I started working on my lesson for this Sunday (I know this is early for me, but Texas Tech plays on Saturday) and came across something that bothers me. I use different literature, trying to find what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I use the standard Southern Baptist curriculum (with a lot of changes and adapting), and in this week’s leadership book was this statement:

“Many people exhibit disillusionment with the church today.”

I so agree with that statement. I’m meeting and reading more and more people (usually young adults or people like me who have been in church a long time or who have experienced the prejudices of church) who are getting frustrated and discontent with the way church is done. I’m not sure why exactly, and each case is different. But the official literature of the SBC, put out by LifeWay, had this to say as to why:

  • Denominational strife
  • Accommodation to the prevailing culture
  • Compromise of true doctrine
  • Moral failure of prominent Christian leaders

I agree with the first point – the SBC is the leader in denominational strife, having the denomination split by it, and a new denomination formed out of anger and dissension.

And the fourth point is just so obvious.

But the middle two points give me heartburn. What does “accommodation to the prevailing culture” mean? This sounds like a jab at all those churches (usually Emerging and seeker-friendly churches) who are trying to make worship and their church more culturally relevant, more interesting, and yes, more appealing. The charge of accommodation usually comes from those churches that refuse to adapt: who dislike “contemporary” (whatever that means) services as compared to hymns only; who dislike conversational sermons as compared to expository preaching; who have been doing their church services the same way for 50 years and it works for them, even though they are dying on the vine; and who preach hell-fire and damnation instead of grace and forgiveness.

And I’m confused about the “compromise of true doctrine” point. Granted, there are churches out there that have watered down the gospel for the sake of numbers, but when the writer of the literature writes “true doctrine,” whose doctrine is he, or she, referring to? Baptist doctrine? I’m sure he would say it’s Biblical doctrine, but we as Baptist sometimes have problems getting the two confused. I think where we are compromising isn’t “true” doctrine, it’s “sound” doctrine.

I would think that if the churches were accommodating to the prevailing culture and compromising the true doctrine, that our churches would be full and growing of people who just want to have their ears tickled and not have a real realtionship with God. And maybe they are. I’ve read of these exact claims made against some of the largest and fastest growing churches in America. So I guess when the writer of the literature says that “many people exhibit disillusionment with the church today,” what he is really saying, based on his points, is that many old, fundamentalist Southern Baptist have a problem with the way some churches are reaching and connecting with people.

Sorry this was so long. I’d really be interested in getting your perspective on this. I’m adaptable.

His peace on you all.

PS – those in my class this Sunday may be getting all this again. Too bad. 🙂