would you evaluate this for me?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by nodak, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. nodak

    nodak
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    I need brighter minds than mine to help me evaluate something. It seems God (I think) is calling to mind an experience with a particular church in regards to "closing the back door" of the church. (That means keeping the folks that profess Christ and join rather than losing them back to the world.)

    We moved a lot, but once were blessed living about 15 years in one place, and still have a lot of relatives there so we have kept up.

    We moved there in the late 80's. The church nearby was growing by leaps and bounds. The best way to describe is that it seemed to make having fun its' goal. I cannot name one person "converted" during that pastor's tenure as still walking with Jesus. I hope some are, but cannot name any.

    Got a new pastor. Now, this guy was also a barrel of fun, but that was not the goal of worship services. He did everything "wrong" according to all the church growth and evangelism books.

    He had been saved out of the bars, so while our service was blended it most definitely was different. All the sensual beat was played down, and it was very......reserved.

    We had been using an easy to read Bible. This guy was no KJVO, in fact he didn't really care for KJV. He did teach us the textual basis for the translations then available, and explained why he preached from the NASB.

    He was an ardent dyed in the wool Calvinist. We stopped the long tearful altar calls. We stopped "wooing" people to Christ. He just preached the gospel plain and simple, in church and out.

    He really stressed praying for the lost and telling them the gospel instead of "soul winning."

    He told us we would shrink dramatically in membership and attendance because those looking for an easy good time would be gone. He was right.

    And then, we started seeing something happen. We started seeing God work.

    One man who's wife and kids had gotten saved would not attend church, see the preacher, or talk about God with anyone. He was a pretty tough rounder. And then one day walking across an oilfield location he said he KNEW God was fixing to save his sorry soul. Went weak in the knees and couldn't stand--had to kneel. Long story short, got gloriously saved and went on to be a good preacher himself.

    We saw a lot of that sort of thing--God doing the saving rather than us doing the attracting and entertaining. Lots of those folks still walking strong.

    He left and we got the preacher that is still there now. Back to the attractional entertain them method. Bigger membership, yes. Bigger attendance, yes. But changed people? Nope. Many profess Christ but never overcome the old life that held them in bondage.

    Please give me your thoughts.
     
  2. Aaron

    Aaron
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    Sounds like you've already made a judgment, and it sounds like I would agree with it.

    I'd be out of that church like a bat out of hell. ;)
     
  3. nodak

    nodak
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    Aaron--we didn't judge it, we moved 1100 miles away.

    Would you elaborate your opinion? I want what I speak concerning a current church problem to be accurate.
     
  4. blackbird

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    Would you mind telling me where this fella moved to---because I want to become a member of his church!!!!!

    It also describes the church I pastor to the detail!!!!
     
  5. glfredrick

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    Sounds very much like one pastor of the three had it right. It is not about numbers, but if a church is healthy, scripturally, numbers will come!

    By the way, I know one of the foremost "church growth" experts personally. His name is Thom Rainer. I've known Dr. Rainer for over a dozen years, my wife was his personal exec while he was the founding Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Seminary (now called the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and Missions).

    We ate at his home, stayed at his condo in Florida, watched him at work, heard him teach and preach, and saw him as a very real person almost every day for over a decade.

    He wrote a few books on the subject of church growth:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...ps&field-keywords=Thom+Rainer&tag=baptis04-20

    I helped with the research on this particular book:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0310286123/?tag=baptis04-20

    Being one of the primary church growth experts in the church world, one might expect Rainer to be a big fan of typical "church growth" things. He is not. He is a BIG fan of using God's word, prayer, ministry, discipleship, and evangelism in a scriptural manner to reach the elect.

    I agree, and THAT is what works. That is also our plan at Sojourn Church (see link below). We've grown from 12 members at launch 10 years ago into about 1000 members now (with an additional 1200+ visitors each Sunday!). Membership is rigorous -- a covenant accountability that many cannot fulfill, but new members come often (we're baptizing around 100 a year now).
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    I firmly believe God will honor the preaching of the pure gospel, and a church's obedience to the Great Commission.

    Further than that, the pastor ought to preach the gospel, even if it runs off everybody and the church is forced to shut down.
     
  7. glfredrick

    glfredrick
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    Not to belittle your thought, I believe it is in the right direction and for the right reasons. But, if preaching the gospel runs everybody off and the church is forced to shut down, the "gospel" that is being preached may need to be evaluated to make sure it really IS the gospel.

    In my experience, I've seen two ways to preach the same message -- one brings life and the other brings death. I believe that anything properly oriented from God will bring life, for God is in the "life" business. He sent His son, not to condemn, for we are condemned already, but to bring life. The gospel is "good news" not bad news!

    With all the disagreement we see on this board, there are a lot of interpretations of "gospel." All the way from culture to some spiritual woo-woo stuff that isn't even close to biblical -- all called "gospel" by those who proclaim it.

    I fully agree that we can preach fire once in a while. I think that we should call people out. But I've seen preachers who do that week in and week out, and after a bit the church starts shrinking. (I've, sadly, seen several churches actually close their doors after the preacher preached them to death.)

    In one instance, the pastor was fond of telling his people (I was one of them) that "they were not real Christians." He hammered on this message for 2 years, every Sunday. He approached this same theme from every possible verse in Scripture, from the story of Cain and Able to the minor prophets, to James, to the Church of Laodicea from Revelation. He literally preached the church to death! And in every sermon, it was, "This is what I think, and see, the Bible agrees with me." That is not biblical preaching and that brings death, for it is not God's Word that is preached, but the preacher's words.
     
  8. BobinKy

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    Bob's thoughts from the pew--

    . . .

    I like small churches. I like small schools. I like small towns. I like small cars.

    . . .

    Over the years, my wife and I have attended many churches. Sometimes we changed churches because we moved. Sometimes we changed churches because we got too close to the goings on. Sometimes we changed churches because of the leadership. Sometimes we changed churches because . . . :confused:

    I do not think those in church leadership really know the reasons why some of the faithful leave and go elsewhere.

    Oh, they can ask us and profile us and track us--but I think the reasons are too varied to articulate.

    . . .

    When I think back upon 60 years of sitting in the pew and listening to preachers and watching church leaders, I struggle to find specific ones that stand out in my mind, in my faith, or in my Christian walk and talk.

    I am sorry, but I think you preacher guys are not the church. The people in the pews are the church.

    Nodak, in the description you gave of the church you attended 1100 miles away, I think the people in the pews somehow changed as the half-hearted left and went wherever. I think the change came from within, brought about by the Holy Spirit, rather than by the pastor.

    And then, as more came in the door, the new body was able to welcome and embrace and share in ways they had been unable to do before.

    . . .

    My wife and I are changing churches again.

    Where we will be going is a church where my wife's brother is pastor and his wife is chief cook and bottle washer. This is a family church. Maybe we are changing for the wrong reasons. But we are changing and my wife is excited about a church in a way she has not been for decades.

    However, the type of church I want to attend is not close by. I want to attend an Old Regular Baptist Church or United Baptist Church in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Where the singing is done without musical instruments, where the preachers and elders are not paid, where baptisms take place in the creek beside the unpretentious meeting house, where womenfolk sit on one side and menfolk sit across the aisle on the other side, where the sermons are spontaneous and the preaching is melodious as spring time water flowing and rushing over the stones in the creek beside the meeting house, where photographs and letters of past preachers hang on the elder wall, where a pitcher of water and a stack of glasses are within arms reach of the various brothers called to preach without preparation, where the brothers kneel on their knees and pray and the sisters serve with smiles and homecooked meals and mountain hospitality, where the doctrine has not changed in hundreds of years, and . . . I hope to worship in one or more of these churches a few times in 2011.

    And when I cannot go to the mountains, I will go to our new church--to sing their songs, glean from my brother-in-law's sermons, use my new Bible, shake hands, go to the social events, develop stronger ties with people in the pews, and receive blessings from the Holy Spirit as I move closer to the time I will be with the Lord in heaven.

    . . .

    Nodak, I hope you are doing the same in your new church.

    ...Bob
     
    #8 BobinKy, Dec 23, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2010
  9. blackbird

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    Numbers are not necessarily guaranteed!!
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    glfredrick, blackbird is reinforcing the point I was trying to make in post #6. The point is, preach the word, in season and out of season, and leave the results to God.

    And I grant you each point you made in post #7. I know exactly what you're saying. I, too have heard preachers who beat up on their listeners.
     
  11. nodak

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    I'd happily attend if the middle preacher was preaching.

    Here's my quandary, and you won't hurt my feelings giving your honest opinions since I have no dog in the fight.

    Do you think the improvement in long term staying power of the converts under the middle preacher were because the method changed (church growth movement to preaching and praying) or because the message changed from sort of vague dispensationism to strong Calvinism?

    I'm not spouting opinions today, but asking to be taught.
     
  12. Aaron

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    This isn't a judgment?

    He left and we got the preacher that is still there now. Back to the attractional entertain them method. Bigger membership, yes. Bigger attendance, yes. But changed people? Nope. Many profess Christ but never overcome the old life that held them in bondage.
    You're basically saying that the Gospel is not being preached, and there is no power of the Spirit manifest there. Based on hearsay from 1100 miles away I'd say you're right.
    What more is there to say?
     
  13. nodak

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    Thanks Aaron, I hadn't thought of that way.

    Maybe the problem times are due to a kind of vague "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" rather than "you are a sinner deserving of hell and God in His grace has a remedy for that."

    We are only about 400 miles away now. Joys of moving--not!
     

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