I started this post long ago, with the title of “Denomination Dilema.”
As our current situation reveals – and the Holding Up Our Sign series shows – this entire issue has come to a head since then.
So some of this may be slightly repetitive of other posts I’ve written recently. But since I really only addressed our essential agreement with the doctrines of the Southern Baptists, I thought it important to clarify where it is that we differ from them – why we aren’t simply attending a Southern Baptist church.
For the record, the church where we are currently still members (not quite knowing how to approach that), as well as the previous four churches where we held membership (going back prior to the beginning of our marriage), have been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Also, just to reiterate – Wolf and I are of one mind on these issues, and he is the spiritual head of our family, no question. I blog as “I, Tiffany,” for the sake of clarity, and of course also to avoid the possibility of wrongly attributing something to him in the details of our individual personalities and opinions.
The reason we most commonly end up at Baptist churches is manifold, but has not proven entirely satisfactory over the last few years, either.
- Doctrinally, I have found myself in agreement with the Southern Baptist and Independent Baptist churches. Bible believing, Bible teaching, Trinity, non-Charismatic, etc. (See my post Theologically Baptist-ish)
- Baptist churches tend to have programs I like for the kids, such as AWANA.
- Easy to find one. Or six.
- A larger church has more resources for things like the AWANA programs, youth (youth is a whole separate issue now, but in the past that did influence my thinking in that way), etc. And (see above) there’s typically a big Baptist church (or six) around…
But more and more, I have grown to feel out of place in Southern Baptist churches. Here are the two biggest reasons why:
Our dress clearly sets us apart. While I’m used to being “odd” in the world (aka “set apart”), it seems a little odd to be so “odd” among the people who are supposed to be walking the same path as us. (Please know that I do understand that we’re all at different places on the path – this isn’t about that).
I wouldn’t mind particularly, for instance, if other women in the church didn’t wear headcoverings. Or if there was not agreement about whether short sleeves versus 3/4 sleeves were modest, or how many inches below the knee your skirt needed to be. This issue isn’t a legalistic one.
I do mind when women wear (to church, no less!) skirts that are so short and tight I can’t imagine how they even sit down, or blouses so loose and low-cut they have to cover their chest with their hand when they lean over to get their purse (at least they know to do that!), jeans so tight you can (yeah, never mind), or those patent-leather stiletto heels … and worse, all those things on their pre-teen daughters!
Again, I’m not talking about the visitor or seeker, nor addressing women who may not have or be able to afford anything else. This is about women who are long-time, active members of the church, comfortably affluent, and choosing to wear that type of clothing – and dress their daughters in it.
I don’t want to feel like they should be handing out blinders to the men along with a worship guide as they enter the sanctuary. It does not glorify God, and it certainly does not help our brothers in Christ to focus on Him.
I enjoy being with my kids. And I feel very strongly about my Biblically mandated parental responsibilities.
I want to keep my babies with me, to cuddle and nurse and change when any of those are needed. And I want my family together during the worship service, so that the children can learn how to worship corporately as they grow into that role.
I have no particular problem with everyone also going to a Sunday School class, and studying the Word in an age-appropriate context. But I do not want to force my young ones to separate from me if they are not comfortable with that – regardless of their age (I feel that is counterproductive on many levels). Furthermore, experience has led me to believe that “small groups” are a much more effective means of study, fellowship, and accountability for adults (and families). And of course children can and should be taught by their parents, so “Sunday School” is just a fun diversion for them.
Most of the mainstream Baptist churches (Southern or Independent) don’t seem to “get” this, at all.
They may or may not have a “nursing room” (when they do it’s often basically a closet), but have no “cry room” or “family nursery” where we can be together and still hear/see the worship service, if a fussy baby means we need to leave the sanctuary. (This has resulted in a lot of service times spent walking the halls with a little one).
Children are simply not, by and large, encouraged in the worship services.
They don’t want me to bring the little ones to a “women’s” or “couples” Sunday School hour. And, oddly, most of them are not on-board with the idea of me staying with my youngest in his designated Sunday School “class”. (This has resulted in a lot of Sunday School times spent walking the halls with a little one).
You know, walking the halls with my little one isn’t fun. And it isn’t worship, or fellowship, or learning, or anything else. I might as well stay home…
Which started happening more and more often.
Which was a big red flag that there was a problem with our “fit” in those churches’ belief system.
Once noticed, you can see this thought system in everything they do.
One recent example which was pointed out to me very clearly: A Cubbies AWANA program for three year-olds shouldn’t be two hours long. Who in the world would think you should make something for that age group that long? Ah – someone who is really only envisioning it as a babysitting program, which needs to occupy the “little nuisances” while mom and dad go to the Sunday evening adult activities, which are two hours long.
So, the quest began…