By Randy C. Davis
President & Executive Director, TBMB
When you plant a tree, you plant it with a vision of what it will become. Saplings don’t offer shade, but mighty oaks do. The satisfaction in planting trees is knowing that someday others will sit under its outstretched branches and enjoy its shade.
The joy in planting trees is knowing future generations will benefit from the intentional actions we’ve left for them.
That is exactly why the Acts 2:17 Initiative in which Tennessee Baptists have engaged is so vitally important. An enormous amount of progress has been made since Acts 2:17 was launched 10 months ago at the 2022 Summit held at Bellevue Baptist Church. The purpose of this column is to offer an update as we head toward the big reveal at this year’s Summit.
A significant amount of work preceded the initiative’s launch that began with listening sessions at last year’s Summit. The intent was to design a process that enabled every Tennessee Baptist an opportunity to speak into seeking God’s foreseeable future for Tennessee Baptists. Acts 2:17 says that in the last days God will pour out His spirit on all people and that it would result in signs, wonders, prophesies, dreams and visions for the purpose of accomplishing His work.
That’s why great care was taken to bathe this process in prayer then listen to what God was saying to and through Tennessee Baptists — through you! To clarify: The principles driving the process are to:
1. Hear from the Lord about His preferable future for the work of our TBC network of churches.
2. Hear from grassroots Tennessee Baptists about the opportunities the Lord has for us to seize, needs we can meet, and problems we can solve.
3. Act with “excellence unto the Lord” throughout the Acts 2:17 Initiative process and the vision that is birthed.
With those anchor principles firmly in mind, fellow Tennessee Baptist and Experiencing God coauthor Claude King was enlisted to take the point in holding the Acts 2:17 workgroup accountable in prayer.
Auxano, a ministry consulting group led by Jim Randall and fellow Tennessee Baptist Bryan Rose, has offered structure to the process.
Nearly 80 listening sessions attended by more than 1,000 Tennessee Baptists representing hundreds of diverse Tennessee Baptist churches were held over the last 10 months. More than 1,000 pages of notes were recorded from those sessions, representing a summary of all comments, concerns and suggestions provided by attendees to date. An additional 504 survey responses were also submitted by ministry leaders.
Assessment and Vision Teams appointed by TBC president Clay Hallmark have met 19 times and clocked hundreds of manhours.
Members come from small and large membership churches, from city and rural churches, and include a former WMU President, younger and “seasoned” pastors, a pastor’s wife and an associational staff member. It is a diverse group that represents a grassroots movement. They have been tasked with taking what Tennessee Baptists are hearing from the Lord and translating that into priorities for our network of churches for the years ahead.
This phase of their work is ending. The initial report of the Acts 2:17 Initiative will be made at the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Chattanooga in two months.
Won’t you join us on this journey by passionately praying for God’s will to be discovered? Pray also that we as Tennessee Baptists will have the courage to implement all God desires to do in and through Tennessee Baptist churches so that the labor in which we currently engage will result in shade enjoyed by generations of Tennessee Baptists yet to come.
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.