“It takes a great deal of energy, effort, and investment to keep a local congregation (of any kind) in operation. It has been estimated that any group which has a building with the sign “church” outside and which attempts to provide support for a minister or leader will spend thousands of dollars each year on expenses which are duplicated by similar, near-by groups.
Now, if the ecumenical folks are correct, and we’re “all working for the same place anyhow,” much of this is a waste. If we put the label “Baptist” over a door and then teach, preach, and practice exactly the same as another group of folks down the road with a different label, we are indeed guilty of waste, especially in an energy-conscious age. Even if we differ on a few points, we still would have some difficulty in justifying our separate existence.
But if we are really different – if the name “Baptist” really stands for a set of doctrinal convictions – if our ancestors did not die in vain for their insistence on their views – then there may be a reason to maintain our own building, our own pastor, and our own programs.
If we willing to receive various baptisms, then we might be well advised to merge with those groups, even at the denominational levels, certainly on the local level. But if our baptism position is unique, then surely we ought to keep it with care!
If we are wiling to have all sorts of doctrine taught in our pulpits, then we probably ought to do more than exchange pulpits; we ought to consider closing the older buildings, merging, and reducing operating costs. But if doctrine is important, maybe we ought to try being Baptist for a while!” R. Charles Blair
(Bro. Charles Blair is the pastor of the Poplar Grove Baptist Church in Fulton County, Kentucky and the Director of Missions of the West Kentucky Baptist Association. He formerly served as Vice-President of Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College in Mayfield, Kentucky. This article was originally published in the school’s paper, “The Mid-Continent Herald.”)