Saturday, February 16, 2008

Now Here's a Church I Would Love to be a Part of...

Because of our current situation, we are without a church home. This has been the case for about a year now. For those who do not know, we were serving on the mission field in India. About a year ago, we noticed a lump on the side of our son's neck; it turned out to be Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (a type of cancer). After several months of much prayer and chemotherapy back here in Georgia, my son was healed. We praise the Lord for His great mercy to Bobby!

In light of this situation, we have been hesitant to join any church. We have been primarily attending one SBC church here in Georgia, and the people here have been great to us. However, we do not know that we will continue to attend this church.

The more my wife and I look at scripture, the more we see a model of families worshiping together. We see parents (especially fathers) taking the responsibility for the discipling of their children. We also see churches that believe the bible is the word of God and live according to it. We see churches that honestly believe that God is sovereign in all things, including salvation. We see churches with leadership in the form of multiple elders. We see churches that seem to have a desire for regenerate members.

Are there any churches out there like this? If so, where are they?

I have already mentioned on this blog my deep respect for Voddie Baucham. His book, Family Driven Faith, is one of the best that I have read in quite some time. Today I took a look at his church's website. Grace Family Baptist Church (GFBC), where Dr. Baucham is one of the elders, is a family-integrated church in the Houston, TX area. Their beliefs and values line up almost perfectly with ours.

GFBC lists its beliefs like this:
-We believe in the sufficiency of scripture.
-We practice systematic exposition.
-We seek regenerate church membership.
-We are committed to baptism of believers by immersion.
-We practice congregational church government with elders leading the way.
-We practice family integration.

GFBC also holds primarily to the London Baptist Confession of 1689, which is the confession that we most heartily agree with.

Listen to the GFBC core values:
-Sufficiency of scripture (repeated from above)
-Biblical view of conversion
-Christ-exalting worship
-Biblical worldview
-Biblical community
-Biblical manhood/womanhood
-Blessing of children
-Nobility of motherhood
-Family discipleship
-Christian education

We believe all of these values are very important. We believe we would fit in nicely at this church. Unfortunately for us, it is located over 1,000 miles away. So what are we to do?

After looking at GFBC's website, I searched the Vision Forum site to see if there are any family-integrated churches in this section of Georgia. There isn't even one!

In light of this, we are praying to God to find out whether or not He wants us to plant a family-integrated church in the Savannah, GA area. One "hang-up" right now is that I do not have a job, but we know that providing one is an easy thing for the omnipotent Creator of the universe.

What is going to come of this? I don't know, but I look forward to sharing with you what God does.

I have a job interview on Monday. We have committed to planting this type of church here if God says to do so. If this job works out, then maybe it is a first sign that it will happen.

6 comments:

Pastor Erik DiVietro said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts both here and on Tom in the Box.

It sounds like you would fit well in our church, but we're in New Hampshire so I think that would quite a commute.

Elder rule is not very common in the SBC but there has been a transition to "staff led" churches which are elder-rule in practice but not in vocabulary.

Eric said...

Erik,

Thanks for your nice words about this blog and TBNN.

I agree that NH is a bit of a commute. I'm glad to hear that there are some evangelical churches in that part of the country. I suppose that one good thing about New England is that you would more clearly know who the Christians are and who they aren't. Down here in the bible belt, it often gets murky with many "Cultural Christians."

When I referred to elder leadership, I was suggesting a church where elders lead, but where the body still makes the important decisions. I agree that this is not common in SBC churches, but it is clearly closer to the biblical model than is deacon-rule. It also does away with the 40-60 committees that so many SBC churches have.

morningmeditations said...

What does this phrase mean? "We seek regenerate church membership." This expression "regenerate church membership" is new to me. Does it mean that only believers are 'members' of the church?

Please explain,
Steve

Eric said...

Steve,

Thanks for commenting on this blog.

The term "regenerate church membership" (at least as I am using it here) simply means that the people who join with a local church body should actually be followers of Jesus Christ.

As a Southern Baptist, I see many churches within our denomination where many members are living as sinfully as the world is. You can hardly see a difference between the church and the world in those situations. Where is the "salt and light"?

Meanwhile, the bible writers make it clear that Christ's people are supposed to live holy lives. First Peter 1:14-16 comes to mind (As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy.")

The church should be made up of saved people. However, the unsaved should certainly be invited to come visit with the church when it gathers. The church should not shun the world, but must confront the world with both the holiness of God and the gift of the gospel.

I hope that is a clear answer.

Eric

Safe Thus Far said...

Hi, Eric

Alice will remember me from Houghton, and I've been on your prayer list from the beginning. I can't believe I stumbled across your blog (which I didn't even know you had) while googling the phrase "plant a family integrated church." I have so often wished somehow in the back of my mind that you guys could do just that thing!! And I didn't even have any idea if you were inclined that way or not. Isn't that weird? Wow--I am very excited to see that you're thinking about this.

Many, many blessings to you and your family.

Susan

Eric said...

Susan,

Thank you for praying for our family through this whole saga we've been on.

It's funny that you came across my blog by accident. Alice and I do have interest in planting a family-integrated church here in Savannah, but at this point we're not sure what is going to happen.

I know Alice will like to look at your blog and comment there. You can find her blog at www.thinkingasawoman.blogspot.com.

Eric