sandhills and church furnishings

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by nodak, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. nodak

    nodak
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    I grew up out in the sandhills of eastern NM. I thought it might be fun to list some of the things we did, and why, and for you to post some of the things you did or do and why.

    We had no sanctuary. We had an auditorium. We spoke that way because each believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God doesn't dwell in buildings. We learned not to run in the church not because it was "God's house" but because you just didn't run indoors.

    We didn't have altar calls because we had no altar. Baptists didn't have altars since Jesus has already made the final sacrifice and there are no sacrifices remaining to be made. We had invitations instead.

    The pulpit was front and center because we believed the preaching of the Word was the main thing in the services. They were not considered worship services, but rather preaching services. Worship was something you did privately. We had a morning evangelistic service and an evening service for the edification of the saints. The pulpit was heavy and strong and large signifying the importance of the sermon. We expected the pastor to stay up there roughly behind it. Had he made a point to dress just like the attenders, dispense with the pulpit, and preach from down in the aisle we would have thought he was communicating that he wasn't giving us "thus sayeth the Lord" but rather his opinions.

    We had a big baptistry up front, never hidden behind a screen, signifying salvation was the main event. There was a smaller table down front for when we held the Lord's Supper. It's relative smallness indicated it was an ordinance and that we were not sacramental.

    You don't see these things in most Baptist churches around this neck of the woods anymore.

    The praise team's instruments dominate the front of the church, which is now referred to as a stage. I guess maybe we want folks to know when they enter that the music is now the main thing.

    We refer to the services as worship services, implying that to worship one must be with others and in a special building. We even refer to the singing, that used to be for the proclamation of the gospel also, as "worship."

    We refer to the main hall as a sanctuary, which carries with the idea that somehow God dwells inside that special space.

    It is interesting to study a bit of history in regards to church buildings and furnishings. Before the Reformation the "sacraments" were the big deal. The Reformation brought the pulpit and preaching front and center. We went from a priest dispensing elements as the way of communicating the gospel to the sermon or thinking being how we connect to God. Now we seem to be moving to relying on music to engender emotions to connect to God.

    The building we had was very simple intentionally. It wasn't "God's house" but rather a place to meet together. It's very simplicity--no stained glass, no soaring ceilings, no ornate altar was intended to communicate the simplicity of salvation in Jesus Christ. "Baptist" wasn't a religion, it was a local church or community of believers working together for the spread of the gospel and salvation of the lost.

    Now, we may have been right about those things or we may have been dead wrong about them. But that IS what we were trying to say.

    If someone totally unfamiliar with Baptists attended your church tomorrow, what would be their impressions? Would your building and furnishings communicate what you are trying to communicate? Have you thought through the implications of how you build the building and furnish it?

    What are your goals in that regard, and how do you communicate them?
     
  2. sag38

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    Full of your personal opinions and traditions that you like but far short of the Bible.
     
  3. Tom Butler

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    At North Jackson Baptist Church, Jackson, Tennessee (where the Lord saved me in 1947) things were pretty simple, with one exception. We had theater seats instead of pews. The aisle was down the middle.

    I'm trying to recall if we called the auditorium the "sanctuary." I think we did, and so did other Baptist churches I attended. And I also remember that when the preacher wanted you to come to the area down front, it was called "coming to the altar." Or, "walking the aisle."

    As a young choir director I eventually dropped any reference to the "sanctuary choir," after I began to question why it was called a sanctuary in the first place, and got no satisfactory answer.

    I, too, several years ago questioned where the altar in a Baptist church, and why did we have to come there?

    We still have worship services in our church, and preaching is always central. But we worship through the proclamation of the word of God, as well as through the music, the praying and the offering. I don't call the hymns, choir selections, solos, etc., as worship music. It implies worship stops when the music does, or when the preacher starts.

    My church has pews, and I am grateful that it has pads in the pews.
     
  4. annsni

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    Well, walking down the hall at our church, your first view is the bar with all of the liquor right out in front. Our pastor who runs the recovery ministry laughed and said "It's like a walk through life. You can go straight on to the sinful life or else you can make this turn and go to Christ. Which way will YOU choose??" LOL But then you see the sign for the church and you see a large table set up with information, materials, Bibles and a very friendly face. Come on into the place where we will be meeting, you will find people talking, greeting one another with the computer set up front, a few mics, a computer and a projector and a small sound board. You may even find a few buckets catching the water from the ever leaking roof. The lights flicker if you close a door or if you just look at them wrong as well. LOL There is coffee in the back for you to help yourself. You won't find a baptismal, you won't find an altar, you won't even find a pulpit if my husband is preaching!! But you'll find warm people, a love for the Lord, and great teaching.

    Oh yeah - we meet in a hotel, thus the liquor. :D
     
  5. sag38

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    I realize that Debbie is reminiscing about days go by. And, I hope I am wrong about this but she also seems to be implying that if the pulpit is not in the center then the preaching of God's word is not central. If the preacher does not stand behind the pulpit nor dress a certain way then he is lacking in his authority. God forbid that he actually move around a little. If the baptistry is hidden then "salvation is not the main event." Again, strong on tradition and opinions but no Biblical mandates as to the use of furniture, how the preacher is supposed to stand or not stand, where the baptistry is supposed to go, etc. It all reeks of legalism in my opinion.
     
  6. mandym

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    Where in scripture does it say worship is something you only do in private?
     
  7. gb93433

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    Worship stems from our devotion and service to God. That is both private and public.
     
  8. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Visitors who come to our church have to weave through parents and kids coming to training for hurling and Gallic football. They are sometimes taunted or made fun of. When they enter the lobby the can go straight through to the bar. Or, hopefully, they see the sign that invites them upstairs for the church service. When they get upstairs they find a Montessori classroom with the kids tables and chairs pushed aside and our chairs set up. There is, of course, no baptistry. No alter, but a small table is ther for the Table Service a half hour before the main service. After church all the chairs, the pulpit, the piano, and all the rest of the accessories have to be put back in the storage room.

    I am not sure what that reflects about us as a church?
     
  9. gb93433

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    Some churches major on making themselves an attractive church so others will come in. While others do as Jesus commanded and go to the people.
     
  10. mandym

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    On this we agree
     
  11. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Sorry, I butchered this post typing on my phone :)
     
  12. nodak

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    sag38--you are entirely missing the point!

    If you closely read my OP you will see that this is what we were teaching--might have been good, might have been bad, surely were just traditions BUT we had a thought out reason for the traditions.

    And a question as to what we are trying to do with how we do church now. We may have changed everything and that may be good if we know why we changed and what we want to communicate.

    But if we don't know why we do things one way instead of another way we can accidently teach something we don't want to teach.

    Also see the book Pagan Christianity and run the references listed. I certainly don't agree with everything in it, but there are some excellent sources given as to where customs arose.

    No matter how we do church we are enacting "traditions" of one sort or another.....for one purpose or another.

    So, sag38, tell us how your church "does church" but also tell us WHY. We can learn from each other.
     
    #12 nodak, Sep 19, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2011
  13. sag38

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    I recently heard as sermon entitled something like this "How to tell if your church is going Purpose Driven" and the old pastor went on a rant listing things such as the reduction or removal of the pulpit, a more casual dress from the pastor, a change of instruments (God forbid, the church got rid of the organ), etc. What a load of bull manure. Just because a church doesn't have a pulpit or dresses casual doesn't mean they are "Purpose Driven" or any other driven for that matter. And, we just recently move out the old Hammond organ. The new key board sounds just like an organ and much more. Our pulpit is a cross and not near as big. I don't wear a coat with my tie. Here's the problem. We get some church members who listen to this pastor's load of manure and here we go. And, I'm sorry Debbie but I thought this was where you were headed. What do you know, I was wrong and I apologize.
     
  14. nodak

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    Accepted--don't sweat it. (I'm not Debbie either.)

    I would say re the sermon you heard that the pastor probably spoke the truth of SOME cases. That is, SOME pastors have probably made SOME of those changes as part of bringing in the PD package.

    BUT--I am finding that among younger Baptists many don't know why traditionally the Baptist pastor was Bro. So and So instead of Rev. So and So and why he did not wear a clerical collar or robes when he preached. Many don't know why Baptists traditionally had a communion table instead of an altar.

    As to the location of the pulpit--that is pretty easy to trace through history. Fascinating to read why church architecture was done this way or that way. Interesting to read why that chair that used to flank the baptistry was so huge. Cool to understand the difference between the churches in the little village where I grew up......that they weren't based on just what folks liked but were trying to send a message with the building and customs.

    Now, none of that makes it wrong to change things. Just means if your pastor decides Sunday he wants to wear a robe he has to decide if he is qualified to wear a stole as well. He might explain to folks that his decision to dress casually is to emphasize the priesthood of the believer and soul competency, not to chuck trying to be respectful to God or just be really cool and hip.

    Or might help defuse some of the worship wars if young'uns know the old geezers are not just fussing about personal preference, and if the old geezers know the young'uns are not rejecting the prinicpal behind the old ways. Like maybe speaking about the moved pulpit and making clear the importance of the Word preached. Move it and a codger might be thinking "see, I knew they thought the music was more important" and the pastor who moved it might be thinking "now I'm free to get closer to them and really drive a point home from the Word."

    We Baptists had our own traditions. Some were wonderful, some were, well, to be nice I'll just say less than wonderful.

    But when we bring in stuff from liturgical churches, pentecostal churches, whatever, we need to do so understanding what those new customs are teaching and making sure they fit with what we believe.

    We don't want to do something just because it is the popular thing right now if we don't believe in it, and to know that, we need to know the background of the custom.
     
  15. DiamondLady

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    I am forever amused by these topics. The tradionalists enjoy the way things have always been and are comfortable in their sanctuary (which, by the way means a place of refuge or safety) and the way things have been for generations. In the meantime the seeker churches are scoffing at the old hymns, pews, the idea that there is a choir and no band, and that a pastor might actually wear a suit instead of dockers and a polo shirt.

    Which is right? NEITHER. Which is wrong? NEITHER. They are both right and wrong for the same reasons. If it fits you and it's done for the glory of God then it's right. I feel the same way about Bible versions and hymns vs 7-11 choruses. If it fits you then it's right. If it honors God and it's for His glory, then it's right.

    We make a BIG mistake when we say we are worshipping God because the band is playing and we're standing with raised hand and faces towards heaven. We're equally making a mistake when the choir is singing in perfect four-part harmony in their beautiful robes and the organ is swelling to the beautiful peaked wooden vaults. That's praise.

    As for me, I grew up in a church with a sanctuary, we prayed at the altar, had invitations, the choir wore robes and we played a piano and organ. Funny thing, my church today has the same things. It's what I'm comfortable with. I've tried a few seeker friendly churches with their praise and worship bands, worship leaders, and speakers (not pastors) in khaki's and t-shirts. It's not for me.
     
  16. nodak

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    DiamondLady--you are so totally missing the point.

    It isn't that one way of doing church is right and one is wrong.

    I'm glad you like the way your church does things.

    Now tell me--when were choir robes invented, why, and what do they signify?

    Why do you have an altar in your church? Is it for sacrifices? Or not?

    Please go back over the way your church does church and instead of telling us you like it because its what you grew up with, or just that you like it, tell us how those customs got started, what they mean, and what the reasoning was behind it.

    Today people assume styles of worship are just that--innocuous styles that we can take up and put down at will since there is no meaning behind them.

    That is so totally untrue. THERE IS MEANING whether we are speaking of liturgical church and its furnishings and customs, or traditional, or contemporary, or pentecostal style worship. They aren't just mix and match elements.

    Some churches use a common cup at communion and some don't. There is much more at play than just issues of sanitation.

    So please--look at what you do and tell us the meaning behind it.
     
  17. DiamondLady

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    Dear, Dear nodak....please go back and re-read. You SO missed the WHOLE point of my post. Your premise is completely off base. NONE of the things you're pontificating about have one blessed thing to do with worship. Customs, meanings, furnishing, songs, robes, suits and ties....none of it have one single, solitary thing to do with worship. You do know what worship is....right?
     
  18. sag38

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    Why do we cover the communion table when the elements are present? The answer may surprise you. It's no longer necessary in most places and yet the practice persists.
     
  19. blackbird

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    Sag------------brother---------this is your second post with the same subject in mind and yet you fail to show us any scripture that supports YOUR point of view----do you even have a point of view???
     
  20. sag38

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    The burden is not on me to use the scripture to justify the placement of any furniture in the church building. In the Temple? Yes. For a pulpit in the New Testament church? No. As to whether a preacher should stand behind the pulpit or sit on a bar stool while preaching the answer is no. Is a church going "Purpose Driven" if they remove the organ? Most likely this isn't the case. Would they be violating the Bible by changing musical instruments? No.
     

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