I’ve thought about posting this for a while. I guess I’ve thought about posting this from the time I started my blog, since by then, I had already turned in my membership card, forfeited my decoder ring, and started speaking in tongues. Okay, maybe not the last one, but I definitely don’t have my decoder ring anymore. I have been asked by some over the last two years why. Some are interested in hearing my story, others are asking in a “What happened to you?,” sort of way, because to some, you’re either Baptist or you’re wrong (used to be part of that exact some). Either way, I gladly answer. It doesn’t matter too much to me. All of my favorite Baptists still love me, and that’s good enough for me. If you are Baptist, and you don’t still love me as you read this, then you can turn in your membership card to the “Jeff’s favorite Baptists” club.
Before I tell you why I’m not a Baptist anymore, I’ll give you my background. I was raised in a Baptist home. From the time my parents came to Christ, they have been a part of that denomination. I was part of that denomination from birth, or for those who think I’m hinting at covenant theology, you can say I was a part of it since I was baptized at the age of 10. I went to the same Baptist church from the time I was 8 until I was 22 (retaining membership, as many Bible college students do, through my college years). I moved to Jacksonville, FL, where I attended two separate Baptist colleges/seminaries, where I received my Bachelor’s degree. My first pastoral job was in an overtly Baptist church (I just went there for the first time since leaving this week), and my second was in a secretly Baptist church. As Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees, I was a Baptist of Baptists. My Baptist street cred had no reason to be called into question.
So what happened? How could I just abandon the only thing I had ever known? Well, one day – I’m not sure the exact date, because I didn’t throw a gold star on the calendar – I realized something: this isn’t me. I’d tried for 26 years to worship God in a way that He did not create me, and it wasn’t working. I struggled with it for a long time before it finally occurred to me. I looked like a good Baptist on the outside, but on the inside, there was turmoil. I didn’t know there was something different and good out there, so for years, I embraced the good and downplayed the things I didn’t care for. I even struggled as a teenager, worrying about the differences between a typical Baptist youth pastor (as I saw it) and who I was. There was a great divide. The two weren’t lining up, and by the time I was 26, I realized they never would.
The reason I am not Baptist has little to nothing to do with discontentment. I was as content as I knew how to be with being a Baptist, because it was all I knew. My being discontent with the way things were operated at my first church do not reflect my feelings about the entire denomination.
I am not Baptist, because that is not how God created me to worship Him. I believe it is how God created some to worship Him, and it’s a fine denomination for some, but not me. I ultimately believe mostly the same way on the major doctrines, but I seem to disagree on a lot of the small stuff (and some pastors make a really big deal about the small stuff). To me, the small stuff is big stuff, because I wasn’t comfortable working for a church where I could not fully embrace all of the teaching. I felt like I was a hypocrite for taking a check while disagreeing with what was taught and how things were done. I know guys that do that, and I don’t want to be that guy. I have a derogatory term for those guys, but I’m not going to tell you what it is, in case you are one.
I just want to be in a place where I can worship God fully, in a way that fits who I am, while glorifying Him. That place is KCC. We’re non-denominational, or as I was trained to say as a young, up-and-coming Baptist, undecided. We’ve decided, though. As my boss put it in my very first interview: we major on the majors, and we minor on the minors.
That’s not as sensational as you were hoping for. Is it?