Trinity Baptist and Hurricane Gustav

Trinity Baptist Church in Baton Rouge Louisiana took a significant hit from Hurricane Gustav. Yesterday I went by to check on my friend Pastor Dale Crawford and the damage to their building. Gustav blew the roof off, soaked their fellowship hall area, Sunday school classrooms, nursery and offices. Dale lost his library to water damage. Their insurance responded quickly and a clean up crew was already onsite gutting the buildings. Dale predicts they may be back in full operation in little over a month. Meanwhile, they plan to hold joint services with a sister church.

Dale and most in their congregation do not have power. Electricity may be down in Baton Rouge for over a month. Please pray for these folks as they clean-up, regroup, and persevere to the glory of God.

Trinity Baptist Church of Baton Rouge - Hurricane Gustavrent a car bulgaria

Trinity Baptist Church of Baton Rouge - Hurricane Gustav

Don Elbourne and Dale Crawford

Steve Lawson on the Doctrines of Grace

I just listened to a great series of sermons by one of my favorite preachers, Dr. Steve Lawson. He explains the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as Calvinism, following the familiar acronym TULIP, with crystal clarity, Biblical integrity, and contagious passion. Download the mp3s. Highly recommended:

Founders Conference 2008

Last week the National Founders Conference met in Owasso, Oklahoma. Speakers included Ed Stetzer, Andy Davis, Voddie Baucham, Tom Nettles, Don Whitney, Ted Christman, and Phil Newton. They have graciously made the audio available. I’ve already downloaded the mp3s to my iPod and look forward to hearing them all. While traveling yesterday, my wife and I listened to Andy Davis and his challenge to memorize scripture.

  1. Ted Christman on “An Exposition of Psalm 1?
  2. Andy Davis on “Dangers in Reforming a Church”
  3. Tom Nettles on “Biographical Sketch of Daniel Marshall”
  4. Voddie Baucham on “Building a Solid Doctrinal Foundation”
  5. Ed Stetzer on “Lengthening the Cords and Strengthening the Stakes, Part 1?
  6. Don Whitney on “Reforming Through Discipline”
  7. Ed Stetzer on “Lengthening the Cords and Strengthening the Stakes, Part 2?
  8. Andy Davis on “The Importance of Filling Your Life With Scripture”
  9. Phil Newton on “From Planting to Reforming”

btw, the mps do not appear to have id3 tags, so you may need to manually add them to find them on your player. I find it helpful to put the speaker in the artist field, the sermon name in the song title field and “Founders Conference 2008” in the album field. For fun, add the Founders logo as the album art.

Responsible Church Membership

Lakeshore Baptist Church ca 1952

Some time tomorrow, Tom Ascol will attempt, once again, to present a resolution to the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention calling “Southern Baptists to repent of our failure to maintain responsible church membership.” I do not know if the resolution will reach the floor, much less meet with approval, but as for Lakeshore Baptist Church, where I pastor, we have heard the call and desire to move toward a more meaningful, definite, love-motivated, Christ-honoring, joy-enhancing regenerate church membership.

This past Sunday Lakeshore Baptist Church celebrated our 97th anniversary. A handful of believers met together in 1911 to found the church in Lakeshore. In the sparse minutes of that meeting we learn that the moderator read from their Articles of Faith and their Church Covenant. The record also gave a definite list of five original church members. I pointed to these three pieces of data and appealed to the churches founders as examples to dedicate ourselves to upholding and valuing sound doctrine, our covenant promises to each other, and to maintain definite responsible caring church membership rolls for the glory of God. While I think we could receive a decent grade on the first point, we would need to repeat the class on the other two and probably enlist a tutor.

In the Homecoming sermon, I swallowed hard, acknowledged my own personal failure in leadership regarding our church rolls, asked for forgiveness, and publicly repented. My cards lay face up on the table and we pray that God would grant us the grace to lovingly move forward toward a more healthy church. At the risk of airing our dirty laundry, I am making the audio of the sermon available here. (1 hour 15 min.)

Ecclesiastical Hitchhikers

I’m reading R. Kent Hughes’ book, Disciplines of a Godly Man. In his chapter on the church, he describes the rampant aversion to meaningful church membership. He calls the phenomenon “ecclesiastical hitchhikers.” He writes:

Church attendance is infected with a malaise of conditional loyalty which has produced an army of ecclesiastical hitchhikers. The hitchhiker’s thumb says, “You buy the car, pay for repairs and upkeep and insurance, fill the car with gas — and I’ll ride with you. But if you have an accident, you are on your own! And I’ll probably sue.” So it is with the credo of so many of today’s church at tenders: “You go to the meetings and serve on the boards and committees, you grapple with the issues and do the work of the church and pay the bills —and I’ll come along for the ride. But if things do not suit me, I’ll criticize and complain and probably bail out — my thumb is always out for a better ride.”

This putative loyalty is fueled by a consumer ethos — a “McChristian” mentality — which picks and chooses here and there to fill one’s ecclesiastical shopping list. There are hitchhikers who attend one church for the preaching, send their children to a second church for its dynamic youth program, and go to a third church’s small group. Church hitchhikers have a telling vocabulary: “I go to” or “I attend,” but never “I belong to” or “I am a member.”

So today, at the end of the twentieth century, we have a phenomenon unthinkable in any other century: churchless Christians. There is a vast herd of professed Christians who exist as nomadic hitchhikers without accountability, without discipline, without discipleship, living apart from the regular benefits of the ordinances…

…membership in an invisible Church without participation in its local expression is never contemplated in the New Testament.

So we conclude that church hitchhikers, ecclesiastical wanderers, spiritual Lone Rangers, Christians who disdain membership, are aberrations in the history of the Christian Church and are in grievous error.

from Disciplines of a Godly Man pp 169-170

Integrity in Church Membership

Tom Ascol plans to present the Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership again at this years Southern Baptist Convention. Although I do not plan to attend the SBC, we at Lakeshore Baptist Church, do strive to implement this resolution in our local church. We still have a ways to go

Whereas the Baptist Faith and Message states that the Scriptures are “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article 1); and

Whereas life in a local church should be characterized by loving discipline as the Bible teaches in passages like Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5 and Titus 3:10-11; and

Whereas the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,266,920 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

Whereas those same profiles indicate that only 6,148,868 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and

Whereas the ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle as described in Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message; and

Whereas the significance of believers’ baptism tends to be lost when churches that practice it fail to exercise loving care for all their members; therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge Southern Baptists to repent of our failure to maintain responsible church membership, and be it further

RESOLVED that we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the widespread failure among us to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18), and be it further

RESOLVED that we plead with pastors and church leaders to lead their churches to study and implement our Lord’s teachings on this essential church practice, and be it further

RESOLVED that we encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, especially when such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

RESOLVED that we commit to pray for our churches as they seek to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through reestablishing integrity to church membership and to the reporting of statistics in the Annual Church Profile.