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”

Four Overlooked Church Growth Processes

Spiritual growth is of highest priority, and numerical growth is important too. Preparing messages, organizing discipleship methods, praying and preparing for worship are vital during the week-to-week labor of ministry. Also important are the following four maneuvers that draw people so that you can help them grow spiritually. Four weekly maneuvers that most often go overlooked: Continue reading “Four Overlooked Church Growth Processes”

Four Important Tips About Church Insurance Coverage

170208umbrella-lightning-storm-man-suitRisk management is a crucial issue if we are to be the best stewards for the cause of Christ. Here are four tips to help you be more aware of risks and make good decisions about insurance coverage in the local church.

  1. Have a good working relationship with your agent and be sure your agent understands the exposures you have as a congregation. You should have confidence in your agent, but it is your responsibility to understand your coverage and to inform your agent of any unique liabilities you may have as a congregation.

Continue reading “Four Important Tips About Church Insurance Coverage”

Churches and Tax Exemption – Part 3 of 3

170111tax-exempt-torn-paperIn two previous articles (Pt. I | Pt. II), we examined churches and their exemption status under federal and Tennessee laws. Now, we look at the third level of church tax exemption – local property tax.

In Tennessee, property tax is actually a joint state and county matter. The state Board of Equalization ensures that property tax matters are handled consistently and based on state law. However, since the majority of the work on property matters is handled in county offices, most people consider property tax a local matter. Continue reading “Churches and Tax Exemption – Part 3 of 3”