-- Pastor Wade is currently overseas with his wife Rachelle. He was able send the following few thoughts about some of the things he has seen and learned. You may leave a comment if you wish. We will moderate their publication until Pastor Wade returns to the states next week --- (Blog Administrator)
"In the southern states of America there are some Baptist pastors and theologians who feel they have the corner of theological truth. Notice, I did not say the foundation of truth, but the corner of truth. Firm, solid foundations are absolutely necessary for a stable structure, but how an architect finishes out the corners is a measure of style, function and creativity. Any southern architect worth his salt will finish corners differently overseas than he would in the United States; or, if he flat out refuses to be flexible on corners in various cultures, then that architect will put himself in danger of having no working relationship with anyone but those in his neck of the woods who love the way he finishes his corners.
Some Baptist pastors believe that the only true ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) is the way their local ecclessia operates. Deacons? Why of course, but all male. One pastor? Absolutely, with ultimate authority over the congregation. Baptize converts? Certainly, but not for identification with Christ; only as the door of entrance into our ecclesia. Ordinances? Without a doubt, but only with those in our local ecclesia, and administered by those duly qualified as pastors and deacons of our ecclesia. "Why, for heaven's sake," say some of my southern Baptist pastor friends, "This is the only way a true ecclesia should look."
Tight, clean corners that all look the same is the desire of these southern pastors.
But a few of my pastor friends need to spend time on the mission field overseas. They need to go to the provinces where all hotel rooms for foreigners are bugged. They need to walk down the street where the police, both uniformed and undercover, keep a close eye on you. They need to sit with our missionaries as they have their emails for the past year laid in front of them by government officials. They need to help one of our missionary couples pack as they leave quickly from the place they have called home for the past few years under threat of arrest. They need to observe the locals in their small house churches as they sing quietly, pray quietly, worship quietly, and welcome any believer into their presence - regardless of denominational affiliation. They need to allow a tear or two flow as they watch a female leader of a baptistic house church baptize a couple of new converts in a bathtub, only to have watchers outside prepared to warn the half dozen people within about approaching military police. They need to breathe a prayer of thanks for God raising up a man of influence in the community after years of only females being willing to risk their lives, jobs, families, and future for the cause of Christ. They need to realize that their demand for neat little corners at overseas ecclessias - in order to make them like like some southern churches in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida - will only cause southern missionaries to be frustrated, overseas believers to be perplexed, and the kingdom of Christ to be minimized.
May God keep us southern Baptists concerned about the foundation overseas but allow each culture to finish out the corners of their local 'ecclesia' as best suits the culture in which they find their ministry."
In His Grace,