Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Baptist Stereotype

So many people I talk to around here, including my family, have issues with Baptists. People seem to be embarrassed to admit they're "baptist" or when they say they go to a Baptist church, they quickly follow it up with, "But I wouldn't call myself a Baptist. I just go to a Baptist church." This is so unfortunate. It proves 2 things - Baptist churches have often given in to the stereotypes and people have no idea what it means to be a Baptist.

While I could go on and on about what a church should be doing about this, I think it needs to start with the people.

If you have a problem with believer's (Biblical) baptism, or think you need a priest to reach God, or want to find a way around taking responsibility to study Scripture and learn the truth on your own without just accepting whatever pastor says, then you are right in saying you are not a Baptist.

But what do people really have a problem with? The stereotypes. The typical "standards" (for lack of a better word) of a Baptist church that have no real basis in Scripture. They're just simply preference.

Here's a picture of some stereotypes... We had to sneak to a back room, telling only the photographer, to have a daddy/daughter dance just before our wedding. When someone walks in covered in tattoos and piercings, with a scowl and a ton of baggage, they usually walk out the very same way, having met no one. The first several rows in the auditorium are empty. Only the "enthusiastic" lady in the praise band ever raises her hands during worship. A change of order in the service would get the deacons shifting uncomfortably. Who's willing to give of themselves and work in the nursery?? The same two ladies every single week. And outreach is the youth group's job. Us older folk don't want to feel the least bit uncomfortable.

As we drove into church this morning, I said to Derek, "We personally don't struggle with most of the stereotypes, but we go to a church that has a tendency to be very stereotypical. Let's make sure we don't fall into that trap." So we're committing to being Baptists that live as bible-believing Christians, rather than letting the world's idea of the Baptist name shape who we are. So while we sat very near the front row, we listened to a message on the importance of being a servant. The very thing that would combat all these issues!

First Baptist has been around for 150 years! God has been faithful. And I believe He is faithful through a handful of faithful people. The problem is, it's only a handful! In a church of 1300, there should NEVER be a problem finding help in the nursery. I have no idea how many members belong to our church, but I know that they aren't all serving. How many people belong to your church? Are they all plugged in somewhere? Are YOU serving your church??

So here's my challenge - know your denomination and your individual church's beliefs and values. If they don't line up with yours (which should line up with Scripture), make a change. And secondly, before bashing on the denomination I am a part of, figure out what problem you really have with it. Is it simply a stereotype?

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