Before you read this, you may want to read part one (click here – A Historical Perspective on Keeping Young Fundamental Baptists in the Camp)
I vividly remember the decision before me as a young Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) preacher. The “Young Fundamentalist” movement was very popular among my young preacher friends and the mood of that day was to “jump ship” and leave the IFB movement. I chose to stay in the IFB. I’m glad I did and here are the reasons why!
Now in this generation each young man will be making that decision. Of course IFB churches have problems, what group of churches doesn’t, but I stayed with the IFB churches for these seven reasons. I realize there are other groups of churches that would be characterized by some of these seven reasons, but few would fit all seven. I also want to say this is not an exhaustive list of what is good about IFB churches or doctrine, but rather a list of reasons I chose to stay an IFB preacher. A decision I am still standing by.
7 Reasons to Stay an Independent Fundamental Baptist
They Love the Word of God
IFB churches encourage people to read their Bible, carry it to church, memorize it, live it and love it! The Bible is very important and never capitulates to science, psychology, emotion, or experience.
IFB preachers and churches take hits for their strong KJV or KJB positions. Most would recognize that there are extreme positions in regards to this issue. If you don’t recognize extreme positions in this area there is a good chance you hold an extreme position. I find that many who are disgruntled and many outsiders to the IFB think that everyone in the IFB hold the most extreme positions (i.e. Ruckminism, double inspiration, etc.). We do not.
As I talk with IFB preachers who are “KJV Only” or “Only KJV,” I find a wide array of positions on the KJV issue spectrum. They vary on many levels and to the degree they are willing to make it a separation issue. But the thing that I love and is so refreshing is that it is motivated by a love for the Word of God. God’s churches should love the Word of God and have a heart to protect it. Frankly it is one of the most “touchy” issues to talk with others about because it is at the core of God’s communication with mankind. We believe that it is very important, and rightfully so. We appreciate and respect someone’s desire to protect God’s Word.
They preach the Word of God. Again there are guys who “preach” stories and pull verses out of context, but there are guys like that in every movement. Pastors with whom I have fellowship within the IFB are not fans of such a method, and don’t invite preachers who do so into their pulpits. It is sad that many who have left the IFB world for the higher learning world often believe that higher learning is a prerequisite for expository preaching. We know this is not the case. The Holy Spirit can use the preaching of unlearned and ignorant men who love Jesus, the Bible, and study it to the best of their ability.
There are many groups outside of IFB churches that put too little emphasis on the Bible. I stand with the IFB and their love for the Bible!
They Love the Souls of Mankind
Door-to-door, relational, missional, and confrontational soul winning is practiced in IFB churches, each to different degrees in various churches. Big days and buses are perceived by critical outsiders as ways to boost attendance, but the reality is IFB churches love people and want to do all they can to reach as many as they can. Can those things be done in the flesh? Yes, but they can be and are done in the power the Holy Spirit and as a result people are reached. I find it is a bit unsettling to see so many people leaving and then bashing the IFB movement when they or their family were reached with the Gospel by an IFB church!
Groups that want to be critical about our zeal for souls will often measure the validity of the method by the effectiveness. That thinking reeks of pragmatism. God never called us to only use methods that “work,” but rather He called us to tell every creature. The working in the heart is up to Him. I have seen IFB churches go to the slums and ghettos to tell them about Jesus. I have seen people sacrifice just about every evening of an entire month, to knock on doors to tell people about the saving grace of Jesus! Are there better ways? Maybe. Do we always “get it right”? Probably not. But by the grace of God and with His help we want to share the Good News with everyone!
There are many groups outside of IFB churches that seldom, if ever, even encourage people to be a verbal witness for Jesus Christ. I stand with the IFB and their love for the souls!
They Send Missionaries to the Uttermost Part of the World
All around this globe there are IFB missionaries. They are winning souls and planting indigenous, autonomous churches. They do not come to an area to set up a tent, preach a few messages, and then leave. They move their families and their lives into the field the Lord has called them to. They love the people they are reaching and immerse themselves into knowing them, their language and their culture (to the extent that often missionary children suffer from culture shock when they move back to the United States).
They have a plan to share the Good News and plant churches. They are not there to feed them or meet their medical needs, although at times they do feed people and help meet medical needs. They understand the greatest long term hope for any people group is the Gospel, and an established church to keep it and propagate it. IFB churches pray and strategize on how to reach every soul in the world with the Gospel in obedience to Christ’s command.
There are many groups outside of IFB churches that make very little to no effort to establish churches that will remain in foreign mission fields. I stand with the IFB and their Plans to Send Missionaries to the Uttermost Part of the World!
They have No Desire to be Contemporary, Don’t Love the World, and are Willing to Bear the Reproach of Christ.
You won’t walk into your average IFB church and find a “Cool” pastor. You won’t find the church trying to be like Hollywood. You will find that they are probably despised by a pretty large segment of the lost world around them. These are not negative traits, but rather indicators that they have a commitment to God before anyone else.
Being contemporary is not a goal at all! The word contemporary means “of the times.” Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world…” The word “world” in this verse in the Greek is the word “aion” which means “of the age.” I’m very comfortable with a group of churches that are “behind the times” because God has commanded them not to be of this age. If a church is contemporary they would have to be, by definition, of this age, and God has clearly commanded us not to be. The Lord’s churches will always be slow at “coming up with the times,” because He commanded us not to be contemporary. Furthermore, the Biblical principle of “testing all things” necessarily implies a cautious and measured approach to “change”. IFB preachers have for years preached against everything from wire rimmed glasses, the internet, and yes even Facebook (some still do that), but through time and testing they can find them to be safe, or in some cases a dangerous snare of the devil. Do they always “get it right?” No, but I’m glad they care enough to be careful.
They also are willing to preach against the world system around them. Whether it be the sensuality of Hollywood or the materialism of Wall Street, they will cry against it. They recognize that the power to reach the world is in being not conformed to it (a Biblical principle taught throughout the Bible – Dan. 3, Mat. 5:13-16; I Cor. 15:34).
They are not liked. They are persecuted. They know that Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26) Are there IFB people and pastors who are jerks, pick fights, and seem to go out of their way to be hated? Yes, but the vast majority of them are not that way. They are normally broken and humbled when, by taking a stand, they are persecuted or under attack. The Bible teaches extensively that when we follow Christ we will bear His reproach. (Mat. 5:10-12; Jn. 15:18-17; Heb. 11:23-27; 13:13)
There are many groups outside of IFB churches that brag about being contemporary, work very hard at being like the world system, and seek to be liked by everyone (they’re “Cool”). I stand with the IFB in not being contemporary, in rejecting the world system, and in being rejected by the world!
They Give Their Lives in Selfless & Sacrificial Service to God
Have you ever seen a man of God or a woman of God make sacrifices? I have. I’ve seen it in our church and in other IFB churches. Men and women of God who get up extra early to start buses, fix buses, and pick up needy kids on buses. They give their whole Saturday sometimes to knock on people’s doors to share the Gospel, or the whole day at a church-wide work day. They volunteer to help clean the church, cook meals, mow lawns, and a plethora of other things needed to be done around the church. They do all that without receiving a dime.
Critics like to say people only sacrifice because an IFB pastor has bullied them, or “guilt tripped” them into it. I think that is a low-down accusation that only impugns the dear saints of God who are serving in their IFB church. We have a “Man of God” in our church that I often think will have a greater reward at the judgment than me and many other preachers who vocationally serve the church. His name is Larry. He voluntarily and joyfully cleans our church with no pay. We would pay him if we could afford it, but we can’t. And do you know what? He doesn’t care. His testimony of sacrifice is such an encouragement to me!
Are there pastors who are “lords” over their flock and are hirelings, just in it for the money? Are their IFB pastors that are creepy psychopaths that manipulate the people? Yes and Yes, but most pastors I know are over worked and underpaid and are having the time of their life! I’ve seen progressive churches dishonor older pastors by kicking them out of parsonages. Men who have sacrificed almost everything materially this world has to offer. I’ve seen older pastors in the IFB die with very little of this world to their name.
There are many groups outside of IFB churches that sacrifice very little if at all and their pastors are paid very well to conduct one service a week, unless there is a holiday then they cancel church. I stand with the IFB as they give their lives is selfless & sacrificial service to God!
Care about the fatherless and widows
(I have to be honest and say I am convicted at this point. I have personally been too negligent in ministering to the widows in our church. I want to be transparent with you about this because it illustrates the point that IFB pastors and people are just that, people. We have shortcomings and sin issues just like any one else. And it is not always easy to share those, but we know they are there. Some pastors will “buck up” if confronted with sin and shortcomings and act like they don’t exist. Some will cower down and maybe quit or embrace sin even more. IFB pastors are frail men. If they appear strong, it is either the Lord in them, or they are faking it. In either case they know why they appear strong.)
(So the world out there that loves to hate the IFB and especially IFB pastors remember they are people that you can hurt. Have IFB pastors hurt people in their churches? Yes! There are nightmare stories out there about abuse and cover up. I think of websites like stufffundieslike.com which display some of the lunacy of IFB which to be honest about half the time are really funny, but the other half of the time (mostly in the comment section) are down right hateful, vindictive and are doing the very thing they claim to be “exposing”, hurting innocent IFB pastors, their families, and their churches.)
But the Lord is gracious to have a man of God in our church like, Bro. Wood, who cares for the widows in our church. We have many loving people in our church who help the hurting and make meals for the needy. I’ve seen IFB churches having nursing home services, build retirement homes, and take up offerings for widows.
Being from a broken home and my father choosing not to have very much contact with me, I’m glad I was in an IFB church where my youth pastor cared about me. He spent time with me and invited me into his home. He taught me about things from how to hang vinyl siding to how to be a man. In my mind he is not the IFB church exception, but what IFB churches are all about. He is still serving as an IFB church missionary to the uttermost parts of the world.
There are many groups outside of IFB churches that have no time for the weaker people of the world other than to throw a little money their way. I stand with the IFB as they care about the fatherless and widows.
They Care about the Lord’s Churches and Planting More.
Church attendance matters in the IFB world. Church polity matters in the IFB world. Church purity maters in the IFB world. There are those who will be critical about those statements, but why? I have no idea!
Jesus Christ established His church. I would think it would matter to Him how they are going. Jesus looks at churches as local, accountable assemblies of baptized believers; lead, shepherded, and overseen by an elder/pastor/bishop (different terms to describe the same person). (Rev. 2-3; I Pet. 5:1-4)
We need church! And we are glad Jesus gave us one. We need a pastor! And we are glad Jesus gave us one. We worship the Lord together. We receive instruction from the Holy Spirit together. We fellowship together, making friends that are sometimes closer to us than our own blood relatives. We evangelize together, taking all this Good News to people who need to hear it. And as if that’s not enough, we want to plant more churches just like ours all around the United States and the world. Sometimes we receive ridicule for planting a church right by another “gospel preaching” “contemporary” church, but we have learned from history that when a church ceases to live a miraculous Gospel, it will soon cease to preach a miraculous Gospel.
There are many groups outside of IFB churches that don’t even see a need for a church family or a pastor to shepherd them. I stand with the IFB as they care about the Lord’s churches and plant more.
Yeah, I’ll gladly stand with this group known as the IFB churches!
Let me encourage young preachers to stay. Not because we are problem free, but because of what we have and hold so dear. I can’t “try to keep” young fundamentalists in the camp, that is an impossibility. It will also get our focus off the things that matter. Why they leave is another question and I may deal with at a later date. We must remember our ability to keep them is not in our hands. It is a decision each of them will make. I pray they chose wisely based on the right reasons.