News for the week of Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Opinion — Guest Columnist
The Summit -- Same Common Goal
By Larry Robertson
TBC president & pastor in Clarksville

We need to reclaim an apostolic urgency to our mission.

A recent report by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Task Force on Evangelistic Impact and Declining Baptisms reminded us of what we already know, that we are floundering when it comes to reaching our communities and culture for Christ. And while the task force made honest observations and excellent recommendations, I want to add to their thoughts by suggesting that your participation in The Summit in November is part of the solution here in Tennessee.

The Summit is the annual gathering of Tennessee Baptists, and this year’s meeting will be held at Brentwood Baptist Church in Middle Tennessee. You might wonder, of course, “How will my participation at the state convention impact lostness in Tennessee?” That’s a fair question.

At our annual gathering, we coordinate and celebrate the gospel work of Tennessee Baptists. We foster fellowship in the mission. In fact, the biblical concept of fellowship is one of sharing.

We must share in owning the problem of declining impact in our state, but we must also share in seizing the opportunity to increase evangelism and discipleship. The Summit provides us a great venue to do both.

I really believed Dr. James Travis, longtime Bible professor at Mississippi’s Blue Mountain College, when he taught us the value of cooperation as Southern Baptists. Actually, the Cooperative Program came alive to me through “Doc.” And I will forever be grateful that I learned we can do more together than we can do apart.

Before “teamwork” and “synergy” were buzzwords in the business world, they were biblical concepts. Whether we’re talking about spiritual gifts, iron sharpening iron, or Jesus sending His followers out in twos, we can do more and we can do better through the interdependence of our cooperative efforts.

Our theme this fall will be “Whatever It Takes” And we’ll decide after our days together whether those words were merely for our gathering or mightily for our going! I’m convinced that “Whatever It Takes” must be more than a theme in print; it must become our theme in practice.

So, what are we willing to do to reclaim an apostolic urgency in our mission? We’ll see in the days to come either way. I am praying, though, that more Tennessee Baptists than ever will see and share the value of cooperation to do more together than we can do apart.

Some hold a certain disdain for getting together to talk about our mission, sometimes remarking, “While you’re talking about reaching people for Christ, I’ll be out doing it.”

What a shortsighted idea of our gathering.

We’ve all seen football teams huddle before a play, have we not? What are they doing? They’re making sure everybody is on the same page and contributing toward the same common goal. That’s what The Summit will be for Tennessee Baptists this November. I sure hope to see you there!


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