I was sitting in the waiting room of the service department waiting on my oil change when I overheard the phone conversation on the man next to me. I wasn’t creeping on him but his conversation was unavoidable to overhear.
He was deep in conversation about the politics within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the local baptist churches. It was all about who was doing what and who wasn’t doing their job in their positions. If I had listened more intently I could have probably gotten some real juicy gossip to write about. Instead, I started writing this blog post because this makes me sad.
Once upon a time I was all about the business of “doing” church. My life revolved around who was in what position and which church had the largest membership. I think sometimes people who are in the church for a long time can easily slip into this business about the church and lose sight of the true reason for the church in the first place.
The business isn’t about the Southern Baptist Convention or any other church organization, it is about THE mission that Jesus gave in Mark 16:15:
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
What about that’s mission? What about that business? All too often churches are more concerned about their buildings, their group of people and their organization than they are about loving people and reaching people.
I am happy to say I am not about the church business anymore. It was frustrating and unfulfilling. When I was growing up in the church if you became an overseer then you made it. You were big time. I remember how we would basically roll out the red carpet when any overseer would visit. For a pastor to get one of the big churches, you had to be in good with an overseer. Politics. Pure and simple. I remember seeing church deacons politicking to get the pastor they wanted to be appointed to their church. It was about who you know and not the God you served. It all really disenchanted me about the church.
Fortunately, I learned to separate church from my relationship with God. I was never with the “in” crowd anyway so it was silly to chase any of that. I reflect now on how I remember the popular ones were always in front of everything and had their photos taken for church youth camp annuals. They were the life of the party. Yeah, I will admit that as a teen I wanted that but now I’m glad I never was part of any of that. The church was too much about pleasing man and being cool rather than about God.
So this man next to me in the waiting room of the service department is deep into his opinions about leaders in the SBC. I have not heard one word about God, reaching the lost or helping others. All political talk. That’s disappointing.
To be fair, I think people mean well but sometimes lose their sight of what’s really important and why these churches exist in the first place. God certainly does appoint people and leaders to carry out the mission of the Gospel. There are some who are doing that while others what to be the next big thing in their church or seek to further their own agenda in doing God’s work.
As I was sitting here waiting on my car, I also read about people like John Knox, George Wishart, John Welsh and others who were early pioneers of the church and sacrificed their lives for the Gospel, not some church denominational political agenda. I can’t help but wonder how this man next to me would do in the face of what these pioneers faced.
In today’s world, people need help, hope and love, not church politics. I have had people through the years who assumed that I was going to be a preacher just like my father. I would tell them that being a preacher is not something hereditary but a God-called. Everyone can’t be preachers. All believers won’t be able to get behind a pulpit but everyone can do something to support the mission. The mission is God’s commission, loving others and people of integrity. People who are hurting don’t care what you church title is. They don’t care if you are an overseer, pastor or assistant worship pastor. None of that matters in the grand scheme of things. When people are hurting, they need healing, hope and love.