You Might Have Been a Baptist If....
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
I walked into a beautiful old church and saw something I hadn’t seen in forty years – a stack of Annie Armstrong Easter offering envelopes. I knew I was in a Baptist Church. I had not thought about Armstrong or my childhood church in years, but seeing that stack of envelopes triggered lots of memories.
The book of Proverbs tells us to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I’m the first to say I’ve done my fair share of departing, but I am thankful that I had so many faithful, wise adults training me up.
Bible drills, vacation bible school, Wednesday-night suppers, GA’s for girls and RA’s for boys, youth groups, and choirs. To be a small church in a small town, we had it all. My friends and I were not angels, but it was not for lack of trying by the adults around us. They did their best to instill good core values and mold us into upstanding citizens.
I didn’t appreciate it at the time, and I’m sure I never said thank you enough, but I was lucky to be surrounded and encouraged by strong, spiritual leaders.
In my third-grade Sunday school class, we made Bible verse flash cards on index cards. I was just learning cursive, but those flash cards were not meant as handwriting practice. Our teacher expected us to learn our verses, and for the most part, we did. I remember our teacher telling us it was important to memorize scripture so we could carry it in our hearts always.
I learned from strong women of strong faith, and I was also lucky enough to have couples serve as religious instructors. These folks were nothing short of real-life heroes. One couple was raising a house full of their own kids but still showed up on Sunday mornings to teach a bunch of rowdy teenagers. Another couple shared their gift of music. Kumbaya, Peace Like A River, Jacob’s Ladder. Those songs are with me still. They set the example of what it meant to work as a team. They modeled a strong, healthy marriage.
No individual church in my small town had enough kids to have a youth group so they did what small town folk do. They got resourceful and solved the problem. They put all the kids together and rotated. One week would be at the Presbyterian church in town. The next week found us at Bethlehem United Methodist or the Presbyterian church in the country. That multi-denominational experience shaped my attitude about formal religion. As teens, we were worshipping and growing in faith. I don’t think God cared where we were or who was leading us. Some of us had been sprinkled and some of us had been dunked and some of us were still dry, but we all had someone in our life who was committed to raising us right.
I hope the Proverb is true. I’m going to trust that it is. Train up a child in the way he is to go, and he will not depart. Not many of us follow a straight-line kind of path. Most of us are more serpentine in our trajectory. I’m going to cling to the old Proverb and trust that when I wander I won’t go far.