Church Revitalizing – Revitalizing a Calvinist Church

Okay, while I’m engaged in some speculation (and I’m running a little behind on more articles on Hebrews…) let’s look at what it would take if you got a call from a Presbyterian church that wanted you to pastor.

Like the Southern Baptist church, it would take quite a bit of a meeting to get that straightened out. Out of pure jest, I’d say contact 9Marks and ask Dever how to do the reverse of what he specializes in!Okay, you’d have to go to the Elders and ask them – why the change? Maybe it was a doctrinal awakening? Maybe someone was reading their Bible and found out that Calvinism only fits part of the Bible, but not all of it? Those are the only reasons I’d personally risk this. Otherwise, it’s going to be like speaking a different language.

Many Calvinist churches have Elders, but not Deacons. So, that’s not too hard of a switch. But let’s say it’s a “Soveriegn Grace Baptist” church? I used the words “Baptist” in quotes, because quite simply, that’s not baptist. You can build a car from parts and put a Mercedes logo on it, but it’s not a Mercedes. Calvinists tend to be historical revisionists, and like to backwards write the TULIP into church histories, such as those who say Roger Williams was a Calvinist – hoping you’ll never find out about the book he wrote that got him pretty much thrown out of England protesting Calvinism!

Anyway, if you have both Elders and Deacons, you’ve got a problem. You’re going to explain very carefully, and make sure they understand, that an elder is a Pastor – and that what they’re doing is usurping Pastoral authority. And it’s going to be uncomfortable answering questions at the Judgment seat of Christ. So elders really have to either go to Seminary, or they’ve got to accept becoming Deacons. “But our church already has Deacons!”

Then you’ve got quite a quandry! You’ve either got to sit with the Deacons and decide whose stepping down… or who’s leaving. But I will not pastor a church with an unBiblical board of elders. I’m not going to answer to the Lord why I had a bunch of associate pastotrs who would not get trained, and did not fulfill the responsibilities of a Pastor! recieve the greater condemnation. Pastors are going to be required to explain to the Lord how we ruled His churches – they’re His, after all. If you take the title of Elder Joe Smith, then you’ve got a problem. You’re telling God you’re a pastor, without His ordaining it. Um… iffy. And even more so when He begins asking you, “All right, why then did you not study to shew thyself approved? Why did you not enroll in Bible Colleege or Seminary? Why then did you not lead and preach? Why then did you not visit my flock in their homes? Pray for my flock?”

Ouch. Bad day. And don’t look to John MacArthur for answers!

So, they’re going to have to step down, become deacons, or leave.

Just like with an SBC church, I expect at this point they’ll agree with you, and withdraw the offer. Make sure you get a nice hot stuffed pretzel on the way home so the afternoon wasn’t a waste.

But let’s pretend they go ahead with it. You’re going to have a lot of work ahead of you. First of all, they’re going to need a Baptistry, and it’s going to be expensive. And the Presbyterian tradition of sprinkling children is going to need replacing with something. Don’t invent a ceremony. Suggest that, once they understand the Gospel and accept it… they try preaching to their kids?

The Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican & Episcopal type churches are all based upon ritual. After all, most of them are Catholic lite, so you’re going to have some fighting ahead to strip the service down. I’d let them go ahead and keep some grandeur – after all, you’re about to have a Baptist choir that can sing well!

And an Organ, too!

NO, you can’t have a drumset!!! This is a CHURCH.

So, you’ve got to bring in Baptist hymnals. Get the Baptistry installed. Let them keep their “chimes of Big Ben” – after about a year, they’ll finally start asking why they’re doing that???

Start preaching the Gospel. Now, here’s something you’ve GOT to do. THey’re used to words like Knox, Zwingli, and Calvin in their sermons. You’re going to have to contrast the Gospel with Calvinism. I mentioned in the one on the SBC don’t give them a “here’s what you’ve been doing wrong…”

In this case, yeah, you kind of have to. You can assume that at least 10% of your SBC church are saved. You cannot make the same assumption about a Calvinist church, since their doctrine is that they are predestined to be saved, and their “born again” event happens against their will – something you can’t find in the Bible.

So, as you preach the Gospel, you have to contrast it with TULIP. You may even have to go through and give the TULIP breakdown, showing why it’s unBiblical.

I’d say that this one is a seven month trial period, to get you through all the Biblical topics you’d have to preach on. Explain that the Lord’s Supper is not a means of added grace. Explain the finished work on the Cross. Explain that we do not earn our salvation through sacraments. Explain that only an adult can make the decision to be born again, and be baptzed (or at least past the age of accountability). Explain that if their baptism was not immersion, it was’nt baptism. Explain that if they cannot point to a born again moment in their life – they’re not born again. And even at the age of 80, you’ll still need to be baptized. Baptists do it all the time! And nobody dies.

Find everything in the church by the PC USA, John Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Washer – and throw it away. The ESV and NRSV bibles all go to the thrift store.

It’s going to be a long, hard job.


Author: philipdean2013

Seminary graduate with a Ba. in Theology/Pastoral Studies, Happily married, Independent Baptist. I can't keep silent about what I see going on in Christianity any longer! Apostasy reigns around us, churches are sliding into worldiness, a whitewashed Gospel is preached everywhere... "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) So, I'm speaking out. ...Why aren't you???

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