Tommy Green called Florida Baptists to the altar, a place of reparation, restoration and revival, during the Nov. 14 opening session of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
“Come, come, unite and ignite our lives to reach Florida for Jesus Christ. White, black, Hispanic, Haitian, Brazilian, Japanese, Korean—we are one church–His church; one body—His body—we need each other more than ever before,” said Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.
“Come and repair what we have broken at the altar of God.”
Citing 1 Kings 16:30,33 and 18:17, Green said when times of trouble came, Ahab, who “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” blamed Elijah as the cause.
Today’s “fractured culture” does, too, he said. “When things are so bad, they want to point to the church as narrow-minded and narrow-focused.”
In today’s political climate, Florida is constantly called a “battleground state,” Green allowed. “Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places.
“But before we rise up, we must kneel down. Before we engage in spiritual warfare, we must bow our knee. Before the fire will fall, we must fall before the Lord. The setting is significant—the altar.”
The public altar cannot be established until the servant of God first establishes an altar privately and in his home, Green said. “Pastors: Pulpit persona and private persona are inextricably linked. Go into your closet; shut the door. The Father who sees you in secret will reward you openly.”
The altar is more than a place, but a presence, Green said. “God proves Himself through His servant,” adding that the “health of a church is linked to the spiritual vitality of the man of God.”
In his second address since taking the reins of the Florida Baptist Convention in 2015, Green praised Florida Baptists for their “definite and decisive leadership” in allocating more Cooperative Program funds to reach the nations.
Upon his arrival at the Convention, Green led Florida Baptists to transform their budgeting formula to send 51 percent of all Cooperative Program receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention, while retaining 49 percent in the state. When the SBC announced recently that nationwide CP receipts were up $6 million, Green shared that Florida Baptists had increased their giving by $3 million. “Fifty percent of that overage comes from Florida. That’s significant; that’s game-changing.”
At the same time, the International Mission Board announced that in 2017 it will present a balanced budget that will fund 100 additional missionaries. Florida Baptists’ giving to the IMB increased by $1.5 million in the last year.
“Florida Baptists are pacesetters, leading the way” as an example to other states, Green said.
“We need a moment to become a movement—more repentance and less rhetoric, more humility and less haughtiness, more brokenness and less bravado, more piety and less pride, more contrition and less contention, more belief and less boasting, more faith and less fighting.
“Will we come to the altar tonight, crying out in repentance, seeking restoration, believing revival? Are we desperate for unity, togetherness and reconciliation? Will we cry out for forgiveness of our envy, jealously, bitterness, prejudice, pride, arrogance, attitude, words, silence unconcern and lack of compassion?”