Unwritten Rules in SBC

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Every church, association, denomination, and movement has its own set of unwritten rules. I found that out the hard way when I preached wearing a tie in an ABC church. And again when I began my sermon in a Reformed Baptist church by inviting the children up front for a special children's message. Hypothetically, if I were to preach to an SBC church in the next few weeks, what unwritten rules should I know about?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Give a three-fold altar call: (1) give your life to Jesus, (2) rededicate yourself to Jesus, (3) commit to doing mission work.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hypothetically, if I were to preach to an SBC church in the next few weeks, what unwritten rules should I know about?

I think the SBC is so large and diverse that it would depend on the geographic area and/or demographics (rural, city, suburbia).
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Every church, association, denomination, and movement has its own set of unwritten rules. I found that out the hard way when I preached wearing a tie in an ABC church. And again when I began my sermon in a Reformed Baptist church by inviting the children up front for a special children's message. Hypothetically, if I were to preach to an SBC church in the next few weeks, what unwritten rules should I know about?
Always talk with the church secretary. You can just ask clarifying questions about the bulletin or order of service both in terms of what information you need to provide, and what the expectations are.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think you are being messed with a bit. I don't believe SBC churches are monolithic. It likely will come down to the specific church you are going to.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Are altar calls handled by the preacher or someone else?
In a stereotypical SBC congregation, the answer is that they are typically handled by either the Pastor OR the worship leader. Also, your stereotypical SBC church could also very likely be Arminian and teach that Calvinism is the “devil’s doctrine”. Typically, for SBC, altar calls are a “must”. Not all, but most congregations will ding you for omitting one.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
It is an SBC church that confesses the LBC 1689 as well as the Baptist Faith and Message. Can I wear a Hawaiian shirt? (The church is in HI) Will I get dinged for my beard? Would my wife get dinged for wearing pants? Can I include some humor in my introduction? How do I know when to stand up to sing? Do I have to raise my arms when I am singing? Is it less distracting to the congregation if I stick to the NT?

The secretary and deacon's wife sound like good ideas if I get the opportunity.
 

ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
Every church, association, denomination, and movement has its own set of unwritten rules. I found that out the hard way when I preached wearing a tie in an ABC church. And again when I began my sermon in a Reformed Baptist church by inviting the children up front for a special children's message. Hypothetically, if I were to preach to an SBC church in the next few weeks, what unwritten rules should I know about?
There are some Dutch Reform churches that would ding you for not wearing a black tie and black jacket. Some Dutch lady might get the vapors if a man preached in a dark gray tie!

Unwritten church rules are comically absurd.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes, we see in every church denomination how tradition starts to creep in and add requirements that God does not. Thankfully most do not get to the level of "sacred tradition", but I have seen protestant churches where it is getting really close.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, we see in every church denomination how tradition starts to creep in and add requirements that God does not. Thankfully most do not get to the level of "sacred tradition", but I have seen protestant churches where it is getting really close.
I have a co-worker who is part of a church that has been around for a while and he talks about a controversy that happened a while back when the building got air conditioning.

Prior to that time, during the summer months, the windows of the building would be open to provide ventilation and out of pragmatism, the elements in the Lord's Supper were covered just to keep the many flies off. After the building became air conditioned and there were no longer flies, someone suggested doing away with the cover, but this was met with a very vocal protest, since covering "is the way things ought to be done."
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have a co-worker who is part of a church that has been around for a while and he talks about a controversy that happened a while back when the building got air conditioning.

Prior to that time, during the summer months, the windows of the building would be open to provide ventilation and out of pragmatism, the elements in the Lord's Supper were covered just to keep the many flies off. After the building became air conditioned and there were no longer flies, someone suggested doing away with the cover, but this was met with a very vocal protest, since covering "is the way things ought to be done."
It is easy to see how something like after 20 or so more years could develop into something similar to what you see in the Roman church. The cover becomes a "sacred" or "holy" covering and it becomes a sin to look upon the elements before it is time, or something like that.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
It is an SBC church that confesses the LBC 1689 as well as the Baptist Faith and Message. Can I wear a Hawaiian shirt? (The church is in HI) Will I get dinged for my beard? Would my wife get dinged for wearing pants? Can I include some humor in my introduction? How do I know when to stand up to sing? Do I have to raise my arms when I am singing? Is it less distracting to the congregation if I stick to the NT?

The secretary and deacon's wife sound like good ideas if I get the opportunity.
Those all sound like perfectly good questions to ask the person who issued the invite. I ask about how to dress and general customs everywhere I get invited to speak, and I don't even do preaching. I would think it's even more appropriate for a preacher to inquire about such things.

The altar call thing may be a good specific to ask about. I bring it up every time I'm invited to do a kids camp, because some camps assume it will be coming and expect it of their speakers, and I'm firmly opposed, so it's best to be clear about it ahead of time. I would guess a lot of SBC churches would let the guest preacher decide, and one that confesses the LBC is probably not into American revivalism, but there shouldn't be anything wrong with asking just to make sure.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Those all sound like perfectly good questions to ask the person who issued the invite. I ask about how to dress and general customs everywhere I get invited to speak, and I don't even do preaching. I would think it's even more appropriate for a preacher to inquire about such things.

The altar call thing may be a good specific to ask about. I bring it up every time I'm invited to do a kids camp, because some camps assume it will be coming and expect it of their speakers, and I'm firmly opposed, so it's best to be clear about it ahead of time. I would guess a lot of SBC churches would let the guest preacher decide, and one that confesses the LBC is probably not into American revivalism, but there shouldn't be anything wrong with asking just to make sure.

Thanks, Jack. That is very helpful.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Those all sound like perfectly good questions to ask the person who issued the invite.
The problem with that is if the person that issued the invite is the one guy there who thinks that the service is too stuffy, and that the preacher ought to wear ah Hawaiian shirt instead of a suit to loosen things up. Or conversely, things have gotten too loose, and the preacher really needs to set the tone by wearing an academic robe.

Of course, if it isn't preaching in view of a call (or whatever the terminology is for that) maybe having some fun could give the pot a much needed stirring.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I was SBC for quite a few years in Arminian congregations with altar calls. Once I discovered Reformed theology I was very annoyed by the custom of the altar call. I heard a sermon tape by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in which he said, referring to that practice, something like, "A free and easy salvation is of little value." The last SBC church I attended the pastor was in his 60s, a country boy from Kentucky, and devout but with skewed theology.

At the end of each sermon he'd give the altar call and repeat, "Will you come?" over and over. He would count the number who did come and say "X amount of people got saved last Sunday." I finally found an OPC church and never looked back.

At our OPC congregation we had a guest pastor filling the pulpit and when he gave the prayer he did so using our standard/current English pronouns rather than thees and thous. One of our members was so angered because of that he walked out of the worship service.

One of my favorite stories was when our pastor was on vacation and retired OPC minister, the late Stan Sutton came to preach. I met him as he pulled into the parking lot. Introduced myself and asked which translation he'd be preaching from. I had various translations in the car and wanted to follow with the same one he was using.

Stan frowned and said, "Don't tell me your one of those KJVO guys !" He preached at our church many times over the years and is sorely missed since his passing a year or so ago.

One other instance comes to mind. As deacon when someone came to fill the pulpit in our pastor's absence I'd speak with them before the service and go over the bulletin with them. My pastor always tailors the 3 hymns to compliment the sermon, and he told me to let the guest pastor pick the hymns he preferred. He was an older fellow and very experienced.

So when I asked him which hymns (out of our Trinity Hymnal) he wanted sung he said, "You pick them, pick hymns they know." I thought that was interesting, and it worked out well.
 
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