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”

Worried? Keep Calm and Carry the Gospel

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”

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”

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”

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”

The Heavy Hand of God’s Judgment

child-sad-silhouette-windowIt is a heavy blow when God determines to bring to light that which is hidden in the shadows. Sometimes the Body of Christ must bear the weight of His judgment when He does.

Such a blow was delivered yesterday morning in an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle. The headline was, “Abuse of Faith.” The extremely thorough story reported 20 years of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches that affected at least 700 victims. Far and away the majority of the victims were children or youth; and far and away the perpetrators were ministers. Just in the past decade, at least 250 people who worked for or volunteered in a Southern Baptist church have been charged with sex crimes. Continue reading “The Heavy Hand of God’s Judgment”

Serving the Growing Number of Bivo Heroes

man holding bibleHere’s a riddle for you.

What do a banker, a contractor, an elementary teacher, a chemist, an engineering professor and a farmer all have in common?

Answer: They are all faithful pastors.

Unbelievably, approximately 60 percent of the pastors in Tennessee are bivocational. Let that sink in a moment. The majority of the churches connected to the Tennessee Baptist Convention have pastors who have a vocation apart from their ministries as a church’s pastor. And, if you include churches that have fulltime pastors but whose wives have secular jobs in order to make ends meet, the number jumps to probably 75 percent.  Continue reading “Serving the Growing Number of Bivo Heroes”

Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something!

Praying Man BibleThere have been some excellent Bible teachers over the last 100 years. Without reservation, I count the late Dr. Ron Dunn as one of them. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and anointed to teach like few men I have ever known. Every message articulated careful biblical exposition, clear illustrations and practical applications. He kept it real, relevant and preached with a compelling word from the Lord.

I was visiting Dr. Dunn and his wife, Kay, at their home in Dallas in early 1991. He gave me a signed copy of his then latest book, “Don’t Just Stand There Pray Something: The Incredible Power of Intercessory Prayer.” I will always remember that visit with the Dunns, and the title of the book has forever been etched on my mind. Continue reading “Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something!”