In a similar way, because of the theological diversity within the denomination, churches don't have to agree with one another on every issue and can still fellowship with one another for greater causes. Coming from a generation that is a little skeptical (and a little patronized) by folks trying to tell us how we should be looking at and doing things, the idea of going to a church where I am allowed to discuss and maybe even disagree about faith issues would be a refreshing change of pace from merely being preached at, in every sense of that word.
Finally, with the ethnic and cultural diversity in the denomination, we have the potential for being an example to the world of how people can fellowship, worship, work, and struggle in a truly multicultural, multiracial, and multiethnic community, something that is much needed in a world where people groups are coming in contact with one another more than ever before.
It is my hope in those things that convince me to stay in my denomination, at least for now. All of the things I mentioned above paragraph aren't here yet, though. Much like I await the return of Jesus in the hope of a new heaven and a new earth, I await a time when the American Baptist Churches can fulfill the great potential that they have for reaching the next generation of believers and non-believers. That hope may not be enough for some folks to stick around in a denomination where the most represented hair color at the general meetings is still gray and where sitting in something besides pews during worship is radical. But for me, hope is why I am still an American Baptist.
This article appeared as part of a series called "Why We Choose Denominational Life" at Bruce Reyes-Chow's blog and is reprinted with permission.
Blake Horridge is the Director of Academic Administration and Registrar at the American Baptist Seminary of the West.