Friday, May 31, 2013

Embrace Diversity for Kingdom Purposes

Joe Thorn, the founding and lead pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, IL wrote a blog recently on perceptions, specifically focusing in on denominational baggage. Thorn, like myself, is currently a Southern Baptist in denominational affiliation. In his context being part of the Southern Baptist denomination comes with a lot of baggage, I would say that almost everywhere one goes in a Western context the Southern Baptist label comes with a lot of baggage. That is one reason that I rarely mention my denomination affiliation unless it puts me in a more positive light. It is not that I am ashamed or want to hide it, but I see it as a non-essential in taking the gospel forward in the title itself.

Thorn points out that the reason there is so much baggage associated with the Southern Baptist denomination is based on peoples perceptions. To be fair, many of those perceptions are probably valid, but not always. Trevin Wax also wrote an interesting piece recently on 9Things You Should Know About Southern Baptists that is worth the read and will probably come with some surprises. 

The one thing that both Thorn and Wax point out that I love about the Southern Baptist is the diversity. The perceptions in peoples minds of a Southern Baptist typically fit into this neat and tidy little box, but the truth is they are a very diverse group of people. On Thorn's blog he said it this way, "Southern Baptist churches are actually very diverse outside of their core beliefs about God, the gospel, and the church." 

This is perhaps one of the strongest areas for Southern Baptists, they are a large group of people who embrace diversity for kingdom purposes. Sure, there are always going to be perceptions when something is given a title, and I am not committed to the Southern Baptist as a denomination, but Jesus Christ and his mission. 

In the words of the great Bob Dylan, "For the times are they are a-changin," and I think that could be said of the Southern Baptists and their perception. Likely the most diverse denomination in the world, coming in all shapes and sizes, that is continuing to fulfill the Great Commission by coming together for Kingdom purposes. 

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