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Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by SaggyWoman, Sep 20, 2007.
Do you think there has been a step or three away from denominationalism?
I answer from where I live and what I see happening locally. A number of once-Baptist churches have removed the term "Baptist" from their names and have also de-emphasized, if not actually removed, their affiliations.
For those who have not done so, it seems that increasingly they act as if the denomination did not matter. They produce their own programming, they give little to denominational missions programs, and they create alliances for specific causes outside the Baptist box.
I am not characterizing any of that as either good or bad, just reporting it. I see almost none of the "old" ecumenism -- attempts to merge denominational entities -- but plenty of what one might call coalitision-building for advocacies of one sort or another, ranging from one coalition of churches that is fighting for construction rights in a Maryland county to another coalition that is working for housing opportunities in several communities. The denominational structures with which I am acquainted (most intimately our own Baptist convention) are not able to get involved in those things, either because we do not have the staffing and resources, or because they have not hit our radar screens, or, more likely, because we know they are controversial and would not sit well with a portion of our constituency (such as it is).
The world of Southern Baptist institution-building seems very far away indeed from what the churches in our region are investing in.
I think you're right about this. However, I think that many of the churches in my area that have dropped "Baptist" from their names have done so in reaction to the bad publicity from SBC squabbles.
Our local Habitat affiliate is responsible for putting many churches together in cooperative efforts to build houses in Nashville. My Baptist church works together with two neighborhood congregations (one Episcopal and one Jewish) to sponsor a Thanksgiving Day road race. The proceeds go to agencies that work with the homeless. This past spring the three congregations got together to build a Habitat house. It was really something to see Baptists, Episcopalians, and Jews, coming together to build a house for a Muslim family.
I see more of this kind of thing happening because most churches do not have the money do undertake projects on their own. But if they can find other interested churches, they can pool their resources of money and people, accomplish something to help people in need, and build relationships across denominational lines.
Churches that are dropping their previous titles may be doing so as they de-emphasize doctrine and preaching in their ministries. If so, those churches will lose much more than a title on their signs...they will lose their orthodoxy.
Others are doing this as an approach to not turn someone off because it says "Baptist" or "Methodist" They do it because they want to be more effective in the community. Again, the question would be...Are they also removing "offensive" things in the Scriptures such as the blood of Jesus, denying one's self, et. Are they attempting to remove the offense of the cross? If so, they may be in danger of losing their lampstand.
I think churches need to be less and less concerning about what the wicked think and more and more concerned about what God thinks. They need to devote themselves to prayer, Scripture study, and fellowship. From that will come saints who glorify their Father in heaven before all men. They will be lifting up Christ (preaching Christ and Him crucified) and He will draw all men to Himself.
Church: Be faithful to Christ.