What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 2: Mature Love
Dr. Thomas Douglas
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS
This is the third article in the series on the importance of small churches. The introduction article presented the reason for the series, and part 1 dealt with the foundational truth of the gospel and the Bible. To read these articles, click on the linked words.
When I first arrived at Parkway Baptist Church, I found myself in one of the most difficult situations ministry families face. I had to start at my new position, while my wife and children had to stay at our house three states away. The plan was simple: get to my new ministry, find an inexpensive month-to-month rental so my family could move up with me, and then buy our next house once our current one sold. The way the members of Parkway responded to my self-inflicted family crisis displayed the love that people experience over and over again at our church. A wonderful couple immediately provided me room and board as I began my ministry. Along with this Christian hospitality came several invites to meals from other church members. The church also allowed me to travel back to see my family as often as I could get away. Eventually, I found a pretty rustic 2 bedroom and a closet they called a third for a price my family could afford while still paying on our mortgage. When moving day came, twenty people showed up to help us move in half of our possessions (the rest remained in our staged house). Of course, the next Sunday, the church held a pounding for us that came with plenty of can goods, paper products, and gift cards to the local grocery store and Walmart.
Needless to say, our family felt very loved by their generosity. Then unexpectedly we received a gift from an anonymous family that covered our rent in the apartment for the first five months. Add to that, when we finally sold our house and bought one in our church field, the people who moved us into the apartment showed up again to move us into the house.
By Wes Kenney, currently a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
In this classic volume, the task that Leonard Verduin seeks to accomplish is to describe thoroughly the major issues that separated the magisterial Reformers, such as Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, from those who believed the reforms did not go far enough. These he identifies as the stepchildren of the Reformers, justifying this moniker by their treatment at the hands of those in whom they had early placed such great hope. With a focus upon the relationship between the ecclesiastical and the civil authority, Verduin details the distinctions between these two groups as they arose around various beliefs and practices of the stepchildren. The Anabaptists, of course, were among these “stepchildren.”
Verduin accomplishes his task by detailing, in eight chapters, eight of the terms of derision hurled at the stepchildren by the Reformers. Each of these terms is simultaneously descriptive and misleading, which was likely the intent behind their use.
The first, and lengthiest, chapter, Donatisten, gives a detailed description of the controversy that arose in the fourth century surrounding the followers of Donatus in northern Africa. In his description of the Donatist schism, Verduin devotes considerable space to the development of the concept of a “sacral society,” by which he means a “society held together by a religion to which all the members of that society are committed” (23). He casts the rebellion of the Donatists as a protest against that ideal, and describes how the stepchildren came to be derided as “neo-Donatists.”
This “sacral society” concept Verduin identifies as coming to dominate the West in the “Constantinian change,” wherein the formerly persecuted primitive church becomes the unifying religion of the empire, and the object of rebellion not only for the stepchildren of the Reformation but for “heretics” throughout the medieval period. This will be foundational to Verduin’s argumentation in much of the rest of the book.
Monday Exposition Idea:
Beware of Loving It Without Living It!
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
In a message titled “Pastoral Leadership in a Postmodern World”, Dr. James Merritt shares,
Once when Billy Sunday [1862-1935] preached a hard message on sin somebody said “Billy, you gotta quit preaching that way. You’re rubbing the fur on the cat the wrong way.” Billy Sunday said, “The old cat’s headed toward hell. If she’ll turn around, I’ll rub her the right way.”
Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) tells,
The great Southern Baptist preacher Dr. R. G. Lee [1886-1978] once preached a sermon against sin. He didn’t pull any punches, but preached as hard as God gave him liberty to preach. At the end of the sermon a lady – terribly offended by the sermon – came up to Dr. Lee and said ‘I didn’t appreciate that sermon one little bit’. Dr. Lee replied, “The devil didn’t either. So classify yourself.”
A pastor shares, “I quoted the first line of a poem: ‘I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day!’ and an impatient, 8-year-old boy sitting on the front row with his parents spontaneously shouted ‘YES!’“
No State Control of Religion: Government Should
Protect Religious Freedom and Not Enforce Religion
Certain periods of history have involved difficult pressures on Baptists practicing their faith. Opponents have used government sanctions to control and regulate religion, creating tension-filled times. The Baptist movement became enemies of the state and targets of harassment in their quest to practice their faith.
I am careful to distinguish the proper wording for this tenet of Baptist practice. It has been a source of controversy by virtue of even the terminology used. To say “freedom of religion” is a positive statement. Freedom of religion has different interpretations by Christians and non-Christians.
The popular terminology of “separation of church and state” has suffered serious revision. Particularly, the non-churched think separation of church and state means to silence all Christian voices denying the ability to exercise first amendment rights. They fail to understand that “forbidding the establishment of religion “means the establishment of a certain Christian denomination as a state church in our country or region. This phrase is not a means of keeping religious influence out of government. The second part of the Second Amendment states, “nor prohibit the exercise thereof.” We are not to restrict the practice of religion to just only the right to assemble as a church.
The medieval church sought the state as the enforcer of religion. With an understanding of the oppression Baptists experienced, our heartfelt desire is to never let this happen again. We do not believe government has the right to enforce what a church can or cannot do.
The struggle even to exist as a church began early. It was the hyper-critical religious leaders who took Jesus by treachery and turned him over to the Romans for crucifixion (Matt. 20:19-20). Jesus had declared, “Give Caesar what is his and God what is God’s” (Matt. 22:21). Jesus set the example for His followers and paid taxes when He had Peter pull a coin from a fish’s mouth for He and Peter (Matt. 17:27).
by the Contributing Editors of SBC Today
This is a list of recent blog posts which we found interesting. That we found them interesting doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with or endorse the ideas presented in the posts, but that we found them to be intriguing and thought-provoking. (They are listed in no particular order of interest). Please post your comments to discuss any article that strikes your interest. If you have recent blog posts to nominate, please send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org.