Note about the Guest Blog: B21 has produced in full a letter sent from the Music Minister at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky to thousands of other church muscians on why this minster’s congregation has chosen not to emphasize patriotism in their corporate worship. B21 believes there is much wisdom in this minister’s words and we hope that this letter will be helpful for us and our readers as we all consider patriotism in corporate worship.
Guest Blogger: Chip Stam, the author of the letter, is also the Director for the Institute of Worship at Southern Seminary.
[This went out to several thousand church musicians. This version is current as of April 5, 2007.]
Dear Pastors and Church Musicians:
I want to comment on Memorial Day and July 4th and how they overlap with the life of church music and faithful Christian worship.
I am a very patriotic American. I cry when the planes fly over the football stadium and when we sing “America the Beautiful.” I pay my taxes with enthusiasm and, to my knowledge, have never missed an opportunity to vote in state and national elections. I would guess that the vast majority of the U. S. citizens in our congregation are also extremely patriotic.
HOWEVER, as a local congregation, we choose NOT to use these national celebrations as an emphasis in our worship services. Here are our reasons:
1. It is just too easy to confuse what it means to follow Christ with what it means to be a loyal U.S. citizen. Especially when hard-hitting emotional presentations are made with flags and uniforms and pledges, it is too easy to get mixed up about where our allegiance should be. However, we ARE quick to pray for our country and for our leaders and we are quick to thank God for the freedom of worship that we enjoy. We are also faithful to pray for believers in other countries who do not enjoy the freedom to worship Christ openly.
2. We have many internationals in our congregations, many of whom are experiencing American culture for the first time, and some of whom are considering the Christian faith for the first time. We do not want to have the bold gospel of the Cross somehow confused in their minds with Uncle Sam and a particular form of government or foreign policy.
3. When a mood of patriotic celebration is present, it seems to be about two clicks away from partisan politics. While we strongly encourage citizens to vote, we are amazingly silent concerning how exactly Christians should vote. If anything, we want believers who are committed to different views on social programs and public policies to be ONE IN CHRIST. There are some fine Scriptures that support this position.
I realize that there are many Christ-centered churches that pull out all the stops (and flags) for these civic celebrations. My intent here is to share with colleagues in ministry how we have worked through some of these issues in a way that seems consonant with our understanding of the Lord’s will for our congregation. May God’s richest blessings be on you and your congregations—and on our country.
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Minister of Music & Worship
Clifton Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky
B21’s Nathan Akin will lead a webinar for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina on the topic, “Raising Up Future Elders and Church Planters: How to be Intentional about 2 Timothy 2:2.” Nathan will take a look at how local churches should be intentional about multiplying leaders and will draw on the internship he went through at Open Door Baptist Church.
From the State Convention Registration Website: Nathan Akin will take a look at the Biblical call for pastors to raise up men who will be future leaders in their church and in churches that they will plant. We will specifically look at being intentional about training these men. Nathan will reflect upon the training that he went through as a good model to establish in other churches. Every church should be seeking to multiply its leaders and therefore seeking to multiply itself through planting, but this has to be intentional or it will never happen.
When: Thursday March 31 @ 11am – 12pm
Baptist21 is excited to announce that we will once again host a panel at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention to be held in Phoenix, AZ.
Topic: A discussion on issues in the SBC, particularly “Mission”
When: During the Tuesday Lunch break of the SBC (June 14th)
There are still many details to be determined, such as: location, cost, etc… stay tuned for more information in the days ahead
Some have asked for resources on what is going on with Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.” Here are the resources that we have found to be most helpful. In addition, today at 2:30pm The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will be live-streaming a discussion of the book with Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, Denny Burk, and Justin Taylor
Part 2 of Saved From… To… For…
This post is by no means comprehensive. However, over the past couple of years, God has deepened my love for the Gospel through him teaching me on the points above. It is my prayer that through a better understanding of biblical salvation, perhaps we can minimize statistics such as “twice baptized.” I also pray that a better understanding will drive a never-ending gratitude for the Gospel and fuel a quicker obedience to the commands of Christ. Finally, I pray that God would be glorified in our words and deeds as we live lives worthy of the Gospel and go to all the peoples of the earth and herald the good news about Jesus. May we never neglect so great a salvation.
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