Dean is a pastor at LaBelle Haven Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi.
There are a few attitudes and actions that take place in the SBC that kind of make me feel like a dinosaur. I am comfortable with being a dinosaur and do not feel the need to fight to keep things the way I prefer them. I have developed a ministry philosophy and carved out my niche so I put my head down and attempt to remain faithful.
One of the attitudes that make me feel outmoded will be on display this week. It has become fashionable to ridicule Independence Day celebrations that take place in churches. One of the components to my philosophy is having several key events a year that puts your church on center stage in your community/area. Many times these events can be evangelistic endeavors, however, they can also be a way to introduce the people of your community to your church family as they attend a celebration or activity. An Independence Day celebration is a perfect event to accomplish this second goal. For this reason, I still use Independence Day celebrations. This Sunday we will have a blowout celebrating the 4th of July.
- Our music ministry will perform a patriotic musical.
- At one point in the musical, our preschoolers and young children will have a parade through the sanctuary in patriotic costumes.
- Our facilities will be decorated in patriotic colors and our congregation will wear red, white, and blue.
- We will have a color guard and the congregation will wave American flags throughout the service.
- We will have memorabilia tables in our atrium in honor of our service men and women.
- We will have Squire Parsons in concert that afternoon followed by a free barbeque picnic on our parking lot. We will have water slides and activities for the children.
A good Independence Day celebration takes a tremendous amount of planning, work, and expense. For this reason alone I understand not every pastor/staff would want to tackle such an endeavor. My plans are to continue to have such services in the future and I have some good reasons why.
- I am grateful for America. America is not a good country, America is a great country. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In all things give thanks.” I believe it is not only appropriate, it is mandated we thank God for our nation. America is not a perfect country but America is a nation blessed by God. Traveling in other parts of the world will make you thank God for America when you arrive on her shores. Once a year I enjoy incorporating thanking God for America into our worship service.
- It teaches our young people to love America. My perception is young people are being indoctrinated with anti-American thoughts. I constantly hear about what is wrong with America. For example, at the same time Americans protest that our nation desires to be isolationists and that we desire to police the world. It is not uncommon for our young people to hear teachers in high school and professors in college speak poorly of America. Do a search for retired Univesity of Hawaii professor Haunani-Kay Trask and read of her hatred for America. This hatred was taught in her classrooms as she railed against America claiming America was her enemy. Every day there seems to be a demonstration somewhere in America about what we are doing wrong as a nation. Again, once a year I enjoy incorporating a patriotic theme so our young people can celebrate what is right with America.
- It allows us to honor those who have served in our nation’s military. The goal of any worship service should be to glorify Jesus Christ. However, it is not sinful to honor someone for their service to our nation’s citizens. On Sunday we will provide individual tables for those who have served in any branch of our nation’s armed forces. These tables will be covered with pictures, award ribbons, and gear from their time in the service. Our church family and guests will walk around the atrium before church on Sunday morning taking in these images and thanking the ones who have served.
- My town embraces patriotic services. Seeing how I am relatively new at my current place of service I have to defer to my staff for this information. When I shared with the staff my desire to continue the patriotic service they had conducted in the past the results were mixed. It is so much work to put on a quality event they thought about the added workload they would have. Then the unanimous conclusion was reached that it is worth the effort. This Sunday, during our worship service, we will have one of our largest crowds all year. There will be dozens of guests both in the morning service and at the concert and picnic. We will make new friends and gather new names as contacts. It is my past experience that this is normal where churches have such celebrations.
I have heard reasons why people are opposed to such celebrations. That is a post for someone else to write. I have shared why I have such celebrations and I anticipate a great day Sunday. Happy Independence Day to you all.