Over 20 years ago when I joined the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, I did so because I could clearly see that the liberalness of the Bible Church I was attending was not only not Scriptural, but actually a stumbling block in the lives of church members.
I was saved at the age of 15 through the ministry of Calvary Chapel in Vista, California. I will always thank God for the life of my youth pastor, Alex Brown, and his dear wife Kristy Brown who discipled me. If it was not for the two of them, I am not sure I would be where I am today.
After getting saved I dove into the word of God and as I did I began to notice some things that my church taught that conflicted with the Bible. Each time I saw a contradiction I asked the pastoral staff about the contradiction and they gave me their answers as to why they believed and taught the way they did. Over a time period of about 18 months I had a list of about 4-5 things I felt just did not make sense.
When I joined the Independent Baptist Church it was like all of my doubts were answered. The things that I thought were wrong were now preached against. I was glad to find a church that finally taught me the WHOLE truth of God’s word… not just the parts that they thought would not offend me!
One of the main differences that I saw right away in my life was that I could finally get victory over sin. After church on Sunday and Wednesday nights a group of us from Calvary Chapel would go out for coffee. It was one of the highlights of my week. I craved fellowshipping with other Christians. I enjoyed talking about God and our new experiences and sharing stories of who we witnessed to during the week. One of the things that never failed though was that it always seemed like my new friends were telling me: “Please pray for me. I am struggling with this sin.” Or “Please pray for me. I just fell into this sin again.”
Although we were taught salvation and given a solid foundation for many Biblical principles, one of the shortcomings was teaching us how to stay away from sin.
What was absent was simply teaching people to separate from the world so that they could learn to live a victorious Christian life. In its place was a teaching called “Lifestyle evangelism” and “Jesus loves you just the way you are”. Yes He does! He does love us just the way we are! But He hates sin! We do need to live in such a way that others are compelled to ask us about Jesus. But what is that way? We cannot be serving drinks at a bar and then giving them a tract as they leave! We cannot have a cigarette in one hand and a Bible in the other! We cannot be in a two piece bikini bathing suit and try to pray with someone!
What so many people misunderstand is that they think that the church provides us a list of do’s and don’ts. People tell me all the time: Oh your church does not allow you to do that? It is not about the “church” allowing or not allowing. It is about setting myself up to live a victorious Christian life. There are things I do and do not do not because they in themselves are wrong, but by not doing them, I can avoid any chance of sin.
But I am now off topic!
At 18 I went to Bible college, graduated, came back to my Independent Baptist church in Vista, met my husband, and in 2001 we left for the mission field in Puebla, Mexico where we have been serving since then.
In Mexico we have always strived to build a church that honors God. We made sure that our church workers did not serve in leadership positions unless they were living holy lives. We made sure that our music was the same standard we learned in Bible college. We made sure that our teens knew what our dress standards were and helped them by giving them culottes or skirts. We did this not because we were trying to please man. But God. Our goal is to build a Holy, Christ honoring church. We did this knowing that there were going to be people that were going to leave our church. But that was okay. We did not need to build a mega church. We want to build a church of believers that love and serve God.
All the while we believed that the churches we looked up to, the churches we admired, the churches we learned from… were all still doing the same. We had the truth. We were part of the movement that was closest to the Word of God as we taught a balance between Biblical principles and standards of separation.
This last year we have taken our very first furlough. We were so sad to leave our work and only did so in absolute necessity. After serving on the field for over 11 years, we needed to come back and raise much needed funds. We were excited to show our kids that everything that we taught and had been teaching over the last 11 years on the mission field was also taught in the churches in the states. We were excited to show them the culture of the Independent Baptists. The love for the things of God.
Although MOST of the churches we have visited have been HUGE blessings to us and our family… there are some things that began to concern us!
What used to be old fashioned hymns has changed to praise music!
What used to be modestly dressed choir members has changed to skirts above the knees and tight shirts.
What used to be Church bookstores filled with books written by Godly men has changed to bookstores that sell any book by any author if it kind of sort of falls in our standards!
What used to be modest God-honoring culottes that looked like skirts has changed to “gouchos” that look more like shorts… and sometimes above the knees!
We have even dropped off our kids in the nursery to workers wearing pants!
From my perspective… having come from Calvary Chapel… what I see … and I could be wrong… but in my opinion I see that the Calvary Chapel type of ministry and church services is creeping into our Independent Baptist Churches. One of the major indicators is the new “Praise Team” that stands in front of the church to lead the praise music. Not even hymns!
In Bible college I learned that one of the first things to go in a church is always the music. Everything is downhill after that.
The new style of a Praise Team standing in front of the church singing praise music instead of hymns is that sign. It is that red flag. It is that warning. It is the first step down a slippery slope towards liberality!
Building a mega church is not the measure of success in God’s eyes. Building a Holy church that loves and honors God… a church that produces soul-winners… a church that produces pastors… a church that produces missionaries… a church that produces families whose kids love and serve God is!