Children have a way of getting to the heart of the matter, don’t they? Their questions come at you unfiltered and often at the most unexpected times. That’s the way my daughters were and that is the way my grandchildren are. Their forthright insight can often catch adults unprepared. Continue reading “Having an Answer for the ‘Why’ Question”
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”
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”
It was 1939. War gathered in the distance as German military might rumbled like a deadly thunderstorm rolling across the open plains. Brits looked toward the horizon and saw dread tumbling their direction. It was inevitable. It was widely accepted that German bombers would darken the sky and rain fury on England’s prominent cities once war began. Tension rose; fear increased. Doom was imminent.
It was then the British Ministry of Information produced posters of what has become one of the world’s most iconic slogans intended to strengthen morale in the face of impending danger.
“Keep Calm and Carry On.” Continue reading “Worried? Keep Calm and Carry the Gospel”
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 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”
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”
President 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”
I’ve got an old black and white photo of my father-in-law, Wilkerson V. Jones, standing next to Babe Ruth, one of baseball’s greatest players. Ruth of course, went on to baseball immortality and is among the sport’s pantheon of stars.
But in my book, Wilkerson went on to immortality too. His legacy is revealed in the lives he positively affected, including me. The interesting connection between Ruth and Wilkerson is that they both grew up in boys’ homes. Both had rough starts to life and it was effectively at a boys home where their lives took a turn for the better. It was people investing in them that made a difference. Continue reading “Don’t Forget Tennessee’s ‘Least of These’”
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”