The other day I found myself in Atlanta and had the opportunity to worship at the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia. That's the home church of Dr. Johnny Hunt and part of my family. But Dr. Hunt was not in the pulpit Sunday -- instead, evangelist Junior Hill delivered the message.
What an amazing worship experience! A huge choir (with robes), we actually sang hymns, families sat together, and you won't believe this ---- they actually had an altar call!
It's been quite some time since I've been in a Southern Baptist church that:
1. Was not ashamed to be Southern Baptist;
2. Preached from the Word of God instead of some five step program
3. And was not ashamed to offer an invitation for people to be saved.
My friends, First Baptist Church Woodstock seems to be purpose driven 365 days a year.
The believers at First Baptist Woodstock prove you don't have to turn your church into a theatrical nightclub to win people to Christ. Isn't that refreshing?
There is a battle being waged across the evangelical world --- more and more pastors are turning their churches into personal fiefdoms --- telling people the way they've done church for generations is not working --- and if they don't like the new way, they can just get off the bus.
In the coming days, I'm going to be writing about this pop-culture invasion that is shaking the very roots of our churches --- a new way of thinking that has elevated the likes of Bono to near sainthood in some churches.
Our family is scattered across the south -- and it seems this problem is growing in small churches and large. Southern Baptist churches are shutting the doors on Sunday night services, getting rid of Sunday school, and replacing choirs with worship bands.
Now I personally enjoy worship bands, but I also enjoy choral music. It's a shame that both can't exist in harmony. However, there seems to be some sort of effort to make the church more like the world, instead of the other way around.
I'd like to relate two stories ---
1. A few weeks ago I was in a service and the pastor paused before his conclusion. He explained that he had something very serious to tell us, something that might be controversial. He said he'd been praying over whether or not to share the entire week. Several in the congregation turned their heads --- wondering what could be so important ---- Then, he dropped the bombshell --- "God," he said, "was telling me to present the plan of salvation to you all."
Sweet mercy! Is this what we've come to in this modern day, purpose driven, culturally relevant church? A pastor fearful of sharing the Gospel?
2. A while back I attended a baptism service. The pastor introduced the candidate and explained that she had actually been saved three years ago. But she was too intimidated to be baptised so the pastor told her that it was okay. He told her she could be baptized whenever she felt like it.
Well, I've scoured my Holman Standard Bible and I've yet to discover the passage of scripture that backs up his rationale.
I'm afraid we are witnessing the dumbing down of American evangelical churches. There's a new generation of young people who will not be exposed to the great hymns of our faith --- who will never know the joys of Royal Ambassadors or Bible Drills.
And many boys and girls may never know the honor of walking an aisle to proclaim to the world their salvation moment --- unless of course it's accompanied by a pyrotechnic light and smoke display with a live band performance of Queen's "We are the Champions."
It sort of makes you wish Baptists served something stronger than grape juice at communion.