I love a good story and I love good storytellers and that may be one of the reasons I love the Bible. Talk about good stories. Begin at Genesis and read all the way through and you have real people living lives of suspense, drama, espionage, intrigue, romance, comedy, and more. However, the greatest story in the Bible is the overarching story of God’s activity in history culminating in the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son to save His enemies, to save us. What a story.
My friend and state missionary, Paul Clark Jr., and I share a favorite hymn: “I Love to Tell the Story.” I really love telling God’s story and I especially love sharing it with my grandkids. That’s exactly what the Bible tells us to do. Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”
God is doing some mighty acts across our state through Tennessee Baptists, Tennessee Baptist churches, and through the Tennessee Baptist Convention. There are stories like the young Muslim man who came to Christ through our University of Memphis Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and the story of how little Vine Ridge Missionary Baptist Church in Crawford, a church of about 25 people, is weekly providing food to about 150 families in its community. Lives are being changed by the gospel in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Memphis. More than 20 youth from a state juvenile penitentiary were saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship last year. And on the stories go.
Poly Rouse became president of the TBC about six years ago when I accepted the role of executive director. As we talked, Poly and I strongly agreed that the story of what God was doing through Tennessee Baptists and our network of churches was not reaching the broader audience. My wife, Jeanne, was a champion for us simply telling the story. Read Luke 1:1-4 and you notice Luke plans to use stories to help Theophilus have confidence in what he had heard about Jesus. I want the same for Tennessee Baptists, and here are five ways we are helping you hear the stories of how God is using you to change your world.
(1) We’ve drastically shifted our culture here at the TBC to better help churches make Christ known in their communities and around the world. We recognize it is about people and not programs. That collaborative effort is making for some amazing stories and I encourage you to visit tnbaptist.org/cp and watch some short video stories of how you are changing your world through the Cooperative Program.
(2) We’ve transformed the Baptist and Reflector. Our state paper has been redesigned and has a renewed mission of sharing stories that celebrate God’s activity through Tennessee Baptists while also addressing hard cultural issues like same-sex marriage to help inform a biblical worldview. Four months ago we launched the Baptist and Reflector online (baptistandreflector.org) with daily news updates from across the state and around the world. I encourage you to visit the site and read the latest stories.
(3) We’ve upped our commitment to telling God’s story in Tennessee by hiring Chris Turner to serve as director of communications. Chris was an overseas correspondent with the International Mission Board’s Commission magazine. He’s had a front-row seat for seeing God at work around the world and he’ll be the first to tell you God is as active in Moscow, Tenn., as He is in Moscow, Russia.
(4) We’re building a story- telling presence through social media. If you haven’t yet “liked” our TBC Facebook page (facebook.com/tnbaptist) or our Baptist and Reflector Facebook page (facebook.com/baptistandreflector), I encourage you to do so. It is a way to quickly communicate with us and to stay connected to important stories, events, notices, and more. For instance, “Monday Morning Quotes” has been an encouragement for many people. Our audience is growing and it is amazing to see how people all over the world are seeing how God is working in our state.
(5) And there’s more. You have access to bulletin inserts that tell stories about Tennessee Baptists making an impact in people’s lives (call us and get those), and there are Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions video stories available for free download (GoldenOffering.org) that tell stories about how your GOTM giving is pushing back spiritual darkness in our state. These two things and more will be easily found on our new TBC website that will launch in the next few weeks.
With 145 global people groups and 3.65 million spiritually lost people in Tennessee, there are still so many life-changing stories yet to be written. Help us out. Tell us how you see God working through you and your church. We always have time for one more story.
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.