An Appeal for Unity (An Open Letter to Old Paths Baptist Church in Northfield, MN)
At UNITE Twin Cities
Dear Brothers in Christ,
I’m an evangelist who mostly does one-on-one witnessing in reaching individuals with the gospel. Still I appreciate brethren who step out to do open air preaching. It definitely brings a Christian outside his comfort zone particularly amongst audiences that sometimes become hostile.
This past Thursday night, the UNITE gathering led by Pulse Movement took place outside US Bank Stadium. After doing some witnessing in downtown Minneapolis that afternoon, I arrived at the stadium early to get a seat at one of the purple tables across the street. My legs were tired from walking and would have preferred not having to stand while watching the service. Just before it began, your group set up a loudspeaker and banners in front of where I was sitting. Your subsequent preaching hindered me from hearing what was being said from the stage.
As I walked closer to the stadium, one of you offered me a gospel tract. Eventually I asked how he would feel if another Christian group held a meeting outside your church that disrupted one of your services.
This man replied, “We’re preaching the word.”
I responded, “So are they.” (referring to the ministers and musicians on stage who quoted Scripture and exalted the name of Jesus throughout the night)
He then said, “They are preaching false doctrine.”
Despite this man’s claim, I perceived the presence of God at that service but chose to leave early. Your continuous preaching behind me was an unnecessary distraction. That prompted me to look up your church’s web site when I got home. While I agree with many of your stated beliefs, one in particular caught my attention:
“We believe that this statement of faith is a basis for Christian fellowship, and that all born-again men and women who sincerely accept it can and should live together in peace, and that it is their Christian duty to promote harmony among the members of the Body of Christ, who are walking separately from the world both in theory and in practice.”
Judging from your actions that night, you didn’t promote harmony amongst the Body of Christ. Other ministers I know tried reasoning with you. Still you persisted with your loud preaching without being considerate of those who showed up to pray and worship the Lord. Your church could have joined us instead of sowing discord and competing for our attention. I thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 12:25 (KJV), “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”
I noticed one of you wore a sign quoting Deuteronomy 22:5. It appears your ideas of “walking separately from the world” are based on the clothing Christians wear and the types of music they listen to. When someone professes Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we should believe the best about them instead of demonizing those who don’t fit our religious mindsets.
In John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed that all His disciples become one. Christian unity is not based on outward appearances but our shared life in Christ. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That includes Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, and Pentecostals as well as Baptists. I don’t agree with some doctrines taught in certain churches. Every church has imperfections (including yours). Still that shouldn’t stop us from coming together from time to time in reaching our communities with the gospel. We don’t need to “major on minors.”
I hope this letter doesn’t fall upon deaf ears but you will prayerfully consider what was written here. Paul stated in Romans 15:20, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation.” Instead of “preaching to the choir”, I encourage you to focus on reaching the lost by speaking the truth of God’s word but showing more compassion and grace. Perhaps then more Christians will want to team up with you in fulfilling the Great Commission.
“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” - Colossians 3:11