So I'm off to Atlanta to participate in the New Baptist Covenant. They are estimating at least 10,000 people will gather as an informal alliance of more than 30 different Baptist organizations, that claims 20 million members.
My classmates and I are getting credit for the conference and are reading some Baptist books, one in particular, Bill Leonard's Baptist River.
Leonard writes “Baptist denominations expanded their organization systems, with structures that mirrored those of American corporations.” I find this issue fascinating because it alludes to the way our the American church is similar to our government. In America there is high regard for individual freedom and liberty. This freedom is obvious in the Baptist life that has often times produced fragment groups and sub-denominations.
In maintaining our Baptist identity how much of our current life is shaped by “American values?” (Like capitalist ventures, consumerism, and freedom of the individual.) We must be aware that often times the strongest voice in our church is not God but the society. Instead of the church transforming society the church is transformed by society. The business models and organization structures of America have their negative and positive facets. The problem begins when we organize the church from American principles, not Godly principles.
I believe there needs to be proper engagement with our surrounding world. Obviously Baptist in America will be influenced by America, but what is the appropriate way to enter this land? To be the church requires cultural aptitude but we must look beyond the culture and find God bearing qualities in being the church in that specific context.