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How will 3 thousand Tennessee Baptist Churches impact 3 million lost people in Tennessee?  Our churches have 3 options

1.  Stay the course with little or no impact. (do nothing) 

 2.  Tweak our evangelistic programs  and be satisfied to add a few here and there. 

3.  Transform our members into people who proficiently and personally propagate the Gospel where they live everyday.  

We must pick option 3 if we are going to make a real difference.  We have expected little of ourselves in recent days.  We have treated God as if He was some sort of small anemic deity who is barely hanging on.  We have experienced little power because we have passively practiced our faith.  It is high time that we expect more from the transformational power of the Gospel.  It is past time that we multiply through evangelism believing that God can transform the sinner.  3 thousand churches can make a deep impact on 3 million lost people because it is God’s desire to save.  His desire is that none should perish.  He didn’t even withhold His only Son so that redemption could be possible.  His plan is that we (we meaning all of us) go. 

I am excited about the fact the Tennessee Baptist Convention just brought on Bobby Welch to develop, coordinate, promote and equip Tennessee Baptist churches in a statewide strategy of church planting, church revitalization and evangelism.   I can’t wait to see how God will use Dr. Welch but hiring one man will not reach 3 million.  I am sure Dr. Welch will inspire us and instruct us along the way. . . . but only the obedience of 3 thousand Baptist Churches will make a real difference. 

 

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Check it out HERE!

As the North American Mission Board redirects money and resources away from Southern States the Tennessee Baptist Convention and our local associations must become more engaged in their own backyards.  If we were looking for relevancy. . .  we just found it.  Tennessee is no less inhabited by lost folks than it was before NAMB’s announcement so it is time for us to  Depend deeply upon God’s provision,  Give extravagantly to the TBC’s entities and mission, and Go Urgently to our backyard mission fields.    

Ohhhh yeah I am praying that our Tennessee Baptist Convention churches lead the way in giving and going to the ends of the earth as well.   We need to be a busy bunch of Baptists in the coming days.

One of the best moves your church could make for the Kingdom is this one:

FROM .01 TO .10

Common’, lets go tweek those church budgets and put our wallets where our mouths are.

My Level 4 gymnast is dreaming big dreams.  Her vision for the future includes crushing the Georgia Gym Dawgs at Coleman Coliseum as a member of the Crimson Tide Gymnastics Squad.  Her dream looks something like this:

My son also has a dream.  His vision includes becoming the worlds best herpetologist.  Yeah. . . he is a snake guy.  He dreams of trudging through swamps and fields to study the habits of creatures that most of us despise.  His dream would look something like this: 

They are setting the bar very high which I LOVE!  Unwilling to settle for good they strive toward great.  They are both taking appropriate steps to obtain the dream.  They are both investing blood, sweat, study, and even tears into their dreams.  They hang around people who encourage them in their dream.  They hang around people who challenge them and hold them accountable to their dream.   They make a daddy proud.   

What about your church?  Is your church dreaming big dreams and casting a vision large enough to attain God’s preferable future?  It takes work.  It takes change.  It may even include confrontation. . . telling the truth in love when the truth is unpopular.  What is God’s BIG plan for your church?  Are you investing the appropriate resources, time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears to see it through to completion? 

Now, go dream BIG!

Wow!  Someone should tell that little girl how to dress.  Who are her parents?  Two different shoes, a skirt and shirt that don’t match, and her hair hasn’t seen a brush. . . I’m guessing this year.   Who let her come outside dressed for summer when it is 40 degrees outside.  Is she sticking her tongue out?  How RUDE!  Who is her daddy? 

Have you ever been to a church when you thought, “who is this church’s pastor?”  It is like the church is wearing the wrong outfit in the wrong season.   They have two different shoes on and their hair is unbrushed.  To top it off. . . .  they don’t care.   If a church had a tongue you can bet they would be sticking it out at you. 

It is an awkward experience to visit that kind of church.  Nothing matches.  Nothing flows.  Nothing is geared to help you get from one place to another.  You are stepping into a sub culture that this particular church has been building for YEARS and they expect you to just fit.  What they do not realize and what no one has told them is that they are the child with mismatched clothes and shoes.    They dressed themselves with no thought to their appearance.    They have had no parent (pastor) to tell them how to dress.  If they did have leadership. . .  he was ignored.   

The sad thing is that most of those churches will eventually die thinking they are fashionable.  They will wonder why everyone else isn’t wearing mismatched shoes from 1970.  They will wonder why everyone else isn’t shivering in the 40 degree weather while wearing shorts.   They will stick their tongue out at the ever-changing community around them as their church slowly dies.

Here is something that EVERY church in Tennessee can do and should do.  It costs very little so money isn’t a factor.  It is as easy as handing out invitations so whining about difficulty isn’t a factor.  I highly encourage rural churches to get on board and reach out to the community around them.  Well, just click the link below and find out for yourself.  

http://www.tnbaptist.org/page.asp?page=183

The gathering for our 2nd annual R.P.R reads like a bad religious joke:  What do you get when One Methodist pastor, one Tennessee Baptist Convention employee, one Director of Missions, One music minister, one Christian Counselor,  and nine Baptist pastors all run 30 miles across the county together?  Insert punch line here!  I guess what you get is a lot of support for  Tomorrow’s Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center.   We walked, ran, and braved the elements as we relayed 30 miles across Henry County.  14 different participants with diverse backgrounds and interests coming together for a common cause.  Cooperation works people!  We can do more toether than we could ever dream of on our own!   Result so far. .. .  nearly $5,000 has been raised.  

 I would like to thank all of the churches and individuals that sponsored our intrepid runners!   

Read about it Here!

I have asked some pastors and denominational leaders from across our state to participate in our ongoing discussion here on Tennessee Rural Church.  I asked Mike Hazlewood to write about evangelism from a pastors perspective.  I am honored he chose to share his thoughts here:

Evangelism

Perhaps there is nothing else in organized evangelical Christianity that brings about such a flood of emotions and ideology. Most Christians, I suppose, picture in their mind the exercise of going door to door, great tent crusades, and even random acts of kindness. The list of the methods of evangelism continues to grow, and all in the above list, as well as others, have returned fruit to His Kingdom

The history of trying to mobilize people in our churches to attempt these exercises is disheartening at times to say the least. People are taught that they need to “ share the Gospel”,  and rightly so, but often time I sense their feeling of inadequacy or apathy towards evangelism is the fruit of something else besides disobedience to the “Great Commission”.

The Bible has plainly instructed us to go into the entire world Baptizing and teaching Jesus, and do the work of an evangelist. It tells us that anyone who wins souls is wise. What I have notice through my experience in ministry, is that people who evangelize have more than a knowledge of the scriptures that instruct them to do so. They have something that is so radical that it cause them to adjust their lives, and in doing do so, they become obedient to the commands of our Father and sensitive to His heart beat for others to come to know Him.

Relationship!  We know that our Father saved us for more than just a free trip to heaven. John 17:3 tells of the purpose of our Father is that we might “know” Him.  I believe as people, believers, get to know their Heavenly Father in a more personal, intimate relationship, all aspects of church life and growth will ultimately take care of themselves under the leadership of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.

I have found that teaching on what it means to have a growing relationship with Christ, the purpose and nature of the church as God intended it to be, and the absolute reliance and necessity on prayer are catalyst in which the Holy Spirit works marvelous miracles through in the lives of people. As they grow in Christ and find our Father’s will, sharing Jesus and all He has done in their lives is a natural response to the goodness of God.

Evangelism is neither a rural church issue or metropolitan church issue. I believe it is a personal relationship issue with every believer to their savior. As true believers grow in their relationship to Christ, surrender to the Holy Spirit of God is sure to follow. As surrendering grows, obedience out of love for our Father is sure to follow. Evangelism is a fruit of a right relationship with Christ founded on the love of God. It occurs when people are sensitive to His Holy Spirit and KNOW Him enough to be obedient.

God Bless,

Mike Hazlewood

Pastor Johnson Grove Baptist Church

Mississippi River Ministry Dir. and

Mission Strategist for Beulah Baptist Association