More Change — but the Mission Remains

There are two things about which we can be certain in these uncertain days: God is on His throne sovereignly ruling over the universe, and change seems to be a regular occurrence and comes quickly.

About a year ago I wrote about a change that few Southern Baptists would have ever anticipated. LifeWay Christian Resources sent ripples through denominational life when it announced the closing of its 170 LifeWay Christian Stores and shifting exclusively to online sales.  Continue reading “More Change — but the Mission Remains”

Pastoral Leadership in the COVID-19 Storm

I loved being a pastor. It was my joy and honor to spend 34 years as a pastor in a local church, so obviously I have a special place in my heart for the men who faithfully labor behind the pulpit serving God and His people.

I never saw myself in any other vocational capacity this side of heaven other than in a pastorate serving churches. God had other plans and serving churches has taken a different look. For almost 10 years, it’s been my privilege to lead the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board to serve the 3,200 churches that are part of the network of churches that comprise the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Continue reading “Pastoral Leadership in the COVID-19 Storm”

Summit is So Much More Than a Meeting

My No. 1 desire is to see the spiritually lost people of Tennessee won to saving faith in Jesus Christ, and it is weeks like last week that give me hope that together as Tennessee Baptists, we might see that happen.

Summit, our annual gathering of Tennessee Baptists, is so much more than just a meeting. It has become a rich time of worship, challenge, fellowship, focus, business and celebrating what God is doing across Tennessee to bring people to salvation through Tennessee Baptists and their churches. Continue reading “Summit is So Much More Than a Meeting”

‘We Serve Churches’ — It Isn’t Just a Slogan

You shared your concerns.

We carefully listened.

And now I want to prayerfully respond on behalf of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.

Several of us from the TBMB have recently engaged with over 500 Tennessee Baptists during nearly two dozen listening sessions across our state. We initiated these sessions with the sole purpose of learning from you and using what we heard to shape how we as a mission board serve your churches.  For us, “We serve churches” is more than just a mission statement that hangs on a wall. It is our mission. Continue reading “‘We Serve Churches’ — It Isn’t Just a Slogan”

Listening Sessions — Twenty Towns, Two Ears

Step off the elevator on the second floor of your Church Support Center in Franklin, turn right and you’ll be looking straight at this large reminder: “Tennessee Baptist Mission Board is a Christ-centered, field-focused, Great Commission organization created by Tennessee Baptists to serve Tennessee Baptist Churches. We value relationships, innovation, stewardship and excellence.”

Our mission statement for many years has been, “Making Christ Known by Serving Churches.”

What does the TBMB do? Simply put, we serve churches. Continue reading “Listening Sessions — Twenty Towns, Two Ears”

Anti-Abortion to Comprehensively Pro-Life

i-stand-petitionThis one has always been clear cut for me. Any person with a moral compass, common sense and even a little knowledge of abortion’s horrors is against the taking of a life in the womb.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that not only demands the right to murder these sweet gifts of God, it celebrates the murderous practice. The image is seared in my mind of celebration that followed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing into law late-term abortions up to the point of birth. How perverse is that? I never want to see that celebration in Tennessee, and as Tennessee Baptists we not only have an obligation to our Lord to protect unborn children, we have an opportunity to stand and be counted for life. Continue reading “Anti-Abortion to Comprehensively Pro-Life”

Reasons for Optimism About the SBC’s Future

road country skylinePresident George W. Bush once stood in front of a group of people trying to make sense of the world that seemed to be coming undone around them. “One thing is for certain,” he said. “We did not ask for these challenges, but we will meet them. I say that with certainty because this nation has strong foundations and won’t be shaken. In this hour of our country’s history we stand in the need of prayer.”

That comment was made at the first post-9/11 National Prayer Breakfast and prior to the beginning of the longest war, the war on terrorism, in our nation’s history. I was at that prayer breakfast. I saw the resolute courage in our president’s eyes; I heard it in the tone of his voice. Continue reading “Reasons for Optimism About the SBC’s Future”

Change Happens but the Mission Remains

Life way buildingThe 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 and bible financeMoney 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

cowboy boots bibleToo 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”