Meet Heidi. She has lived in Garden City, Michigan, her entire life. Heidi is a warm, loving young lady in her early twenties that everyone can learn from. Recently interviewed as the first for a new series of local profiles, Heidi gives familiar answers young Baptists give when asked about their faith and church experiences.
Her answers are positive; she reflects on her faith and highlights the blessings she’s granted. Her answers are also negative; she shows where the Baptist tradition can improve. Her answers touch upon a common pulse in all Baptists. The tone in her voice is the tone of many Christians these days vying for spiritual vitality and a robust expression of the Christian faith.
“For the majority of my life I would say I consider myself a Baptist. I was raised in a non-denominational church, but when I was 10 my parents decided there needed to be a change so we when ‘church shopping’ and came across a Baptist church my parents saw fit to raise a family under God’s Word in.”
When asked if there was a period in which she left her Baptist upbringing, Heidi first noted she is part of Fair Haven Baptist Church in Westland, Michigan, and attended Pensacola Christian College for two semesters. “Like I said, I was raised in a non-denominational church, but basically when I was old enough to comprehend what was being taught I have been in a Baptist surrounding.”
Yet she added this, “There was a period in my life when I left. It was after PCC [Pensacola Christian College]; I was trying to find a spot that I fit into. I tried the ‘feel good’ churches, which of course like the name made you feel good. But I wasn’t being spiritually fed. And I could tell.”
Pay special attention to what Heidi considers the best part of her experience in a Baptist church, her focus centered on God and His Word. Also, heed her telling experience she considers the worst, that time in which a God-ward focus by her leaders was questionable.
As for the best of her Baptist experiences, “I guess being taught in a way that I understand…a loving church family, a God-fearing pastor who spoke on what God guides him to speak on. Strict parents who weren’t always ‘cool’ but made me who I am today, a better person in the sense that I know the truth…”
As for the worst, “Pensacola Christian College. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot, but it also made me resent the Baptist Christian lifestyle. There were goals that were expected to be achieved, but not by God’s Word, but by man’s standard.
“It made me really rethink my relationship with the Lord, made me question my salvation, my thoughts were, ‘Is this all just made up? What makes us different from religions that worship idols? We do those unbiblical things that man made to satisfy his own personal goal? What sets us apart?’”
In her personal estimation, what could improve the Baptist tradition is “If God is put first, and all that is done is to glorify Him… Well, we’re all humans and humans make mistakes and do things selfishly or for the wrong reasons….If you’re in God’s Word daily of course it will be easier to be close to Him. But if you’re not it’s going to be a struggle….Be Christ-like and He will be glorified.”