Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Numbers Are Still King in Hammond

Hello again everybody. I want to apologize for being gone again for such a long time. I have been very busy at work--a website redesign, safety program revamp, and usual business development duties. I have also been an assistant coach on my 9 year old son's basketball team. My 8 year old son has been playing basketball as well and my 20 month old girl is getting into everything!

I didn't want to pass on this opportunity since I have recently received an invitation to attend Pastor's School (this is where I copied this gem from) and a DVD with information on the meetings as well.

Obviously we take issue with a lot of what goes on in Hammond--one of our biggest problems is with their incessant penchant for NUMBERS. If you read the following article by Jack Schaap you will see this fetish clear as day. First Baptist Church of Hammond today is the same as the FBCH of Jack Hyles. Their self love is nauseating to me personally and it is comical to hear them define ministry success. I am looking forward to watching some of the morning sessions when Jack Schaap pontificates on what has "happened" to all the large independent fundamental churches of yesteryear!

Little does Jack Schaap realize it but it is entirely possible for the LORD to receive more glory from a bunch of "little" churches than from one "mega" church. I frankly don't care about mega churches--IMHO any church over 1,000 should be starting other churches all over their area instead of building the "mother church". Take a look at what our self proclaimed expert on "church growth" has to say:

"Do We Suffer From An Identity Crisis?"

"In 1976 Dr. Elmer Towns, dean of the Church Growth Institute at Liberty University, wrote a book about the largest Sunday schools in America. His purpose was to show what large churches were successfully doing which might help other churches to do their part in obeying the Great Commission as well. In his book, The 100 Largest Sunday Schools, he recorded 33 churches which today would be classified as mega churches. Of those 33 churches, 20 were independent Baptist churches. It seems we were moving on in obedience to the Lord.

During the same decade, my predecessor, former pastor, and mentor, Dr. Jack Hyles, made a short study of growing Baptist churches across America. His research revealed that the largest church of any kind in 14 different states was an independent Baptist church. It would appear, at least, that Baptists were on their way to doing what Baptists were supposed to do and that is reaching the lost with the Gospel, getting converts baptized, and teaching them to win others to Christ and to reproduce themselves spiritually.

At age 50, I stand over the midway point of my preaching career. Thirty-two years ago, I began my ministry amongst the most aggressive, growing, and influential pastors and churches. I have wondered to myself and asked my staff, “Where are independent Baptists 33 years later?” and the next obvious question, “Where are we going?”

I commissioned a team of my staff to do follow-up research on the same 14 churches that my predecessor researched over 30 years ago. I discovered that only one of the 14 still held the position of largest church in their state, and that is the church I pastor. I question not only where did the other 13 go, but also, what is the state of the church growth movement today? I do not make these statements to sit in judgment independent Baptists or of those who followed other church growth models, but rather to point out the obvious decline among those who over 33 years ago were very focused and successful.

It is my personal belief that Christ gave us the method and the model and the message. I am convinced that God would not give us such an important truth without giving us an example of how truth should be spread. Furthermore, there is both a consensus and confusion among church growth experts as to which model is successful, along with a tremendous hunger to find any method that will fill our pews. One of the most recent, oft-copied, contemporary models of church growth in America has admitted a failure in effectively discipling converts to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Nearly all Christian groups would agree that a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ is one of our foundational goals. If a comparison were made of Christian models, one would find a strong thread of commonality with that message. What is often the discrepancy is the method and model used.

I think it is valid to ask, “Where have we gone, and where are we going? Have we given up on building effective churches that pattern the book of Acts? Have we left the highways and hedges where the lame, the halt, the maimed, and the blind still await our coming?”

To those of us who diligently study church growth, we find that some vacillate between a prosperity Gospel and deeper life with an occasional visit to a soul-winning ministry. It appears we are never quite able to find the balance and cadence of the Great Commission.

Have our morals shifted along with our models? I fear some of us have become distracted by our brothers’ ministries and have found that acting as judge of our fellow-laborer’s ministry is easier than acting as a soldier performing our Christian duties.

This year’s Pastor’s School will be revelatory and relevant! Join me each morning at Pastor’s School as we examine the facts and search the Scriptures and exalt the Savior."

--Dr. Jack Schaap

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the fundyism from which we have come.



Anonymous said...

I hope you had a chance to listen to some of the sessions. Life changing is the way I describe last week for myself and many others who attended. The altars were full after every service...wonderful preaching each and every night...excellent preachers made for an amazing week.

You cannot deny that fundamentalism is not what it once was can you? I would love to see us get back to the glory days when the independent fundamental Baptist churches were the largest and most successful. I am grieved by the current state of our group and think that Jack Schaap can lead us back to the old days.

I have checked out a few of your other posts and have a suggestion for you. Why don't you guys go out and build something? How is it that you have so much criticism for a work that is obviously being blessed by God? I say that you should busy yourself with his work and let this blog go by the wayside.

Looks like the rest of fundamentalism has warmed back up to First Baptist of Hammond (Ron Hamilton, David Gibbs, Frank Garlock, and Dr. Jim Binney) so why can't you guys follow their lead?

Fort Worth, TX

Baptist Crusader said...

blah blah blah same old mindless puke.

David T. said...

If read Mr. Schaap's write-up, he clearly equates dwindling numbers with doing something wrong. Hammond and their circle has always held numerical growth as an indicator of success. This is the problem.

PT Barnum said...


Unfortunately (or fortunately) I did not get a chance to listen to any of the PS sessions. My kids were on Spring Break and so we were on vacation for the week. My experience with PS in the past has been nothing more than entertainment in much the same way one is amused at a three-ringed circus. Lots of yelling and hooting and hollering about nothing of much substance. One of the last ones I remember was the one where Hyles threw Bibles into the crowd and pastors were ripping them up to shouts of delight! I frankly wouldn't walk across the street to participate in another one.

As far as those other IFBs who have come to PS to participate since Hyles died--more power to them. I just don't want to hear anyone complain when Pastor So and So goes to the Shepherd's Conference or a Desiring God Conference or a Together for the Gospel meeting.

I hope that you check back in here from time to time. If nothing else maybe you can be entertained by our posts and comments?

Baptist Crusader,

I agree with your assessment of Schaap's article and "research" on the church growth movement!


Great to see you again! I read a book by R Kent Hughes a while back on this very syndrome! I only wish that I would have woken up and read it ten years earlier!


Anonymous said...

Dear Ft. Worth Tim,

I am not sure what fundamentalism it is that you are so yearning for but it sounds like something that is better left in the past.

A few questions: since when are full altars evidence of changed lives? Have you forgotten that full altars have been made a litmus test for all "true" hyper fundy churches by the current personalities within hyper-fundyism including but not limited to the modern-day Charles Grandison Finney Jack Schaap? Good luck with your voyage back to the funnymentalism of yesteryear.

As for Patch, Garlock, Gibbs, and Binney filling your definition of "the rest of fundamentalism"---I suggest that you get out a bit more or even read some more. The lure of being heralded before large crowds in Hammond can be an intoxicating thing indeed.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Tim, puker, etc., pick up Ian Murray's "Revival & Revivalism" and let it help you examine Schaap and others from a biblical POV...
Sam Hendrickson

Mike Hess said...

Tim from Ft. Worth,

It may be a good idea to realize that some of us have been to several pastor's schools in the past...I did listen to a few of the sessions online. Much of it was the same old "I do this, and I do that, and I built this and I am building that while you don't do this and do that" sort of drivel.

It would be a monumental mistake Tim to put the hope of this nation in a movement or man that covered up sin for decades, elevated men to unhealthy levels of worship, produced professions while failing to preach the demands of the gospel, concocting baptismal numbers (I know, I was there), insisting on extra-biblical standards, preaching the heretical KJVonly nonsense, and preaching doctrine that is incredibly man glorifying and man centered.

I pray in time this will come to light with you. Good to see that you have read some of the posts here. I hope that you will not be a stranger.


Will said...

I don't go to 1st Baptist I'm not a huge Jack Hyles fan, but he was definitely a man God used to see many people saved and their lives changed. I believe it would be better to honor a man that spent his life witnessing and discipling people, than to write a blog against what they're doing. But who am I? Here are some verses in the Bible.
Ac 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Ac 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Ac 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Ac 11:24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Ac 1:15 ¶ And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
Ac 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
Ac 6:1 ¶ And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Ac 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Ac 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
Ac 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Mr 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

I praise the Lord for men and women that would dedicate themselves to denying their desires and taking up the cross and following Christ. Christians that would dare stand for what is good and right. If our main purpose here on earth is to honor and glorify God, then what better way could you bring Him glory than by doing what He said. Which was "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel" Mark 16:15. As believers we are to obey God. His command is to Go and teach the gospel, make disciples, see them baptized, and teach them to do all the Christ commanded them. Which is to go and reach people. Why be so negative about some people that are doing that? Why don't we as Christians deny what we want and do what God commanded us to do? I went on a mission trip to Lapaz, Bolivia where there were over 2 million people. The vast majority of those people at the time didn't have a church that was preaching the gospel. So as I looked at those people I realized they may never die before they ever hear gospel of Christ! I went back to my hotel and cried asking God if He could use me somehow to be a witness. We were able to find a tract and print 700 copies of it, but obviously that is only part of the great commission. We need Christians to be willing to head God's command to teach, baptize and disciple others. Instead of complaining about other Christians why not just go out and reach people ourselves. I mean no offense to any of you on this blog, but isn't it time that God had a few Christians that were willing to follow Him no matter the cost!? Truthfully God doesn't need us, He never has needed us, but He loves us and desires to use us for His honor and glory. Why not be willing to do that?