no stereotypes, just jesus
By now you may have heard the big news. Or maybe you have not. Maybe this will be your introduction to where God is taking the gathering of believers at 403 Barry Oak Road in Statesville, NC.
Going forward, the collective gathering of believers that meet at 403 Barry Oak Rd in Statesville, North Carolina will be known as Faith Church Statesville.
That is the news. This has been in the works far before I even knew Statesville, North Carolina existed. Let me give you the thinking behind it that has been going on for years among the leadership here.
A man from Alabama visited Faith Baptist Church because he found us on the internet. He walked in and asked our greeter what kind of music we played. Our greeter, Shane, answered him by telling him that we play contemporary music. Shane told me that the man grumbled a bit but said something like, “I guess I will give it a chance.” So, the man sat down in the last couple of rows, probably fearing the worst.
Our praise team began to lead us in singing like they do every Sunday. Nothing particular stood out on this Sunday—I don’t even remember the first song. It could have been from Hillsong, Bethel, Chris Tomlin, Paul Baloche or any of the well-known active songwriters. The visiting man from Alabama got up during the first song and walked out the worship center doors. Shane is still in the lobby greeting those habitual latecomers we know will be walking in. This man, grumpily looked at Shane and said with a fiery, righteous indignation,
“Tell me in the New Testament where it says that you should use drums in worship!”
Luckily, for the reputation of our church, Shane is a nice man (at least on Sunday mornings…). Shane did not say anything as the man left, though he told me later that he wished that he would have asked the man if driving to church in a car was found in the New Testament.
A simple internet search. A man visiting from Alabama. A man leaving angry. All because of a preconceived idea of what a Baptist church in the Bible Belt should be and how that church should act.
This incident illustrates what I have learned. When you say the word “Baptist” in our community a very real picture comes into your mind.
This picture of “Baptist” leads people to believe certain things about you and your church. In my two years here, I have experienced a bit of this. I have been asked if I preach hellfire and brimstone. The question of hymns comes up repeatedly. People in my church have to tell their friends that we do not all wear suits and ties, especially not the pastor. More than one Faith Church member told me they would always tell their friends, “We are not that kind of Baptist.” One couple who came when we hosted a community event was happily surprised that we had a drum set on stage (what is with the drums?).
There are many good Baptist churches in Statesville. If someone wanted to find a traditional Baptist church where people wear suit and ties and sing hymns and there is a choir then they have plenty of good options in our town. Those things are not bad or wrong. They are preferences. People looking to fulfill those preferences will find a good church in Statesville. But my experience tells me that it is almost exclusively Christians who are looking for a certain denomination, not unbelievers.
The question comes down to this: What defines a church? There are things that you cannot take from a church and still call it a church. These are things you do not compromise on. Faith Church Statesville will not compromise on the gospel. Jesus is the only way to be saved. Faith Church Statesville will not compromise on the Bible. It is the inspired, inerrant word of God given to the world. Faith Church Statesville will not compromise on loving God and one another. It is the greatest commandment we have been given. We will not compromise on God leading us by his Holy Spirit. He has been given to us. These are the things that define Faith Church Statesville.
Everything else is up for discussion. Everything. Obviously, this included the name Faith Baptist Church. When I interviewed at Faith, the Ministry Leadership Team informed me that a name change had been discussed at much length under the previous two pastors. In the interim of the previous pastor leaving and me coming on staff the name change was a central topic of discussion as the Ministry Leadership Team searched for a pastor.
The point is that this was not a new discussion. For years the stage had been set. “Faith Church” was what we called ourselves from the stage and in most other mediums of communication. We were moving to an inevitable conclusion.
And we have reached that conclusion. Faith Church Statesville.
Faith Church Statesville will still retain all the associations with local and national Baptist organizations including the South Yadkin Baptist Association, North Carolina Baptists, and the Southern Baptist Convention. We still hold to Baptist beliefs and affirm our Baptist roots. This is not a call for all Baptist churches to abandon “Baptist” from their name. Including Baptist in the name of the church can be a good thing for many churches.
However, this is not about those many churches. This is about God’s church at 403 Barry Oak Rd in Statesville, North Carolina.
Becoming Faith Church Statesville is a statement of who Faith Church is and will become.
We want to be a church for the community and if changing the way we identify our church will make us more effective in that goal, then we need to make this change. But understand, it takes more than a name change to be a church for the community. It takes God-loving, Spirit-led people reaching out to those who need the Gospel of Jesus. (We will talk more about this later). But the name change is an important step.
All that being said, I know this change will initially be difficult to some of you. All you have known is Faith Baptist Church. Maybe you came because you were looking for a good Baptist church and you found one. Maybe identifying yourself as a Baptist is important to you. I do not want to minimize your thoughts and feelings about this. I simply want to point you, not to our past, but to our future. The leadership of Faith believes that this is the way forward to effectively reach people who do not yet believe in Jesus.
If you have questions, comments, and concerns please email me at Charles@connect2faith.church or invite me to buy you lunch. I simply ask that before you hit “Send” on that email or make that invitation please pray. I am not saying God will immediately make your concerns go away, but I want all discussion on this to be in a loving, considerate way as we remember we are all tied together as the body of Christ.
God is always doing something. Let's experience Him together. God bless!