I had the privilege to be saved and raised in independent Baptist churches. Having now served as the pastor of an unaffiliated Bible-based Baptist church for twenty-eight years, I’m deeply grateful for my heritage.
Why? Because even though other groups do good works, the autonomous Baptists have generally believed in and practiced the ten traits below which are clearly emphasized in Scripture and are timeless in their effectiveness in local church ministry.
1. Compassion for souls
Independent Baptists believe in a real Heaven and Hell, and they believe the Great Commission is Christ’s primary command for the local church today. Independent Baptist churches have had a fervor for soulwinning for many years. This fervor is evidenced by sustained, organized soulwinning outreach with a definitive strategy to reach their communities with the gospel.
I’m thankful for the compassion for souls many of my early mentors modeled as they regularly, faithfully, and fervently shared the gospel in personal encounters and scheduled times of soulwinning. My wife, Terrie, was reached with the gospel by a compassionate bus worker who brought her to church. Compassionate, confrontational soulwinning is all but lost in much of Christendom, but it is needed now more than ever. (more…)
As younger leaders engage in the ministry, they bring a set of fresh questions and concerns. Questions are healthy and good—they prove a leader is thinking.
Sometimes, however, I’ve watched older preachers blow off the questions of young men, responding with a spirit of pride, feeling offended that the younger generation would dare question our practices.
I believe, however, that I want to be part of this conversation. When those of us who have pastored for many years are solidly grounded in our position, questions are not a threat; they are a chance to explain the legitimacy of what we believe and practice.
There may be a few younger leaders posing questions who have already chosen a pathway to New Evangelicalism. We must realize, however, that most young leaders are simply doing what we did at their age—trying to determine their ministry philosophy.
Over the years, I’ve often told our church family here at Lancaster Baptist Church, “I’m Baptist born and Baptist bred, and when I die I’ll be Baptist dead.”
At times, this has been a fun, catchy phrase, but in reality I fully mean these words because I believe in my Baptist heritage, and I hold it dear.
I recently read a blog post by my friend Pastor Kevin Folger that highlighted what the name “Baptist” means to him. It reminded me anew of how grateful I am for the Baptist heritage and for the sacrifices others who have gone before me have made for truth and for Christ.
I wonder sometimes, with all the church growth philosophies that bring more and more of the world into the church, and with the prevalence of watered-down preaching in our pulpits today, how many Christians even know what we stand for? And I wonder how many of us would stand for the truth in the face of persecution if it came to that here in America?
For the past twenty-five years, we have included the booklet The Trail of Blood by J.M. Carroll in our new member’s packet. I want our church to know that we come from a real heritage of people who have paid a price with their blood that we might have the Bible and preach its truth today.
In the midst of this “let the good times roll” mentality, we need to treasure the truth and preach doctrine. In this Growth Points video, I share a few thoughts on the heritage we have and the need to identify ourselves with true doctrine in this age of pluralism.
(If you cannot see this video in your RSS reader or email, you can watch it here.)
Our tears are no longer of water; they are of blood; they do not merely obscure our sight, they choke our very hearts.—Waldensians of Italy after what is known today as the Massacre of Piedmont.
In January of 1655, the Duke of Savoy forced a cruel choice upon the Waldensians of the lower valleys in Italy—either attend Catholic Mass, or move out of the valley within three days. In the dead of winter, some two thousand people journeyed across swollen rivers, snow-buried valleys, and ice-covered mountains with traces of blood marking their trail.
Waldensians in the upper valleys welcomed the refugees and shared their meager provisions freely. But the worst was yet to come. (more…)