I answered the call to pastor Glennville First Christian Church in July 2013. It was a congregation on the verge of change and look how happy I was to go along with them. Turns out there was a whole lot more going on than came up in the introduction process.
GFCC was in the Disciples of Christ (DoC) when they called me to be their pastor. The DoC is a theologically liberal mainline denomination here in the States. Down south in the onion fields of Georgia liberalism isn’t the norm, it’s just weird. They can put up with weird, but ordaining practicing homosexuals? That a southerner cannot abide. But the DoC does so GFCC left and now the church meeting just past the VFW finds itself in an awkward position.
What would it be like for a conservative congregation in a conservative town in a conservative region of a conservative state to be associated with a socially, theologically, and politically liberal religious group? Weird, that’s what. This weirdness grew and grew. The people of my new congregation saw that they disagreed with the DoC in methods and values. These differences meant it was time to go, but what does it mean to be a congregation without a denomination? If they weren’t Disciples of Christ anymore what were they?
The congregation looks at me, eyes wide and asks, “Now what?”
That’s a question Bible college and seminary aren’t going to answer. I never had a class on defining the doctrine and identity of a congregation, but here I am. For good or for ill. These monthly blog posts will be a record of our journey as we go about the task finding our place in God’s story. We’re a small church, but we’re in the middle of big change.
Martin W. Bender is the preaching minister at Glennville First Christian Church in beautiful, historic Glennville, GA. He is 50% of the Two Bearded Preachers where he blogs and talks with his friend Justin about nonsense. Cody once called him the most ordinary of pastors, an honor he greatly enjoys.