The following is an email I received from Tom Willoughby, a Southern Baptist pastor in Missouri. The events Tom describes below happened at his church Wednesday night. Read his description of the service and ask yourself if his church is a Christ-honoring, evangelical Southern Baptist church, or a Culture-chasing Southern Baptist church which we ought to either censure or withdraw fellowship.
I say, without hesitation (and more than a little admiration), that Tom's church is the former!
I caught my Wednesday Night group off guard. We've been going through the BF&M 2000 for the last few weeks and we just did Salvation last week. So I came in and said that we were going to think a little more about salvation, but specifically missions.
I told them that they had just been appointed as missionaries to reach a tribe whose name I made up. I said that they had just been dropped into the valley where their tribe is located (incidentally, I said that the tribe was about 9,000 strong located within a ten mile radius (this happens to be the number of people within a ten mile radius of our church)). I then asked them how, not knowing anything about their tribe, they were going to reach them with the Gospel? I set up a dry-erase board and we began 45 minutes of brain-storming. They came up with some excellent ideas. Better than I could have imagined. Such as:
observe customs and practices
identify their leaders
learn what they enjoy
learn the language
work with kids first to gain access to parents
dress like them
learn their style of music
make sure that in giving any type of gift that we do not create needs that they cannot meet themselves
learn their spiritual views
be kind and loving
Well, the list went on and on. Finally, one guy named Tim, in his early twenties I recently led to Christ is sitting their next to his wife and I see the light come on. He says, "You know, everything that's up there could also apply to the people around here. We could do all of those things right here in El Dorado." Exactly!
After the obvious follow-up, I then shared with them that the missionary in this tribal region viewed all of his supplies as tools to reach the people. Nothing was irreplaceable. If that is the case, then how, as missionaries to El Dorado must we view our possessions? Everything we have becomes a means to an end.
And then I asked them, if we are not willing to do the things listed on the board in El Dorado, then obviously we are not serious about reaching people, so, what are we here for?
You could have heard a pin drop. It was beautiful! People stuck around afterward thinking about what needed to happen to reach our community. Please pray that God will continue to use this study to spark a fire within the hearts of our membership.
Well, thanks for reading my ramblings. Hope it was edifying in some way.