Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Recognize that Church

I've been a Southern Baptist for over 40 years now.  Still not sure exactly what that means.  The other day a friend of mine told me he was a recovering Baptist.  I think that I know what he means.  Wrote this little poem that kind of tells the Baptist story for a lot of folks. 

Baptists on Sunday

Stand up, Sit Down
Pass the plate around
Special tunes
Be home soon
The preacher's right on time.

Shake the preacher's hand
Car zoom
Get there soon
Just to get in line.

Sit down, say a prayer
Eat some Luby's fare
Give special thanks to the Lord
We beat the Methodists there.

I pick on the Methodists here because the Catholics always had early Mass and were through early anyway.  Besides, there were always having a Pot Luck Dinner at the church.  We Baptists finally caught on to that one. 

I have been reading parts of a book, "And Jesus Said", by William Barclay. This little books explains the background of the parables spoken by Jesus in the New Testament. I was particularly interested in Matthew 25: 14-30.  We have all read or heard The Parable of the Talents.  Think of talents as money.  The master was going away for a while and left 3 of his servants with different amounts of money.  Listen to the following video to hear the Bible Verses. 

There are many lessons to be learned from this Parable.  But the last verses in this reading stood out to me.  Quoting the book, “In Matthew the parable nears the end with the saying that the man who already has will receive still more, while the man who has not will lose what he has.” 
Ponder on this a minute.  Look deep.  The book goes on to say that this verse is a universal law of life.  What?  Keep thinking. 
When you were young and your mom forced you to take piano lessons, you learned to play a little bit.  You hated it and quit.  Now today, you’re lucky if you can play chop sticks.  Now think about your church pianist or music director.  Don’t you love to hear them play?  You may have had that opportunity, but you lost it. 
Do you get it yet?  The person that learns and keeps learning gets better and better, while the one that quits playing, loses the little that they had.   
I’ve taken a long time getting to this point, but now think about your church in regards to this verse.  

I ask you, Is your church growing? Are you investing in the church?  Or like the 3rd servant are you just trying to keep what you have.  So many Baptist Churches are so steeped in tradition that they are just trying to keep what they have.  They think that taking any chances is bad. And they just won't take a chance. 

We are so used to the old hymns that we sometimes reject the new music that is coming.  I have heard people complain about guitars and drums in a service.  It doesn’t sound like that old tinny piano that you used to hear while sitting next to your grandmother.  And you can still hear her voice, and she is off key and shrill but you cling to it.   Listen to this video and see if it doens't bring back some memories.  Maybe last Sunday..  I think I hear my grandma's shrill voice if I close my eyes and listen.

Now listen to this modern version of Bringing in the Sheeves and tell me which version would the young people today like to hear.  Would playing this version constitute taking a chance.  For some it would. 

I don’t go to my church because it’s a Baptist Church.  I go because I love the people and feel God’s presence there.  Like I said earlier, I am not sure what being Southern Baptist really means and I really don’t care.  But I have seen some Baptist Churches drop the Baptist name and become a nondenominational church.  For the most part they are still a Baptist Church, they just don’t call themselves Baptists anymore.  I guess these are Recovering Baptists.  I really think that these churches are changing to meet the needs of their people.  I am not advocating this position, I am just pointing out that it happens.  And it's happening more and more frequently. 

Churches are full of people.  People just like you and me.  In my lifetime, I have seen many theological changes.  Some are good and some are bad, in my opinion.  Like this parable in Matthew, you either learn or lose.  You are either going forward in your knowledge or you are going backward.  There is no neutral.  The same is true in your knowledge and understanding of Jesus.  You can’t grow in the Lord unless you continually seek him. 

I think a lot of church members get lazy.  They let others do the work and they just sit quietly in their pews on Sunday. They only talk when they are complaining about changes in the church.  The people doing the work in the church are getting all the benefits.  They are growing in the Lord.  You stop and look at those in your church that are the hardest workers.  You can see Jesus in them.  Now look at yourself if you are not working in your church.  Church is pretty much a hobby for you. You go when you feel like it and stay home if you can find something else to do.  But you are always there on Easter. 

I am almost 60 years old.  The church member that I have been describing is me.  I have been a lazy Christian.  I have lost numerous talents because I didn’t want to change.  I hope and pray that that is the old me.  With the Lord’s help, I will continue to serve him. 

I am not talking about my church.  Although, I think that we have some tendencies there.  Change is hard for little country churches.  But, I think this applies to a lot of churches, not only Baptists.   

Please say a prayer for your church.

Please listen to the following Youtube Video by Paul Simon.  Slip Sliding Away.  I hear something different now as I relate this song to the Parable of the Talents.  Enjoy

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