Originally published in the Winter 2014 Quarterly Explorer
Faith is changing. Not the content of it. God is still the Creator, Jesus is still Lord, and the Holy Spirit still scares the heck out of Baptists.
What is changing is the way faith is practiced, organized, packaged, and housed.
Example. You thought the latest trend was putting up a screen in the sanctuary to show video? Wrong. Now churches are placing iPads in the pew racks instead of Bibles and hymnals. Worshippers can follow the order of service, if there is one, via an app on the iPad.
Another example. Didn’t get your offering envelopes this month? At some churches you can whip out your iPhone during the offertory and make your electronic contribution while the plates are being passed.
This is probably not what Paul had in mind when he wrote, using a stylus and papyrus, that “what we will be has not yet been made known.” But you get the idea. The old, old story is familiar, but the vessels that contain and transport it are changing day-by-day.
This is apparent in the denominational connections and organizations our church has long supported.
Example. Last month I attended a dinner in Richmond announcing the formation of Global Baptist News (GBN). GBN is the merger of the Religious Herald, news journal of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and Associated Baptist Press, a Baptist news service formed almost 25 years ago during years of controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention. After more than 185 continuous years of publication, the venerable Herald is no more. In its place is a compelling and relevant collection of news and information delivered each day electronically.
Example. Last month the Richmond Baptist Association changed its name to the River City Faith Network (RCFN). This newly-named entity carries support for three Baptist centers in urban Richmond plus Camp Alkulana in Bath County.
Changes, changes, changes.
The good news is that our faith is not dead or dying. The Gospel is still “the power of God unto salvation.” River Road Church, Baptist, continues to be a congregation that worships in beauty, considers the faith in thoughtful ways, welcomes people from various Christian denominations, and cares in tangible ways for the concerns of our community. This does not change, though the ways we do these things will.