Recently I have been embroiled in a controversy not of my own making. A denominational leader called me out for bringing in guest preachers for our Good Friday Service. I was basically told that I was wrong for bringing in non-baptist preachers and fellowshipping with non-baptists, and that I should have “stuck with the script” and used Kentucky baptist preachers only.
I was floored.
I was angry.
I was grieved.
I was angry.
I was annoyed.
I was angry.
I was raised in ministry by Dr. A. Bernard Devers, who is now in Heaven, and he trained us, taught us, and primarily he taught us of the autonomy that we have in the Baptist Church. His father in the ministry (who I claim as my grandfather in the ministry), the late Dr. C.E. Williams, was chairman of the Ministers Conference for the General Baptist Convention of the Northwest and he regularly hammered into our head “Conventions don’t make churches; Churches make conventions.” In other words, what I heard in 2013 greatly differs from what I was taught in 1978.
I invite in who the Holy Spirit tells me to – PERIOD.
I have always enjoyed fellowship with other Christian Denominations. I admire the A.M.E.’s for their dedication to Christian Education. I admire the COGICs for their tenacity of praise and worship. I admire the United Methodists for their reverence of worship. And yes, I am baptist born, baptist bred, and when I did baptist dead – BUT, I was a believer before I became a Baptist. I am Baptist by choice. However, I am not confined to the baptist way of doing things and frankly, there are some flaws in our baptist polity that some of us have chosen to ignore rather than enforce.
There is no “baptist way” of worship. Matter of fact, there is no printed order of worship throughout the Bible. The early church didn’t have an order of worship with “Baptist” written across it. Stunningly, someone sent me an email and suggested that the Baptist Church was what Jesus instituted when He called the twelve. If that’s the case, there’s a Judas in every camp.
There’s nothing wrong with being proud to be Baptist – but there’s some wrong when that pride turns to exclusivity. It’s akin to going to Waffle House every morning for breakfast and passing by 100 other restaurants and saying, “Waffle House” is the only folk that makes real breakfast. It’s a narrow interpretation of scriptures that do not exist.
Some good has come of this. On Facebook, I started a “KENTUCKY PASTORS AND PREACHERS & FRIENDS” page that has caught fire – over 100 pastors and preachers, tired of the non-biblical tradition of separatism, have latched on. I’m not using that platform to start a convention nor association (that’s what they call what most of the country calls state conventions here). However, I am interested in fellowship with those who I will eventually re-unite again with in heaven.
Somebody has to make a stand against this mantra of “us’s only.”