Saturday, January 06, 2007

Why Include "Baptist" in the Name?

Here is the note I sent to the church explaining why we decided to utilize the word "Baptist" in the name:

Brothers & Sisters,

A few days ago I received an e-mail from the Hufts which argued for putting “Baptist” rather than “Christian” in the name. Both Kevin and I were persuaded by their e-mail because we saw that, although we will create some confusion by using the word “Baptist,” we will probably create more confusion by using the word “Christian.” The Hufts have given me permission to share their e-mail with you, so I have included it at the end of this note.

Here are the problems with the word Baptist, as I see them:
1. It does not define which of the 30+ types of Baptists we are.

2. It will keep some people from visiting our church because they will assume false things about what it means to be Baptist.

3. Believers are never called “Baptists” in the Bible, and we want to be as biblical as we can in all we say and do.

But here are the benefits of the word Baptist, as I see them:
1. It helps define who we are more adequately than the word “Christian.” The word “Christian” is so loose and undefined that people may think we are non-denominational, seeker-oriented, Pentecostal, affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, or who knows what else. This is the main thing the Hufts helped us to see.

2. It will attract people, like the Hufts, who understand what it means to be Baptist and are specifically looking for a Baptist church. To my knowledge, there are only six churches in the entire SMORE area that use the word Baptist in their name, four of which are in Elk River: Becker Baptist, First Baptist Monticello, Cornerstone Baptist Church (Elk River), Elk River Baptist Church, Tri-County Baptist (Elk River), and Bible Baptist Church (Elk River).

3. It will promote the integrity of the church by declaring our affiliation, even if some people misunderstand what that affiliation implies. It will keep people from having to guess or waste their time trying to figure out what kind of church we are.

4. Although believers are never called Baptists in the Bible, Baptist distinctives have been carefully derived from the Bible over the last four-hundred years. To bear the name “Baptist” is no contradiction to the Bible, and as I’ve already said, it helps define us to the public.

5. Many God-centered churches, not the least of which is Bethlehem Baptist Church, are prospering with the word “Baptist” in their name. The word “Baptist” is not what will attract people to, or repel people from, our church--the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will do that and the Hufts are right to say that we should trust him in this.

Therefore, since the name “Glory of Christ Church” does not adequately address any of these issues, the name of the church, at last, shall be “Glory of Christ Baptist Church.” Thank you Roger and Juli for the care, concern, and time you took in writing your note. And thanks again, Bert, for being the one to raise the question in the first place.

Now, here is the note from the Hufts:

…We also love the "Glory of Christ" part of the name, but were a bit distracted for lack of better words, by the "Christian" part of it. In agreement with you Charlie on your thoughts behind the "Christian" terminology, we also feel that using the word "Christian" in a church name is very biblically appropriate. However, we felt too, like Bert, that the term, "Christian," unfortunately, isn't what it used to be. Today, it has become a loose and rather vague word that many people, unfortunately, throw around with little significance in their speech. The Somalis at SALT struggled with the term 'Christian,' because they see people such as Madonna wearing a cross around her neck, but understand also that her lifestyle and actions appear to be far from the cross. This isn't to say that everyone feels as they do, but we found this example appropriate here. A "Christian" Church sounds 'non-denominational' to us, and maybe to some, not what it truly is meant to that is completely and whole-heartedly dedicated to serving and carrying out all visions to glorify our Father through Christ Jesus with a biblically sound doctrine.
When we moved here to MN, one of the things that was crucial in our church hunting was a good, solid Bible based Baptist church. We wanted a Baptist Church because we wanted a solid doctrine (II Tim 4:3). But when we opened up the phone book, we were saddened by the lack of churches that carried the "Baptist" name. We ended up at Quarry Community Church, and were pleased to find out (when we asked...) that they were 'Baptist.' Unfortunately, they were also affiliated with Willow Creek.
The point to ponder might be this: Is leaving out a name such as "Baptist," and replacing it with "Christian," going to compromise who others might perceive us to be and what our vision of this church is to be? Might it sound as if we are the usual church that has fallen into the non-offensive rut before they even give us a chance and see who we really are? Or, could we benefit by coming right out and proclaiming who we are, Baptist, trusting in God to see this church vision through, as we continue to strive to focus on glorifying Christ in all that we do?

In Him,Roger and Juli


  1. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Maybe I missed something... Why is it bad to be "affiliated" with Willow Creek? Furthermore, what does "affiliated" mean?


  2. I don't like anonymous comments, but I'm letting this one slip through the cracks. Please know that I will not let this happen in the future.

    The reference to Willow Creek came in someone else's comments that I quoted. I cannot answer for why that person sees a problem with Willow Creek Association, but my guess is that it is the seeker orientation, which we oppose.

    In this context "affiliated" means "belongs to the Willow Creek Association," and therefore I'm sure, "buys into the Willow Creek philosophy."

    I for one am not here to judge the heart of another one's servant, but I do think it's appropriate and necessary to assess models in light of the Bible, and this church finds the seeker oriented model lacking.

    Thanks for the comment, please identify yourself next time.