I grew up in a background that included Southern Baptist churches primarily. I continue to attend a Southern Baptist seminary, and I’m part of a church that associates with the Southern Baptist Convention. Does “Southern Baptist” then, define the kind of follower of Jesus Christ that I am? No. Certainly my background and education has worked to shape me, but my goal is not to be the best Southern Baptist that I can be. While I appreciate many things associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, there are others that I think are not helpful to the church.
Today, I am often associated with the simple church or organic church movement. I’ve read (and reviewed) many books associated with these types of churches, and I’ve agreed with many of the things that I’ve read. Does that mean that “organic church” defines the kind of follower of Jesus Christ that I am? Nope. That doesn’t either. While I appreciate many of the things that I’ve learned from those who are part of simple or organic churches, and while I focus on the relational aspect of Christians sharing their lives together in Jesus Christ, I am not part of the movement.
I’ve also enjoyed reading and interacting with people who are Anabaptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, Pietist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Charismatic, and many, many other “kinds” of Christians. However, I do not identify myself with any of those different groups.
My goal, then, is to identify myself with Jesus Christ without separating from any brothers and sisters in Christ who may identify with a particular group or denomination or organization or whatever.
The funny thing is, if I refer to completely identify with one group, it’s often difficult for others to interact with me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t fit many of the molds. I’m not baptist enough for many baptists. I’m not organic enough for some in the organic church movement. I’m not reformed enough or separatist enough or traditional enough or whatever else.
And… I’m okay with that.
You see, I’m fine with asking people to respond to me as a person in Jesus Christ and not as a certain denomination or organization or set of doctrines.
Often, people will assume I believe certain things or do certain things or refuse to do certain things because of my background or education or some other association. I like to surprise people, and then interact with them one-on-one instead of denomination-to-denomination or system-to-system.
So, whatever you think about me, I’m probably not that kind of Christian. And, when we interact with one another, I will try to treat you as a brother or sister in Christ and not like a system of beliefs.
Hopefully, this approach – either online or in person – will lead to encouraging and helpful dialog in which we both grow in maturity in Christ.