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Starting a Reformed Church
In the following e-mail exchange, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.
Been a while since I last e-mailed you! If you remember, I'm the guy who embraced the Reformed position and was an Elder at a Church that taught Word of Faith "doctrine."<
Yes, I remember you [see Word of Faith, Arminianism, and Calvinism].
>Well, at the time I think I stated I was going to remain, but, as Luther said, "An act against conscience is neither right nor safe." :-)
So, I have been searching high and low, and just haven't found a place where I feel comfortable, etc. I am, of course, looking for a Church that at least is 4/5 Reformed (Limited Atonement being the compromise point unfortunately, but hey, in this day and age, 4 out of 5 ain't bad; at least it isn't Hagin or Arminian!). Of course there are many other issues to Reformed theology other than TULIP.<
It is difficult to find a good church, as the many e-mails I have received in this regard indicate. But remember, you will never find a church you agree with totally, as you seem to understand given your statement about settling for a church that is 4/5 Reformed. In fact, my pastor told me before I joined my current church that he was a 4 1/2 point Calvinist (some hesitancy on the "L" of course).
I mention this as my church belongs to the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA or simply "E Free"). The EFCA is not specifically Calvinist, but it is not opposed to it either. It tries to stay "open" to controversial points of doctrine. This would be another possibility for you in looking for a church. Rather than trying to find a church that is specifically Calvinist, look for one that is "open" to it. In other words, one that is specifically not opposed to Calvinism.
> Anyway, just thought I'd touch base with you. I have enjoyed our correspondence over the past year. Also, since being ordained into the Ministry, I have had what I believe is a mandate/ "vision" from God to begin a work (Church) someday. I have an exhaustive list of excuses that I have presented to the Lord as to why I can't, but, the certainty of what I am to do nevertheless persists!<
You were "ordained" by the Word of Faith church I assume.
>What are your thoughts about a Minister launching out and starting a Church? I ask because I do sense the Lord leading me in this direction, but not necessarily right away. I see it clearly though. I guess my main concern is that of autonomy. I'm not sure if it is appropriate for a Minister, even though ordained, etc., to simply launch out without some kind of "overhead"/ government. Of course, that gets into different types of Church of government.
I am not too keen on independent churches, or on someone starting a church independent of any kind of organizational oversight. So if you are asking my opinion, you have two options:
1. First get established within a denomination/ association of churches. Then ask to be appointed or considered for a pastorship within that organization.
2. Go ahead and begin to start a church of your own, but very early on have the church join up with an association.
The latter is how my church began. Well sort of. Christ Community Fellowship began with a group of people who were "disgruntled" with the church they were attending. They began holding a Bible study on their own. The 18 people at the study decided they would try to start their own church. Jeff Youell had attended the church but at that time had just graduated from Bible school and was an assistant pastor at a church in West Virginia.
They contacted him and asked him if he would be the pastor for their yet to be church. He agreed. But they very quickly decided that an independent church was not Scriptural, so they applied for membership with the EFCA. To make a long story short, my church just celebrated its tenth anniversary in September of 1999. So Jeff did not begin CCF, it was started by a group of people who then "recruited" him.
A possible application of this scenario for you might be to start a Bible study. If interest is good enough, maybe enough people might come to the study, then that might be the beginnings of a church. But I would recommend doing what my church did, get involved with a denomination or association very early.
I don't know if any of that helps or not, just some thoughts.
Right on the mark as usual! I had also been leaning toward one of the 2 options you mentioned.
Of course, I do not want to just jump out and do something. The endeavor under discussion is one that is VERY complex, and should be approached with the utmost humility and "fear and trembling." I definitely do not want to fall victim to the errors I have seen in regard to independent, non-affiliated Churches.
I had also considered the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. They are a very interesting denomination in that they hold to Reformed Theology and also a "non-cessationist" view. I don't know if you've heard of them or not and had any info. I think their web site is http://www.epc.org <
I hadn't heard of them before. Thanks for letting me know about it. I checked out the Web site. It looks good.
>Thanks Gary! If you don't mind, I'd like to continue keeping in touch. Your site played a role I believe in planting some seeds that finally harvested (embracing the Reformed position).
Your Brother in Christ,
I'm thankful I could be of help.
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