After serving in the Marine Corps in North Carolina, I have often pondered why my home state of Michigan has such an abysmal Southern Baptist presence. When I lived in North Carolina we would often joke about the numerous Southern Baptist churches, saying “you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting three of them!” Yet you can live your entire life in a Michigan town and never have one person talk to you about the Roman Road.
How do I know? I grew up in a small Michigan town and it wasn’t until I was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, that I had my first encounter with a Baptist who lived like an evangelist. This is what is at stake. Michigan and states like it can either become Gospel powerhouses, or choose to doom endless generations to birth and death where the message of “salvation by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone” will never be delivered to them. Apart from Southern Baptists, communities are gridlocked by “sacraments” of other denominations and the “grace + works” theologies of others that rob people of the power of the Ephesians 2:8-9 Gospel.
The purpose of this article is to explore why Michigan and states like it are ages behind other states. In my years as a pastor and a leader, I have several suggestions that point out why Michigan is falling short.
According to an anecdote in an 1826 newspaper article, Thomas Jefferson attended a small Baptist church a short distance from Monticello roughly a decade before the American Revolution. On one occasion, while dining with the Pastor, Rev. Andrew Tribble, Jefferson was asked what he thought about the Baptist form of church government. He replied that he “considered it the only form of pure democracy that then existed in the world, and had concluded that it would be the best plan of Government for the American Colonies.”
Imagine the eye rolls one would receive from enlightened elitists in Washington today upon mentioning that the primary architect of America’s governing system was schooled in his political philosophy by his observations of a small town Baptist congregation!
Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers would later frame the United States Constitution in such a manner that its first three articles would address the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government, each with its own limited powers held in check by the other two. This system was intentionally inefficient, designed to prevent any branch from ruling with an iron fist. It was deemed better to get nothing done at all than to get a great deal accomplished without sufficient accountability to leaders constitutionally charged with looking at each decision from a different point of view.
Roughly 250 years after Jefferson’s conversation with Tribble, it would be wise for Southern Baptists to allow him to return the favor, advising us to borrow a page from his political philosophy playbook. In order to operate in a manner most likely to prevent any branch of Southern Baptist government from ruling with an iron fist, we must create a judicial branch capable of balancing the powers of the other two. Continue reading
Dear Titus the Honorable and Cohen the Goodhearted,
Christmas is coming! This is an exciting time of the year for the Moores as we prepare to celebrate the
birth of Jesus. Very soon, the family will ask what I want for Christmas. I will tell them I don’t need
anything, and then they will go to the dollar store to try and find some trinkets so I won’t sit empty-
handed while everyone else is opening their Christmas presents. Continue reading