You know the old saying, “Throw a rock into a pack of dogs, and the one that howls is the one you’ve hit.” There’s another one that has a similar theme, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”
Well, after many no-so-veiled, impersonal, specific rocks have been thrown, I’m finally going to howl. Today, a man I consider a good friend has accused me and my church of pandering. He may deny that we were singled out by his post, but the specifics are too close to what he knows about our ministry to gloss over. But I must say it is evident that his conclusions show there is much he does not know about our ministry also. He has sent students to our church to study; he has “kids” that grew up in our church as members of his; yet, what he hears from them is obviously colored by his own filters and prejudices.
I do not have the time to flesh out all of these ideas, but here are some facts and principles to consider:
- Just because someone rides the bus to church, does not mean they are a child or that they are unsaved. a) Over ten percent (that may be small in your mind, but consider it) of our bus riders are adults. They arrive and attend adult classes and services. They memorize scripture, learn about Baptist history, and hear an attempt at an expositional Bible lesson. b) Children can and do express and exhibit faith in Christ by loving and obeying His word. c) So if 2000 attend and 1000 ride busses, it is wrong to assume that 1000 are unsaved and presumably being inoculated to the gospel because they ride a bus to church.
- Just because 1000’s have attended on busses and do not continue to come, does not mean that they were all inoculated to the gospel and are now doomed to hell. One man’s inoculation is another man’s sowing. Whatever you want to call it, I don’t mind preaching the gospel and teaching the word of God faithfully each week. And the greatest motivation I have for doing that to children in a the run-down neighborhood of Black Oak, Gary, Indiana is that the apostle Paul said that one man sowed, another man watered, and yet another saw the fruit of all the labor. In another place, the scriptures tell me that in itself, it accomplishes the work that is intended for it and it does not return empty. I sow by teaching the Word of God to Children; God will use that in the way that he pleases.
- Just because a church uses busses to bring people to church does not mean they are trying to please men with reports of large numbers. The bus ministry at Fairhaven Baptist Church is the best way that we have found to obey the Great Commission. Through its agency, scores of our church members are preaching the gospel to people individually every week; they also are discipling them in their homes every week; they follow up on ones that may refuse the first invitation to the gospel; and believers are added to the church.
- Just because you disapprove of the bus ministry and can cite hundreds of bad examples of it, does not mean that we are not striving to be more biblical in our evangelism every year that goes by.
- Just because someone is not where you are, does not mean they are not honestly striving to become more Christ-like and more biblically based than they were before. There are things that we have done in our bus ministry’s past that we would not do today. And the emphasis on being in people’s homes and pursuing them with the gospel and discipleship has increased over the years.
I have been disheartened by strong words spoken against my friend who offers criticisms of our work here at Fairhaven. I believe he means well and has normally offered his thoughts on a “professional” level that is not meant to undermine the authority of our local church. I believe his thoughts have been mistakenly taken personally by some and responded to harshly.
But, too many obvious parallels can be made between his specific descriptions of “generic” Fundamental, churches and our church to assume that our members and students will somehow miss the connection. We fit in many ways under the broad brush he paints with. Therefore I must refute the things he speaks of (not knowing whereof he speaks), lest he undermine the biblical authority of our church and disparage the work that God does here at Fairhaven.