I have friends from many different evangelical denominations. We love, support, and encourage one another in kingdom work.
My roots happen to be planted in the Baptist Missionary Association of America (BMA).
While there is plenty to say about the dangers of denominational pride and competition, there is also plenty to say about appreciating and loving the place God has planted you.
From a human standpoint, if someone asks why the BMA, SBC, ABA, PCA, or IFBC exists; certainly we could point to a multitude of historical events -some noble, some not so noble. (We could also point to the fact that evangelicals love acronyms!)
But the most important justification for the existence of any denomination is that God has providentially (through those human events) placed a group of Churches in a certain time and place to fulfill a role in the work of the Great Commission.
There are several benefits of focusing on God’s providential establishment of a denomination:
1) It helps us avoid denominational pride and competition.
2) It gives us a kingdom mind-set.
3) It emphasizes that God has a kingdom role for our group -no matter the size.
When I look at God’s providence in the founding of my own association, it opens my eyes up to the treasure I have been given. Every relationship within my denomination is not by accident -its by divine design. That means by loving my BMA roots, I am loving God’s provision for me and for His kingdom.
So here are a few things I love about my roots in the BMA that simultaneously exalt God (I’m sure you could probably write a similar list for your denomination):
1) The BMA is a family. When I experienced great loss, they were there for me.
2) The BMA is committed to unity. That doesn’t mean we always agree. Unity is found in how we choose to disagree.
3) The BMA is passionate about reaching the nations. This year we have more American missionaries around the world than in our entire history.
4) The BMA loves discipleship. At this year’s national meeting, I heard the word “disciple” constantly. It’s on our minds and its in our hearts.
5) The BMA does not pretend to take the place of the Church. My denomination understands it role is to support God’s churches -not replace them.
6) The BMA does not pretend to be perfect. This may be my favorite thing about our association. We know how to admit our limitations. But that’s not a bad thing, because admitting our limitations is the first step to acknowledging God’s powerful work through us.
Ultimately, like individuals, denominations are vessels that God chooses to use. And so I choose not to criticize my roots, but instead to embrace them -because in His providence, God has given me this heritage for a purpose! And it is where I have am thrilled to have a role serving in the Kingdom.
Maybe it was cool to criticize your denomination in the past, but no more. If you want to exalt God then you must love the roots that he’s given you.
How about you?