The First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, MS, has been in the news the past few days, in a bad way. Seems that the Pastor of the church pulled the plug on a scheduled wedding in the church because the couple was black.
When I first read the report, I was incensed at the blatant and sinful racism of the Mississippi church that, unfortunately, bears the same name and denomination as my own church. Having just come a month earlier from the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans, which elected its first black President, Fred Luter, I knew that the SBC had its flaws, but racism was not the norm.
Doing a simple Google search, I discovered what I think is the real news story of relevance for Southern Baptist church members as well as those of most other denominations. This link shows several members of the church being interviewed by a local news reporter. The interviews seem to display a group of normal, God-loving, Christ-honoring Baptists who know what the real problem is, and it is not racism.
The real problem is that churches across the land allow five or six cantankerous, whining, power-hungry bigots to take their pastor and church hostage, dragging them to national embarrassment while they sit in anonymous sulking because people are talking about them behind their backs.
I have no shred of doubt in my mind that the congregation of FBC, Crystal Springs would have allowed the wedding to take place had they been given the opportunity to decide. The self-appointed keepers of the realm, however, work behind the scenes and do everything to cajole the pastor into carrying out their self-serving ways. Pastors run scared of these angry antagonists and, for the sake of keeping their jobs and keeping the harmony in the congregation, they give up their shepherding role and allow the wolf to rule the hen-house.
My suggestion to the pastors who are experiencing the pressure of these wolves is to call a spade a spade. The next time one of these antagonists gives you the slightest threat, put their name and the charge they bring against you before the entire congregation (if not the entire world) and let them stand alone to defend themselves. Only then will their power-grabbing control-schemes cease.
I know this is hard medicine, but if you fail to do it, you might find yourself before a reporter defending actions you took because of a small group of behind-the-scenes dictators whose name will never be mentioned, and who will be nowhere to be found when the cameras roll.
The Apostle Paul said, “Alexander the Coppersmith did me much harm.” Pastors would do well to follow this example of publicity.