As a church we are on a journey. We know we live in a “post-Christian” culture but we are still learning how to be church and how to do church in this changing world. For some of us it is not an easy journey, but nevertheless, as a church we are committed to taking that journey.
One of the questions we face is,
“How do we change without abandoning our heritage and our well tested theology and practice?”
As a church we are still working out what in contemporary culture should be affirmed and incorporated into church life, and what should be rejected; what of our heritage needs to be kept, what should be discarded.
For example, like many churches over the past few decades, we face questions around different forms of music. The Bible doesn’t speak of any standards we should follow with regard to things like beat, volume, melody or tempo. There are some references to tunes to play with particular Psalms, but these were lost many centuries ago.
We have all been involved in debates around the type of music we should use, but these debates are not about what the Bible says about music, for is says very little, but they are debates around how we read the culture we live in. In fact, in this debate, most of us have almost identical doctrines. It is not our doctrines that are the issue but our tastes in music. At Hobart we are endeavouring to find a mix that is open to contemporary expressions without losing our past.
It is the same when it comes to working out what in the contemporary culture we should affirm. Not surprisingly we find differing opinions across Baptist churches. Some have a negative view of popular culture seeing it as shallow and inappropriate for worship; others see it more positively and feel free to adapt their worship accordingly. These differing views will result in different ministry expressions, different methods, and different programs.
Here at Hobart Baptist Church we are still on a journey. We have made changes but there is still more to go. Our vision for the development of our buildings and the opening of Fairground Café are evidence of our commitment to meeting the challenges we face creatively and proactively.
May God continue to grant us, and also you, the grace to travel this journey – and may he enable us to be the church he calls us to be in our city in the 21 Century.
Stephen L Baxter