Still thinking about my worship experience in Athens at Cleveland Road Baptist Church this past Sunday. Located north of Athens Mall out in the country/suburbs. Small, decent-looking building. I spoke at length with the personable young associate pastor, who certainly appeals to college students. Wonder how he landed in such a church. Southern Seminary grad, full beard, has a young child, originally from Nashville where he met his wife in high school. Senior Pastor also not too old, with a long goatee. Neither seems afraid to preach the gospel.
They are quite different than many in the ministry who seemingly want to “move up” in Baptist circles to larger (higher paying) churches, who dress and speak a certain way. These professional pastors are careful to toe the line and watch what they say about controversial issues like evolution and gay marriage, lest they be ostracized by their professional peers and miss out on future employment opportunities. Sometimes I wonder if these constantly networking pastors are doing a disservice to their flock by not addressing some of the more controversial issues of the day. Lay people may then interpret God’s position on these issues incorrectly – taking a stand on the wrong side, with no spiritual leader stepping in to guide them.
This may be a reason so few ministers are taking a public stand against all the groups attacking Christianity. One of the reasons non-Christians so dislike Christians is their laissez-faire attitude, not wanting to offend potential converts or potential job prospects. Too many non-Christians argue “why would a loving God allow something like that to happen?” – clearing not understanding how we live on a fallen earth, in need of being saved from this world of sin. They have no desire to understand. Many are angry at the church for bad or boring experiences they had earlier in life. It could take something completely different to bring them back to God – a life-changing event or a caring, loving friend willing to listen are two situations that God could use. Probably not the same old church service with the same old hymns that are such a comfort to so many long-time Christians.
My view from the pew.