I had a very interesting encounter after the second worship service here at First Baptist Church last Sunday. A personable young man I have known for some time, who was a guest of some of his friends in worship, approached me with a serious look on his face. He shook my hand and told me how much he had enjoyed the service, and that he always loved it when he got to worship with the folks at First Baptist.
Then he said, “And you know, I agree with almost all of the doctrines you teach here. All except one doctrine.” Here he paused, and I immediately began to wonder what I had said that would make him raise a doctrinal issue in the lobby after worship.
“What doctrine is that?” I asked, a bit anxiously.
With apparent earnestness he said, “Well, Pastor, I hate to say it, but it’s your doctrine of snow. I just can’t agree with your position.” Then he broke into a smile and we both had a good laugh as he explained his mock concern.
He pointed out that during prayer time, I had voiced our gratitude to God for the wonderful moisture we have received over the last few weeks, but went on to ask God if He might arrange for the temperature to be warmer the next time we get some precipitation. You see, I’m not personally all that crazy about snow. And yet, I know it’s a wonderful blessing to have the wheat lay for weeks on end under a moist blanket of the white stuff, which is just what we’ve experienced for the last several weeks. As a result, as my people know, I struggle with how to pray for precipitation in the winter. I recall mentioning in my prayer that we were giving “reluctant though heart-felt thanks” to God.
This young man said that he, by contrast, loves snow, everything about it, and wishes it would snow more often. And so, with what turned out to be simulated seriousness, he indicated he could never sit under my teaching or be a part of any church whose “doctrine of snow” was so out of line with his. Hilarious. Simply hilarious. I continue to chuckle as I think about our conversation!
And yet, there’s a serious side to this young man’s remark. Every pastor in town knows that some people leave churches over matters no more consequential than a “doctrine of snow.” Concerns such as the color a room gets painted or who gets to pass the offering plates on Sunday morning have actually split churches. The “doctrine of snow” is a genuine heavyweight by contrast!
The challenge for each of us is to do a well-prayed-through inventory of what really matters in a church. If you go to the Word of God, and see what it says, you may be surprised at the brevity of the list of truths that define a biblical church.