By Jim Harris
Several years ago I read a sermon by a Missionary Baptist preacher, entitled, “A Dirt Road Church In An Interstate Society.” It was delivered at a pastors’ and laymens’ meeting and reprinted in “The Baptist Monitor”, the newspaper published by the Texas
Baptist Institute in Henderson. The article was not what I expected, based on the title. (Of course, I realize that I think differently than most folks.) I expected the article to extol the virtues of being a “dirt road” church in a society that is taking the fast road away from God. Instead, it was critical of the “dirt road” mentality, even suggesting that because
the “mind-set” of our society has changed, we must change our thinking and methods in order to reach people in the twenty-first century.
Well, I am not ready to change! I believe there is a great deal of value in being a “dirt road” church in today’s four lane, superhighway society. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait, gate: for wide is the gate., and broad is the way., that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat.” As I understand this verse, Jesus was not speaking of salvation, but service. (After all, the Sermon on the Mount was delivered to Christ’s disciples, saved ones.) According the article, a “dirt road” church is one that says things like, “Well, listen, we’ve got the truth, and we’re gonna offer it to ’em. If
they want it, they can come get it,” “We’ll stand on the Bible plan,” and “Well, we don’t want to use the world’s method for growing a church.” (He then suggests that the world is not interested in growing a church. Yes and no. The world is not interested in growing a true, Biblically sound New Testament church, but I believe Satan and the world want
something, some form of “religion” that will ease the mind of mankind concerning his spiritual condition.) The article suggests that because the world is saying, “We like a little variety,” or “That’s the time that I’d rather be leaving out of town to see my grandmother,” that the Lord’s churches must change their method of doing things in order to accomodate its whims.
If I understand the Bible, the worship service is primarily for church members, who have a Scriptural obligation before God to be present — Matt. 16:19; Heb. 10:22-29. The early churches often met secretly and were wary of “strangers” in their midst because of persecution. However, they did not fail to witness. Because we have the freedom to meet publicly and announce the times and place of our meeting, we seem to have relegated most, if
not all, of our witnessing to the worship service. God has a plan for that witnessing., and Jesus gave it in Matthew 28:19 when He said, “Go” (or, “in your going”), and He expects every one of us to witness at every opportunity, bringing those that are saved into a true, New Testament church where they can be taught the “dirt road” doctrines of the Bible.
If our worship service is nothing more than a performance to please the world and worldly, we will fail God. It is not big buildings, gymnasiums, orchestras, and sophisticated
programs that will bring people to salvation, but the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Neither will the things named above cause our witness to be more acceptable. Only the pure
and godly lives which reveal our hope of coming glory can do that (I Peter 3:15). Call me old
fashioned, but while the rest of religion is on the interstate heading away from God, I’ll be content to be “dirt road” in relation to the Master, the message, the mission, the method, the mind-set, and the ministry!
Landmark Forum — 7/4/11