This is the third part in a series about changing the name of our church. Before talking about the last two reasons, I would like to encourage you to make sure and check out the first two parts. You can view them here:
Changing Our Name – Part 1
Changing Our Name – Part 2
Also, you can check out the message where we announced this publicly and you can listen to the reasons we think this is so important there.
Finally, if you are a part of Oak Grove and you would like to be involved in discussing this proposed change, I want to invite you to attend one of our two scheduled open forums. We want to give the opportunity to share thoughts, questions and even feedback on this issue and you can do that at the following meetings:
- Sunday, June 12th @ 9:15 am in the Starting Point Room.
- Sunday, July 10th @6:30 pm in the Gathering Room
Okay, the final two reasons that I think we should change our name:
5. We want to change our name because Baptist is an insider term.
The name Baptist means one thing to me. It means something entirely different to my friends and neighbors. One of my friends who I recently asked what “Baptist” means said this: “ready to fight, fun-condemning, going to yell at you kind of church.” Unfortunately, while we know that is not what it means and that is not who we are, only those on the inside know that. My problem is that now we have to fight those battles too rather than focusing on the Gospel.
David Whiting, a pastor friend of mine, said this and I agree with him: “I want to remove anything from our name that points to peripheral issues. I want the Gospel to define who we are. I want the cross to define who we are. Our name “defines” us in many different ways to many different people.”
In order to test this theory, we began asking people a question in our ownership class – a class designed for people who want to take ownership here and want to become members. The question was: what does “baptist” mean. We received answers like this over the past year alone:
- “Baptist means traditional”
- “It means that you only like hymns”
- “Baptist means that religion is all about rules”
We also heard the following:
- “If I had known this was a Baptist Church I never would have come”
- “This is a Baptist Church? I never would have guessed that!”
- “I avoid using the name “Baptist” when I invite people.”
All of these statements tell us that while Baptist certainly means something good to many of us, it is an insider term that doesn’t make sense to others.
6. We want to change our name because the incredible theological diversity of Baptist Churches in Kansas City is confusing and misleading.
Have you ever heard someone say something and use a phrase the wrong way? I’m reminded of the movie “Princess Bride” where one character continually uses the word “inconceivable”. Finally in the movie someone says, “I don’t think that means what you think it means”. I feel the same way about the name Baptist. It means something to me, but what I’ve found is that that name means something entirely different to others. After researching the “Baptist” churches in Kansas City we have found some very interesting things.
There are over 300 Baptist Churches in Kansas City as a whole.
We randomly researched 15 Baptist Church websites and this is what we found.
- 4 of them have female pastors.
- 2 of them openly refute the reality of Hell.
- 1 teaches that humans are divine.
- 2 of them were KJV only and openly say that you can’t be saved unless you use a King James Version Bible!
- 3 of them openly support homosexual marriage.
- And I haven’t even talked about Westboro Baptist Church which is located less than 60 miles from us – spewing hate on those with same-sex attraction and picketing the funerals of men and women who have served our country!
The theological diversity of Baptist churches in Kansas city is incredibly misleading and confusing. I would also say this. According to our research, keeping Baptist in your name does not ensure theological accuracy.
There are many good reasons for which Oak Grove Baptist Church started out with its name. I appreciate those reasons and in fact it is those reasons that are largely driving this change in me. Oak Grove was started to reach those far from God. Oak Grove was started to carry out Christ’s mission. Oak Grove was started to help people grow! We are Baptist’s because of what we believe from the Bible, but if the label is hindering us from accomplishing the mission that Christ has given us and is the heritage of our church, then we need to change our name. There are many objections and concerns with a change like this and I will be addressing those in some upcoming posts.