Planting a reformed baptist church if there's already a reformed presbyterian church?

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Need 4 Creed, May 9, 2013.

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  1. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Is there any real justification for reformed baptists planting an RB church in an area that already has has reformed presbyterian churches?

    It seems there are different views:

    1) Yes, because some RBs would see that they are planting a 'purer' expression of the church and because it is 'different' it is not in competition.

    2) No, it is divisive, counterproductive, a waste of resources and a poor witness.

    I'm sure there are other perspectives.
    Last edited: May 10, 2013
  2. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The very existence of Reformed Baptists and Reformed Presbyterians as distinct groups is divisive, and we should always be seeking to restore the breach and become of one mind on baptism, all speaking and practicing the same thing -- and ultimately becoming visibly united Presbyterians as we ought to be. In the meantime, we are divided and that difference inevitably manifests itself in different churches, as is necessary for the practicing of incompatible baptism convictions.

    Now if you want to make a case that when there is a choice between an area barren of Reformed churches and an area laden with solid Reformed Presbyterian churches, Reformed Baptists should generally prefer the barren area -- yes, there might be a good case for that, and likewise in reverse. But then again it may be that there are Reformed Baptists waiting for an RB church in a heavy Presbyterian area, or vice versa, whereas such may not be the case in the barren area. It depends.
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  3. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    So RBs should not seek to live out their convictions by establishing RB churches in their communities (even if there are reformed presbyterians in the community?
  4. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Or we can all start Baptising believers only by immersion as that is what the Bible teaches.
  5. ProtestantBankie

    ProtestantBankie Puritan Board Freshman

    Not really on topic or necessarily correct Tyrese.
  6. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh no. Let's not have a bun fight over the right views of baptism (at least not at the start of the thread!)

    Let's stick to discussing justification for church planting (I know the topics are interelated).

    In otherwords let's not just throw the rocks of our baptismal positions at each other.
  7. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I voted yes. I also say that we are in cooperation, not competition. We want to tell the elect about the Lord Jesus Christ and get the job done. We both agree that government and baptism are not essential for salvation. Many godly men have ended up on different sides of the creek on these issues, but we are all journeying to the same place.
  8. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's extremely important that Reformed Baptist Churches are planted everywhere, even next to Presbyterian Churches for the simple fact that infant Baptism is a real hang up for a lot of Christians. Therefore we (Reformed Baptist) should have a Church that practices what it is we believe. I'm sure if you were surrounded by Reformed Baptist you would want the same.
  9. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Just for the record, I'm still credobaptist at this point.
  10. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks for clearing that up for me, Tyrese. If you start a thread making a case for baptism by immersion from Scripture, I will gladly participate, but this isn't the appropriate place for it.

    I didn't say that. I said once the distinction between RBs and RPs exists, it is too late to say, "Well, it's divisive to plant churches next to each other." At this point we are already divided. We might as well plant churches next to each other until we come to the unity of doctrine and practice we are all (hopefully) pursuing. That is, unless there is a very barren area that needs them more. Ultimately I can't give a direct answer to your question because I think RB churches should become RP churches and plant RP churches (well, technically, it would be the Presbytery doing that, but you know what I mean). However, since the division exists, it is very after-the-fact to make it a matter of division to plant churches near to each other. We don't want a "pretend unity" where we are really divided, but at least our churches are spread apart. We want a real, visible unity -- that is what we should all be pursuing.
  11. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    If government and baptism are not essential for salvation: is there any real justification for splitting the church over it?

    Is splitting the church over secondary matters not the sort of schism that the early fathers, and reformers, condemned?
  12. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I appreciate the calls for unity and brotherly love among Baptists and Presbyterians, but I hope we all understand that it doesn't mean schism in the Church is no big deal. It means exactly the opposite of that. Our love for each other calls us to seek unity by diligent study of the Scriptures, charitable debate and discussion, and much prayer. We should never adopt a mindset of thinking of distinct denominations as "flavors" that might as well remain separate because after all it's a "secondary matter"; who really cares? The Lord cares. He prayed that we would be one. One of the dangers of over-cooperation between denominations is that it makes us complacent and apathetic about the existence of separate denominations. It ought to sadden us that our difference on baptism necessitates separate churches.

    In the meantime, I think this question will need to be answered on a case-by-case basis. There may be a very barren area and a Presbyterian area that both have interest in RB churches, in which case probably priority should go to planting in the barren area. But sometimes there may be families with strong RB convictions wanting an RB church in a Presbyterian area, in which case it doesn't hurt my feelings if RB churches meet that need -- at least except inasmuch as it bothers me that we are separate in the first place, but that isn't going to be solved in a day, or in a year, or in a decade. It ought, however, to be our pursuit, and in the meantime, there is no use pretending in our church planting that we do not have incompatible baptism convictions that may necessitate planting separate churches -- even right next door.
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Why not go and plant a church where none at all exists, whether paedo or credo?
  14. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    I voted yes. Cooperation, not competition. NAPARC has a comity agreement where Reformed Presbyterian churches are supposed to consult an existing church in the area before planting, etc., but that's not the issue here.
  15. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This has gone on for hundreds of years, and I really doubt that I am the man to come up with the answer that thousands of godly men have not arrived at.
  16. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I realize I'm talking a lot, but we cross-posted and I hadn't seen this. Schism over incompatible government and baptism positions is unavoidable. A church can't practice two polities or two baptismal convictions. Historically, I'm not sure this point works in a credobaptist's favor if you think about who separated from whom.
  17. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    There may be times where it is fine (larger cities, which need more churches proportionally than smaller suburbs or towns), but the general rule because there are a limited amount of resources ought to not plant immediately but go where there is not a good witness first and if later in the future the occasion presents itself, then to do so. SO I would say yes plant, but put it lower on the priority list.
  18. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Another Presbyterian vote for 'yes'.
  19. Goodcheer68

    Goodcheer68 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Forgetting the paedo-credo debate the immersion only position is pretty hard to sustain so I would not be so confident on that.
  20. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner


    * There are too few RB and RP churches in America. More is better!!! Look at a map of RB or RP churches in America and you would think that you were looking for Druids.
    * Neither confessional Baptists nor confessional Presbyterians have much "market share" to begin with in America. I would love to see more deceived Christians and non-believers come to confessional congregations. If some of the folks now going to empty-theology churches had the option of attending an orthodox congregation, it would present a fantastic opportunity for evangelism.
    * While some of the PB members are attending churches that reflect their theological and confessional commitments, my guess is that many are "settling" for places because a truly confessional option does not exist in their locale. Wouldn't it be great if people were able to throw themselves wholeheartedly into their congregations with clear consciences and enthusiasm for the ministry? A commitment to the Body of Christ will get you to participate in the "best" church you can find. However, if you are wincing or rolling your eyes every third minute, it is certainly a less than ideal "fit."
    * Churches are not a "zero sum game." One more RP or RB church does not necessarily mean subtracting members from other congregations (even if that would be GREAT in some cases). In reality, if one Starbucks was sufficient, there would not be one on every other corner in some cities. I am still trying to figure out how there can be a CVS on one side of the street and a Walgreens on the other side, let alone one of either every few blocks. We even have three Target stores in our not very big city. Adding a RP or RB church to every city in America would be a net gain for the Kingdom, in almost every respect. One denomination in my town has 32 congregations, a half dozen of them with 600-800 in attendance each weekend.

    The larger problem (in my opinion) is that the people I agree with most theologically tend to be the lamest at planting churches. Some of them would rather waste most of their day reading theological message boards and priding themselves in the effectiveness of their put downs of (mostly) like-minded brethren or tearing down Christian leaders more "successful" than themselves, than in doing the HARD work involved in planting a congregation. Church planting takes more than being an introverted nerd with a large library of orthodox books and a special relationship with the Internet. It involves reaching out to people, engaging people, loving people, caring for people, counseling people, evangelizing people, discipling people, knowing something about managing people, delegating to people, holding people accountable, and being willing to suffer loss for the sake of the Gospel.

    I wish that some of the management skills and entrepreneurial zeal of the guys who plant churches and see them grow rapidly with adult conversions could be linked to the passion for accurate orthodox theology. I have pastored tiny churches (35 avg. atten.) and medium sized ones (520 avg. atten). In the smaller congregation I wasted time trying to look busy. In the larger one, I wish that there had been more time for reflection and study. But, in both of them it was painfully obvious that a passion for accurate theology and a zeal for devoting long hours to study does not suffice for the skill set of a pastor.
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  21. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


  22. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

  23. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's a good article. I think this applies to alot of what is popular in modern evangelicalism. Do you think this applies to this thread? And if so why?
  24. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry, I should have made the link with the topic clear.

    The following points seem relevant:

    "2. Church planting is very expensive. I recently spoke to a planter at a men’s conference. He confided that his denomination had budgeted $125,000 a year to get his congregation off the ground. With local giving, he expected to expend almost $175,000 a year to establish his church plant. He also told me that more than 70% of plants failed within two years.

    3. Church planting is labor intensive. Truckloads of stage gear, chairs and childcare infrastructure have to be set up and torn down each week. It’s a ton of work and key volunteers can burn out easily. It’s easy to expend all your energy on logistics and have little left for loving people."

    Having been involved in several 'church plants' of an independent nature, I can agree that they are labour intensive and greedy on resources. They always need to recreate the wheel. They usually, (always?) seem to depend upon Christians transfering from an existing church inorder to support the work).

    I guess from a practical point of view would it not make more sense for RBs to cast their lot with RPs (assuming there is already an RP presence) rather than starting a new work? (I am asking this from the perspective of a credobaptist in an area where there is no RB but an abundance of RPs (of a variety of stripes).

    That would be my arguments against on the basis of pragmatics, but I also have theological reservations, is it not schism? And could Calvin's quote not be applied to the current RP/RP discussion?

    John Calvin: The pure ministry of the Word and pure mode of celebrating the sacraments are, as we say, sufficient pledge and guarantee that we may safely embrace as church any society in which both these marks exist. The principle extends to the point that we must not reject it so long as it retains them, even if it otherwise swarms with many faults. What is more, some fault may creep into the administration of either doctrine or sacraments, but this ought not to estrange us from communion with the church. For not all the articles of true doctrine are of the same sort. Some are so necessary to know that they should be certain and unquestioned by all men as the proper principles of religion. Such are: God is one; Christ is God and the Son of God; our salvation rests in God’s mercy; and the like. Among the churches there are other articles of doctrine disputed which still do not break the unity of faith. Suppose that one church believes—short of unbridled contention and opinionated stubbornness—that souls upon leaving bodies fly to heaven; while another, not daring to define the place, is convinced nevertheless that they live to the Lord. What churches would disagree on this one point? Here are the apostle’s words: “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be of the same mind; and if you be differently minded in anything, God shall reveal this also to you” [Philippians 3:15]. Does this not sufficiently indicate that a difference of opinion over these nonessential matters should in no wise be the basis of schism among Christians? First and foremost, we should agree on all points. But since all men are somewhat beclouded with ignorance, either we must leave no church remaining, or we must condone delusion in those matters which can go unknown without harm to the sum of religion and without loss of salvation.
    But here I would not support even the slightest errors with the thought of fostering them through flattery and connivance. But I say we must not thoughtlessly forsake the church because of any petty dissensions. For in it alone is kept safe and uncorrupted that doctrine in which piety stands sound and the use of the sacraments ordained by the Lord is guarded. In the meantime, if we try to correct what displeases us, we do so out of duty. Paul’s statement applies to this: “If a better revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent” [1 Corinthians 14:30 p.]. From this it is clear that every member of the church is charged with the responsibility of public edification according to the measure of his grace, provided he perform it decently and in order. That is, we are neither to renounce the communion of the church nor, remaining in it, to disturb its peace and duly ordered discipline. Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, ed. John T. McNeill and trans. Ford Lewis Battles, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, reprinted 1977), Book IV.1.12, pp. 1025-1026.

    John Calvin commenting in 1 Cor 11:19: For there must be also heresies. He had previously spoken of divisions. (1 Corinthians 11:18.) Now he uses the term heresies, with the view of amplifying the more, as we may infer, too, from the word also, for it is added for the sake of amplification. (pro auchesin) It is well known in what sense the ancients used those two terms, and what distinction they made between Heretics and Schismatics. Heresy they made to consist in disagreement as to doctrine, and schism, on the contrary, in alienation of affection, as when any one withdrew from the Church from envy, or from dislike of the pastors, or from ill nature. It is true, that the Church cannot but be torn asunder by false doctrine, and thus heresy is the root and origin of schism, and it is also true that envy or pride is the mother of almost all heresies, but at the same time it is of advantage to distinguish in this way between these two terms.
    But let us see in what sense Paul employs them. I have already expressed my disapprobation of those who explain heresy as meaning the setting up of a separate table, inasmuch as the rich did not partake of their Supper along with the poor; for he had it in view to point out something more hateful. But without mentioning the opinions of others, I take schism and heresy here in the way of less and greater. Schisms, then, are either secret grudges — when we do not see that agreement which ought to subsist among the pious — when inclinations at variance with each other are at work — when every one is mightily pleased with his own way, and finds fault with everything that is done by others. Heresies are when the evil proceeds to such a pitch that open hostility is discovered, and persons deliberately divide themselves into opposite parties. Hence, in order that believers might not feel discouraged on seeing the Corinthians torn with divisions, the Apostle turns round this occasion of offense in an opposite direction, intimating that the Lord does rather by such trials make proof of his people’s constancy. A lovely consolation! “So far, says he, should we be from being troubled, or cast down, when we do not see complete unity in the Church, but on the contrary some threatenings of separation from want of proper agreement, that even if sects should start up, we ought to remain firm and constant. For in this way hypocrites are detected — in this way, on the other hand, the sincerity of believers is tried. For as this gives occasion for discovering the fickleness of those who were not rooted in the Lord’s Word, and the wickedness of those who had assumed the appearance of good men, so the good afford a more signal manifestation of their constancy and sincerity.” Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. XX, trans. John Pringle (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprinted 1979), p. 366.
  25. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    "YES!. . . Churches are not a "zero sum game." One more RP or RB church does not necessarily mean subtracting members from other congregations (even if that would be GREAT in some cases). In reality, if one Starbucks was sufficient, there would not be one on every other corner in some cities. I am still trying to figure out how there can be a CVS on one side of the street and a Walgreens on the other side, let alone one of either every few blocks. We even have three Target stores in our not very big city. Adding a RP or RB church to every city in America would be a net gain for the Kingdom, in almost every respect. One denomination in my town has 32 congregations, a half dozen of them with 600-800 in attendance each weekend."

    Thanks for your response, I liked a lot of your other points.

    I do wonder though, is the above point not an example of looking at the situation through the lense of our own culture (western consumerism) rather than theological? Should we take our lead from the secular free market?
  26. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Great point, which raises the deeper issue: should any group church plant when there is already a church in an area? But I think that might need another thread!
  27. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You wrote:
    This is not true; church can begin much simpler than this...
  28. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    I do NOT subscribe to the views of the Church Growth movement, even though one of my profs in seminary was C. Peter Wagner, the granddaddy of the movement!

    My response was thinking about an American context where 30-40% of people are already attending church, not a European situation about which I know nothing.

    I was trying to interject the observation that it is silly to wring hands over whether another orthodox church is "too much." When my wife and I moved to this community of 250,000 there was NO RB congregation. Given the current environment of mainline drift, Romanist stasis, fundamentalist proliferation, and shallow megachurch reality, it is more likely than not that there will NOT be ANY confessional Reformational congregation nearby.

    My point about Starbucks and Target was that obviously people who are hardheaded enough not to waste resources on too many of their stores recognize that there is plenty of room in a community for multiple outposts of their kind. The same is true of churches.

    And, while this may represent tipping too far in the direction of culture, investing in "curing" a sick church is often more time-intensive and resource draining, not to mention frustrating, than planting a new congregation. Due to the sinful attitudes of many leaders of existing churches, they simply will NOT accept reform of "how we do it around here." You speak of the danger of schism. For me the danger of trying to put new wine in old wineskins is a reality as well. My first pastorate was in a church ready to close. We grew fairly rapidly, but the challenges of ministry in an environment where the size was a direct result of toxic attitudes was probably much more difficult than a church plant would have been.

    My tilting in favor of church planting has more to do with a Christian doctrine of the sinfulness of man than consumerist marketing. In America, anyhow, many dying churches have entrenched power structures (e.g., key families who control the church) that organize rather effectively against a healthy congregational life and ministry.
  29. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    I would not consider baptism a secondary issue as a paedobaptist, as the denial of its
    application to the seed of believers is a negation of the covenant promise. The reason
    why I would say no to the planting of a RB church where there is already an RP cause
    is, that a Baptist can take out membership in a RP church so fulfilling their spiritual needs.
    Whereas the reverse of that position would not be allowed. The size of the locality is also
    a factor. A village could not sustain competing interests and the divisiveness would be a
    poor witness, as historically in Wales we have experienced.
  30. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Sorry if it sounded too harsh! It is my observation, however, that in the confessional Reformation churches that I am familiar with (RP, RB, and LCMS), there are practical reasons why some of the congregations do not flourish.

    * Pastors who become too inward focused and do not lead their people to think evangelistically. Evangelism is not the exclusive property of the evangelicals!
    * Church leaders who are more content catering to their own "needs" rather than seeing the church as the tip of the spear for the kingdom of God.
    * The psychological reality that it is easy for full-time pastors of very small congregations to fall into bad work habits. If we would have had the Internet when I was pastoring a congregation of 35, it would have been an immense temptation to spend all of my time compensating for being such a small fry by wasting my days on theological message boards. As much as I love the PB, how many pastors of thriving churches have time to devote to this kind of thing?
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