I was raised in the rural American South and Midwest as the elder son of a pastor of churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The 1960’s and 70’s as I remember them were very different times and filled with very different places from the world as I experience it today. And sometimes it’s staggering to consider how much things have changed. While I enjoy the present with its once unimaginable opportunities, advances and challenges — cultural, social, and technological — it’s sometimes fun to remember how different things were, and just how impermeable and enduring that world once seemed to my youthful mind.
You know you grew up Southern Baptist when:
1. You suspect somewhere in the Bible it says, "Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, there be potluck."
2. More than three consecutive hymns signaled a “special music service.” (These most often occurred when the pastor had insufficient sermon prep time.)
3. You fidget uncomfortably when you see someone place a bulletin on top of their Bible, but you’re completely comfortable stacking Bibles.
4. You wonder what Lottie Moon does with the money.
5. You’ve argued with fellow church members over whether the Baptist Hymnal or the Broadman Hymnal is more inspiring.
6. You frown on applause in the church sanctuary but believe "Amen!" is always acceptable as verbal punctuation.
7. Having been baptized in a cow pond is a matter of personal pride.
8. As a child, you believed there were only three kinds of people in your hometown: Baptists, Presbyterians, and people going to hell. (Your darkest fear was, there may be only two.)
9. You have a point of view over how many consecutive times "Jesus" should be repeated during the refrain of "Sweetest Name I Know."
10. You still have your Royal Ambassadors or Girls Auxiliary pin hidden at the bottom of your underwear drawer. (But you’ve long since forgotten the scripture verses.)
11. Your greatest fear on Sundays at 11.55 a.m. is that someone “with a burden on his heart” would interrupt the invitation and call for a special time of prayer.
12. You've been to Glorieta, New Mexico, or Ridgecrest, North Carolina.
13. While you always knew you had the potential to win at Sword Drills, your acute social awkwardness always guaranteed your defeat.
14. You wonder what happened to Training Union.
15. You wish the name "Baptist" had been trademarked many years ago.
16. When a light rain falls, you think it’s “Methodist weather.”
17. You thought Vacation Bible School, with its martial-like discipline and piano-cued motions, was a real school.
18. You know that the pews in the sanctuary should always be filled from the back row, forward. You prefer to take your seat early.
19. You believed that all pastors were men, all Sunday School teachers were women, all evangelists wore light blue suits, and missionaries wore colorful native garb.
20. You don't see yourself as the narrow-minded, self-righteous person that some just assume you are when they hear you grew up SBC.