This Sunday morning, I’ll stand in front of several dozen adults—all who are newer to Lancaster Baptist Church and most of which are new Christians as well—and teach week two of “Starting Point,” a three-week class I teach several times a year.
On the second week of each Starting Point class, I teach on the Baptist distinctives—the doctrines that, as a whole, set Baptists apart from any other denomination. I’ll use an acrostic as an outline to teach these scriptural beliefs:
Biblical Authority in all matters of faith and practice
Autonomy or self governing power of the local church
Priesthood of believers
Two offices within the church—pastor and deacon
Individual soul liberty
Separation of church and state
Two ordinances—baptism and the Lord’s Table
Separation and personal holiness
As a Baptist pastor of a Baptist church, I believe that each of these distinctives are not only biblical, but they are vital. They are doctrinal. And doctrine matters. (more…)
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.)