To some of you this will make either little or no sense. The readers of this blog vary from people I know very well to those I have never met. Those in between, those I know, but not well, have been asking a question concerning the church I am privileged to pastor. Are we still Baptists?
The reason for this question stems from the change in our logo. After years of using the Dallas Bay "bug" we updated the logo to something a little more up to date with current graphic design.
I spent considerable time researching logos of churches I respect for their integrity and innovation in sharing the gospel. The new logo reflected design elements of those churches. Notice the cross in the "B". Some had been concerned that on the facade of our satellite campus there was no mention of church nor was there a cross on the outside of the building. I hoped this new logo might relieve both of those concerns. I was not prepared for the question of our affiliation just because of the change in the logo.
I'm going to speak more in depth to the reasons for the logo change when I teach DB101 to the church body beginning the first Sunday night after Labor Day this September. It is all about the philosophy of ministry the church has followed for the last 25 years. Let me lay it out in less detail here now than I will then for those who have asked the question.
The logo does not reflect a change in doctrine or denominational affiliation. We are Baptists. We have been Baptists since day 1. We are Southern Baptists and have been since our inception.
One of the reasons for the change is a practical one. Around here we usually just refer to ourselves as Dallas Bay. We welcome people to "Dallas Bay." There is no attempt at hiding Baptist from the name. It's always just been easier to say "Dallas Bay". We are known in the community and by other churches simply as "Dallas Bay." Changing the logo from dbbc to our current design was an attempt to reflect more accurately how we are recognized by ourselves and by others.
Another factor for the change is that the churches in America who are reaching the most people for Christ with the gospel do not include their affiliation in their name. In 2013 Outreach magazine listed the top 50 fastest growing churches in America. In the top 50 only 4 listed their denomination in their title. Many in that top 50 were Baptist. The highest ranking Baptist Church was number 6. It is "The Church of the Highlands" in Birmingham Alabama. They are not only Baptist but they are Southern Baptist as well. They chose not to include their affiliation for the same reason most churches in the top 50 did so. They did not want to erect any barrier between them and reaching the lost or unchurched. They know who their target audience is and make decisions to have an opportunity to share Christ with them.
Many Baptist Churches do include the denomination in their title. However, most people would have to agree that we are not the typical Baptist Church. Many have a preconceived idea of what a Baptist Church looks like and how a Baptist Church behaves. It is not uncommon for me to speak to a guest of our church who is delighted to have finally found us. After a Sunday morning service they tell me that they had delayed visiting us because they had been to other Baptist churches and believed they would have the same experience here. Don't misunderstand me, I am not being critical of other Baptist Churches. It all has to do with the person God has purposed for us to reach. Dallas Bay is populated to a great degree by those who have been turned off by the typical church. It is in our DNA. We are a wonderful melting pot of His followers. That diversity adds to our worship and causes us to have a broad view of mission work. We have consistently been a leader in reaching people for Christ in the nation.
There are other reasons I will share in September but I told you this would be brief. So let me sum it up before I have to retract that statement. We are Baptists. Proud to be Baptists. But our greatest goal is not to promote a denomination but to lift up Jesus. That fact influences the way I dress; the way the buildings are decorated and designed; the types of ministries we do; the furniture in the hallway, the singing, the preaching... Well, I hope you get what I'm driving at. It even influences our logo. I love you all. In Christ, Pastor Ken