Baptists place great value on the local church. This is intrinsic to our history and biblical understanding of how a local group of believers should function in carrying out the gospel message. No two churches are the same, and while there are usually similarities between congregations, the differences are often enough to tip the scales in favor of one church over the other.
The recent ousting of Broadway Baptist in Ft. Worth, TX has brought about secondary consequences, in that a faculty member who works at nearby SWBTS had to decide between his employment and church membership. Professors and administration are required to be members of Southern Baptist churches. Usually the decision to maintain employment outweighs church affiliation.
Not this time. Michael Cox, professor of church music at SWBTS, decided to take early retirement rather than leave the church. It appears that Broadway is finding ways to supplement his income during this transitional period. I’m sure the church is thrilled to have Cox remain, especially at the prospect of losing him to denominational politics.
My point is mentioning this story is not to offer critique on either the church or seminary. It has reminded me, however, of the sacrifice that some of our members make to take part in our fellowship. Some people drive 30+ miles (one way), Sundays and Wednesdays at times, to make sure they and their children are involved with what is going on at UHBC. During these trying economic times, this reality is especially meaningful and is inspirational to me and our staff.
It’s not about how big the church may be, but about the people and ministries. It’s also about the values and distinctives that the church holds dear and makes known to its own people and community. My prayer and desire is that our church maintains its identity and offers a clear message of compassion and concern about the gospel message. I appreciate everyone who is actively involved in our church, and this article in particular has made me appreciate our long distance commuters. It would be much easier for them to opt for a closer church, but they drive past several in order to be with us. Their devotion is inspiring to me.