Monday, August 12, 2013

The SBC church of 1973

Have you read this story?

     In the midst of the Vietnam War, after a bomb destroyed his family home and killed his wife and two of his sons, a desperate father grabbed his infant boy and fled into the forest.
     There they stayed for 40 years, where, if Vietnamese media are to be believed, they lived in the wild and made no attempts to contact the outside world. Viet Nam News, an English news service, reports locals from the Tra Xinh Commune in Tay Tra District spotted the two several days ago and alerted police, who found them in a remote patch of jungle, living in a handmade hut, lifted several feet off the forest floor.
Old heads will recall a Japanese WWII soldier emerging from the Philippine jungle almost three decades after the end of that war.

Rip Van Winkle stories, sans the sleep.

Suppose some Southern Baptist had a 40 year nap and went to church last Sunday. What would surprise him?

SBC churches are, and have been, quite varied but here are some things that would have surprised me had I returned to church after a 40 year hiatus and had no knowledge of events since that time.

Worship seems to have changed.

What's with all the screens, speakers, mikes?

Why do folks in church hold a hymnal but also have the words and some nifty background scenes projected onto a screen?

The pastor - why is he miked up with a tiny wireless face mic and roaming all over the platform rather than standing behind a pulpit.

No choir robes?

You know, this reminds me more of some concerts I attended back in the 1970s than a worship service. It's all about performance and entertainment.

Is this a rehearsal service? The pastor isn't even wearing a tie. A shirt tail out? Really. Goatee? Is that a tattoo?

What happened to the Cooperative Program?

We were giving over 10% to the CP in the 1970s. Now it is about half that. Why?

The Conservative Resurgence?

 Moderates? Who are they?

What's a satellite church anyway? You mean churches don't start missions anymore; they franchise additional locations of the same church?

I don't recognize all these little dittys we're singing, but I like some of them.

What's an elder anyway, and what was wrong with just having a pastor and associate pastors?

You mean there are a couple hundred of these megachurches, not just FBC Dallas and Bellevue?

What happened to Sunday School?

You mean I can attend a worship service on Saturday afternoon and skip worship on the Lord's Day altogether?

Some of these people are fiddling with their little Star Trek handheld gadgets in church. Toys? Oh, phones. And you say they can follow the Scripture reading on these phones? And even do their giving?

The average SBC pastor makes $60,000 or so? Wow. Oh, a gallon of gas costs about $3.50.

So, the church got rid of the pastorium years ago?

Why does the church need six full time ministers instead of just a pastor, music guy, and youth guy?

No kidding? Some pastors get the month of August off? And some get several months for a sabbatical?

You mean I can't just walk forward and join a church anymore? I have to go through a class?

Really, no one uses evangelists anymore? Churches don't have two revivals each year?

We are a declining denomination?

Baptisms have trended downward for all the years I was away?


Anonymous said...

I was sitting here speculating about what they would say and I would say that you hit the nail on the head.

Lots of changes--some good and some not so good but then, that's human nature.

And Southern Baptists are definitely human.

Anonymous said...

Lots of food for thought here. Can't help but wonder how someone who had maybe been out of touch for the forty years from 1933 to 1973 would have reacted to the 1973 church. As a child of that era, I seem to remember a lot of reaction to the new things introduced to many SBC churches during the seventies. Guitars and drums in worship. The contemporary songs made popular by the Jesus Movement and various youth choir musicals shook up a lot of our members in 1973. I'll never forget the first Sunday evening when one of the deacon's wives wore (gasp!) pants to church. As for declining baptisms today, I remember that multiple baptisms for a single person were quite common in my church during the seventies and beyond. A child was baptized, and then later would choose to be re-baptized as a youth now that they "really understood what they were doing." I don't see as much of that any more at least in my congregation. Our church gave more to the cooperative program, but during that time very few laypeople were personally involved in mission trips or projects. Missions was very much a study and give- not a go myself endeavor.Today, many people in my church have been on several mission trips and have done "hands-on" work to help our church plant new churches. As I stand at my church door in 2013, I can honestly say I still love God,I still love being Baptist and I can't wait to see what my church looks like in 2053!