A few months ago, I worked a shift at a local consignment sale at the Agricenter. Donna goes to the sale and if I work she is able to shop early for the best deals. So, I found myself working security one Friday afternoon.
When I arrived, I saw two volunteers I met at the last sale. Both men serve on staff at large church in our area. We spoke briefly and I moved on to find my assignment. I spent the rest of my day intimidating would be shoplifters (Mostly moms and grandmothers, I was ready to knock some heads and tackle thieves but it never happened).
I had a lot of time to stand around and think. I remembered my conversation at the last sale with the two pastors. We talked about our churches and where we went to seminary—typical boring preacher stuff. I asked them about their church’s affiliation. I had always assumed, from the name, that they belonged to particular denomination. They do not.
One of the pastors said that the saying around their church is something like, “We only answer to Jesus.”
As sayings go, that’s a pretty good one.
In fact, it is the unspoken statement of every Baptist church. It is a statement for which I am grateful.
As Southern Baptists, we choose to cooperate. At our church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and the Mid-South Baptist Association have no authority to tell us how to conduct ourselves.
We, as members, do not have that authority either.
Only Christ can say how our church, or any church, should operate.
R. Stanton Norman wrote in The Baptist Way: Distinctives of a Baptist Church, “Baptists have historically agreed that congregational church polity is important. Although not an essential of the Christian faith, Baptists have contended that the New Testament has established the manner in which a local church is to govern and administrate itself. Since these Baptists believed that the New Testament has fixed the pattern of polity, they were not at liberty to govern themselves in any fashion. If Christ has established the laws of the church government, they were obligated to follow the dictates of the Head and Lord of the church (85-6).”
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Notice that He said, “My church.” It is His, not ours.
It is not about our preferences, ideas, vision, authority, seniority, or anything else we claim as a right to have a say in His church.
Jesus is in charge of the church.
I can’t think of a better boss.