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June 16, 2009


What do you mean by “A Vintage Church?” PART ONE

A friend of mine called me today and asked, “What do you mean by A Vintage Church?”
(We are using “A Vintage Church” in the tagline for our church plant at Southlake Baptist) The following is my response to my friend…..

“In a world dizzy with change, people have a deep-seated need to immerse themselves in something ancient and transcendent. Unfortunately, all some churches offer is a splash in whatever hip new trend happens to be stylish. And while that kind of worship can draw a crowd, the heart cries out for something deeper and more authentic.

As independent Baptists, our faith is deeply rooted in historic Christianity. Our theology is as profound as Scripture. Yet we are not always seen as an attractive alternative to today’s shallow evangelicalism.

One reason for that is the way we position ourselves in the “marketplace of ideas”.

For instance, the signs in front of our churches say: “Independent, Fundamental, Bible Believing, Premillenial, Separated, KJV 1611, Soul Winning, Local Baptist Church.” Now that’s a mouthful! The sign makers who charge by the letter love to see us coming!

But who are these words for? What do they communicate to the people around us?

Yes, many people a generation ago knew what most of those words meant. Today, however, most of the people who drive by our churches barely even know what distinguishes a “Baptist” from a “Catholic.” But when they see the word “Fundamentalist,” they don’t think of good doctrine; they’re as likely to think about radical Islamists – people who spend their time thinking of ways to blow us up.

How do we communicate to our neighbors that we offer something they value highly?

I like the word “Vintage,” because it says our church is connected with the best of the past.

Not everything from the past, of course, is worth keeping. Not everything is “Vintage.” Some things, over time, wear out. They get stale. They get weak and outdated. They go out of style.

But some things stand the test of time. Classics. They stay strong. They transcend the ages. They’re Vintage.

When we say we are “Vintage” Christians, we conjure up the very best of our past – all the way back to Jesus Christ himself. Strong theology. A strong sense of loving community. A mission emphasis with a call to a crucified life.

Vintage is not a little wade in the kiddie pool of hip, feel-good religion. Vintage is not a passing fad; it is timeless.

Vintage says, “I’m not trying to reinvent Christianity with cheap innovations.” Vintage speaks to a historic body of Bible truth and biblical practice that we treasure, honor, and preserve so it can be handed on to the next generation. Vintage is firmly anchored in God’s Word and Baptist traditions.”


  1. Jun 16 2009

    This is a great post, and an important thing for Baptists to consider. Fundamentalist used to mean true to the original, Biblical Christianity, now the term has baggage. I like terms “vintage” and “authentic.” They say what “fundamental” is supposed to say without using other, less than desirable words like “old-fashioned.”

    I worry, though, that fundamental Baptists wear labels like badges. We’re more interested in the acceptance they generate among our peers than what they actually communicate to the people we’re trying to reach.

  2. John Neyer
    Jun 16 2009

    Very well written and helpful. Makes a lot of sense.
    Working on rebuilding an extension ministry “chapel”
    in SoCal,we experience the reactions of folks that you
    articulate here. Thanks!

  3. Jun 17 2009

    Excellent article. It is time to accurately represent who we in our community. Why use words that conjure up an inaccurate image of who we are? The definitions of words and labels change with time. Vintage says it all!! I hope many will wear it with pride. I hope this will spur a great awakening of relevance and authenticity among Baptists world wide.

  4. Jun 17 2009

    Great post! Many words in the “Baptist” vocabulary don’t say what we think/want them to say to the unsaved.

  5. Jun 17 2009

    Well spoken old friend. I agree that words mean things. Every word of God is pure, as we learn from scripture, so our words should be pure as well. Isn’t the mission of our church to reach the lost in our community, rather than impress our “competitors” at other churches with our ability to out fundamentalize the other? Clay, I will be praying that you can make a difference at Southlake Baptist.

  6. Jun 17 2009

    Very good post! Can’t wait to start working at a Vintage Church that has definite purpose and excitement in their message and mode of reaching their community!

  7. Jun 27 2009


    I appreciate your candor in this area. It is a help to our fundamental Baptist churches to stop and evaluate the “why” in every area of our ministries, especially in our labels and “community marketing”. Very few, if anyone, in our city care one bit about our position. While we tow the line Biblically, there must always be a first step avaialable for anyone on the outside. We want them in and we want them faithful. Thank you for defining this so well. Looking forward to “more to come”.

    I will be praying for you as you start this new work in Southlake. I know God is going to bless your labor.


  8. May 19 2010

    Very well written and helpful. Makes a lot of sense.
    Working on rebuilding an extension ministry “chapel”
    in SoCal,we experience the reactions of folks that you
    articulate here. Thanks!

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