I wrote back in December about how to revitalize a Ruckmanite church, and detailed the steps you’d have to take.
This one’s a tough one. What if you were contacted about how to revitalize a Southern Baptist church?
The answers probably going to have to be, “No!”
Let me explain. You’re going to have to fight your way uphill… the whole way. It’s going to take a lot of patient teaching on a whole lot of levels. But let me explain how to do it. By the time you’re halfway through the article, you’ll know why I say it’s almost impossible for an IFB pastor to revitalize an SBC church.
Okay, they call me. I explain why it’s nearly impossible. They ask me to try anyway. I agree to six months of interim pastoring, but I’ve got to keep my day job. They agree, off and running.
Monday after work, I show up for a meeting with the deacon board, and I lay out the first part, bringing the Way of Life Encyclopedia and the ABSS book The New Testament Church, both by David Cloud. I have them on my laptop, and take the time to make out some passage lists. I print them out, and birng them with me.
The Deacon board and I meet… and everything comes to a crashing halt as I explain New Testament church Polity. Literally, that means “government”. Who runs the church? Jesus Christ. Who serves as Overseer? The Pastor. Who supports the Pastor? The Deacons. Is there such a thing Biblically as a Deacon Board?
The Deacon board reconsiders their offer, and withdraws it. Thanks very much, you were right.
But let’s pretend they realize that the SBC system of a Deacon Board serving as the boss to the Pastor iscompletely unBiblical, and a usurpation of Biblical authority, and that they are literally going to have to account to the Lord Jesus Christ for why they usurped the role of Pastor without being called or trained, and without studying to shew themselves approved.
If they are willing to examine what the Bible says about it… they should get scared, and agree. Once the Pastor is chosen, they’re going to step down and serve only as Deacons. No more usurping the Pastor’s authority.
Right about now, I bet a bunch of you are scrolling to the “leave a comment” box and typing furiously. Stop and read 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Acts 6:1-7. THEN you can leave comments.
The impossibility of getting an unScriptural Deacon board to relinquish usurped control highlights the impossibility of this.
But let’s pretend they agree.
Now, you’ve got sermons to preach. That’s why I said 5-6 months. You need at least 20 sermons or so to teach them. We’re not going to go in and say, “Uh… you all are doing this wrong… Here’s what’s wrong with the SBC.”
Instead, we’re going to teach basic doctrine. Who is God. Who is Jesus Christ. The Infallibility, inerrancy, inspiration and preservation of the Bible.The King James Bible as God’s word. Errors of modern Bible translations (That’s a quick and easy couple of sermons to write using Logos!!!). Errors of Roman Catholicism. Errors of Infant Baptism. Errors of Calvinism. Errors of Theological Liberalism. Salvation. Repentance. Errors of Lordship Salvation and Easy Believism (do this one as one sermon, compare and contrast). The Pre-trib rapture. Errors of mid and post trib raptures. Errors of Preterism.
By the time you’re done with at least four of these, the Deacon Board will reconvene, take a church vote, cancel the agreement, have your car towed during the church meeting, and then go to the courthouse to file a protective order against you.
But let’s pretend they accept all that, you stay in place until the end of the 6 months.
Your last three sermons should be on “Why Fundamentalism?”, “Why Evangelicalism is not Fundamentalism” and “What is Biblical Separation?”
Then explain to the congregation on your last day, “This is it… I’ve taught you that if you do not separate from heretics, you share in their error.” Ooh, wow… not a good moment on Judgment Day when you have to explain that! And why you’re staying in Heaven, but they’re going off to eternal torment… Because the Lord may make you explain that part to them. “Uh… sorry! Good luck… oh, wait, that was stupid… well, so long!”
Once you explain all this in your last sermon, now you have to make them do the last part.
They have to take a church vote to keep you and resign from the SBC.
Yes or no. You can’t decide “Yes” to you and “No” to the SBC. It’s either “Yes-yes” or “no-no”.
It’ll never work. They’ll never agree.
But let’s pretend they do. you’re in. The letter is composed and sent in to the SBC. You’ve turned the church into an IFB church.
I mean, Calvinists do this all the time to SBC churches, but you’re not Calvinist. And they don’t make the Deacon board resign, or the church leave the SBC. They just install a board of Elders, and the Deacons that oppose it the most they quietly make Elders, buying off their silence.
Now, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You’ve got to have a doctrine class on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Get all who feel they need to attend to attend. Keep an attendance. And nobody, nobody can teach Sunday School or serve as a Deacon, etc, until they’ve completed that class.
Get some large trash cans. You’re going to go through the church, finding every church book that is questionable, and getting rid of it. Other Bible translations should be taken to a thrift store. All the Explorer series Sunday School books – right in the dumpster. Have everyone replace them with ABSS David Cloud materials. The One Year Discipleship course should be the new members’ class.
Start your preaching schedule.
And expect that you have to work VERY HARD to turn that church around doctrinally. It’s going to take at least a year. And expect most of the congregation to leave by the time you’re done. The Deacons will probably need replacing, because eventually losing power over the pastor is going to leave many of them unsatisfied. They can’t boss you around any more.
Probably advise the Deacons it will take 18 months to turn the church around. But explain to them, within 10 years, if they don’t – their church will have become Emergent & Liberal, or Calvinist… or closed.