Why Are You a Southern Baptist, Anyway?

Pastor J.D. talks about the importance of doctrine, values, and mission when aligning with a denomination and shares some of his convictions.

A glimpse inside this episode:

I am Southern Baptist, not by birth but by choice.

  • There is no group whose doctrine, values, and mission I line up with more than Southern Baptists.
  • A lot of people wonder what the usefulness of denominations is, especially when they can unfortunately create a lot of divisiveness inside and outside of their membership. However, I really believe that we can do more for the kingdom of God when we work together than we could ever do alone.

First, cooperation amongst similarly-minded churches is a good thing, without question.

Second, I also believe institutions are good.

  • Tim Keller has a chapter in the book “Center Church” on movements, and how movements and institutions need each other. Movements are fun and exciting, and institutions can seem boring, but the two need each other.
  • Movements without institutions lack staying power.
  • Several years ago, Southern Baptists had fallen off the map in the domestic church planting game. There were a couple other groups in the U.S. had really taken off, and they had really charismatic speakers.
  • But one of these other groups, at the height of their popularity (hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers!), talked about their pipeline. They had fewer than 100 people in it!
  • Meanwhile, Southern Baptist seminaries graduate 3,500 people a year. Even if you cut that in half, or in half again, or in half AGAIN, you’d still end up with more than the pipeline of that other, “cooler” movement.

The SBC is a tool. If you have a tool and it gets dull and you can’t use it anymore, what do you do? Throw it away. But that’s not where we are with the SBC.

  • Sure, there are some headaches, but I believe that the ability it gives us to work together is worth it.

Unity in essential, uniformity in non-essentials. Truth trumps a faux unity.

    • One of the core reasons I’m a Southern Baptist is because of the doctrine. The SBC’s official statement of faith: the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. This document clearly and concisely lays out a biblical belief system that lines up very, very closely with my own. So much so, in fact, that our church has adopted it as our official statement of faith.
      • Narrow enough to keep us united on the essentials and broad enough for us to disagree on non-essentials.

J.D., I do have another question: why don’t you have “Baptist” in your church’s name?

  • Good question. We used to be, officially, Homestead Heights Baptist Church and The Summit Church was more like our “nickname.” We even used to say that!
    • We’re in North Carolina, but I call it the “hole” in the Bible belt… you know, the leather goes around it.
    • We found that some people had preconceived notions about us (some good, some bad) because of the name of our church before they even walked through the door.
    • For us, the name was an obstacle. I don’t advocate every church do this, and we didn’t want to lose our Baptist identity.
    • Our church makes it pretty clear to even the casual observer that that’s who we are, and I frequently mention it in my sermons. We make it crystal clear in our membership course.


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