC teaches us.
In church life, we are going to network. We are going to establish relationships with other people, other members of the body that will encourage us, that will challenge us and that will help us grow in the ministry. These relationships are important and natural, and I believe that they will happen whether or not we are intentional about developing them.
However, if we are not intentional about developing these relationships, if we simply network with people that make us feel comfortable, people with whom we have a lot in common, we’re likely to find that most people in our network look like us, think like us, do ministry like us and are roughly the same age as us. Our tendency is to surround ourselves with people like, well, us.
But that tendency can be dangerous. Because if we surround ourselves exclusively with people that look like us, think like us, do ministry like us and are roughly the same age as us, we tend to miss errors in our thinking. We miss better ways of doing ministry, and we miss wisdom from seasoned servants that have gone before us.
Here is where the TBC comes in. The Tennessee Baptist Convention is the largest and oldest network of like-minded churches in this state. And, while we’re not as racially and ethnically diverse as I’d like us to be, there is within this grand old body of churches increasing diversity in method, increasing diversity in age (of pastors and churches) and increasing diversity of thought.
And we ought to celebrate that. Because, as it stands now, if you get involved in the TBC, you won’t have to look far to find someone who will, within the context of biblical faithfulness, challenge your way of thinking and doing things.
If your church takes a more contemporary approach to worship, you won’t have to go far to find someone whose style is more traditional.
If you serve a small church, you won’t have to go far to find someone who serves in a larger church setting.
If your theology tends to be more Calvinistic, you won’t have to look far to find someone whose theological approach is, well, not that way.
We all have our preferences, and, within the context of biblical faithfulness, we’re certainly entitled to those preferences. But, in order to miss the blind spots that often accompany our own depraved logic, we do well to surround ourselves with those who still affirm the authority and supremacy of God’s Word, but whose preferences when it comes to the non-essentials differ from our own.
The network of churches known as the Tennessee Baptist Convention affords us that opportunity.
So, let me encourage you. Reach out, get involved in the TBC, and ask the Lord to show you something new about Himself and His church.
And if you are already involved in this great network of churches, let me personally say, “Thank you.”
Thank you for showing me that there are different ways of doing ministry other than my own. Thank you for stretching me and shaping me. Thank you for growing me.
Thank you for teaching me.
See you in November.