This post comes from interim executive coordinator Pat Anderson
Carolyn and I discovered a “Country Buffet” on the north side of Macon, GA which we like. On our trips from Cedar Key to Atlanta we try to plan our lunch stop there. It is a large and really well prepared buffet. We like the fried chicken, fresh vegetables, salad, desserts….excellent casseroles and friendly service, and very reasonably priced. The main foods are in large serving containers. You find the chicken, potatoes and gravy, and fish in the largest ones. Vegetables like lima beans, green peas, fried okra, and the casseroles are in middle-size ones. Then, lesser items like beets, squash, collards, and corn are in the smallest. It is a diverse and attractive display, pleasing to the senses and filling to the body.
Carolyn likes to include beets in her choices. I do not like beets, so I avoid them. Occasionally she cajoles me into eating one or two slices because she says beets are good for me and will add to the quality and length of my life.
The point of the Country Buffet is the large selection with quality. You don’t have to eat the beets if you do not want to. Those who do like beets have some right there among the other choices. Those who don’t can just walk past without passing judgment on the beet-lovers. It is a win-win.
CBF is like that. The Fellowship contains a lot of diverse food for the traveling church. You can count on large offerings of missions, church resources, church benefits, partner theological schools, transparency and accountability, friendly and responsive staff, and a lot more.
Plus, if you have a special need or problem and desire a helping of some particularly healthy food geared for that dietary need, CBF will try to help you find resources for that. For instance, recently we joined McAfee Theological Seminary in a limited experiment in dealing with issues related to human sexuality and faithfulness in the church. It is not the major item on our buffet, but if someone or some church is struggling with issues related to sexuality, we have learned some things that we can share that will help a church study and reflect on the subject in a faithful Christian manner.
Not every church wants to talk about sexuality. They can walk on past that particular offering of the CBF. They can avoid that distasteful subject and focus instead on the other items CBF is known for. Critics who say they must dismiss all of CBF because we talk openly about the pressing issues regarding sexuality are like people who say of the buffet, “That country buffet has gone off the tracks! Instead of more chicken they have put beets on the buffet! They should just change the name from COUNTRY BUFFET to WE ARE BEETS! I will never eat there again as long as they put beets on the buffet. They started out as a good meat and vegetables place, but now they have become part of the pro-beets agenda, and I can no longer eat there.”
Likewise, critics who say they must dismiss all of CBF because we do not talk openly enough about pressing issues of the day — sexuality, war, politics, or you-name-it — are like those who say of the buffet, “They do not have kiwis on the buffet! What kind of place is this, anyway? If they do not serve up some kiwis, I can no longer eat there!”
Those are my thoughts on this Tuesday morning at a Baptist World Alliance meeting in Santiago.
Pat Anderson is interim executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.