In a state Baptist paper, I noticed an advertisement from a church in another state that is seeking a pastor. The ad states that the church is “actively engaged in local missions” and goes on to list ten local ministries as examples. The next sentence is especially interesting: “[Our church] supports missions worldwide including missions supported by Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International, SBC and CBF.”
This church has embraced the reality that, as a missional church, there are a number of organizations with which they can partner to accomplish their ministry goals. If one takes the time, he or she will realize that although each of the organizations mentioned is a Christian entity, they do not all adhere to the same faith statement. In fact, of the four mentioned, three are more conservative in their orientation and one is well within the orthodox camp.
We might also note that denominational mission groups are at the end of the list after two parachurch organizations, but I don’t want to read too much into placement in that list.
What does this mean? I think it means that this particular church has recognized that its members want to work with different kinds of organizations, each of which reaches a specific niche or population. If we were to gather representatives from each of these organizations on one platform, we would find that they come from varied backgrounds, use different methodologies, and interpret the Christian faith in their own ways. We might also find that in spite of these differences, some of the field representatives of these groups even find themselves working together to meet local needs.
Many Baptist churches are like this church. Members put together dozens of boxes for Operation Christmas Child (a Samaritan’s Purse ministry) each year without asking what Franklin Graham, President and CEO of the organization, has said or done recently. In those same churches, Sunday school classes take up offerings and goods to send to local, national, and international ministries without checking their doctrinal statements. In these cases, people respond because they recognize a need and want to respond.
Does anyone honestly believe that they can make any Baptist church support one mission organization, use one particular publisher’s curriculum, or obtain all their services from one denominational source? It is time to face reality. The monolithic age of church allegiance is over. Welcome to reality!