- Jim Townsley
- Jan 5, 2012
Churches that have remained true to the Word of God and continued to start churches are largely the Independent Fundamental Baptists. While many denominations have compromised, many independent churches have remained true to the Word of God. In my opinion, the hope of revival in America is largely dependent upon our fundamental churches. If my opinion is correct, then a great responsibly lies with our churches to bring about a moving of God upon our country. If a pouring out of revival comes to America it must result in the starting of thousands of more Independent Fundamental Baptist churches and they must be the right kind of churches. Too many churches have the right creed, but no life. Far too many churches have no vision for revival or any burden for reaching the lost.
In the past there have been refreshing periods of revival in America. At the end of the nineteenth century the ratio of churches preaching the gospel was approximately one in five hundred. I realize some of those churches were not our stripe, but they did at least preach the gospel so that a sinner could be saved. Among our Independent Fundamental Baptist churches we have approximately thirteen thousand in America. This means that the ratio of Independent fundamental Baptist churches is approximately one chruch for every twenty-four thousand citizens. In addition, many of those thirteen thousand churches are weak and compromising. While the total population of America is increasing our fundamental church movement is contracting. We are not even keeping pace with the population growth. Fewer churches are responsible for more souls. It is obvious that we need more churches if we are to change this trend.
However, in our effort to start more churches we must be careful to start the right kind of churches. There are many dangerous trends in our society and we must recognize their threat to the work of God. I believe it is biblical for churches to be independent. An independent church has no hierarchy and can dictate biblical doctrine and practice. The autonomy of the local church is a primary Baptist distinctive. There may have been some good accomplished by denominational groups in the past, but strings are often attached keeping the church loyal to the denomination. When a denomination compromises it affects every member church. When an independent church compromises it only involves that single church. There are many additional reasons to be independent that are too numerous to list in a brief article.
Conversely, merely being independent does not guarantee the church to be fundamental. A church can be independent and still not be fundamental. A fundamental church holds to certain fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Every fundamental church adheres to the virgin birth, salvation by grace alone, the deity of Christ, and all of the basic tenets of Christianity. Fundamentalism goes beyond the basic doctrines and includes separation from the world, evangelization of the lost, and conservative church music. Being Independent, and being fundamental are both important imperative for a church to be strong.
But a third matter is the designation "Baptist." It is becoming increasingly more popular for churches to remove Baptist from their name. I believe this to be a dangerous trend. Being a Baptist means something. Why do so many Bible churches add a parenthesis to their church sign stating (Baptistic?) Aren't they trying to designate something about their church? Why don't they just state they are Baptists? The designation of Baptist states that a church follows the doctrinal tenants of the historic Baptists. Those tenets are biblical. Being a Baptist is, in my opinion, most closely following the doctrine and pattern of the New Testament church. If we are to emulate this early church then we should stand strong by clearly stating who we are.
I firmly believe the hope of revival in America is for Independent Fundamental Baptist churches to humbly pray and seek God's face. We must be focused on revival and church planting will be a result of revival. Compromising and watering down who we are "may" increase the attendance, but it will greatly diminish the work we are called to do. I am proud to say I am an Independent Fundamental Baptist and my vision is to start churches and pray for revival.