Friday, March 11, 2005

One On Every Corner

No, I'm not referring to Quik-Trip's or boarded up Get-N-Go's. I'm referring to churches in Tulsa. It seems like there is literally one on every corner. The concentration up on the North side is phenomenal with multiple churches on the same block!

Just over a year ago, a Pastor visited the U.S. and Tulsa for the very first time. He was from the African nation of Zambia. He commented on the sheer number of churches in our city by profoundly noting that we were focused on our differences rather than our common Christian beliefs. Now, I know that not all churches in Tulsa are Protestant or Catholic, but the vast majority are.

My mom made a comment to me a few weeks ago that has stayed with me and made me ponder the state of churches here in the "Buckle of the Bible Belt". She said quite a number of mid-town Southern Baptist churches were struggling to exist. They have small elderly congregations, no pastors, and lack vision. I won't name them but I was stunned, since these were very vibrant churches in my youth. On the heels of that Eastwood Baptist is closing its private school after all these years due to a decline in enrollment.

Let me sum up by saying that in their quest to be relevant, churches have become irrelevant. Pillars of the early church included bible teaching, prayer, fellowship and evangelism. At a minimum, these things should be resident in every Christian church.

Sadly, the most forgotten element is bible teaching. Let's face it, to anyone who has looked for a good bible-teaching church, it is a real struggle. In the race to be relevant, most churches have watered down the teaching of God's Word. As a result, teachers have their own agenda and may sprinkle in a verse here or there in or out of context to support their arguments!

But in order to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as a Christian, you must take in the full counsel of God. This is best accomplished in a life-long study in a systematic, verse-by-verse way. A teacher must humbly approach the teaching of the Bible in order to "rightly divide the Word of Truth".

But all is not lost! There is a small Protestant church conveniently located on South Sheridan that has absolutely fantastic Bible teaching. It is Southwood Bible Church. You can check them out in a non-threatening way by going to their website. On the website you can see their doctrinal statement and see they are a dispensational, conservative church. None of the higher criticism stuff here. And such wonderful people! It's such an inviting place. People from all kinds of backgrounds mainly fellowshipping around the Word of God, but also very good music, a great mission effort both locally and abroad, organized prayer, periodic special classes, and a spirit of unity.

They are just about to finish a wonderful study of the Book of Jude, which is about false teachers and apostacy in the church. A very short book of the Bible, but so relevant to us today. Listen to the mp3's and compare what you learn to the typical TV preacher. God will reveal to you who are the false teachers. By the way, verse 4 is the key verse that in essence says the false teachers will err on either the 1) grace of God, or 2) the person of Jesus Christ. Also, they are in the church, not outside it and they use the Word of God to support themselves. Interesting!

By not following the trend to teach topics subject to the whims of popular culture, this church stands as a beacon of Truth in the midst of a currently declining city. Sadly, its my hometown. The place I chose to live and raise my family.

Only through a return to God by Christians will we begin to turn things around here. A very good start is to get back to the serious, systematic teaching of the Bible. I encourage each of you to exhort your Pastor to do just that. A great reference for any Bible teacher is Grace Notes.

No comments: