3/21: A church of many voices

Moderated by Rick Badie

Love our neighbors, we’re told. For some metro Atlanta churches, that means opening their sanctuaries to ethnic groups so they can worship in their own language.

First Baptist Church of Lilburn lets 12 congregations use its campus free. Today, that church’s officials explain why they embrace diversity, and I chat with pastors whose congregations meet there.

8 comments Add your comment

Miss Priss!

March 23rd, 2012
11:33 am


Well said. You’re right. Such a deeply personal decision … your faith … or not. I cringe while reading these posts. That’s their only sway on me.

Of course, if you want to visit a church unlike your own, just turn on the TV. You can even do it in your underwear. The bigger the seed the bigger God’s favor!


March 22nd, 2012
3:32 pm

JWL @ 8;59am – “There are what are called “closed” churches, in all demoninations. Those churches become “closed” unintentionally for the most part.”

Your quote was exactly my point. “The unintentional closing” for the most part is a total falsehood. The whole reason for the closing is make sure others, who are not like them know they are not welcomed.
These churches that operate in that manner are not true followers of the christian Faith!


March 22nd, 2012
12:44 pm

Nothing good or helpful comes from a blog on religion. No one is swayed or wants to be swayed.


March 22nd, 2012
8:59 am

Bernie, I am sorry but I am not quite sure what you are trying to get at. The fact that churches offer their facilities to other churches so their members can worship in their own language does not necessarily mean they are segregated on purpose. Many people of different ethnic backgrounds choose to worship with their own kind, are the churches supposed to force these people to come worship with them? The fact that they freely open their doors for these other churches to use speaks well of them and their desire that others are able to worship our Lord in a facility which they are unable to provide for themselves at this time. It would be far worse if they closed their doors to any “outsiders” and not allow them to use any part of their facility. Now THAT would be most unChristian and totally against Christ’s teachings.

It is like a friend of mine told me he did not like a certain non-denominational church which just built a large building across the street from his apartment in mid-town. He said “I really do not like that church!!!” (he is Cuban and chooses to go across town to another mega non-denominational church) I asked him why and his response was…”They do not have other races attending, all I see are white people, they don’t want other races to attend. MY church has people from all different races…asian, hispanic, white, etc.” When I asked if he had ever BEEN to that church, his reply was “no”. Then I told him he was judging that church, I had attended it when it was in another rented facility and the lead pastor is an awesome communicator! (But then I am white.) He could not see where he was judging that church…but since he had never entered that church’s doors…how could he say what their policy was and how they would make him feel very welcome, so indeed YES he was judging that church. I asked if he thought that church needed to go out and drag people in so he would think differently of them. Again, I know for a fact that not welcoming people of other ethnic backgrounds other than white is FAR from the beliefs and desires of this church…but the people have to actually attend to understand that.

There are what are called “closed” churches, in all demoninations. Those churches become “closed” unintentionally for the most part. By “closed” I mean newcomers are never made to feel welcome…you have been to them…you are new, first time visitors and uh-oh…..you had the audacity to sit in someone’s “spot”…and the looks you get make you want to leave fast. I have been in such churches, they do not start out that way but that is how they end up. Again, on the most part they do not become this way on purpose and unless and until someone comes along and helps them “see” what they have allowed themselves to become, they will never see it nor will they ever grow.

As far as how strange it is that we all tend to drift toward our own ethnic identies as groups. That really isn’t all that strange when you think about the fact than many ethnic groups grew up with very different beliefs and traditions. Because of this, there is a very strong connection between those of the same ethnicity and getting together on Sunday is one way of staying “connected”.

In the end, God’s “church” is His people…buildings just house His people…there may come a day when no one is allowed to freely worship in a designated building. If that day ever comes, God’s church will not stop existing…because His Word is living and with or without a building, it will live on until He calls us all Home.


March 22nd, 2012
8:23 am

I grew up learning that out of all days, Sundays are the one day to cherish. Reading and seeing so much and so many disfunction in churches I don’t know what is to come. Southern Baptis Churches stood its grounds and became a spokeman for the community; we have seen that any and everything takes place on sunday. I am keenly very disapppointed in the sales of alcohol on sunday when everyone have 6 days to purchase the stuff! We have gone from good to bad…and from bad to worse. Anytime a church reaches out to their community and include everyone; that is a vision of hope. We are losing our young teens and children on a daily basis for all kinds of reasons. One thing is for certain; this continuation of approving things that hurt this world will indeed see more and more prisons being built to house our younger men regardless of race. Money had take over the mere life we live and how we live. There has to be a better way and I hope all churches starts to converse about it for the public and not for the actually giving of tidings. We need to start somewhere and Sunday with all who comes is a better place and a better of gathering of all people! Our state and this world is in a complete mess.

Road Scholar

March 22nd, 2012
7:49 am

I am surprised that there is no fallout from the speech the pastor at the Rick Santorum political rally made in a church. He reminded me of Rev Wright with his anger and simplistic, bad message.


March 21st, 2012
7:59 pm

Thanks for the article this is much more common than many people realize with most Southern Baptist Churches involved to some extent. First Baptist Lilburn is not alone Rehoboth Baptist in Tucker has 10 different Churches meeting on their campus. Also, Mountain Park First Baptist has free English classes as well as ongoing activities to meet the needs of a number of ethnic groups. It may be easy to beat up on the Southern Baptist Convention and at times they may deserve it, but many of the individual Churches are very engaged in service to the community.


March 21st, 2012
6:19 pm

Rick, are you aware that Sunday mornings between 9am-1pm, is the most segregated time in America. This is the time that we all call the most religious time of the week. How strange is that we all tend to drift toward our own ethnic identities as groups. Also strange, I find is that our places of work are not as segregated as most houses of worship across America during this same time period. What is even stranger is that many of those same worshippers call themselves, True Christians.