Not many would disagree in saying that the SBC is quite diverse. We are diverse in every area of church life. We are diverse in our style of worship; fundamentalist, traditional, contemporary, blended, modern, and this list could go on forever… With 16 million Baptists on record we have 160 million ways of doing things. I do not want to spend much time talking about diversity in our style of worship, but more importantly our diversity in our philosophies of ministry.
One would have to be ignorant not to see all of the diverse opinions within the SBC. We are all trying to figure out what the best way to ‘make disciples’ is. Not only from the way we approach the music in our church, but more importantly the way we approach the people in our church and in our community…aka our philosophy of ministry.
Let me give you a little background of myself. I was raised Catholic, very catholic, pre-Vatican II catholic, my grandparents have stopped speaking to me catholic. I think you get the point. My parents divorced and my mother, two brothers, and I decided to try the ‘Big Baptist Church’ down the street. Four months later God saved my soul in this church. He saved me, grew me, and called me into the ministry in this church. This is a seeker-sensitive church. Everything this church did was because either Saddleback or Willow Creek was doing it. God used this church greatly in my life. It is because of God’s work in my life that I am more sympathetic to the seeker-sensitive movement than most.
The seeker sensitive movement is only one face of the SBC. We have many faces. We have seeker-sensitive churches, house churches, traditional churches, fundamentalist churches, emerging churches, blended churches, and everything else that can be thought of. The question is this: is this diversity healthy? Does all of this diversity help the SBC or is it destructive?
I once heard a Christian say that, ‘we would be better off if we just kicked out churches like Saddleback.’ Is this true? Would the SBC be better off if we kicked out every church that a certain group of people believed practiced an unbiblical philosophy of ministry? There is definitely a hint of arrogance in this type of attitude. First and foremost, we ought to approach this topic with humility and grace.
I cannot bring myself to believe that the SBC would be better off without the diversity that we have. God used a seeker-sensitive church to save me, some of you, and many more. He has used very traditional churches to save others, modern churches, emerging churches, etc… In our humility, we ought to thank God for using churches that aren’t perfect, like yours and mine. This does not mean that we should condone and approve of all philosophies of ministry. I do not believe that the seeker-sensitive movement has a biblical philosophy of ministry and yet God saved me through it. We do need to have courage in standing and preaching what we believe the Bible says about ministry! But, let us also remember this, everything that any church does needs to be covered by the blood of Jesus because nothing any church does is perfect and pure.
I am not saying that this is a topic that we should all just turn our heads away from the ‘other guys.’ We ought to have healthy dialogue. Do we not all want to be as biblical as we can as we fulfill the Great Commission? Of course we do, so lets talk about what that looks like. Let’s open the Word and see what Scripture says! Let’s stand and be strong in our biblical convictions; while at the same time being humble and gracious to those who do not agree. As I said before, I do not at all believe in the philosophy of ministry that the ‘seeker-sensitive’ movement holds. Yet, I am very grateful for the work that God does through them.
Rather than be decisive and harsh, we ought to celebrate our diversity as we all try to ‘make disciple of all nations.’ I thank God for the diversity in the SBC. He is using us, in all of our broken ways, to make His name great!
At the end of each post on SBC Voices, we suggest related posts from other Southern Baptist websites and blogs. These will often include contrary points of view and should not be understood as endorsements.
What Other SBC Voices Are Saying
- Report of the Southern Baptist Convention Peace Committee by SBC in St. Louis, Missouri (June 16, 1987)
- 7 Types of Southern Baptists by Trevin Wax
- The Many Faces of The SBC by Wade Burleson
- What Are the Most Pressing Issues Facing the Southern Baptist Convention? by Nathan Finn
- Whence and Whither? by Timothy George
- Baptist ID: Dr. David Dockery on “The Southern Baptist Convention Since 1979? by Tim Brister