08 June 2007

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by Frank Turk



While this will probably be the last post I make here on this subject for a little while, there are still tons of issues to deal with, such as
  • When do I express concern or dissent and when do I simply stay quiet and pray for my pastors and elders?
  • What's the difference between stirring up trouble and seeking to stand up for the Gospel and the church?
  • How much is too much?
This is a very deep and serious issue, and it brings out deep and serious questions. But I'm going to wrap up this week with one question from yesterday's meta from alert reader JSB who said this:
Question: Supposed someone decides to START a church? Independently. He is doctrinally correct and builds, starting with a gathering in his household.

Knowing there are several risks involved, how about this as a true option? It appears in the NT they had house churches under Apostolic authority. Now can we have house churches under Scriptural authority?

Any part of this issue I'm missing? (I say this as a happy church member, 23 years same place; just interested)
And this is a regular bombshell, because above all the pontificating about whatever it is I'm talking about here, we're baptists on this blog. We believe in a sort of rugged missionary model where one person (ironically, not always a guy) can go forth and be a witness to some nation even to the ends of the Earth. Doesn't that carry over to the problem of having a fairly churchless "nation" right here in my town?

We could -- well, I could -- probably do a solid week on this topic alone, but let me sort of bullet-point a few things which ought to be useful to somebody, and the rest can go to the meta or to some future series. I have a feeling that I'll be carrying the load next week as well, so maybe some of this can get fleshed out there.

So the major heading over these bullet points is this:
What does the decision to START a local church look like?

1. Does another church solve the problem?

See: I live in a town where there are about 15,000 people and 60 distinct churches -- 62, by my last survey. And all things being equal, that really isn't too bad if the average church in town really did only have 250 people in it. But the last church to be established here was due to a split over something utterly non-doctrinal and non-practical. It was over something that's not even mentioned in the Bible or frankly ought to be a point of contention between believers. I won't tell you what it was because it is so ridiculously petty, but I'll give you a parallel example: imagine that some church is willing to split over whether or not the means of taking up the collection is to pass your cash to the center aisle and dump it on the floor or to pass a plate as is done anywhere the collection is taken in an orderly fashion.

They split over something that ridiculous.

Does starting another church solve the problem of the plain hardness of heart evident in that split? My opinion is "no, it does not." So before you "start a local church", make sure you are starting a church and not a clubhouse for fussy prigs.

2. Does another church meet the need?

For example, our church has planted -- in our own facility -- a Spanish-speaking church, with a Spanish-speaking pastor, which meets (by his request) after our main service lets out. It meets later like that because -- in his words -- the Hispanics prefer to sleep in on Sunday, and not for some other less-savory reason. This church meets and worships in Spanish only rather than in English, and it is growing.

If we had invited these primarily Spanish-speaking people to our all-English services, they would have never come. But we established a church -- with the help of our convention, to be sure, to find the right man -- to meet a specific need apparent in our community. They are welcome among us, and the Gospel is spoken there.

Starting a new church has to meet a spiritual need in the community -- and a language barrier is a spiritual need.

3. Am I a missionary?

The purist will say -- and some people will interpret me to be a kind of purist, but I am not this kind -- that every single Christian is a missionary. Well, that's true in the sense that we are all called upon to give a defense of the hope that lies within us with gentleness and reverence, amen? But not every single Christian is called to be the kind of pastor and teacher it takes to set up shop for a new church.

Mark Driscoll, it seems to me, has found out the hard way that it's not as easy as it looks to do (on a first or second reading) what it appears Paul and Barnabas did back in the day. I think that's part of the reason he started Acts29 -- to keep young guys from making the kinds of physically and spiritually painful mistakes that he did, and that he has witnessed so many other guys do.

So you have to be the right kind of person, gifted beyond just normal pastoral scope, to start a church.

Or, you have to have a lot of help, which brings me to ...

4. Have you been sent?

One thing about being an SBCite is the comfort in the knowledge that we are sending people -- not just shipping them out, but sending them with material support and some spiritual back-up and accountability. No, it is not nearly perfect. However, it seems to me that if you are a missionary, you ought to be sent in some way. Someone besides your dog should agree with you that you are gifted and going for the right reasons. Someone should be willing to help you bear the spiritual burden through prayer and accountability in doctrine and practice. Someone should be willing put up part of your material needs. Someone should be willing to make sure your new local church is actually a church and not a cult.

Part of being sent is a commitment to being faithful not just in theory but in practice and in purpose. When Paul writes to Titus, the first thing he tells him is, "that's why I sent you there", and then enumerates that Titus is tasked with raising up men who will be faithful to the Gospel in the same way he is faithful to the Gospel -- and that, for the parallel purposes of edifying the church and overcoming false teachers.

A missionary is plugged back in to some kind of check switch for his fidelity. A network of grounded, mature friends is a way to do this -- people who will stay close to you and, in the right way, grill you on your teaching and practice. T4G foundationally is seeking to establish this kind of (a-hem) organic network of accountability -- to bring men of right-mind and like-mind together so that they may encourage one another and keep each other grounded in the only foundation, which is Christ Jesus.

You don't need another church to "send" you, but that's the most obvious way to be sent.

If these are the majors, there are probably 10,000 minors which might occur to you. These seem to be the theologically-basic points to me. If a church does not solve a problem, meet a need, and have a missionary to set it up who is sent in some meaningful way, maybe it's not the right way to go.

You might have another idea about this, and I'd be glad to hear you say it and defend it. Until then, be in the Lord's house with the Lord's people on the Lord's day, and try to get the Gospel out over there. I'm sure they need it as much as you do.










45 comments:

BugBlaster said...

Glad to see the need to be sent and accountable.

I also live in a town of 15,000, but I can't count more than 20 churches of all stripes, and none of them are huge.

You live in a very different place.

jsb said...

Really wise counsel, Cent. I especially like:

"Someone besides your dog should agree with you that you are gifted and going for the right reasons."

Confirmation of calling (in some form) and accountability (ongoing) are key, IMO. Without that I can't call it a Scriptural model.

Matt said...

Cent, sorry to get all specific on you. If this is better to discuss privately via email, let me know.

I attend an Evangelical Mennonite Church of roughly 600 people in a community of roughly 1000. Our community is composed primarily of those families which pioneered our community.

At deacon elections two years ago, a question was raised about whether or not females could serve as deacons (we are congregationally led). Our minsters spent time in study and prayer on the issue, and came back to the membership just over a year ago with a statement that because deacons serve on the ministerial of our church (ie - they are elders), then it is unscriptural for women to serve in this role.

Many of us were thankful that theological drift was guarded against by our ministerial, but others were angry and disappointed. Debate consumed our membership meetings for the next several months. Our ministers finally said they did not want to fight with the membership, and they proposed that we vote on the issue. In October, 2006, we voted with the result being 52% in favour of the complementarian position endorsed by our ministerial. At that time, many of us were prepared to move on and accept the decision.

However, a group of 12 dissidents has been meeting since that time, and has come up with a list of 7 grievances, mostly aimed at accusing our ministerial of maninpulation and having a hidden agenda, but also aimed at "process".

This group presented their paper at last membership meeting, and stated that their goal in rehashing all of this was reconciliation. Many took this to be a positive step and the membership voted 74% in favour of bringing in a facilitator and working through these grievances.

This leads me to my concerns, and ultimately, my question.

My concern is that a committee of 12 has effectively taken the agenda for the whole church for another year. Another concern I have is regarding who will come to the meetings with this facilitator. Those who are prepared to accept the decision and move on will likely not attend, and by default, the facilitator will hear the grievances of 12 people who want to dwell on their victim-hood. I am concerned that any kind of recommendations that will come out of this process will be catering to 12 people, and may involve theological compromise.

Another major concern I have is that the biblical model for forgiveness is not being followed. Jesus told us to freely forgive our brother seventy times seven. He did NOT say that we forgive once we have control of the agenda, or once we've humiliated our leaders, or once we've spent a year describing to the whole church why we've been so hard done by, etc. (Yes, this applies to me as well!) I think this committee is less concerned about reconciliation than with getting their way through alternate means.

Now, in light of your series on the church, here's my question. Do those of us who want to move on (complementarians and egalitarians who accept the decision of the church)try to halt this process at the next meeting by trying to explain how this "facilitation" process could be more divisive than healing? Do we work with this process and try to feed balanced information to the facilitator? Do we accept that some in our church no longer want to submit themselves to their leaders, and rather than forcing them to, let them be, and we leave with our leaders and form a "new" church? What do we do? I don't have an answer, only a problem. The only reason I'm not burning in frustration is because I know many people on the other side of this are as loyal to our church as I am, and their roots run just as deep. Even though I think it would be more graceful of them to leave if they can't be happy in our church, I would also have a hard time leaving if I was in their shoes.

When do we exercise grace and let this continue into a third year, and when do we say "enough is enough", we must move on?

centuri0n said...

Matt:

e-mail me privately.

I will say this much publicly: I wish that the church you attend had read this series of posts before they had started down this path. This is exactly what I am talking about.

Sharon said...

Cent: I wish that the church you attend had read this series of posts before they had started down this path. This is exactly what I am talking about.

Not only that, but this is what you get when you have the unbiblical standard of congregational rule, instead of a plurality of godly elders (ahem all men, by the way) to administer the local Body of Christ. Sorry, Baptists, but congregational rule will always result in factions and divisions sooner or later. Or both.

Marcus Mok said...

Thanks for your sharing, Cent. It was honest and to the point. I had been a "silent" reader and enjoyer of Pyromaniac blog, but your post (as well as the honest comments in this thread) prompts me to share my story, and I dearly hope that you can bear with me.

I just went through a painful church split, and I wished I had read this 4 months back--perhaps I would be more careful with my decision to leave my previous church.

The cause of the split is not as petty as the example you cited. There were personal attacks on the pastor over baptismal issue, factions and quarrels during members meetings, disagreement with management, discontent over aggressive and bossy behavior of "big families" in the church, etc etc. But it wasn't one of the gospel-essential-fundamental issues. In the end, the pastor led some out to start another church in a very sudden, secretive and abrupt manner.

I was one of those who left, and we thought we were so right at that time. If we had stayed behind, we'll literally end up fighting and devouring one another.

Now, upon looking back, I realize that there was one thing I lack: love. No matter how we tried to convince ourselves that we had no choice, somehow I cannot shake off the idea that I could have stayed, I could have taken things more rationally, with more forgiveness, more trust of those I came to hate.

More love.

But now it's too late. Anyway, a new church was started, the pastor and his team of leaders tried to do everything doctrinally right and sound this time, everyone (almost) was excited, though sometimes discouragement set in and disputes still happened between the two churches. At the very least, we're not talking.

But deep within me I knew it could have been handled better.

But it happened. And in a sense it's beyond my control. But for several weeks I contemplated suicide over what we had done. It was an irrational guilt. After repeated counselling and prayer with my wife and other church leaders, I was prevented from such a horrific decision, but the lingering regret and a profound sense of sadness is still unavoidable.

Here's my question (and my honest plea for prayer): how should one respond to this after it happened? I cannot go back to my old church--it'll only cause much more problems. Neither do I wish to leave my current one, for though it started in such a less-than-perfect manner, it is still a church I love dearly and there are many I am committed to serve and build up in Christ. The pastor and the leaders love the pure preaching of the Bible, and are dead serious about ministry. My wife is able to grow and serve effectively in this new church, and in a way I could, too.

And I'm just one of the few who are troubled by the split. Many others older in the faith than me are almost perfectly fine with the decision, or otherwise decide to "make up for it by greater service to the Lord."
But can greater service make up for a decision like this?

I never read up about church splits until it happened in mine, and I wish I had knew more about this issue before it happened.

Should I move on by God's grace, burying what cannot be changed under His mercy, or is that being too soft on myself? Is there a higher, "right-er" way I can respond--now?

ron said...

Here's my situation. We have a pastor who truly has a pastoral heart and teaches the word of God.
We have a deacon board consisting of men who perform none of the biblical fuctions of a deacon and a personnel commitee comprised of these deacons and their wives. They have decided that the pastor should go and be replaced by our youth pastor. He is 23 with no seminary training. He idea of preaching is to read a text and tell some stories to make the old ladies cry...an boy do they love it. He believes "we gotta help the Holy Spirit out." Through meetings , outside if the knowledge of the congregation, the deacons have put extreme pressure on the pastor to step down. He has since wearied and is to resign this week. The coup is now complete without a biblical charge brought upon the man.I have spoken to deacons and the youth guy and told them what is happening is unscriptural but they don't really bother with such things as scripture. We have one deacon who complained we fill the baptistry too often and thus will have a high water bill. So I see that I owe it to my family to leave other than stay and be seen as an antagonist. I feel to stay would be a sin. Stay or go?

Rhology said...

I am a mbr at an SBC church who has seen several splits over the last 20 yrs, and I joined 7 yrs ago, about 9 yrs after the last split. One of our associate pastors recently caught a vision from the Lord to start another church and try to minister to other kinds/groups of people in our city, which is the least-evangelised/churched in Oklahoma.
He announced it, we all prayed, he went forward, and we sent him out w/ our blessings and love. Alot of people went w/ him. It was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. God did it and thank God that it was done right, this time.

As a past tentmaker missionary to an almost completely unevangelised area in Japan and a current applicant to the IMB, I take your post w/ appreciation. The fact that you live near New Life Ranch where I was a counselor 2 summers makes every Cent post just a little bit sweeter.

David said...

1. BWAAAA-HAA-HAAA! You used the word "organic" in a post!!!!

2. Heavens, this is a touchy issue. It hits us where we live, because there are so many splits. We are incredibly self-centered and individualistic in this country. I could add three personal stories similar to those already posted, and none of them are over deep doctrinal issues.

But I've also been sent (not sent packing), and being sent is a huge blessing. It's an instance when, ooey-gooey feelings aside, and no matter what's ahead, you know that you are in God's will, because it's testable according to scripture, no fleece required. There's authority, accountability, and love.

Once again, excellent series, and I hope you are able to return to it at some point.

JackW said...

You know, John Piper is right, what we here in the United States have had for 300 years is an abnormality. We are spoiled rotten and it shows. If we were to experience the persecution (and it looks more and more like we will) that others are elsewhere, these problems wouldn’t exist to the extent that they do. There’s nothing like a little heat to expose the dross. Maybe we should be praying for some?

centuri0n said...

Marcus:

More love? DUDE! SOMEBODY HAS ACTUALLY BEEN READING THIS STUFF!

AMEN to MORE LOVE.

I am not equipped to give you counselling advice, but nobody should commit suicide over a church split, so whatever counsel you received about that was probably pretty good.

AMEN to MORE LOVE.

Before I go on, let's start on common ground: my answer will be blog-length brief, and that's in response to your comment-length brief summary of the situation. So we have a flawed description and a flawed response, and there should be no hard feelings either way, amen? More Love.

Here's my response:

You can't go back. Whatever theological advice I would have given you when things got bad and you and your pastor and the rest of the crew snuck out of Dodge, now you can't go back.

The first part of "you can't go back" is to seek forgiveness for any wrong-doing you have done. Don't ask for a laundry list from the other side -- because if they give you 15 points of wrong and you apologize specifically for those 15, they will then produce 27 lesser points of harm, and then 48 minor but meaningful matters for your attention, and then 102 incidents of note, etc etc etc. Simply find a clear and formal way to say, in words to this effect, "I behaved badly as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and as a part of his Body the church. I have brought shame to His name, and I have offended you, and for this I apologize, for I am truly sorry. Please forgive me." And do it without epecting either the forgiveness (they don't owe you forgiveness) or a like apology in return (an apology is not a debt they have to pay). Apologize sincerely, briefly, and without expectation (except to expect the worst, so you can be pleasantly surprised).

The second part of "you can't go back" is to stop going back. Do they have possessions that you think are yours or partly yours? Give them up -- surrender those things. Do you have something they claim belongs to them? Give it back in good repair. Is there a money dispute? Settle it out of court as far as that is possible in this day and age. Find a way to conclude all the material issues and don't go back.

The last step of "you can't go back" is to go forward. Use the past as a lesson hard-earned about how things go wrong between people in a group, and covenant among yourselves as a new church to never allow this sort of hostility to pop up. Learn what it means to love more.

Let me give you an example. I know a church who had a pastor who was a lousy administrator -- horrible! He would admit to you on any given day that he's about as useful as a fish in a sand pit when it comes to administration and the material management of assets. The church gave him a volunteer staff men who were gifted in business and management to help him establish sound practices for the churcch to follow, and gave him time every week to help him implement those practices.

In the end, in spite of his own knowledge that he was unable to do this work alone, he resented that anyone would tell the Pastor how to run things, and it made him defensive toward any suggestion or recommendation from a church. It was ultimately what positioned him for his resignation at that church.

Part of the problem, truthfully, was that the men who volunteered to help him were not helping so much as schooling him like a child. They thought any grown man should be able to grasp these skills and methods. So on the one hand, the pastor was somewhat easily-bruised in spite of his self-confessed weaknesses, and on the other, the men called to help him didn't mind bruising him a little more than was necessary.

MORE LOVE probably would have helped resolve that. Now, after the fact, MORE LOVE in that church looks like better definition of roles when people are put in to help pastors or ministers where they are weak.

MORE LOVE is a good answer to these problems -- and it's not a gooey, squishy kind of love. It's the kind of love a father has for a son which is not afraid to chasteneth him; it's the kind of love the son has for the father who accepteth the chastening; it's the kind of love a husband has for a wife in which he giveth himself up for her sake, to make her holy; and the love of a wife which submiteth unto him.

Use this tragic situation to learn how to LOVE MORE. Love more! Good heavens -- the world should know you by your love. LOVE MORE.

centuri0n said...

Ron:

Mt 18 says, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

It seems to me you have done the first part. Until you have done the rest, you have not obeyed Scripture. If it is this bad, you are not the only one who ses this wrong-doing. Find the others in your church who can bring this to the "deacon board" and with 2 or 3 witnesses tell them you thing have done wrong before God and the church.

It is possible, you see, that there is more to it than you know. If 2 or 3 join together to witness to what appears to be wrong, the other side has a chance to tell its story.

Pray to God for a right heart, a calm and gracious heart even before those whom you think are your enemies, and do good to those whom you think are doing you and your pastor wrong.

After that, you have to decide if you can get to step 3 or not, and whether or not you can go. May God be with you.

centuri0n said...

David:

I did it for you, bro.

centuri0n said...

rhology:

New Life Ranch is like a hub of Christian influence, as is the small but small John Brown "University". I'm always amazed at the people who have connections to Siloam Springs.

Thanks, dude. :-)

centuri0n said...

jackw:

There's something about your post which makes me uneasy, but I can't put my finger on it. I'll have to get back to you.

Marcus Mok said...

Thank you so much, Cent. Those were very personal words of advice and encouragement. You wouldn't know how much they warmed my heart.

I did sought forgiveness from some of them in the old church, and most of them forgave very graciously, far more than I expected. And I managed to salvage some friendships that would otherwise be brutally torn asunder. Now that I recalled them, these gems of forgiveness were so reassuring to me at that time of God's grace and mercy.

Yes, you're right in emphasizing no one should commit suicide over a church split. I highlighted that to show the extent of pain & guilt I--and possibly anyone else--could go through. It's like having your parents divorced. Or worse.

For the last few months I was grappling with whether by not going back I'm avoiding the problem, that whether I'm evading my responsibility to love the body of Christ. Thanks for crystallizing the points on "you can't go back" in such a clear, positive (and neat) fashion.

Rather than going back and messing everything (and everybody) up, I guess I really have to go forward. And learn the lesson of love. (I never knew, experientially, that it is THAT hard)

There but for the grace of God go I. I know no other hope.

Once again, thank you Cent. ;)

Sewing said...

Marcus: Praise the Lord that by His grace He prevented you from taking such a drastic way out of your situation. May you continue to grow in His love.

Benjamin Nitu said...

This is such a serious topic, so many people have been hurt as a result of a church split. Some are necessary.

Maybe a joke we'll help us relax a bit:
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.

We need both love and truth.

centuri0n said...

That is my favorite Emo Phillips joke.

ever.

David said...

jackw:

Will you pray for yourself to be persecuted, or others?

I mean, there's a vast difference between saying, "Lord, bring persecution to these filthy, rotten, mamby-pamby Your-Best-Life-Now disciples so they'll get serious" and "Lord, may I do exactly what You have called me to do, regardless of the earthly consequence."

Or am I not reading you quite right?

Spatulaguy said...

I just have to follow that last one:

A man stranded on a deserted island is finally located and rescued. When the helicopter lands to pick him up, the pilot notices that there were three makeshift huts nearby.

"I see you built three huts" the pilot says.

"Yup" says the man.

"Why three?" says the pilot.

"Well, the first one is where I slept."

"Ok" says the pilot.

"The second is my church. I wanted to have a separate place to worship in."

"And the third?" the pilot asks.

"Oh, that's the church I used to go to."

Jim

Sewing said...

Benjamin Nitu: Very funny. You Baptists are the quintessence of schismaticness...and I say that out of love.

Spatulaguy: An oldy but a goody, but also funny. ;)

JackW said...

David said “Will you pray for yourself to be persecuted, or others?”

Both, but not to be persecuted, to be reformed … which could mean persecution. I was referring to the state of the church in the U.S. and I include myself and others in that. It is indeed uneasy to pray for something that might result in your discipline.

I realize dross may not fit that picture, but I’m not sure how tares hold up to heat as compared to wheat, not that anything can be done about the tares until the return, but there are less of them, it seems, when there is persecution and the wheat tend to focus on the majors instead of the minors. That was the only point I was doing a poor job of trying to make. Sorry.

Benjamin Nitu said...

yes, sewing, Emo Phillips' joke (thanks for pointing that out Centurion, I didn't know he wrote that joke) does reveal a sad true about Baptists ... but I wouldn't call us "the quintessence of schismaticness". :)

Remember, God can still turn around bad things for good.

Matt said...

sewing said:
You Baptists are the quintessence of schismaticness

You, as an MBer are much too humble, sewing. I thought we Mennonites were the all time leader in church schisms.

One of our ministers was teaching at a Bible school in Mexico (where some very conservative Mennonites moved to from Canada in the 1920s), and he talked about the "rubber" controversy that divided the church there. No, he wasn't talking about birth control, but about transportation. Only a Mennonite could understand that!

Matt said...

BTW, Cent, I emailed you.

Sewing said...

Benjamin, Matt: Sorry for throwing out that a careless line like that. And yeah, it seems the Mennonites have had their fair share of questionable controversies over the years. Although I have yet to see the following:

First Truly Reformed Evangelical Free Independent Mennonite Church of Christ (Canada).

shaneNotSean said...

Great post.

Steve Scott said...

Frank,

May I tell you about our church MERGE? We had 70 and losing our lease, they had 30 and losing their church mortgage and a pastor who had to step down for medical reasons. We merged and two months later we had one of those 100 year floods, and 100 people got to know each other over a series of work days.

But our church started as a bible study with a mix of frustrated and hopeful and searching and disenfranchised and ambitious Christians wanting to do something. It got large enough that a church in another area was asked for assistance. They sent a recently seminary graduated elder to formalize it as a church plant. A year later came the merge. Twelve years later it has worked. I think we're a church.

Ian Hall said...

Just come across your site . After browsing quickly through it it looks pretty good . Every blessing,
Rev Ian Hall,
John Knox Memorial Free Presbyterian Church ,
Belfast,
N.Ireland.
www.protestant-gazette.blogspot.com

Valerie (Kyriosity) said...

Here's a link to a classic story of a dumb reason for a church split: The Left-Foot Baptist Church.

Valerie (Kyriosity) said...

Also, in case no one else has mentioned it, Ligonier has a series on when to leave a church. It was from a regional conference a number of years ago, and featured RC and Robert Godfrey, I believe, and I think one other gentleman. It probably wouldn't show up in any of their catalogues, but maybe one of their resource folks could hunt it down if anyone's interested.

centuri0n said...

Sproul's message is found here.

I have never heard it. It's Sproul, so I'm betting it's pretty good.

centuri0n said...

Jim at OldTruth posted this from Robert Reymond. It is useful.

centuri0n said...

Steve:

Now you've wrecked everything ... people behaving as if the church is God's people?

... I gotta go lie down ...

Sharon said...

One of the participants here emailed me, and I thought I might as well post my reply here, as I did via email to the person who wrote.

I saw your post on pyro. Since congregationalism has been part of the landscape of the Reformed movement, especially in the U.S., I was wondering what it is that you find disagreable about it.

If I understand your question correctly, my objection to running a church by vote of the congregation is that weak Christians, people who are not members of the church, and even non-believers have just as much influence (vote) as a strong Christian. The Apostles never called for a vote in day to day affairs of the church; in fact, in Acts 6, they appointed godly men (no women) to lead the church, freeing them up to do the preaching. I don't see any reason to wander from the biblical example.

We are moving, hopefully, with a rewrite of our constitution, toward an Elder board lead congregation. However, it will still be congregational, and not presbyterian.

I'm afraid I don't know the difference between "congregational" and "presbyterian." Can you explain?

One of the things that we hope to impliment is a unanimity policy in decision making as the principle means within the Eldership of diffusing politicism. Unity in all decisions that they make means that they must reach concensus about any matter before they approach the congregation with a proposal, or consideration of any proposal that the congregation may suggest. In other words, any vote among the Elders, except for disciplinary proceedures within their own ranks, would require a unaminous vote of the Elders.

At the church I attend, that is how our Elder board operates. If they are not in agreement, the motion does not pass.

I believe it is critical that the Body of Christ be run by godly men, and not by church attendees. It was set up that way by the Apostles, and I don't see any biblical passages, specific nor implied, indicating a change should be made.

I hope this helps!

Sharon

centuri0n said...

Sharon:

There's a pretty significant difference between the kind of congregational rule which requires 6 different meetings of 2 committees and the "business meeting" to get stripes painted in the parking lot, and the kind of congregationism where elders report to the church body the substance of their actions for review (for the sake of accountability) and express the need for final approval of major decisions by means of a vote.

For example, Acts 15 says, "it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas". While all the polity implications are not spelled out here, it seems that there was some way in which the elders reached a decision and the church ratified or endorsed it. The whole church was in agreement over the matter -- and not merely because the non-leaders honored the leaders.

I thin I agree with you that eldership is the manner by which the church in the NT is lead and administered; I think that the NT also points to some way in which the congregation is provided a method to give feedback -- or as Mark Dever says, "put on the brakes" -- to gifted, called, tested and affirmed men of God.

Amen?

brentjthomas said...

"Hispanics prefer to sleep in on Sunday". I almost choked on my granola bar when I read that. I love that kind of sweeping generality, made by that Spanish-speaking pastor. I'll make a statement with a sweeping generality too, speaking for all half-Hispanics. Some Hispanics love sleeping-in (like me, although I still made it to church in the A.M.). Other Hispanics are very early rising and unbelievably type-A, like each and every one of my beloved Hispanic uncles.
A year ago we made the "we should go" decision. Switched from a Methodist church to a Baptist church, because the Methodist church was like an exclusive country club, whereas our Baptist church makes welcome, and preaches the gospel to, Hispanics, Cowboys, the deaf, youth, clones, etc.

centuri0n said...

As a half Hispanic myself (my mother is full-blooded Spanish from Spain), I thank you for that clarification. For the record, I used to like to sleep in, but now as a middle-aged man I find myself satisfied with 6-7 hours sleep.

centuri0n said...

It should also be noted that Pastor Trajo is Mexican and not just a spanish-speaking white guy. While I'm thinking about this ...

SolaMeanie said...

I will probably get zapped for this, but rather than comment on the substance of the post itself, I'd rather point this out. The title reminds me of the old movie "The Man Who Came to Dinner." Jimmy Durante sang "did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go, still had the feeling that you wanted to stay? Do re me fah so la ti do. I'll go...I'll stay..." That was from 1941, a good year for movies.

Okay, I'll take my trip to the woodshed then go to my room. Sorry, Frank.

centuri0n said...

I was thinking of the Clash, so no woodshed for you. I'll probably get tagged by the fundies for citing lyrics from the early 80's which do not mention Jesus.

...Did you stand by me
No, not at all
Did you stand by me
No way...

Matt said...

I'm with Cent on this one -

Should I stay or should I go (da-da-da-da-da-da)
If I stay it will be trouble...

BTW, Cent, what's the secret message if you play that one backwards on a record player?

centuri0n said...

I broke out my old Technics turntable and my vinyl copy of "Cobat Rock", and when I turned it backward it said, "YOU CAN'T BUY NEEDLES FOR THIS ANYMORE STUPID! DON'T WRECK HISTORY!"

I was stunned. It sounded like Charlton Heston.

Sewing said...

Haha.