Kevin Rhyne from This Bread Always asked a question about a comment I made on Catch of the Day yesterday.
“Very cool on meeting a pastor interested in Nettles’ book in this part of the world. What’s the story there?”
Good question that. It’s a long story.
One of the things that started me blogging to begin with was a general dissatisfaction with the way ‘things’ were done in the church. I’m not talking about grumbling against others. Nor am I talking about grousing about the service or the pastor—we don’t, as a general rule, do that. In fact we have always been quite fond of our pastors to the point of sticking up for them. I have always held to the position that the ministry was for the congregation and the Pastor was to equip them. It’s just not a very popular view believe me. Too many are of the opinion that ministry is something they’ve hired done and once they drop ‘their’ money in the plate they’ve done their part.
But I digress.
The story there, however, revolves around the general dissatisfaction in which I discovered myself about four years ago. All around me I saw thirty-ish folks much like myself who were busy and active with family and other things. Yet there was an incredible lethargy about them with regard to the gospel. They were not interested in ‘visitation’ or ‘discipleship’ or even Sunday School much unless someone was bringing baked goods fairly regularly. In each Baptist program area there was a major lack of manpower.
Having discovered that no amount of pulpiteering, salesmanship, or guilt-tripping could alleviate the shortage of people to fill all the slots in the programs I decided that it had to be God who did it, not me. It had to be a ‘miracle’. After much prayer and brassy skies I slipped into despair which only hardened my dissatisfaction. It’s not a nice place to be as a layman. I was a volunteer in all of my activities. In spite of that all of these whirling pressures eventually forced me and my family to leave our church and find another—in that order. So we went to the other ‘good’ church in town and there we sat uninvolved and distant from the ‘real ministry’ as I saw it anyway.
But a funny thing happened while I was sitting in that pew not really doing anything. I began to see and hear the church service. I began to listen to what I heard and compare it to what I read in my Bible. Here I was sitting and listening and reading my Bible and occasionally teaching a Sunday School lesson, but that’s all—and thinking. And the times when I would sit in the service with thoughts of ‘what I could have done differently’ or ‘what I could do better now’ spinning through my head got farther and farther apart. But the disillusionment stayed with me. I was still worried about the church, the Southern Baptist Church in general and I still kept asking myself: why is it like this? Why are some things so ineffective and others so pointless? Why is there a decreasing focus on the Word of God?
So I decided to find some answers.
I think I have. But they were not found in a ‘reformed church’. There aren’t any of those around here. If you looked at a map with all the ‘reformed’ and Baptist churches in this area marked you’d see a big hole in this part of the world. Don’t ask me why, there just is. In fact a certain intolerance for Calvinism that I have experienced first hand is one of the things that led me to further study in the first place. The irony in all this is that the man I found to give the book to was the pastor at our original church. Had he began to try and talk to me about ‘Calvinism’ or ‘Sovereignty’ or any of these things called ‘The Doctrines of Grace’ then we would have had a fight. The REAl irony is that the answers I’ve found are the same ones I got from the Bible to begin with.
Isn’t it delightful to know that God is working on everyone at the same time?