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. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I am saying that truth matters. I am convinced, by the Word of God, that certain teachings are true. If church history has taught us anything it is that teachings form beliefs; beliefs form practices; and practices form denominations. You ask whether these teachings are a greater sin than schism. Is disunity within the body of Christ less serious than schism? I also think you are minimizing the seriousness of these sins you are comparing to schism. Ask one of my dear Presbyterian brethren on this board whether he is willing to forgo the baptism of his child because there is no Presbyterian church in town. Suggest to them that schism would be a more serious sin than applying the sign of the covenant to their infant. My disagreement with my Presbyterian brethren does not lessen my love for them in Christ. I know how serious they are about applying the sign of the covenant to their infant children. I do not mean to sound unkind, but to minimize the differences between us for the sake of unity is a wishful view that is not grounded in reality.

    As others have said in this thread, the presence of Reformed Presbyterian and Baptist churches in the same locale should not be seen as a threat to either. Both should be laboring to do the work of the Kingdom; feeding the sheep and evangelizing the lost. Does the existence of two different forms of ecclesiology create schism? No. If we are using the Reformation as our bench mark the schism has already existed for hundreds of years; it is a reality.
  2. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    So really it is back to the point that I raised earlier: the denominational context forces us towards a position of pragmatism, justifies schism, and accepts and reinforces a lack of visible unity.
  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Justifies schism? The schism is inherent and systemic. It is a grievous thing. Short of the Lord's return it is not going away. That does not mean we ignore it or not work to lessen its impact, but it is not pragmatism to say that it is embedded within the Church. You are correct when you say it, "accepts and reinforces a lack of visible unity". That is part of the systemic nature of schism. The fact that two churches, with opposing doctrines, stand on opposite street corners is proof that there has been division because of sin.

    Short of one side repenting, what is your remedy?
  4. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    McGavran did "discover" church growth. However, by the time he began writing, he was already a mature man, near the end of his career. Pete Wagner was his protege and student. Wagner was teaching church growth in the 1970s (when I had him) and is still at it in retirement. At last count, he had authored more than 70 books! In my mind it is like McDonalds. The fellow who started it sold it as a few restaurants to Kroc who turned it into what we know today.

    McGavran should get the credit/blame for the idea, but only wrote a few things on the subject; Wagner developed and popularized it through many books and decades of advocacy continuing to today.

    My "granddaddy" comment was imprecise. In my mind Wagner is Mr. Church Growth. Whereas McGavran brought it to Fuller, Wagner developed some of the theoretical foundations of it and a whole lot of the practical implementations during his three decades of teaching there. He even received a PhD from USC in "social ethics" for his dissertation on "our kind of people," defending the "homogeneous unit principle." The "homogeneous unit principle" is the intellectual backbone of church growth theory. It posits that people will only come to a church where the people are perceived to be "like themselves." Back when "All in the Family" was a popular television show, Wagner would opine incessantly that Archie Bunker (the bigot) would never go to church with George Jefferson (the African American). So, if you want to "grow" churches you need to advertize to, appeal to, and cater to a specific niche group ethnically, socio-economically, etc.

    Wagner was INTENSELY pragmatic. He approached Church Growth like an engineer.

    People need to get saved.
    People won't cross social barriers to worship with people unlike themselves.
    So, while we will all be one rainbow of peoples, tribes, and languages in heaven, trying to form multiethnic, multicultural, sociologically mixed churches here will only mean that nobody gets saved.
    Therefore, it is better (in the ethical sense, remember that PhD in social ethics) to win people to Christ even if you have to indulge their racially bigoted, classist, sub-redeemed attitudes.

    He also pioneered the application of "Third Wave" thinking to the field. By this, Wagner characterizes the "First Wave" of interest in the work of the Holy Spirit as Pentecostalism. The "Second Wave" was the Charismatic Movement. And, the Wimber "signs and wonders" emphasis represents the "Third Wave." It is full of healings, preparing org. charts of demonic hierarchies in various locales, etc.

    I found Wagner's position theologically repugnant.

    But, in deference to your historically accurate observation, I will change my description of Wagner to the "Ray Kroc" of Church Growth.
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  5. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm still working it through (hence this thread). I have always held to credobaptism, and to 'believers' church'. I trained for ministry in a baptist institution. I find myself in a context with no baptist church. I have been, for the last few years been attending a non-reformed church that practices credobaptism and 'regenerate church membership'. However important differences (which I won't mention here) caused me to realise that I could no longer minister and fellowship within that context. In the interim I am attending a reformed presbyterian church, studying lots of reformed presbyterian writings and reflecting upon whether or not the long term solution is to cast my lot with the reformed presbyterians or explore the establishment of a reformed baptist church.

    I should add, one thing that has begun to change (as a result of my study and experience) is that I am the weaknesses of the independent nature of baptist congregations and the strength of the presbyetrian system of government.

    I hope this helps clarify where I am coming from, and that I am not just creating a post for the sake of controversy.
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Interesting. So you are considering breaking unity because of a theological change. You do not see schism in that?
  7. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    "you are considering breaking unity because of a theological change"

    What do you mean, Bill?

    It is the opposite, for the sake of unity I am consiering not acting on long standing theological convictions (baptist).
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  8. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

  9. matt01

    matt01 Puritan Board Senior

    I am late to the thread, but I might as well throw my two bits in. Having spent 7+ years in various reformed denominations, due to the lack of RB churches in places that we lived, I am all for RB churches planting wherever the need exists, even across the street from RP.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013
  10. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Lol! Thanks for your candid comment! :)
  11. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    John, why are you not in a Baptist church right now?
  12. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    There are no baptist churches (not even non-reformed baptist churches) in the area (Non-presbyterian churches do not really have much of a presence in the highlands and islands). In fact, most baptists who come here end up becoming Church of Scotland ministers! (Has happened at least on two occasions).
  13. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    No wonder my paternal great grand parents left the Highlands! LOL
  14. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Seriously though, you seem to be providentially hindered from attending a like-minded church, unless you have the ability to move. If you had qualified your OP to represent a rural or sparsely populated area perhaps the answers you have received would be different. You may consider it pragmatism, but where a new Reformed Baptist work might be planted may not make sense. If there are no Baptists in the area then starting a Baptist church may be not be the wisest course of action. In the area that I live in the dynamic and demographics are different. There is a myriad of Presbyterian and Baptist churches, but Reformed Baptist churches are a rare find. Our church is the only one within an hour's drive. Considering there are 9,500,000 million people in the Baltimore/Washington/Northern Virginia area, I would say the schism is rather diluted.
  15. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks, Bill. I intentionally avoided mentioning my OP because I just wanted to tease out the priciples.

    The RB presence in Scotland is not strong at all if this website is anything to go by: Grace Baptist Partnership Scotland
  16. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Thanks, Dennis! That was informative and entertaining. I still think you should write a book filled with candid observations - and maybe a few org charts of demonic institutions.

  17. theydonman

    theydonman Puritan Board Freshman

    I am with Pergamum on this. There are so many places crying out for the Saviour. Plant there.
  18. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    Does this mean no denomination should plant where there is already other denominations present? Or reformed churches should plant where there is no reformed church? Does this also mean that we should stop planting' in the already 'full of denominations' west and head off to the unreached parts of the world?
  19. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I understand the sentiment, but not everyone whom God calls to ministry is called to foreign missions. Likewise even in the US, not every area that is barren of a Reformed church is fertile ground for one, sad as it is. There may be RB families waiting for an RB plant in a Presbyterian area, or Presbyterian families waiting for a Presbyterian plant in an RB area, and as long as we remain divided on this issue, I don't see that there is any point in avoiding planting near each other if there are prudential reasons to do so.
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes. It means that more pastors should be trained and encouraged in their home churches and seminaries to possess a mindset of prioritizing the least-reached.

    I believe the Church as a collective whole has a duty to intentionally target the unreached. I might even say that the Church in the world must prioritize the least-reached... in the very least I would say that we have the duty to not deprioritize them.

    Right now, a disproportionately large percentage of the Church's resources go towards those who are already being fed and want to be fed more, instead of going to the starving portions of the world.


    I also believe that the way "the call" is explained in many reformed circles hampers missions. A congregation calls a pastor to come and serve them (an already established church). Instead, we need churches to send people out to plant churches where none yet exists, among peoples/tribes/tongues that still yet do not have a reproducible Gospel presence. We need to cultivate a call to go to where there is no church, and not merely a call to come and serve a church that already exists.

    I remember a few years back someone on the PB went down south to try to plant a TR church in a major southern city. I remember him using a phrase or two such as "without a true gospel witness" or "unreached" or something to that effect. It was rather ridiculous. Upon further research, there were PCA and OPC and baptist churches within a 40-mile radius of his proposed church plant site (plus Christian radio and podcasts in English).

    I agree that church-planting is good. It is hard to say that there are ever too many churches. And the credo-paedo lines are such that Reformed Baptist and PCA churches might share the same city block and both meet an unmet need. But there are various shades of Presbyterian micro-denominations and they all promote their church-planting using terms of "need" when - in reality - true churches are not lacking but merely churches of their small denominations.

    I would much rather see some of these efforts transported to Asian cities.
  21. Need 4 Creed

    Need 4 Creed Puritan Board Freshman

    I think you have nailed it with that post. Thanks.
  22. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Not just the micros. The ARP church plant in Dallas is in an area served by 4 Anglophone PCA churches of varying sizes and worship styles, and the PCA and OPC are planting churches not far from each other in Southwest Dallas (but with different target groups). And I can come up with several instances where the PCA has planted a new work very near an established congregation.

    That being said, I'm not sure that I'm still on board with the model of sending middle class westerners around the world to plant churches.
  23. Sola Gratia

    Sola Gratia Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree and disagree. As hard as it is for even me to believe, there are areas of the US, particularly down south where I am that have NO Reformed congregations at all. Prime example - this weekend I went to help my little sister move out of her college dorm and into an apartment in the same city. While there I paid attention to the churches (as I always do) and was struck by how... off the theology of this city was by church number and size. I even googled it, there are churches within an hour that are reformed(and in another city), but not within 30 minutes. This city was nothing but Church of Christ, AoG, Free Will Baptist, Wesleyan Pentecostal, etc. There were only two non FWB Baptist churches which were tiny and one of them is way way Arminian based on their sign. So there is a real need in some areas for reformed churches.

    In my own area, which is out in the boonies in the south there are reformed churches, but predominantly PCUSA with women pastors or very liberal - OR a church where many of the members don't even believe the doctrines of grace! At a PCA Church in fact! Also, I am all for missions and things like that in other countries - they are important. That being said, I am getting very tired of being made to feel bad for being a working/middle class white male. I cannot control how God in his sovreignty created me, and I also feel that I was created the way I am and placed where I am geographically is so that I can minister where I am. Believe me, there is still great need where I am and I am completely surrounded by this semi-pelagian form of "Christianity" that drives me nuts. To find a good confessional church for me is a 45 minute drive.
    As a side note, those of you with multiple confessional churches nearby count your blessings.

    Grace and Peace,
  24. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You wrote:
    Can you explain?
  25. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Yes. We may have discussed this before. I believe resources are probably put to more effective use when nationals are trained and do the actual church planting. And it's probably easier to have a long term impact by reaching foreign students in the US than it is to try to reach them after they are in careers or government in their country. In 2011-2012, there were 764,495 foreign students in the US. While some were already Christian when they came here, others have not heard a clear presentation of the gospel.

    I think this is an open thread, so I don't want to get more specific on how this might work with regard to countries that are semi- open or closed.
  26. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Most church-planting missionaries I know (even the western middle class ones), try to prioritize the training of nationals.

    To train these nationals, the best approach is to have boots on the ground locally who know the indigenous language and culture of the target peoples being reached.

    Many US Churches have gone totally to the "funding the foreigner" approach. Without "western middle-class missionaries" on the ground to partner with these foreign-funded nationals, monstrous heresies are being spread with the use of U.S. mission dollars. Also, congregations are being taught that they don't need to support their own pastor because Westerners will do that for them. Also, whereas in other areas of church-growth the reformed will say, "Numbers/results/the bottom line does not matter" strangely this is contradicted by reformed believers who desire to get a better "bang for their buck" by supporting 12 Indian pastors instead of one American one.

    It is no doubt easier letting the nations come to us, but it seems that there is also a command to go forth and take the Gospel to them where they live.
  27. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You wrote:

    There is no reason for you to feel bad if your private calling as a Christian does not compel you to take the Gospel out to other regions of the world. The obligation is there. But it is not to you - but rests upon the collective Church as a whole.

    If the Church as a whole is failing to intentionally take the Gospel out to those that do not have it, then they should feel bad. But individual Christians who are not called to go needn't put themselves under false guilt, nor should they resent those who try to remind the Church that there are still peoples in this world without a single chapter of Scripture or any viable Gospel witness.
  28. JonathanHunt

    JonathanHunt Puritan Board Senior

    The problem with this entire thread, is that with the greatest respect, most of the participants do not understand the circumstances in the UK, let alone Scotland.

    Inasmuch as we discuss pure principles, well and good, but it is how they apply to British circumstances which is the issue. As you (JJ) have mentioned GBP Scotland, I do suggest that you get in touch with them for a discussion at the very least.
  29. Sola Gratia

    Sola Gratia Puritan Board Freshman

    The Church as a collective is an international body and therefore does not rely solely on Westerners to "do" missions. I think we are probably doing more mission work now than we have in the history of the world. With the spread of the internet, the Bible being translated into more and more languages, etc. the church is expanding rapidly. That being said, not all of the growth is positive, with much of it being pentecostal and/or charismatic. If there was harshness in my reply I apologize I had just recently read an article by an "evangelical" who said that the Holy Spirit had left behind us Western Christians who think that we are the center of the world and was moving to other people. I just get tired of a culture that looks down on white western males because of who we are, I got enough of that in college and I fear it may be creeping into the church. Not that any of you personally may think that. I do not resent people who remind the Church, but it is frustrating when many of those people (not necessarily you) act as though NOTHING is being done when it is. For those of us who aren't called to a "mission field", though I believe all of the world is a mission field, we typically give quite a bit to aid those who are called. Once again, I apologize for any unwarranted frustration in my response.

    Grace and Peace,
  30. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    My county, Henry County, Georgia is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. (According to Wikipedia: As of the 2000 census, the population was 119,341. As of the 2010 census, the county's population swelled to 203,922, up 70.9% from the previous census and becoming Georgia's 8th most populous county and the 10th fastest growing county in the nation.)

    There are lots of churches, with the two largest groups being Baptist and Methodist. However, there is very little reformed presence in my county. There are only two conservative Presbyterians of any kind in the county (one EPC and one PCA), and no confessionally reformed baptists (there are some southern baptists with 5 pointers on staff, a few primitive baptists that I don't know much about, and a non-denominational church of 5 pointers). I know many reformed-minded people that drive a ways to find a good church and I know that many of the churches here are preaching very watered-down gospels. I would welcome reformed baptist and reformed presbyterian church planting here.

    My little area just shows one truth that Dennis and others have put forth in this thread: confessional reformed churches are a minority throughout our country. There is no reason we can't have more of both!
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