I feel it necessary to share a recent experience. Being an Elder/Pastor of County Line Baptist Church in Bullard, TX, I receive many calls about our church on a fairly regular basis. Our church belongs to our local Southern Baptist county association, known as The Smith Baptist Association, and has for many years. In Baptist circles, each local Baptist church is an autonomous, self contained, self governed church. To the Baptist, there is no higher earthly authority than your local church where you are a member.
On the first Sunday evening of each month our church has a congregational prayer time. Usually a small number of our church gathers and we pray for God to work in specific areas of the Kingdom, our church, and our community. As I was leaving the prayer time this evening, I noticed I had missed a call from a local number I did not recognize. I called it back and asked if they had called me. The person on the other end of the line identified himself as a representative of our local Baptist association and that he was in charge of a program called M.O.R.E.
He explained that M.O.R.E. stands for More Out Reaching Everyone, or something to that effect. He inquired if we had evening services and I told him about our weekly services. He informed me that County Line Baptist had won an award through the M.O.R.E. program. He stated that our baptisms were over 15 percent of our church membership and we should be proud. Along with this award he wanted to present to our church a plaque during one of our meetings. He said it was quite an honor and we should be proud of ourselves and the work we are doing for Christ. He explained we should have received the award at our yearly associational meeting but for some reason County Line Baptist Church's ministers were not in attendance.
He thought he was telling me something I did not know. The truth is we all knew the association was trying to give this award to us. We chose not to attend based on personal conviction for the following reasons.
- I could care less what they think about me, my church, or our work for the Lord Jesus.
- Our church discussed this issue and this award and decided we did not think it was in our best interests to participate in a "pat me on the back" award program for doing what we are supposed to do for Jesus.
- Our association needs to put its resources to reaching the lost for Jesus and not creating commemorative plaques to show off how important we are.
- Finally and most importantly:
Matthew 6 1-4
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
After I explained to him that County Line Baptist Church would not accept or welcome any award he said, "Well, there is nothing in the Bible saying that we can't give out awards." Well I guess Jesus and Paul said it best. You have the reward of your suffering. I hope your plaque gleams brightly for all the years it hangs in your church. As for County Line Baptist Church we will not accept any corruptible trophy.
I am independent, I am Baptist, I believe in the fundamentals of the Bible. Since when did Baptists care what anyone else thought about them? And I just love how our association likes to praise each other.