Changing Our Name – Part 6

Recently I shared 2 objections that I have heard to changing our name.  I will share 3 more objections here today.  You can read the first 5 portions of this series here:

Objection 3: If “Baptist” isn’t in our name – how will people find us who are looking for a Baptist Church? First, we will still be a Baptist church (just to be clear).  But it is true that it won’t be on our website or our sign – in fact it’s already not on our sign.  So, how will they find us?  Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • If people are moving into town and are looking for a good church – one that loves God, preaches the Bible, loves others and pursues the Great Commission – I think they will find us! It may take a little while but I believe they will find us.
  • If people are moving into town and are convinced that they can only attend a Baptist Church, they probably wouldn’t attend our church anyway.
  • People moving into town looking for a Baptist Church aren’t our target, and people looking to leave their church aren’t our target. People who are far from God are our target.

Objection 4: If we are taking “Baptist” out of the name because of how those far from God feel about the name – are we going to stop using words like “Christ,” “Christian,” “cross,” “Lord,” or “Church”? This is a great question and one that I have heard expressed in several different ways.  For me, I think there is a great distinction between some of the words.  “Christ,” “cross,” “Lord,” and “Church” are words that the Bible clearly uses and therefore I would put them in a different category, as opposed to “Baptist”.  All of the words quoted above are used in the Bible except one: Baptist.  “Baptist” (as a denomination) is NEVER mentioned in the Bible.  Of course we won’t stop using the other words – they are Bible words!

 In addition to this thought I’d like to share some thoughts of a friend of mine.  In regards to this question he said the following:

“This question helps show how often we confuse our preferences and the Bible.” 

“I will bear the shame all day long of being called a “Christian,” a “believer,” or any other Biblical description of who the Bible calls us.  But why bear the shame that comes with what others have made the name “Baptist” to be? That isn’t a priority to me. I’m not out to “rescue” the name “Baptist” or to redefine it to those outside of faith in Christ. It just isn’t high on the priority list of my life.”

“When someone asks me, “You actually BELIEVE Jesus rose again?”  I would proudly say, “Yes.”  If they asked, “You actually BELIEVE the Bible is inspired?”  I will bear that “shame” all day long.  But if someone asks, “Are you a Baptist?”  I am immediately back pedaling.  If it is in the Bible – I’ll fight for it.  If not – it won’t be a priority for me.” – David Whiting

I couldn’t agree more.  I will fight all day for what the Bible actually says, and I will willing bear the shame of the difficult truths of the Scripture, but if the Bible doesn’t say it – it won’t be a priority for me.

Objection 5: What about older members of the church? They’ve put up with a lot of change.  This one is very sentimental to them and it feels like we are forgetting them, so maybe we shouldn’t do it.  I appreciate this objection as we certainly want to honor the sacrifices of the past and we want to honor age and maturity in our church.  Here are a few of my thoughts on this important objection:

  •  One thing that I’ve said all along is that most people won’t ever know or recognize the number of potential changes that we have already said no to because it would be too difficult on our older members. If the change isn’t crucial to making more and better followers of Christ – often times we stop and say…maybe now isn’t the best time.
  • Second, many of our older members are at the same place where they say: we will do anything short of sin to help reach others for Christ. So while our name is very sentimental – seeing changed lives means more to many than their sentiments.  Are the majority of our older members excited – some are not, but the Great Commission calls us to remove barriers from the Gospel and so we are willing to walk through it slowly and carefully with those who are having a hard time with it.
  • Third, we attempt to honor our older people – those who have sacrificed and been here the longest. Most recently we put together this video highlighting our heritage and future, simply to honor the sacrifice of the past.
  • Fourth, we also took the time to meet with every single person who was here at Oak Grove when I arrived and is still here today.  We did this to gain wisdom and insight from them and to hear their perspective.
  • Finally, truly mature Christ-followers are the most flexible people I know. If there is a clear Biblical command – they won’t budge.  They stand firm – and rightly so.  But if it is a preference issue and not a Biblical or truth issue – they are willing to consider flexibility.  I don’t rejoice in having to lead people that I love through difficult changes, but I can’t act as if my job as a leader is to keep certain groups happy.  We have to focus on God’s agenda and make sure we are doing everything we can to carry it out!

I will have one concluding post later this week with a few questions for you to consider.

Changing Our Name – Part 6

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