Change Happens but the Mission Remains

The March 20 headline splashed across Christianity Today, The Tennessean and National Public Radio was one few in Southern Baptist life thought they’d ever read. There were variations, but in effect they all communicated the same thing: “LifeWay Christian Resources, the largest Christian retail chain in America, plans to close all 170 stores this year and shift its offerings entirely online.”

It was a sad day that revealed the lifelong emotional attachment many Southern Baptists have had with the bookstore. Frankly, generations of us have never known a world without a Baptist Book Store or a Lifeway Christian Store. Many expressed their anger with statements about how the bookstore was more than just books. It was the people who worked there — who ministered there — who made the stores what they were. Continue reading “Change Happens but the Mission Remains”

Four Power Money Tips for Churches

Money powers all kinds of things. It fuels ministries that we are compelled to begin, it provides for the needs of ministers, and it sends missionaries all over the Tennessee, the North America, and the world.  But in some cases, money sends members, ministers, and business meetings into chaos. But fear not.  These monetary mix-masters can be avoided.

Every fall, the TBMB unleashes our financial experts, Gary Rickman and Deborah Taylor, across Tennessee for the “Financial Issues Facing Churches and Ministers” seminar. If your financial administrators missed last fall’s seminar, we’ve got some good news!  We have an audio presentation (see below) you can enjoy online. Here are just four takeaways from this year’s seminars. Continue reading “Four Power Money Tips for Churches”

Somebody Tell the Pastor He’s No Cowboy

Too often pastors develop an “old cowboy” mentality where they feel they need to “stay in the saddle” at all costs. Unfortunately, too many church goers feel their pastors should be old cowboys. That notion of pastoral “toughness” may sound romantic, but it rarely – if ever – ends well. Set aside the obvious sin of pride involved; no one can spiritually, emotionally or physically sustain it.

Pastor, if you feel you’re riding that horse, I’ve got four short statements of unsolicited advice you need to hear if you, your family and your ministry are going to survive. Somebody’s got to tell you so it might as well be me. I’ve ridden in that rodeo before. Continue reading “Somebody Tell the Pastor He’s No Cowboy”

A Clarion Call and Not Just a Theme

In 1873, a young Dwight L. Moody stood in the vestry of a Baptist church in Dublin, Ireland, talking with Henry Varley, an influential British revivalist preacher. During the course of that conversation, Varley uttered words that rocketed through Moody’s soul and altered the course of Moody’s future ministry.

“Moody,” he said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.” Continue reading “A Clarion Call and Not Just a Theme”

A Normal Tennessee Baptist Church

Normal is good. I’m a fan of normal.

I recently found normal in Howell, about an hour and 15-minute drive straight south from our house in Nolensville. The weather was nearly perfect for an early morning drive with my bride, Jeanne, and we wound our way along country roads through the beautiful rolling hills of Middle Tennessee.

Howell is a small community located between Lewisburg and Fayetteville. We pulled into the parking lot of First Baptist Church Howell and the thought came to my mind. First Baptist Church and the town of Howell are, well, normal.

According to the last census, if you draw a ring around Howell about eight miles from the center of town, the population of Howell is about 8,800. That’s not many folks, but it’s normal. And the church — First Baptist Howell — has between 75 to 100 people of all ages in worship, but that’s normal.

And Brian Gass, pastor of FBC, is bivocational. But that’s normal. Continue reading “A Normal Tennessee Baptist Church”

Three Reasons Why You Need the Summit

Summit 2017 at FBC Hendersonville, Nov. 12-15.

I loved family reunions when I was growing up. Those reunions always landed on or near my Grandpa Davis’ birthday. My Grandpa Davis was my hero. He and Granny Davis were faithful saints and I loved them dearly. Granny Davis was the greatest prayer warrior I’ve ever known, and Grandpa Davis served as treasurer at Little Escambia (Ala.) Baptist Church for over 40 years.

I remember that nearly 100 kinfolks would show up and pack out the church. Afterwards, we’d head to Granny’s and Grandpa’s small house for dinner-on-the-grounds. It was always a blast seeing cousins, aunts and uncles I only got to see once a year. Continue reading “Three Reasons Why You Need the Summit”

Is Ministry Your Mushroom?

A strange phenomenon happened in the Pacific Northwest. Large patches of trees were dying in an Oregon forest. Scientists determined the problem was a single breed of mushroom that covered 2,384 acres, about the size of 1,600 soccer fields.

Apparently the white tentacles of the mushroom wrapped around root systems and tree trunks and robbed the trees of nutrients, carbohydrates, and water. In other words, the mushrooms choked the trees to death. 

Is ministry your mushroom? I talk to ministers every week who relate to the trees. While everything looks okay on the surface, hidden stressors suck the life out of them. Left unchecked, the consequences are disastrous. For instance, according to multiple surveys … Continue reading “Is Ministry Your Mushroom?”

Barely Making It, but Finishing Well

It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of hockey catching on in the South was laughable. Well, nobody is laughing now. The hysteria surrounding the Nashville Predators has boiled beyond Middle Tennessee and it’s been interesting to hear comments and see Facebook posts from around the state supporting the Preds. No question about it; Nashville is definitely a hockey town.

There wasn’t an abundance of hockey to watch growing up on the Alabama Gulf Coast so needless to say; hockey really wasn’t on my radar until a few years ago when Jeanne and I were given tickets to attend a Predators game. We knew zilch, nada, nothing about the game, but we had a blast. The energy, excitement and the quickness were amazing. And the way those guys cross checked each other; I cringed with every hit. I was a little concerned by how much my sweet, godly wife loved hockey! Needless to say, we’ve been Preds fans ever since.  Continue reading “Barely Making It, but Finishing Well”

Pausing for Poignant Moments

There are moments in life that are so obviously important that they need not scream to be recognized. The magnitude of their presence halts the daily hustle and quietly demands that we notice, and reflect, and determine that the nostalgic moment becomes a prelude to something greater.

I believe God has granted to Tennessee Baptists such a poignant moment and we must pause to understand its significance to our past, but more importantly, to our future.

Last Monday (May 22) the staff of your Tennessee Baptist Mission Board walked into the new Church Support Center, marking the end of what amounted to a 10-year pilgrimage. Relocation was an arduous process, but one in which God graciously led us to build a beautiful building in a strategic location in Franklin, repeating the grace we believe He extended to our Tennessee Baptist predecessors when He led them to building in Brentwood in the 1960s. The 45-year increase in the value of that property provided the possibility of Monday’s moment. Continue reading “Pausing for Poignant Moments”

Pastor: Nine Steps To Recovering Your Joy

It’s right there in the red letters:  “That my joy may be in you …”

This is a statement of fact made by Jesus Himself, and yet I’ve encountered so many pastors who haven’t experienced joy in a long time. The man behind the pulpit carries both pastoral and personal burdens, and it can be overwhelming. What once was a thrill becomes drudgery, and one day, pastor, you realize you’ve lost your joy. I know the feeling. Been there.

While I was a pastor, I signed articles and letters with the salutation, “It is a joy to be your pastor.” Once, however, the slightest typo slipped through — a single letter — and communicated something completely different: “It is a job to be your pastor.” Continue reading “Pastor: Nine Steps To Recovering Your Joy”