Churches Explained – How to Start a Church 3

House Church model.

Here’s where a lot of controversy is.

You can only start a Biblical church once a certain number of families start attending. The Bible says that a Pastor must be paid, and those that preach well are worthy of double pay. So, unless you have three families willing to pay $125 a week, three families can’t afford a church. Bi-vocational pastoring is okay the first three years if a Pastor is young and able to take the pace of working a full time job AND pastoring a church. If the Pastor is over 45, you’re running a risk of killing a pastor from heart attack or falling asleep behind the wheel by asking him to take on that kind of role for three years.

Pastors must be paid. The Bible is specific on that.

So, can you fit ten families in your house? Then you can do a house church.

A house church of one family is not Biblical.

Now, I’m going to make a statement here equally controversial. The American economy has changed. Twenty years ago you could save up, quit a job, relocate, and get a job with no problems.

you can’t do that anymore.

So what happens if all the churches in your immediate area go bad? This isn’t really addressed in the Bible, but we know that evil will wax worse and worse. The Lord even asked if He would find faith on the Earth. As Christianity spirals faster down the drain, I’m asking that question myself.

David Cloud says, if there’s no good church in your area, then move.

That may not be feasible in America right now. You could lose everything. so your family worshiping by itself may be your only option right now. A House church may be your only option right now. But it’s temporary, and not a permanent situation.

Start looking for like-minded believers. Start to put together a church. If you can’t find enough believers, then the Lord hasn’t commissioned that church.

now, I’m aware that there’s a movement that says the father in a family is the pastor. I can’t find that in the Bible at all. Indeed, that means anyone who can father a child can be a pastor, and if you cant have children you can’t be a pastor. That’s not in the bible either. Flee cultish teachings, like Michael and Debbie Pearl.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the last method to start a church.


Churches Explained – How to Start a Church pt. 2

Yesterday we spent a lot of time discussing absolutely nothing to do with starting a church – so let’s get down to it.

one of my first real rants was on the issue of church planting, so let’s look at how to do it.

Christian Fellowship model

This model is simple enough. Three Christian families begin fellowshipping together. They pray about it after a while, and the decision becomes, “Let’s start a church.” It’s better to seek out at least two or three more families, because we’re going to discuss the interim problem.

Once the church meeting becomes large enough, you have parking problems, and room problems. How to fit six families (with the average family size of 1.5 children? leaving you with 18 bodies in one tight space. Kids tend to run around in houses. They have a problem sitting still, but if you tell them “this is a church”, they calm down a little. If it’s “Bob’s house, but right now it’s church time”, the kids won’t understand, and they’ll run around and RAAAARRRRRR!!!!!

There’s a financial drain involved with getting a church started. Look at community buildings, and explore the option of starting a church service. Unfortunately, the trend of apartment complexes to have a community building available to all tenants never really caught on in America.

Other than that, it becomes a model of “spread the word, get like-minded believers” together. You’re encouraged to take my statement of faith and print it out as your church statement of faith (I’m kind of proud of it!). This way you know you’re all doctrinally based.

The final step really requires looking for a Pastor and a building. Here’s the questions – does the church tithe? If not, forget it. You can’t do it. The church needs to bring in enough cash to afford a building and associated costs, and a pastor (and associated costs).

Can someone in the church serve as pastor? The answer is yes, IF….

  1. They are called by God and confirmed by the church to possess that gift.
  2. The church agrees that they possess the calling, as evidenced by their interest in it long before this and the pastor’s habit of doing pastor-ly things (like trying to teach and preach all the time)
  3. They have studied to shew themselves approved. This is often the dividing line. Do you study the Bible? Do you wish you had MORE time to study the Bible? If I gave you 90 minutes a day to research and study the Bible, would you?
  4. They are trained by entering, attending and passing a seminary.

So, if you’re picking Bob because its his house, and he seems to be okay at teaching – but he’s never been to seminary – BUZZ. wrong answer.

Bob will have been DRIVEN to seek out and attend a Seminary. If finances permit, he’ll have paid to attend and graduate one. If not, then he’ll have sought a free Bible college or Seminary, attended, and graduated.

There are websites around that list “Pastor wanted” postings. Trust me, I’ve prayed to be called as a Pastor and done a lot of research on this. Alas, my answer from the Lord seems to be “no”.

Put up a listing and spread the word.

More on Thursday!

Churches Explained – How to Start a Church

How do you start a church?

this is just as political as yesterday. According to Baptist Briders, there’s only one way. Landmark Baptists who are not Baptist Briders tend to differ on this.

According to a chain-link successionalist Baptist Brider, the only way you can start a church is if you have the authority to start one. You have to have been baptized by someone who is of the chain-link succession – in other words, they have to have been baptized by a descendant of the church at Jerusalem.

Is it possible to track this down? Almost. If you can find someone who was descended from the first Welsch church. Claudia and Pudens apparently were baptized by an “Authorized” church, and they returned to Wales to start a church there.

Now, track that church through history. It’s just about impossible. Roger Williams and John Clarke started the first two Baptist churches in America – Clarke was first, starting the First Baptist church of Newport, and Williams second in Providence. Funny how everyone gets that backwards. I grew up right around the corner from the oldest church in America, and the date is right on a stone in front of the property. And no kidding, it’s down the street and around the corner from the first Synagogue in America.

Some Briders don’t accept Roger Williams Baptism, because it wasn’t done with authority. He was baptized by someone he baptized. Clarke presents problems for other Briders, because he was a semi-Calvinist (something new in Baptists). The third Baptist church in America was Swansea, Mass – and it’s kind of a touchstone for Briders. They try to be baptized by someone from Swansea, because it’s been continuously running since its inception (so has the Newport church, but they gloss over that).

Head spinning yet? If this concerns you, you’ll need to research it elsewhere. I’m a quasi-Landmarkist IFB, but I’m not a Baptist Brider or a Chain-link successionist by any sense.

My position is doctrinal succession. If a Pentecostal church tomorrow were to wake up and say, “Hey… we’re doing things that aren’t Biblcai” and adopted Baptist doctrine and polity, would they be a real church? Briders say no.

Landmark Baptists tend towards “yes”, but they’re divided on the issue.

I say yes.

A real church can be started in any way – it just needs Christians, proper doctrine, and proper polity.

More tomorrow!

Churches Explained – What is “Polity”?

What is polity?
Polity is kind of what it sounds like – politics.

That got everyone who’s in ministry to laugh.

Polity is the church governing structure.

Protestant and Catholic churches have what’s called a “clergy/Laity” polity – there is a division in the class between the people in the pew and the pulpit. The Reverend/Priest/Father/etc. serves as Christ’s replacement while the Lord is away.

Baptists have a “pastoral” polity – there is no division between pulpit and pew. The pastor serves as Christ’s steward on earth, overseeing the church for the Lord while He is away.

Protestant and Catholic polity is further divided into groups. There is the clergy overseeing that church body, there is a over-clergy who watches over them (“Bishop” is the usual term), and they report to higher authorities, sometimes geographical (city, state, nation, hemisphere, world, and the head of that organization, such as Pope).

Among Protestants, there’s sometimes a over-laity just as there’s an over-clergy. This is the presbyers, or elders. Most Calvinist churches have boards of “elders” who represent the congregation.

I’ve used quote marks around certain terms, as Biblically Elder, Pastor, Bishop are all synonymous terms for the same office. There’s no Biblical support for a prebytery or “board of elders”.

Before Baptists can be smug, allow me to make the same statement about Deacon Boards overseeing pastors. It’s not Biblical, and it has a great deal of potential issues concerning the Believer’s judgment. What is the head of a Southern Baptist Deacon Board going to say to the Lord when the Lord asks pointed questions about an unBiblical “deacon board ordering pastors to do something/not do something” situation? Deacons are servants of the church, and not an appointed group to oversee a pastor.

So, how is Church polity supposed to be, Biblically?

“And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” (Acts 15:4, KJV)

Church – Apostle – Elder.

To understand the designation Apostle, we need to know that it is the Greek counterpart to “shluchim” or “Shaliach” in Hebrew, meaning “sent one”. To be an Apostle, one has to be personally trained and sent by the Lord Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean by Bible reading and studying in your apartment or home office – this means walking physically with Jesus Christ, living with Him day to Day, and finally being Commissioned and sent by Him.

Since the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven at the beginning of Acts, it is impossible to be an Apostle. The only Exception was Paul, and Paul spent years in the Arabian desert with Jesus Christ, learning. Why? I can guess, but let’s leave that one to “we’ll ask Him when we see Him face to face.”
Further study of the epistles show us that Apostles plant churches, train up pastors, and move on, serving only as a guide for churches. Only if things went drastically wrong with a church doctrinally did any Apostle interfere, and it seems to be limited to Corinth and Galatia.

Since the office of Apostle is gone (limited to the twelve and Paul), there’s no replacement for it today. With no apologies to the hordes of Pentecostal pastors who’ve ordained themselves as “apostle” ever since Fred Price did it first – you’re not apostles. You can’t be.

So, the polity of the church Biblically is limited to Pastor/Elder/Bishop (technically, Bishop is the most common Biblical term), and congregation. The pastor is not “clergy”, a different class of Christian, but rather, a Christian (at least, one hopes). The congregation is not “laity”, a lower class of Christian, but Christians (again, one hopes). Deacons are part of the congregation.

See why I say Polity is the same as “politics”? Everyone who’s not an Independent Baptist is pretty much offended by everything I just wrote!

Roots of Rationalism

(T)he foundations of theological liberalism are found in German idealistic philosophy, particularly the philosophy of identity. At its heart, this position rests upon panentheism and therefore confuses the human with the divine. The roots of this theory do not rest on Christian revelation but upon a philosophy influenced by realism, pragmatism, positivism, naturalism, and existentialism.

Norman, R. Stanton. The Baptist Way: Distinctives of a Baptist Church. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005.

I remember when I first got saved I heard about theological liberalism, also called theological modernism and “progressive theology”, that it had been a huge problem in the late 1880’s into the 1930’s – but that it had been washed away by New Evangelicalism in the 1940’s.

Shortly after that, I discovered that Evangelicalism was not Fundamentalism. I wanted to know the difference, and found that what New Evangelicalism claimed was… Not what the Bible taught.

That was an instant shift into Fundamentalism and I’ve never looked back.

I began to look at Christianity with Bible Believing Fundamentalist eyes, and I was shocked – because what I saw was that the VAST MAJORITY of protestant Christianity was theologically modernist, liberal or progressive – I don’t care which term you prefer. Most Christians claimed to beliefs in inerrancy – and very firmly! – and yet when speaking their beliefs they were saying something different.

This is why I wrote my statement of faith for this blog, starting with the first three paragraphs:

We Believe in the Holy Bible.

1.1. The Holy Bible is the divine revelation of God (2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Sam. 23:2, 1 Thes. 2:13, 2 Pet. 1:21)

1.2. The Holy Bible is Inerrant, without error and perfect, each word chosen by God and given to men to be written down word-for-word by holy men of God as moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Sam. 23:2, 1 Thes. 2:13, 2 Pet. 1:21)

1.3. The entire Bible, and all of its words are inspired, infallible and inerrant, not suffering loss in transmission, supernaturally preserved from the time of the Apostles to today through the Masoretic Text Old Testament and the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament (Psalm 12:6-7, 2 Tim. 3:16).

Philip C. Dean, Open Bible Baptist Church (My Fundamentalist Writings, 2013).

It sounds horribly redundant. Why? Because of the illustration I commonly quote –

A University president called a professor in and showed her the new statement of faith, and demanded she sign it. She looked at it and sneered, “That accomplishes nothing. I can make that mean anything I want.”

“You’re fired.” He said.

“You can’t fire me. I have tenure.” She said.

“I can make that mean anything I want.”

The bottom line is, we’re surrounded by people who say they believe in an inerrant, inspired Bible – but what they mean by that is not what you and I mean.

In other words, they’re liars.

One of my own role models in ministry used to have a firm stance on the inerrancy of the Bible. His statement of faith no longer has that. I wrote to him two years ago and pointed that out, inviting him to change it. He ignored it.

I’m scared.

We’re just surrounded by false teachers.

If you are in ministry and you do not believe the Bible is without factual or historical errors – you’re stealing a pulpit. Resign. Get a day job.

Beware of Andy Stanley

Apparently, Andy Stanley does not like to be criticized.

Then my advice is, get your beliefs right.

Andy Stanley is opposed to a literal understanding of the Bible. If you ask him to his face, he will tell you, yes – the Bible is inspired.

The question is, how does he view “inspired”?

It’s a big question. It’s one that most Evangelical pastors can’t answer honestly.

Inspired comes to us from “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, KJV)

The word Inspired, as I’ve said before, is θεόπνευστος in the greek. Theo – God and Pneustos – breathed. Breathed in from God = in spired (in spire to breathe in, as opposed to ex spire, to breath out. The term expired really refers to “last breath”).

Did God breath in the spirit of God into the words of the Bible?

Andy Stanley will tell you yes. Then his sermon on Sunday will tell you no.

When theological liberals (and Andy Stanley is indeed a theological liberal) claim to believe in Inerrancy and Inspiration of Scripture, what they’re really saying is, “I believe in making a lot of money – please don’t fire me.”

My questions are this – do you believe there are errors in the Bible? Yes or no?

Andy Stanley will tell you no. And his Sunday sermon will hint he believes there are.

My next question is this – do you believe God literally chose the very words of Scripture? Yes or No?

It’s so funny – the average “just got saved last week” Christian who hasn’t been taught anything believes that. I believe that, and I’ve been saved for a while.

Andy Stanley will either say no, or he’ll say yes – and his Sunday sermon will tell you no.

Next Question – do you believe Jesus Christ is God? yes or no?

Andy Stanley will tell you – again – yes. And his Sunday Sermon will hint “No… but that doesn’t matter.”

See, the point is, Andy Stanley firmly believes in Jesus Christ – but not the Bible. It’s an untenable conviction.

But Andy isn’t quite sure what he believes about Jesus – because he confesses Jesus Christ dying for us. But he denies the Bible.

Do you find some of the Bible’s stories about God unsettling? Do you ever wonder how you can trust Jesus if it requires you to believe everything in the Bible is true? Does Christianity seem like a fragile house of cards that may tumble down in the face of scientific or archaeological discovery? Before you abandon your faith, it’s worth exploring this question: What if the Bible isn’t the foundation of the Christian faith? — Andy Stanley

Read that and tell me if that doesn’t scare you. Here’s what scares me – he said this years ago and still has a job.

Question one – “Do you find some of the Bible’s stories about God unsettling?” My answer – no.

Question two – “Do you ever wonder how you can trust Jesus if it requires you to believe everything in the Bible is true?” My answer – um… this is a question designed to elicit a pre-determined answer. Let me explain. Trusting Jesus does require me to believe everything in the Bible is true, because Jesus Himself taught this. If you do not believe everything in the Bible is true, you do not trust Jesus Christ!!!

Question three – “Does Christianity seem like a fragile house of cards that may tumble down in the face of scientific or archaeological discovery?” My answer – no. My rebuttal question is this – “Does scientific theory consistently account for the facts we have in evidence? Answer – no. So – why are we required to determine whether or not the Bible is true when scientists find seals and coins proving the Bible, and they deny the very evidence of what they’re holding?

question Four – “What if the Bible isn’t the foundation of the Christian faith?” Answer – but it IS.

You may claim to believe Jesus Christ. You may try to claim salvation because you believe He rose from the dead.

But Andy Stanley dismisses the Virgin Birth as myth or “Stories”. He claims to believe he’s saved because Jesus rose from the dead, but he’s not answering the central question of the Gospels – “Who do ye say that I am?”

Andy Stanley doesn’t believe in the virgin birth – so he denies the deity of Jesus Christ.

Anyone who denies the deity of Jesus Christ is not saved. They do not have eternal life. They will not go to heaven. They face an unbearable eternity of unending suffering and torment in Hell.

“One of the challenging things about the Christmas season and one of the challenging things about the Christmas story is, in fact, the Christmas story – the Christmas story as it relates to the birth of Jesus. Because there is so much miraculous, there is so much amazing, there is so much that’s really unbelievable about it and a whole lot of people just don’t believe; and I understand that. Maybe the thought is that they had to come up with some myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street “cred” later on. It is interesting because Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Jesus. Luke does, but Mark and John don’t even mention it; and a lot has been made of that. And you have heard me say some version of this a million times, but if somebody can predict their own death and resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world, because the whole resurrection thing is so amazing and, in fact, you should know this. Christianity does not hinge on the truth or even the stories about the birth of Jesus, it really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.” — Andy Stanley (emphasis mine)

This is a red herring – Andy’s trying to distract you by saying things that SOUND good, so you’ll “Amen” – and you completely miss the part that he’s calling the Virgin Birth a myth. By adding the words “the truth” to the virgin birth, Stanley provides himself with deniability. He tries to give himself wiggle room.

The facts are this – Christianity hinges upon the truth of Jesus Christ. If He is not God in human flesh, then it doesn’t really matter if he rose from the dead! It means he atoned for his own sins, because all men sin.

But Jesus Christ is without sin. He is sinless. He perfectly kept the law so we do not have to. He is without sin and knows no sin.

If Jesus Christ was not virgin born, then He would inherit the curse of sin and death from Adam, and would not be able to atone for us!

Fortunately for us, Stanley is wrong.

Christianity DOES hinge upon the truth of the virgin birth! I’m very concerned about the truth of this, because the Bible tells us. If it tells us, then it’s important.

His church should do the only right thing, and dismiss him immediately.

Keep Praying

You know, if God just gave you everything you asked for the moment you prayed for it. you’d probably pray maybe four times in your lifetime.

“Lord, just give me three hundred million dollars.”

“Lord heal me.”

“Lord, don’t let me die.”

“Lord, save me.”

That’s about it.

And maybe I’d finally get back that yellow truck I had as a kid.

God in His infinite Wisdom often tells us “not yet”.

For our good.

We don’t like that, but God knows what’s best.

I think the first hundred of the thousand years, maybe Jesus Christ will speak to us one by one and say, “you prayed for this – here’s why I said no.”

And we’ll be weeping and praising, because He’ll show us why.

Thank God.

Then He’ll spend maybe another hundred years telling us, “Here’s why I said, not yet.”

And He’ll give it to us.

Heaven’s going to be great.

You’ll all recognize me. I’ll be the guy who lives in a cardboard box near the Temple and a sign “will Blog for food”, because I got no rewards.

And there’ll be a yellow metal truck toy sitting next to the cardboard box.