March 8, 2000

Every Baptist church makes its own rules

___A friend of mine invited me to go to the Valentine banquet her youth group was having. She goes to a Baptist church in North Dallas. Why is it OK for some Baptist churches to dance when it's not OK for others?

Minister to Students
Royal Lane Baptist Church, Dallas
___A few years ago, the Baptist General Convention of Texas formed a committee (Baptists just love committees). The committee's job was to interview congregations across the state, take polls at state conventions, and historically research and define "Baptist distinctives." I think what that means is to try to list the things that are unique about Baptists.
___One of the distinctives is something called the "autonomy of the local church." It's one of my favorites!
___What this means is that in our denomination there is no hierarchical government.
___There are some denominations that absolutely must conform to a standard of uniformity. All of the churches look the same, act the same and believe the same.
___Not true for Baptists. Every church gets to decide about everything. Each church is different and unique.
___Some of our Baptist churches ordain women, and some do not. Some of our churches have a contemporary style of worship, and some are very liturgical.
___Every individual congregation decides how old you must be to be baptized, how often the Lord's Supper is served, whether to have Sunday night worship or not and whether or not it's all right for the youth group to have a dance.
___I think in the very beginning Baptists wanted to separate themselves from the world and from the other denominations that allowed dancing and drinking and gambling among their clergy and congregations. There still are many who firmly believe that by allowing young people to dance, you are encouraging them to go to the bars and joints where dances are held.
___If you are a voting member of your church, then you have the privilege of questioning what your church does and does not do.
___So, ask your pastor, your deacons and your youth minister about your church's view on dances.
___Who knows, maybe by the time next Valentine's Day arrives, you may be inviting your friends to a dance at your church!

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