January 27, 2021

Internet Monk Radio Podcast #59

podcast_logo.gifWhy the post “On Going Back to an SBC Church” touched such a nerve.

On Going Back To An SBC Church. Read it if you haven’t, and especially the comments.

IM Radio is on iTunes. Search for Monk and ignore the other guy.


  1. Thank you for your honesty and transparency as you communicate your “walk by faith”.

  2. i deeply enjoyed your post and podcast. i’ll be graduating from georgia tech this upcoming december and i’ve been giving a lot of thought to what i should do afterwards. i’ve been interested in entering the ministry but not really sure of my “calling”. i’ve been considering attending seminary after college. i came to the conclusion that if i were to go to seminary, it’d be a southern baptist one, even though i’ve been out of the SBC for a year now (not officially, my membership is still there) and been enjoying the PCA despite the 5-point calvinism and padeobaptism. i’ve been wrestling a lot with the thought of giving up something i truly enjoy for something that i may like less, but may be necessary in the long run. in that light, your post resonated a lot with me, especially the part of feeling homeless not ever finding all you’re looking for. i wish there was some way of incorporating the things i love most about the PCA church i attend into the SBC; stuff you mentioned like the christian year, the creeds, more frequent communion.

  3. I agree with much of what you say. I’m a mainstream, traditional Presbyterian who has struggled with the same things. I spent my first 15 years of life in a warm,loving traditional Presbyterian setting. Then the next 17 in the evangelical sub-culture, and for the past 22 years back in the traditional Presbyterian denominational sub-culture. My way of coping was to do alternative ministry. Four years in a church-based community ministry, 12 years divided in two stints as a college chaplain and university minister, and for the past 12 as a consultant to churches, non-profits and businesses. I attended an evangelical seminary that was predominantly Presbyterian and Reformed. Many of my classmates are now RC or Orthodox. What you say about the appeal I think is accurate. While I’m not sure I see what you see in the emerging church movement, I do feel that it is a transitory movement because it is built on the foundation of post-modernism. I don’t find pomo as a philosophy that has a sufficient coherence to sustain itself apart from its reaction to Enlightenment modernism. It is just a collection of techniques, in my opinion.
    What this leads me to realize is that we are at the beginning of a huge transition in the church. Whatever we see now is not going to be the way things are in the future. Something new is going to emerge. Just as the Reformation was a reaction to medieval Catholicism, so too the next form of the church will be a reaction to the whole scope of the church as it has existed up to now. I don’t see us going back.
    I spend my professional life in conversation and analysis of churches. I’ve worked with large and small, mostly mainstream. Two and a half years ago I took on an interim pastor position of a small mountain church here in NC. The reasons are too numerous to mention in these comments. One of the things that happened while I was there was a personal spiritual renewal because I was preaching every Sunday. I had not done that in twenty years. I spent three days a week for 21 months with these fine people. About 2/3 the way through my time with them, I found that I couldn’t write my sermon until 6am Sunday morning. I’d study all week, but didn’t know what to do with it. I’d get up Sunday morning and I’d know what to say. And I said it, and a remarkable thing began to happen. I found that my sermon was more like a conversation that I was having with them about what was happening right now, today. It was more immediate and real. It was less preachy and in all humility, more humble. I realized that I really wasn’t any different than them. Elders took notice that I was changing as a person, not as a pastor, but as a person. I tell you this because I don’t know where this goes. I left there last summer, and this change has continued. Worship at my family’s church is better. I tear up most Sunday’s. I have no grand pronouncement to make about this. Except, that God leads us. If we try to control God, we lose. Increasingly, I have found a capacity to live in the moment. And somewhere in this journey, that you are experiencing as well as many others, there is a sense that our striving to find something better or even perfect, causes us to lose the best that is before us. I got to preach about this a couple Sundays ago, about the defining moments of our lives that are essentially every moment, therefore we need to live in the moment. Fortunately, we were celebrating communion that morning, and so I had the congregation do two simple things. I asked that before and after they came forward that they would pray for each person that received communion. I asked to look at them and pray for them. If they didn’t know them, I asked that they’d simply pray that they would realize the height, width, depth and length of God’s love (Eph3). And then as the service ended and they stood up to leave, that they’d treat every encounter with a person as a defining moment in the lives. That they’d realize that their kindness and interest in that other person was an act of Christ’s love.
    One of the old timers told me that they’d never had a preacher tell them to do anything. Well now they have.
    In closing, all I want to say to you is that God is bringing change to the church, and that we the church have a choice. We can fight it and become embittered; we can ignore it and get run over by the change; or we can embrace it and live. We can’t embrace the whole of it. We can only embrace that which God places before us today. I spent two decades bored in church. Today, I’m no longer bored. Sure the church changed some, but more, I changed so that I could find the grace that was always there.
    Thank you for sharing your journey. It makes me feel very good that you are one of us, and that in Christ, we are one with another.

  4. RahabToo says

    This middle-aged Black woman having so much in common with a White man from the hills of Kentucky could only be arranged by the Cross of Jesus Christ. The number of “churches” to choose from in my urban setting should not allow for the loneliness you eloquently and accurately speak about to be true for me, too. My journey to learn to love the truth, to be a disciple of Christ above my cultural identification, and to not silently drown in a sea of error is hard.

    God is too gracious bring me this far and not allow me to find His place for me. That is the encouraging word from these recent posts.

    My focus needs to be, I think, to find a place to serve. Getting my own needs met has been the distraction. Could this urban setting be a missionary field? To whom much is given…?

  5. Brian Pendell says

    What *I* don’t understand is why everyone’s so tempted to join the RCC. Why not Eastern Orthodox? Same age, good liturgy, no papal infallibility.


    Brian P.

  6. Rambling comments on your podcast:

    Maybe this is why I call myself a Biblical Christian. The labels and the jockeying for the title of the “True Church” is getting tiresome.

    While in our SBC church (the one we will be going back to in June) our family had no problem studying and celebrating the feasts, praying from the Book of Common Prayer, and even attending a Lutheran church for Easter service. We identified with the SBC, but on a personal level, we worshiped in the spirit of the Body of Christ.

    Maybe our problem is that we want our denominations to have bits and pieces of other traditions we deem important (as Webber references) as part of their doctrine. But truly, that is impossible. That calls for an agreement as to which traditions are best. Not gonna happen. (I don’t use the word Tradition in the RC sense.)

    We walk into a church/denomination and tell ourselves, “I have to adhere to everything they believe.” And when we find that we don’t, we become disillusioned, then we search for that ‘perfect church’. It can’t be found. Can you say, Church Hopping?

    I agree with you about the SBC. We have struggled with going back, but as you say, these people are family. Our problems with the SBC deal more with church government and watered-down teaching and not so much with liturgy (or lack thereof.) But we have chosen to focus on fellowship and personal/family worship as we feel God leads. And we have decided that the SBC isn’t our biggest hindrance when it comes to these things. Our biggest hindrance is ourselves and our quest for perfection this side of heaven. Christ left the church in the hands of fallible man. We need to stop looking for perfection in the church and start living the teachings of Christ.

    Your initial post on this subject has been a blessed thorn in my side. I have posted my thoughts on this issue if you have the time and/or interest.

  7. Brian,

    I think it’s because, like Michael mentioned, the RCC has a great marketing campaign:

    “Come Home”

    My friend, who has just recently “reconciled” herself “to Rome” from evangelicalism, says this like a mantra: “I’m finally home in Rome.”

    Maybe it’s akin to why we grab one brand of cereal over another (weak analogy, I know), the one that catches our eye first wins. Rome is bending over backwards to catch the eyes of disillusioned evangelicals.

  8. Brian, Probably the main reason that Rome is getting some evangelicals is that many don’t think of the Orthodox. They aren’t as plentiful, especially in the Bible Belt.

  9. Brian, Anna A is correct in that Eastern Orthodox parishes, especially those using English in the liturgy, are few and far between.
    I attended an OCA (Orthodox Church in America) parish for awhile and am still struggling a little with my desire to convert, rather than convert to Catholicism as my husband feels would be best.
    My husband actually would rather- on doctrinal and theological grounds- join the Orthodox Church also. But our efforts to get our 4- and 5-year old sons to sit (stand, really) through one-hour-and-45-minute services were a disaster. I know it takes children awhile to get their “church legs,” but screaming fights every Sunday morning can defeat the family worship idea…
    Also, on a minor note, anyone from a Protestant background (I was never an evangelical) is going to be daunted by Orthodoxy’s fasting requirements. The Catholic Church’s fasting and abstinence requirements are a real cakewalk, pardon the lousy pun, by comparison.

  10. Don Hendricks says

    Imonk:I have so enjoyed reading and listening to your thoughts. I have never liked the pastor I whose ministry I have sat under all my life. He longs for things to change but falls into the habit of endorsing the status quo of any group he leads. He reads Weber, and Emergent and stays on the cutting edge of the churches anxiety as we struggle through all this. I can’t leave this pastor, for he is me…..and I realize that I can’t create what I dream off, and my soul is too closely attached to my salary to rock the boat, rock the boat, baby?!!

    Can’t wait for your observations on Mondays. I know you will be kind, but don’t stop a loving critique.

    Don in AZ

Speak Your Mind