I See Now Why the World Didn’t End

I guess it had to happen. I am no longer an elder at Reformation Alive Baptist Church. In fact, I am no longer a member of Reformation Alive Baptist Church. I resigned as the Last Elder Standing a couple of months ago. I resigned as a member of that local body on 21 May 2014. I have decided I need to move on. As one man from whom I often seek counsel put it: I should probably find a place “where my gifts can be better used.”

As many of you know, I was affirmed as an elder by the congregation of Reformation Alive Baptist Church about a year and a half ago (somewhere around the first of December, 2012). This was a result of (or perhaps in preparation for) the imminent departure of the vocational elder (that’s the pastor to you people at First Baptist Church of Glenarden on the Kettering (FBCGotK)). He taught at the college and they weren’t paying them on a regular basis. I have an article on that here. When the “degreed” elder left, I became the last elder standing.

I was quite excited (and I must say sobered) about my role in the development and growth of a Reformed church. It represents an incredible responsibility, and an incredible “opportunity” to screw up.

I suspected there was going to be trouble when the church insisted they had to find a “pastor” as soon as possible. A couple of the leaders panicked and unilaterally called in a fellow to pastor us temporarily. Fortunately, rather than me becoming resentful, he became the “one man whom I often seek counsel from.” And we worked together to try to pull the church through.

And it was during this “pulling” I learned an uncomfortable truth. Not everyone understands what the church is. While I was privileged to preach the word to them for over a month and a half (not an easy task, by the way), and while I kept emphasizing that we, the members, are the church, where ever we meet; most stayed stuck on the idea that unless we met at the Lutheran facility and unless we had a man we could call pastor, and unless that man had at least the makings of a Master’s degree in something religious, then we couldn’t survive as a church and we wouldn’t really be a church. Both the fellow they called in and I tried repeatedly to help them understand the fallacy of this approach. But it was not to be.

We limped along with the aid of the fellow called in by the informal leaders of the congregation. We didn’t grow in numbers. Instead, we slowly shrank.

Eventually, the fellow they called in, the fellow who is now one of my counselors (I hate to use the word “mentor”. It seems so pretentious.), had to leave. He could no longer work for free. The informal leaders wanted to govern the church with something called a Leadership Team. At that point, I had to object. If they were going to do that, I pointed out, I could not keep the title of Elder, especially since I viewed being an elder as a huge responsibility. I had to explain, as politely as I could, that if I didn’t have the authority of the elder, as laid out in Scripture, then I was certainly not willing to take up the responsibility for their souls.

The church held a meeting several months ago to discuss the constitution and to try to identify changes needed for the constitution. In that meeting, several people made known their objection to a Reformed approach to theology and governance. With few exceptions, the rest of the members agreed. They weren’t interested in the 1689 London Baptist Confession. They weren’t interested in Calvin, Luther, Augustine, and they didn’t know the constitution was filled with so much Reformed references. They just wanted to read the Bible. Period. It became apparent at that point I should find a place where “my gifts can be better used.” I then tendered my resignation as a member and let them know that my last day would be the Wednesday night I finished the Bible Study series on the Tabernacle as a type of Jesus Christ. That fell on May 21, 2014.

I have to admit I learned a lot. The challenge of serving as an elder was huge. Working with the man the informal leaders brought in to replace me was actually very good for me. I was able to watch him and learn (he had about twenty-five years as a pastor/missionary/church planter/etc.) as he dealt with the congregation and as he tried and failed (just like me) to direct them to a good understanding of what a church actually is. I have to admit I don’t feel so bad after watching him and trying to help.

At the moment I’m just depressurizing. I attended another church last week. It was great to just sit there and listen to an outstanding exposition of the word. I didn’t have to work the sound board or set up the projector, or make sure the microphones had good batteries, or make sure all the sound levels were good, or put all the equipment away after service. I didn’t have to think about preparing for Wednesday night Bible Study or worry whether or not Movie Night, featuring a really good dramatization of the Book of Daniel, was going to go well. All I had to do was sit with my wife and listen to (I’m promise you I’m not making this up) a sermon on the significance of the Tabernacle as a type of Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross.

At this point, all I can do is quote Superman, quoting Bizzaro Superman: “Life am good.”

4 Responses to “I See Now Why the World Didn’t End”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    only the scriptures is a bad thing?

    (MN: “Only the Scriptures” as in “I will read it and figure out what it says completely on my own. I will not have a set of doctrine that clearly delineate what I believe.”

    Given that, there is no standard. For instance, I may say “only scripture” but accept the premise that some one “speaking in tongues” and “interpreting tongues” are presenting the very word of God. In that case, I am rejecting the very thing I stand for. One of the first statements in the London Baptist Confession [1689] is this”

    The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.
    Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.

    Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church;

    - and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church, protecting it against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world,

    - it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased.

    If I go with this, we are able to avoid a host of errors the Pimps, the cultists, and the Catholics take advantage of. And almost all of them are a result of extra-biblical sources, even though the believer doesn’t realize it.

    The confession doesn’t in anyway replace Scripture. It doesn’t define Scripture. Rather, it makes a clear statement of what we believe about Scripture and allows us to judge that which is done and said more accurately by Scripture. )

    • Anonymous Says:

      doesn’t the scripture interpret scripture?

      (MN: Yes. But the vast majority of people don’t do that. For most people, experience interprets Scripture. Thus the increasing acceptance of those who profess to be Christians but are practicing homosexuals. See here for example. They only use the Scriptures. But obviously they are not letting them speak for themselves. )

  2. Chermone Says:

    One of the coolest things about this is the fact that in the end, you and your wife were together at a church that was preaching the whole Gospel.

    Sadly though, the people of the church in America are in for a big surprise. We can’t keep thumbing our noses at God and take him lightly and treat Him spitefully. I think we are in agreement that the church is going to suffer and I think everyday we get closer and closer to it. And the crazy thing is that so many folk are calling for scripture it the only scripture they want to hear are the stories about Jesus turning water into wine, God delivering Israel and tearing down Jerichos walls as if that were to happen to each of us. No one wants holiness nor do they desire God.

    Stay encouraged Mel, be not weary in well doing, enjoy the sabbatical God has given you, for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.)

    (MN: The fact that my wife is with me has not been lost on me. We went together again last Sunday and she really seemed to enjoy it. The people have made her feel more than welcome. She already knows the names of several people in the congregation. Oh, and believe me – I am enjoying my time off. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until Thursday morning, May 22. )

  3. A Biblical Worldview Says:

    Melvin,

    God is faithful…

    Tee

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