First Baptist Knoxville has stood in the heart of downtown Knoxville since 1843. Our fellowship has evolved over time, but several core values continue to guide us.
A Heart for God: As Jesus taught, the first and greatest commandment is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” We live out this commandment in our daily lives as we grow in and are shaped by our relationship with God through Christ. As a community, we live out our love for God as we worship together and share life as disciples of Jesus.
A Heart for God’s Word: The Bible is a great gift from God that invites us to know Him. We share a heart for God’s word – what it means as it guides and shapes our lives. The Bible serves as a place of encouragement, direction, inspiration, and authority. It reveals God’s great story of grace lived out in Jesus Christ. We study God’s word to seek God’s revelation and to hear God speak into our lives. We believe God still speaks today, and it is in and through scripture that we learn to recognize his voice.
A Heart for Our Community: We are committed to making an impact on our community. First Baptist Knoxville’s ministries are designed to have a meaningful and relevant impact on the social mosaic walking our hallways and in the streets around us. As we serve, we know that all we do is born in our relationship with Christ, who calls us into authentic relationships with others.
A Passion for the World: We understand that the great commission to go "to the ends of the earth" calls us, just as it did the first disciples. This church has a strong history of support and engagement in global missions. We continue in that commitment, anticipating that over 30 from our congregation will find their places on global mission fields in 2015.
A Teaching Church: First Baptist Knoxville serves as a congregational teaching lab for students pursuing their sense of call into congregational ministry. In 2014, we sent three students to begin their seminary journeys. We anticipate sending many more young adults in the months and years ahead. Over the past several years, we have worked with TN CBF and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Collegiate Internship program to offer internships for college students exploring their sense of call. We now dream of the birth of a Ministerial Residency Program, which will provide a meaningful ministry experience for those recently graduating from seminary. We celebrate the opportunity to help shape the next generation of congregational ministers.
A Collaborative Moderate Baptist Voice:
The Baptist religious/political landscape is ever changing. The era when simply saying a church is "Baptist" seems to have faded into history’s sunset. Finding the right words to define any congregation is complex because a healthy diversity of viewpoints will always exist in any Baptist family. The following three words accurately describe the First Baptist Knoxville family.
The first word is "collaborative." We celebrate our partnerships with a diversity of great organizations that serve our city. We also are glad to be a missional partner with the Knox County Association of Baptists, the Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Tennessee Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The second word is "moderate." We see ourselves neither as the fundamentalist side of the Baptist family to our right, nor as the more liberal side of the Baptist family to our left. We find ourselves among the historic Baptists who sought to live in the tension between legalism and unfettered freedom. Our congregation has affirmed the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message.
The final word is "Baptist." While others have chosen to drop the word "Baptist" from their name, First Baptist Knoxville continues to embrace the Baptist heritage that has helped to shape us. We still find value in the historic Baptist tenets of believer's baptism, the autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of every believer, the divine inspiration of the Bible, and religious liberty.
Intentionally Intergenerational: In too many congregations, the generations have naturally divided over worship style, congregational focus, or facility layout. At First Baptist Knoxville, we continue to seek ways to bring generations together by our worship design and by offering intergenerational mission and ministry opportunities. While each generation brings its own distinctiveness, we believe there is much to learn from and with one another.
A Place Where Men and Women are Valued in Leadership: Galatians 3:28-29 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We believe this passage speaks the truth. We gladly embrace men and women as being equal in the eyes of God, and both are equally qualified for congregational leadership – in both membership and ministry.
Embrace the Future: First Baptist Knoxville proudly holds a beautiful legacy of ministering to the people of Knoxville for generations. This legacy comes, in part, from a consistent decision to innovate, challenge, and change – both one another and ourselves – because of what it means to be the people of Christ in the world. As downtown Knoxville, our neighbors, and we continue to change, we choose to live into what God has in store for us.