|Bible churches are not Baptist churches...
In fact, those congregations
which ascribe to being independent fundamental Bible churches are, at best,
Presbyterian in church polity. In other words, they are board run
churches who place the role of the pastor as being secondary to the leadership
of the deacons. Furthermore, the downside of their reputation is
that of being very rough on pastors. Those churches that are extremely
board run tend to be even more hostile toward their pastors.
As a result, most churches
who identify with the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA)
have small congregations. Rarely does one see a congregation in this
organization that numbers more than 100 to 150 attendees on a given Sunday
Strong pastor led churches are
rarely found in their midst. In fact, the average stay of a pastor
of these congregations is less than eighteen months.
This is not to say that the independent
Bible churches are not effective in reaching lost souls for Christ or that
they are not strong in their adherence to the Word of God. In fact,
souls do get saved as a result of what outreach they are involved in.
Also, in regard to their emphasis on the Bible as being the sole rule of
their faith, no one could ever fault then for their commitment to the literal
translation of the Scriptures.
Therefore, the point of this
article is to clarify the fact that Bible churches are indeed not Baptist
churches by a long stretch for the sake of those who confuse the
two as being the same.
|Bible churches minimize the importance
You will be hard pressed
to find an independent Bible church anywhere which has a baptistry.
With few exceptions, these churches simply don't adhere to water baptism
in any way, shape, or form. Unlike the Baptists who understand water
baptism by immersion to be the method prescribed by Scripture whereby a
believer gives public testimony of his/her faith symbolically to obtain
local church membership, the Bible churches deny this and simply accept
members by statement of faith.
Baptist ministers who have
accepted the call to pastor a Bible church have found themselves amazed
at how hostile these congregations are to any teaching regarding water
baptism; not to mention negating his being allowed to be the God called
leader of the congregation. It is simply a part of their theology
which, of course, tends to amaze other Bible believers regarding the Scriptural
teaching of baptism in the New Testament.
|Bible churches minimize the Biblical
teaching concering pastors...
Truth be told, the sad reputation
earned by these churches due to their abuse of pastors is legendary.
Board run churches are both
unscriptural and historically proven to be extemely ineffective.
Bible churches contend that the pastor is the spiritual leader (preaching,
teaching, visiting the sick, etc.) while the church board takes care of
all of the business of the church. However, truth be told, their
boards are known for forcing the pastor into subservience by requiring
their permission regarding his so-called spirtual leadings while they enjoy
total freedom in directing all of the affairs of the church. In fact,
the Scriptures teach that the deacons (servants) are to take care of the
business of the church under the pastor's direction. In other words,
the spiritual leader supercedes the authority of those who are the servants.
The mind boggles when considering
how it is that a young man would sense the call of God upon his life, complete
a pastoral degree from a reputable Bible college, serve as an assistant
pastor to gain experience, and then find himself in a situation where untrained
deacons force him to take a back seat while they "run" the church.
As a result, strife in these
churches is a common experience. Pastors are routinely challenged,
denigrated, and cast out. Heaven forbid that he catch on fire for
God and have a burden to win souls in the community. Should his vision
for the church not match the usually lesser determination of the board
to, in their view, "preserve doctrinal purity" (usually based more on favortism
and politics than scripture), then the pastor must go. Furthermore,
little, if any, thought is given to how treating a pastor in such a sordid
manner affects his wife and children or those to whom he has personally
ministered to within the congregation.
Even less thought is given
to his having been called to the church to lead it on to becoming a vital
force in the community for Christ. Furthermore, when his first year
of "honeymoon" is over, the attacks on his ministry, wife, family, and
anything else that is considered fair game becomes the stuff of nightmares
for a man of God who simply desires to be used of the Lord.
To top it off, unlike few
other independent church groups, the independent Bible churches actively
support a para-church group, Bible Related Ministries, that is in the business
of providing assistance for "...churches undergoing internal strife."
This is another name for "wanting to dump a pastor." In fact, the
"arbitrators" provided by this ministry almost always recommend that the
pastor leave and place the burden for any internal church strife on his
back. Countless young men who are totally committed to the ministry
to which God has called them have been crushed by the low opinion of Bible
churches for their pastors. As a result, very few of their churches
ever exceed a few hundred in attendance as that is the general capacity
of a board run church.
Furthermore, thie IFCA's
only Bible College (Grand Rapids School of Bible & Music - GRSBM)
folded up years ago. It seems that less and less young men are willing
to stay within this group once they are called to the pastorate.
The irony here is that GRSBM was handed over to a Baptist college when
it went under.
Unlike Baptist churches who
generally lift up the office of pastor with great respect and a Scriptural
understanding that God's called man is to lead the church, Bible churches
allow "laymen" to direct the affairs of the church while considering themselves
in authority over the pastor.
By relegating the pastor
to simply the teaching and watchcare of the flock, independent Bible churches
continue to demonstrate little vision and even less of a true understanding
regarding how to build a church for God.
We would challenge our Bible
church brothers and sisters in Christ to review these two Biblical teachings
so that they might reconsider how they view the doctrines of Scriptural
baptism and Scriptural church government.