As a young person I can remember vividly an illustration that Pastor Hyles gave on numerous occasions regarding the Biblical literacy of his parishioners. Here is a brief summary of the story--you will get the gist. A pastor (obviously a BJU or Master's Seminary educated "deeper- lifer") told Bro. Hyles that he basically had a church full of busy Christians who knew very little Bible doctrine--Hyles proceeded to challenge the pastor to a Bible knowledge showdown. Bro. Hyles offered to write up some questions for this other pastor's flock and the other pastor was to do likewise--only one church would be crowned Bible Bowl Champion! Of course the other pastor (he will remain nameless since he probably was invented for this story) declined the challenge and at this point the raucous FBCH Sunday evening crowd would erupt into wild shouts of "Glory!" and "Come on, Preacher!" This was one of my favorite bits that Pastor Hyles would regularly entertain us with.
Fast forward 20 years to 2004--Pastor Jack Schaap is now at the helm of the USS Sibley and he has obviously bought into the bit about FBCH and her "well fed" flock. I was recently thumbing through a book written by Jack Schaap entitled, "Principles of Church Growth", and found some gems that go along perfectly with this idea of IFBxers and their "well fed" and "well watered" congregations. What initially caught my attention was the very first chapter, "Rich, Fat, Salty, Lazy, and Dead". Here are some highlights--this will take a couple of posts:
Pastor Schaap begins with some interesting facts about the Dead Sea also known as the Salt Sea. He points out that this body of water is well fed but does not flow anywhere--apparently this is what causes it to be toxic and unable to sustain life. Pastor Schaap goes on to relate this story to the First Baptist Church of Hammond and the "fact" that she is now and always has been "well fed". On page 10 of his book, Principles of Church Growth, Pastor Schaap writes:
"The congregation of the First Baptist Church of Hammond has been and continues to be well fed. I do not apologize for that statement. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a student of the Bible, I study it diligently, and have been studying and preaching it for nearly 30 years. When I first began teaching at Hyles-Anderson College, my wife can testify to this, there was rarely a night that I went to bed before 1:30 in the morning because I was studying and laboring. With my books all around me, I had no idea that I was gathering into the storage files of my mind the tools necessary to bring to the First Baptist Church congregation the truths that I teach and preach week after week.
I was a student of Brother Hyles and other good men. I love good books. I have been a reader of good books and a student of good men for these nearly 30 years that I have been in the ministry...I say all of that to say this: First Baptist Church was well fed by Brother Hyles. First Baptist Church continues to be well fed from the pulpit--that is important to me. I work hard at it. I want the First Baptist Church congregation to be well fed, and they will continue to be well fed."
Those of you who currently attend or have attended FBCH in the past--would you agree with Pastor Schaap's unbiased assessment? I certainly do not listen to every message preached at FBCH, but judging from the sermons I have recently listened to his statements are somewhat curious. Part 2 will tell us how Pastor Schaap comes to this conclusion and what his definition of a "well fed" church actually is.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Philippians 1:9-11 ESV "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."