Thursday, March 27, 2008

You Write the Caption!

On a much lighter note, let's play a fun game of "You Write the Caption" for this photo. I have a few that I jotted down already, but I want to see everyone's creative side before I reveal them! Let's keep it clean and above reproach now people!

PT Barnum

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.