Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1 Peter 2:7-8)
In the month of May, it will be forty-three years since Pastor Harry Buerer came to Rohnert Park and planted a new church which is now known as the Berean Baptist Church. When this property was purchased, there was no housing development and the church was isolated in a cornfield. Over the years the neighborhood has grown up and now our church sits on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in the city. This makes our property highly visible which attracts visitors that are looking for a church.
We love to have visitors and we hope that each one feels welcome when they attend our services. We are aware, however, that Berean is different from what most people expect. The modern church has gone to an entertainment motif which appeals to the senses and makes the crowd feel comfortable with an atmosphere they are used to. The message of the church is “feel good” and responds to the felt needs of the people. The problem with this approach is that felt needs are rarely if ever congruent with the gospel of Christ. No one “feels” like the description the Bible gives of them. Scripture says that we are dead in trespasses and sins and we are the enemies of God. This message is offensive, and if the church is seeking to make people comfortable, it is best not to give a clear biblical presentation of the gospel which includes a call to believe what the Bible says about our vile condition and to repent of our sins and trust Christ.
It is interesting that the Bible does not call Jesus “the ticket to heaven.” He is not “J.C.” the guy that wants to make all your dreams come true. Rather, as 1 Peter says, He is ”a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.” If you want to know the truth, He came to “rock” your world not to satisfy your desires for good karma and raise your self esteem. This causes people to stumble on Christ. He is the boulder they cannot climb over because He stands in the way of self satisfaction. Christ demands that we give up our natural desires and live lives in dedication to Him. To put it bluntly, He cares nothing at all about the plan you have for your life. Most people think a church that teaches this kind of doctrine deserves to be out in the middle of lonely cornfield. Get that kind of church as far away from us as you can!
After forty-three years, Berean Baptist is still dedicated to the same simple message of the gospel. The community has grown up and times have changed, but people are still the same and their condition before God is still the same. We will not hide the message to make people feel better because we do not want them happily headed towards hell.
Perhaps Berean is not what you thought it would be. We are simple in our approach because the gospel has simple requirements. Why should we obscure it in the smoke of entertainment? Why should we make it harder to hold on to than an image in a mirror? We want you to hear a clear message so that rather than stumbling on Christ you will believe. ”Unto you therefore which believe he is precious…”
Pastor V. Mark Smith