MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (BP) — The enormity of the gospel task requires a massive effort, much more than First Baptist Church of Morristown, Tenn., can do on its own, says pastor Dean Haun.
That’s why the church of about 1,250 Sunday morning worshippers ministers locally, regionally, nationally and globally by partnering with Nolachucky Baptist Association, the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention, and why First Morristown gives 11 percent of its offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program.
“We hit a benchmark of 10 percent and our church wanted to do more,” Haun said. “The Cooperative Program is a multiplication ministry, not an addition ministry. How in the world could one church minister to people in France, Africa, South America, the Middle East and more? We couldn’t, not on our own, but together we can.”
The CP is how Southern Baptist churches work together, each doing its part, to fulfill the Great Commission.
First Morristown believes in “together,” in partnering with others for the greatest possible impact. Together the church family impacts Morristown in a variety of ways. It stands with member Hobe Williams, who for 15 years has fed two hot meals a day to the poor. It stands with its association in a ministry to women who have decided to parent their child, rather than have an abortion. It stands with a local ministry by providing the food that goes in backpacks so youngsters have nourishment over the weekends when free hot lunches are not available at schools.
First Love on Main is a free evangelistic dental clinic the church started 18 months ago with 11 dentists plus hygienists and related support personnel who are First Morristown members. More than 400 people already are patients; a waiting list of about 500 more attests to the need. Teams of church members lead in a mobile children’s (and therefore family) ministry on a converted bus that moves its location every six weeks to multiply its impact.
First Morristown’s television/radio/internet ministry -– simply called “Community” -– expanded six months ago when the church bought a cable television channel they call 3:16 TV for its John 3:16 emphasis. In addition to programming from the church, the channel features preaching from Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah and others.
“We’re also on live radio and live streaming and have developed our own app for smart phones anywhere in the world,” Haun said. “Anybody who is watching us can be a part of our community, and we assign a community minister to them. [The ministers] call once a month, send cards and pray with them so they don’t feel they are an unknown person.
“We’re looking at expanding our media ministry by going on satellite,” the pastor continued. “The great thing about the internet is that it allows you to go anywhere in the world as long as you have a computer and internet access.”
The church’s other global outreaches include Living Water Ministries, which involves digging water wells and training church-planting pastors –- 50 in northern India and soon, 50 in Benin, Africa.
“We try to dig a well on the church property, after they start a church and have a place to meet, so they come for the water and we tell them about the living water,” Haun said. “We’re working with an unreached people group in India –- not Muslim, not Hindi but with traits of both and other stuff as well –- that has never been touched by Christianity.”
Harvest of Israel is a partnership with the 100 or more Messianic congregations in Israel, 14 of which have more than 100 in worship services. The Messianic Jews’ latest request: to be trained in Disaster Relief, so they can do it in the name of Jesus.
“We just got started and already it’s phenomenal,” Haun said. “We have a rapid response team [often deployed in Tennessee and across the U.S.] — 12 guys ready to go at a moment’s notice. It includes a mass fatality team. This is a group of people led by a funeral home director. And we have medical folks ready to go if we need them.”
With this expertise to draw on, training the Messianic Israelis in Disaster Relief will make them capable of responding to virtually any disaster, said the pastor, who first went to Israel in 1998. He’s been back once or twice annually since.
“I say that I got born again in 1972 and my Bible got born again in ’98,” Haun said. “It was the most phenomenal trip I’ve been on as a pastor. It’s like a mission trip for yourself … a very spiritual experience. We preach, pray, cry and sing all over Israel.”
But the needs at First Morristown and across the U.S. are always in the pastor’s mind.
First Morristown, which is building a $5 million children’s complex, also financially supports Iglesia Bautista La Gran Comision.
“We stand with them and help them rather than us starting another work,” Haun said.
First Morristown also is involved with Summit Church in Denver, Colo., and in Native American ministry. A First Morristown mission team recently took 487 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to the Navajo Reservation, where they led in a vacation Bible school and in construction projects.
“I think we are a church that has a vision for our future and we have a heart for our community and our world, to see as many people as possible come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,” Haun said. “We’ve got so many opportunities right in front of us. My greatest goal is to reach as many people for Christ in the world I possibly can, until the day He takes me home.
“The Cooperative Program is certainly part of that.”
The CP for First Morristown is a starting point, but Haun encourages each Christian to witness the wonder of God’s love in their lives by utilizing their unique spiritual gifts.
“I tell our people all the time, the main thing is to keep the main thing — reaching people for Jesus Christ in our areas of Acts 1:8,” Haun said. “I emphasize that a lot.”
One visual he uses is putting people in circles of 15 and having them turn around. “We need to stay in our circle, that our home base is strong and in unity, but we need to change our focus to the world,” the pastor explained.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message newsjournal for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).