Somebody told me this once.
They meant well.
They were wrong.
I guess you need some context.
I was in college. I had been following Christ for 3 years.
I knew I was called to preach.
And I was starting to discover that there are many different wonderful styles of ministry.
Now, I was at a Baptist school, and I liked the Baptist preachers just fine.
Guys like Johnny Hunt, Charles Stanley, and David Jeremiah.
But I also liked the fire of Charismatic preachers like Charles Blake, T.D. Jakes, and Eddie Long. I really loved black preachers in general, to tell you the truth.
Not to mention that some non-denominational guys who are harder to peg like Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley were fascinating to me in their effectiveness and communicative genius.
Meanwhile, I was traveling and preaching in Episcopal churches, Presbyterian churches, Evangelical Free churches, Wesleyan churches… you name it… and at every stop I was meeting some wonderful people who loved Jesus very much. And I was noticing some unique strengths behind each methodology.
And, oh yeah, I grew up Methodist. Loved those people.
Can you say mixed breed? More on that in a minute.
Here’s where the track to run on thing comes in.
Somebody actually pulled me aside at this critical juncture in my ministry development and said something like this (not exactly like this, but close enough):
“Steven, you’ve got to pick a track to run on. You’ve got to decide who you’re going to associate with… what circle you’ll be a part of, and commit exclusively. Are you going to run with the Charismatics and be labeled whacky and cooky? Or with the Baptists and be labeled stiff, but acknowledged as grounded in the Word? Or with some other denomination, and be known as a flaky shaky liberal?
(Remember, I’m just quoting what he said.)
You can’t run on everybody’s track Steven. You need to pick one track-only one track-and run on it.”
I thank God that He gave me the gift of selective hearing.
I never picked a track.
I decided not to run at all.
In fact, I decided I didn’t even want to fool with ground transportation in general.
I decided I’d prefer to fly at 30,000 feet, far above the pettiness of theological minutia.
I hope that if you read my blog regularly you’re often confused:
“Why does he give props to Andy Stanley in one post, Eddie Long in another, John Piper in another, and John Wesley in another? What camp is he in?”
Ahem… God’s camp. The Bible’s camp. The Jesus camp.
It’s a good camp. A big camp. A broad camp.
“Does he believe in predestination or free will?”
The answer is yes.
“I knew it. Furtick’s a liberal. An inclusivist. No backbone. Anything goes.”
I didn’t say that. But since you brought it up…
Do you really think that contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints Jude 1:3 is a constitutional right for us to draw lines and wage war over an issue like tongues? Or the timing of the rapture? Or women in ministry?
Now you mess with the cross, we’ll argue all night long. And I’ll win. I’m good like that.
You start telling college students that the first 5 books of the Bible are mythological, and I’ll do my best to prove you a heretic. You’ve jacked with Scripture. You don’t get to do that. I’m not on your team if we don’t share a playbook. Turn in your jersey and get off the field.
Trust me. I have my boundaries.
I’m just thankful that they are wide enough to accommodate lots of people with lots of styles, methodologies, and interpretations of the non-essentials.
I think part of the reason Elevation is fun and funky is because I am such a mixed breed. I’ve got a complicated bloodline. I hope that shows up in our services, in our church government, in my preaching, in our worship…
I hope we keep you guessing.
I hope our flavors keep your spiritual taste buds dancing.
I hope we never trade it in for a track to run on.