Religion is the most powerful force on Earth and should not be bottled up in church buildings, but should be let loose into every area of every community so it can work its wonders, says a Baptist minister.
The Rev. Frank R. Tillapauh, senior pastor of the Bear Valley Baptist Church, Denver, was in Salt Lake City Wednesday speaking at an all-day seminar at Westminster College sponsored by the Salt Lake Ministerial Association.The author of the book, "Unleashing the Church for Ministry," published in 1982, the Rev. Tillapauh spoke on that topic, urging seminar participants to go outside the confines of their church buildings to help, convert and baptize.
"God is for everybody and the good news of the Gospel is not only for helping people physically, like the proverbial Good Samaritan, but also for helping to save people's souls, as the Apostle Paul talked about in Chapter 2 of Acts.
"Jesus should be our example," he said. "He touched people's lives in all walks of life."
The Rev. Tillapauh, 48, has been at the Bear Valley Baptist Church 17 years. He has a congregation of about 2,000 and an average attendance at Sunday services of 1,400. He oversees the work of eight full-time pastors. "They are engaged in the normal pastoral pursuits, in charge of Bible study, sermons, music, Sunday school and the like.
"But we also have some 25 target ministries which I oversee, but which have been started by, and maintained by, the lay members of our church - ministries to the jails, refugees, alcoholics and drug abusers, physically disabled, step-families that have custodial children, health clinics, businessmen and women, street people, international students and other community groups."
One of his church's target ministries is an alternative high school. One of the school's students, he said, lives underneath a bridge and has no family. "These are the kinds of people we want to help - not only with their physical needs, but spiritually, too."
He said the laity want to do something meaningful and want to become involved in some worthwhile ministry for others rather than simply participating in church government.
"If you asked me what are some of the problems with religion today, I'd say religion is, for too many people, irrelevant. It doesn't touch people in meaningful, important ways. Too many people feel they don't need religion and that they can live their lives without it."
The Rev. Tillapauh said some television and radio preachers who have been given page one headlines recently for their immoral behavior have hurt everybody. "They are giving religion a bad name. The man on the street sees these so-called religious leaders as money hungry, rich, famous - and immoral. They read about the scandals and say to themselves `who needs religion.' "
He said his goal is to continue to teach and to model a "relevant Christianity that is true to the Bible, but which penetrates and impacts the public.
"I'd like to see churches take on more and broader responsibilities in their communities. And I don't see the public being disturbed by pastors stepping down from their pulpits and walking into the street. I think people feel it is good we are trying to help.
"There are so many problems in today's world that people are glad to have anybody working for solutions."