Courage is a rare and rich commodity. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, Americans were abuzz with talk of the courage shown by fellow Americans in such trying times.
For the church, courage doesn’t necessarily exhibit itself through daring acts of patriotic heroism, but rather through practicing sound faith.
Keith Felton, minister of missions and young adults at First Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky., told EthicsDaily.com it would be difficult for a local church to “authentically follow Jesus” without courage.
“It takes courage to express one’s faith in a world that largely does not believe that the church’s message is relevant to the problems of today,” Felton said. “More importantly, if the church does not minister in courageous ways, countless people will not hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Brett Younger, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, said people don’t automatically associate courage with churches.
“If you ask people to put an adjective in front of ‘churches,’ ‘courageous’ isn’t one of the first words to come to mind, but it should be,” Younger told EthicsDaily.com. “If the church today is going to be the counter-cultural force the New Testament church was, we need to think of the church as courageous people doing courageous ministry.”
For Wayne Hager at Calvary Baptist Church in Mt. Airy, N.C., the only way the church can truly be the church is to be courageous.
“Being the church means taking risks,” Hager said.
The call to courage is being heard by churches across the country, and the Baptist Center for Ethics has produced a new online curriculum entitled Courageous Churches as a tool for churches as they attempt to answer the call.
Hager said he has always used BCE’s study guides and Sunday School material with great success. Courageous Churches has been well received at his church and, Hager said, “the writing is good and the subject is covered in a challenging way.”
First Baptist Church in Frankfort is using the curriculum in its young adult Sunday School class, but, Felton added, “We hope to use it in other Bible study classes in the future.”
Felton said in the four-plus years he has coordinated First Baptist’s young adult ministries, he has used only BCE materials, with the exception of a few short studies on a book from the Bible.
“I chose Courageous Churches because I know the quality and depth of study that my class will receive,” Felton said. “I also chose it because even though we are courageous in many areas, there are other aspects of the church experience where we can grow in being courageous.”
“A courageous church attempts to do things that it realizes it cannot accomplish on its own–God sized things–things that genuinely bring the love of God to people,” he said.
Ed Hogan, pastor of Jersey Village Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, is using Courageous Churches in his men’s leadership devotionals. Hogan said the group is using the BCE material jointly with The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
“We are focusing on both the inward and outward journey,” Hogan told EthicsDaily.com. “Faith isn’t all personal. It is also about what God would have us do in the church setting.”
Hogan said he chose Courageous Churches because he is trying to help his church discover its uniqueness–more than just what they are capable of in worship, evangelism and missions.
Reflecting on the curriculum, Hogan said he “didn’t know churches could be that creative.” He also said the curriculum has shown him new ways that women can be particularly active in church.
Younger, meanwhile, hopes that courageous churches will be the norm. He asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if ‘courageous church’ seemed redundant?”
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.