Featured Dead and Unregenerate Churches

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by scottmaciver, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    Steven Lawson answers the question of what to preach in an unregenerate church (Here). However, that raises the question of, practically speaking, how would you get access to preach before dead and unregenerate churches? In my neck of the woods, Scotland is full of dead and unregenerate churches, in pulpits that once preached the Gospel.
     
  2. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    When I was a very young Christian, the Lord gave me many opportunities to speak to such groups. Methodists, Romanists, a college chapel service, etc. I said and did things then that makes me blush a bit now. I told an entire Methodist youth group that apart from God's intervention, as things stand today that they were, most of them, headed for hell. They listened more carefully after that.

    I mentioned "blushing" over some things I said as a new Christian. A word on the "love of thine espousals." (Jer. 2:2)
    For some, coming to the Faith has seemed a slow process even though our better knowledge knows that our conversion happened in an instance of time. For me, conversion was more like a giant explosion where I said and did many things that I am embarrassed by now. But why! Have I become so respectable that zeal for Christ has wained? What I told the youth group was true after all, wasn't it? Our first love, the love of espousals, is forever a benchmark of all future growth in Grace. Many saints have grown into mature Christians with love for God that exceeds their first love. But more, I fear many more, have a zeal and love for the Lord that is found wanting; that falls somewhat short of their "first love." Rev. 2:4

    Short take from Owen on Jer. 2:2:

    (2.) Entanglement, as the Israelites were in the wilderness. They knew not what to do, nor which way to take one step, but only as God went before them, as he took them by the hand, and taught them to go. God bringeth them into a lost condition; they know not what to do, nor which way to take, nor what course to pitch upon. And yet in this wilderness state, God doth commonly stir up such gracious dispositions of soul in them as himself is exceedingly delighted withal: hence he doth peculiarly call this time “a time of love,” which he remembereth with much delight. All the time of the saint’s walking with him, he taketh not greater delight in a soul, when it cometh to its highest peace and fullest assurance, than when it is seeking after him in its wilderness entanglement. So he expresseth it, Jer. 2:2, “Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” And what he here affirmeth holds proportion therewithal. The time of their being in the wilderness was the time of their espousals,

    Owen, J. (n.d.). The works of John Owen. (W. H. Goold, Ed.) (Vol. 11, pp. 277–278). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

    So what does this have to do with the post? [H]ow would you get access to preach before dead and unregenerate churches? Love the Lord with at least your first love. Don't be so conventional; so dignified—be creative. Many doors opened to me in the early days, doors that I was not competent to enter. Or was I...
     
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  3. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks Ed, that is an interesting take on zeal, from your own experience. Maybe we can be guilty of not looking or praying for the open doors, as you have mentioned?

    I suppose, in general, the essential thing would have to be to avoid compromise, if opportunities did arise to preach in unregenerate churches. At the same time, such an opportunity would be wholly lost if not prayerfully seeking to fearlessly bring the offence of the Gospel to those who are in desperate need of hearing a soul saving message, "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God," (Romans 10:17).
     
  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I'm not even a preacher, and I get access to all sorts of churches because I am regarded as a good youth speaker. I also get invited to speak at Christian camps and other youth gatherings where, it sometimes seems to me, the majority of attendees have never been challenged with a gospel call that has much depth.

    So youth events, and maybe funerals, feel like the easiest way in. But the preacher has to be out and about in the community and has to show an eagerness to speak in any setting or in any church, and a commitment to learn how to deliver a talk in a setting that isn't a Sunday service. Many preachers never bother with this, and never get opportunities that come, out of the blue, to people like myself.

    Once the invitation to speak is given and accepted, I think it's important to avoid the mistake Paul Washer made in his now-famous sermon to that sort of youth group, where he surveyed the gathering and pretty much pronounced the lot of them to be unsaved. It is unnecessary and usually unhelpful to criticize the whole church. Instead, speak to individuals: God is calling you. Have you responded in faith? Have you repented of your sin? Have you thrown off everything else, and come to the One who loves you and died for you?

    Also, make it clear that repentance and faith are for everyone, believers and not-yet-believers alike. There is no need to tell a group that you've decided they need a come-to-Jesus message because they are lost. Everyone needs come-to-Jesus messages. Some need to draw near again today, and others need to come for the first time.

    What Steve Lawson says about people coming to Christ in his office, after the service, rings true to me. I don't do altar calls (they reek of decisionism, and as a non-pastor it's not my place anyway). Instead I hang around, sometimes awkwardly, the last guy to leave, just to see if someone wants to talk. I think a preacher who gets invited to speak in an apostate church would be wise to try to find a way to make himself easy to contact afterwards.
     
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Building bridges might be more effective than building walls, although the latter may give more personal satisfaction.
     
  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Scott,
    Forgive me for asking but, what is an 'unregenerate' church? Do they read the scriptures? Are there some signs of the gospel? I prefer 'apostate', but even those questionable assemblies read the scriptures and surely the elect reside within their ranks (at least for a season).

    I only ask because I have never seen a lampstand removed (yet). I have no idea what that even looks like; the only thing I have to go on are the 7 churches in Revelation; and many of them were pretty bad.
     
  7. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    I would second this. And I mean, to probe a bit, who are you (or me) to pass judgment that "this church is dead or unregenerate?" Are you the King of the church? Sorry man just being frank. To know a church is actually like that actually implies a ton of personal contact. Do you know all those families?

    Also, people who are dead and unregenerate actually need the same message as those who are alive and growing. There's not some different message believe it or not. It's sin and grace. You need that and so do I. And so do dead people.
     
  8. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Our pastors have a general rule. When preaching about sin and sinners, it's always "we", not "you".
     
  9. AnnaBanana

    AnnaBanana Puritan Board Freshman

    Why was it stupid that Paul Washer surveyed the gathering? Just curious to know.
     
  10. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I think it was a mistake (I would NOT label it "stupid") for him to stand up and make a general statement that characterized the whole group as largely unsaved. I would expect any speaker to know what he suspects his audience is like, but if that is his conclusion I don't believe it would usually be wise to speak it aloud as part of a sermon to a thousand professing Christians he's barely met, and certainly not in a blanket way that feels like an indictment of the whole group.

    To his great credit, Washer has been upfront about saying there are things he would do differently, in retrospect. I have no desire to criticize him, only to learn from a well-known example. I seldom speak to a group without wishing, after the fact, that I could change something I said or maybe take a different approach entirely. We learn from our mistakes and improve.
     
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Let me challenge the premise of the OP:

    What is a dead and unregenerate church?

    I know what an apostate church is....these hold to heretical doctrine.

    But what is a dead and unregenerate church? And how would you know whether it were one or not unless you spent a lot of time with them?
     
  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Perg,
    I mentioned the same thing in post #6. Our posts are almost identical.
     
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Great minds think alike, ya!
     
  14. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    What is a dead and unregenerate church?

    I know what an apostate church is....these hold to heretical doctrine.

    But what is a dead and unregenerate church? And how would you know whether it were one or not unless you spent a lot of time with them?

    ;)
     
  15. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    As mentioned earlier, consider the 7 churches in the book of revelation.....
    'Removal of lampstands', etc.
     
  16. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yeah, it savors a little of Gilbert Tennent. Strictly speaking, "churches" as such are not regenerated anyways, men are. But perhaps apostate is all that's meant.
     
  17. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hahaha you would have to ask Steven Lawson himself, as to what he meant. I simply used his own terminology from the video link as the title of this thread.

    Does anyone have any further comment on the initial question, how would we gain access to such churches?

    I have asked a few people here in Scotland. One person said that they contacted every male protestant minister in Scotland, to challenge them, whether or not they were applying the Word of God as they ought. He said that you want to avoid browbeating people, but at the same time to challenge them. It's difficult, as many of these ministers won't engage and therefore you can't get access to the members of these congregations, as these ministers are effectively gatekeepers of their congregations.

    Someone else said to me, the most effective way is to simply invite people to a reformed congregation. Whilst I agree that we ought to be inviting people to church, It is very easy to say no to such an invite, meaning that these people aren't regularly hearing any sound preaching. Furthermore, there are few reformed congregations (in my case) in Scotland, so that leaves vast amounts of the country untouched by sound preaching.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  18. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I would have to rate a pastor as fairly stupid, or at least irrational, if he would invite someone in to stir up trouble and split a congregation.
     
  19. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    I was going to say the exact same thing. If I was a pastor and there was some young "thought he knew it all" who came to my church trying to "challenge me" to see (according to his own predefined standards) if I was "solid" and "gain access to my congregation", um....not happening. You could count me as one of those pastors who wouldn't engage.
     
  20. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not sure why it would have to be a young, know it all. It could quite as easily be an older Minister, with many years of experience in the ministry.
     
  21. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    He might be a preacher, but I have doubts if he was a pastor.
     
  22. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't think this is something an older mature minister would do. Young know it alls with little self-knowledge or experience want to "challenge". Older, experienced, mature ministers want to help and encourage.
     
  23. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not sure who you're referring to Edward?
     
  24. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not sure where you're coming from with your current line of thought, to be honest. If you're referring to my comment on the individual who contacted all the minister's in Scotland, bear in mind that this thread relates to the unregenerate. By way of background, in Scotland, many of the pulpits here are devoid of the Gospel altogether. In such an instance, they certainly do need to be challenged with the Gospel. Age ought to be irrelevant to such an endeavour.
     
  25. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    Scott,
    I think the concerns that are being raised have to do with the wisdom of the strategy being adopted. Bearing in mind that the original post suggested the goal of desiring an invitation to preach in a church where the gospel is not currently being preached (and I'm well aware of many such in Scotland and for that matter here in America), the strategy of writing to every male pastor in Scotland to challenge them seems an improbable way to achieve it. It smacks of grandstanding rather than pastoral concern, hence the thought that it is more likely to be the approach of a young immature minister than a seasoned pastor. I get those sorts of letters routinely and never read them.

    A more profitable approach might be to invite a few local pastors individually to lunch and seek to get to know them. There might be opportunities to share the gospel with them, as well as offer your services to help them if they wish pulpit supply. Pastors shouldn't invite total strangers to preach in their pulpits, but if they got to know and trust you, they might be willing to do so. Even then, you would have to be clear and above board about your beliefs, which might well still make them reluctant to invite you in. You of all people should understand that - after all, you would never invite them to preach in your pulpit!

    Given these complexities, perhaps you can see why some suggest that the easiest way to reach individuals in these churches is to invite them to existing gospel preaching churches (and to seek to plant new churches). In one of our church plants, we had many people come from a church where the gospel was not being preached. Less of them stayed, after they found out what we believed, but some did.
     
  26. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for your thoughts Iain. Perhaps I should have clarified further, but I wasn't wanting to focus too much, purely on that element of the thread. For the sake of clarity, there was more to it than my friend simply writing to each Minister & demanding access to the pulpit, as that seems to be the assumption being made here. The idea was to communicate with these ministers to touch base, with a view to perhaps eventually meeting in groups with other ministers. This seems to be exactly what you're suggesting Iain. Furthermore, my friend was not acting in an individual capacity.
     
  27. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, since you posted this, I'd assume you'd be more likely to know his name than would I.

     
  28. Grumman Tomcat

    Grumman Tomcat Puritan Board Freshman

    I would say that it is congregation that has strayed from the teachings of scripture and has allowed unbiblical practices and tolerance of sinful habits to slip in. These churches may even openly condone sin. Churches that are not creedal are a lot more susceptible to this. I had the misfortune of attending such a congregation for a period of two years before leaving it.
     

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