Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Oh Boy

I just wrote a really long post and then lost it. Aye carumba. That exasperates me too much to get mad about it. So I guess I'll just rewrite the whole dang thing. I'll make it shorter this time because I don't feel like rewriting all of my great arguments.

SBC president Bobby Welch has written an article concerning Founders-friendly churches. That article is here. He believes that these Calvinistic churches just aren't as evangelistic as Arminian SBC churches because they have fewer baptisms and fewer members. He says, "In 2004, not a single one of the 233 self-identified Founder's Fellowship Southern Baptist Churches had 40 or more baptisms. Their baptism to member ration was 1:62; it was 1:42 in the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention." Also, "Only eleven of the 233 churches had more than 1,000 members in 2004, and only one had a regular worship attendance of 1,000 or more."

Here we see the ungodly philosophy of pragmatism rearing its ugly head at the very top of the SBC heirarchy. Welch seems to be suggesting that good evangelism is that which produces the most visible results. This is not the Biblical concept of evangelism, however. I would argue that Founders churches are the most evangelistic because they do real evangelism--that is, they preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). They do not ignore important doctrines just so as not to offend people. That is how most of these 1,000+ member churches get so big! Take Joel Osteen as an example. Why does he have the biggest church in all time and space? Because his congregants get to hear about how great they can feel and how peachy things can be and how materially blessed they can get without ever having to hear about the fact that their sin is infinitaly heinous and is sending them to eternal torments in hell. I believe that this is how so many large SBC churches get large--they ignore the tougher doctrines and just tickle ears. They replace sound doctrinal preaching with extra vacuous chorus chanting, puppet shows, and dramas. But Founders churches know that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). The churches that pound out such a large rate do so only because they will baptise and make members of anybody who repeats a prayer. Founders churches do not want unchristian baptisms or unregenerate members. They examine people to see if they exhibit any real fruit of repentance. This is the biblical method, but it is not a popular method.

I know that not all megachurches are only large because they neglect sound teaching. Spurgeon's church is an example of that. But I believe that to be an exception and not the rule. I would love to see the Lord create a large revival in Reformed Baptist churches. But I would rather not see an explosion of numbers rather than to see the gospel of God laid aside for ear-tickling trivialities and falsehoods. Bobby Welch can have those churches. We don't want them.

There is one statistic that I didn't see Bobby Welch talk about. I saw his concern that Founders churches' baptisms-to-member ratio was lower than other SBC churches. But how about the ratio of regular attenders-to-members? Oh, so we don't have many 1,000+ member churches. But for non-reformed churches in the SBC, what is the ratio? I bet that in these large churches, it could be as low as 50%. That is, there are half as many people regularly attending as there are people on the membership rolls. I dare Bobby Welch to find that to be the case in Founders churches. I'd says it would be over 90%. Because Reformed folk take church membership seriously. To my great shame, that is why I haven't joined my church yet. I have been a sloppy attender, and I don't want to waste their time in admitting me as a member until I can show that I am dedicated to the church enough to actually go all the time.

One last thing about Founders churches. They are mostly concerned with discipleship. Evangelism is important, but it is mostly the job of the individual. The church isn't for the lost. It is for the saved. I know the Founders church I go to regularly and emphatically emphasises us to evangelize the people around us, and the elders are constantly teaching us the Biblical method of doing so. But if every Sunday's sermon was simply about what words to say to accept Jesus into my heart, then I would never ever grow as a Christian. I need to be fed, and not just milk for the rest of my life. Founders churches are concerned with nurturing Christians into maturity. But the average man doesn't care about being a mature Christian. He wants his ears tickled with fluff. So he will only join and be baptised into a church that tickles his "felt needs." But that is not Christian baptism. So Bobby Welch can have his churches that dip unregenerate people into water. I know that God wants me to choose a church that teaches the whole of His truths, and not just one that makes a lot of people wet.

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