”Bible Churches” often do a better job of striking a balance of commitment to both “Truth” and “Love.”

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Joel Tetreau's picture

So the point here is to simply announce we have changed our name from Southeast Valley Baptist Church to Southeast Valley Bible Church. You will notice the tag line is a part of a larger set of reasons why we believe this is a good move for us. We are not suggesting that all Baptist Churches are devoid of Truth or Love. You will notice in the article the context and some of the reasons behind the change. This blog article is primarily a "FYI."

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Bert Perry's picture

Does this mean we need to shun Joel now?  :^)

(sorry, just couldn't resist!)

Seriously, Joel's hitting on a lot of things that are regrettably--or at least stereotypically--true.  I am baptistic through and through, but weep at how many churches "foul" the name through legalism and hyper-separationism.  One warning that I'm sure Joel has already heeded; if the name changes without a change in the behaviors and motivations, we simply repeat in 50 years with the name "Bible Church."

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

mmartin's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:

So the point here is to simply announce we have changed our name from Southeast Valley Baptist Church to Southeast Valley Bible Church. You will notice the tag line is a part of a larger set of reasons why we believe this is a good move for us. We are not suggesting that all Baptist Churches are devoid of Truth or Love. You will notice in the article the context and some of the reasons behind the change. This blog article is primarily a "FYI."

Straight Ahead!

jt

Yeah, but what I want to know is would you consider your Bible church a Type A or B?  :-)!

Good thing not a-l-l Baptist churches are devoid of Truth or Love.  Otherwise, what's a man like me to do???  :-)!

JC's picture

Southeast Valley Church sounds even better.  

It does not mean you are less Baptist or less based on the Bible.

pvawter's picture

I guess you haven't met many of the Bible church folk that I have. Smile

Not really sure how to evaluate the assertion that "'Bible Churches' often do a better job of striking a balance of commitment to both  'Truth' and 'Love.'" It seems to me that the behavior of the church has little connection to its name, but I guess I could be mistaken.

Jonathan Charles's picture

 

When a church's reason for changing begins, "in our view," it attempts to put any change beyond criticism.  And, I suppose that since Joel felt the need to explain it, that he anticipated some critique of the church's decision.  "In our view" means that their observations have been anecdotal.  Yes, there are legalistic churches, and KJVO churches in the IBF, and I guess they find that it would be easier to minister as a Bible church than a Baptist church.  But you could make the same observations of Bible churches, 2 out of 4 in my community would be perceived as legalistic according to Joel's criteria.  The thing that irks me about some Bible churches is their attitude that we are "just Biblical," it is kind of a one-upsmanship; it smells like pride.  Calling a church a Bible church or claiming to be Biblical doesn't make it so.  Remember that MacArthur early on ignorantly said that Jesus was eternally God but became the Son at His incarnation.  Heresy can strike anywhere.  Calling a church a Bible church affords it no protection; perhaps the attitude that we are "just Bible" can become a set-up for a fall.   

Ed Vasicek's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:

So the point here is to simply announce we have changed our name from Southeast Valley Baptist Church to Southeast Valley Bible Church. You will notice the tag line is a part of a larger set of reasons why we believe this is a good move for us. We are not suggesting that all Baptist Churches are devoid of Truth or Love. You will notice in the article the context and some of the reasons behind the change. This blog article is primarily a "FYI."

Straight Ahead!

jt

Joel, I am with you on expectations.  We should want a church name to communicate what a church is about.  The Bible church name is often associated with fellowship, careful and deep Bible study, and doctrinal integrity. Yet, it is not a hill I would die on (and haven't).  For better or worse, Baptist churches seem more noted for evangelism, revivalism, and rules and structures associated with the Baptist perspective, IMO. All churches and approaches toward ministry have their weak and strong points, and impressions based on name association are like any other generality -- not the most dependable.  Adding to the confusion are the changes we see around us in Baptist groups and the evangelical world in general.

I prefer "Bible Church" to describe the kind of church I am associated with for several reasons: (1) people who have Baptist  or other denominational expectations are forewarned that there are some differences; (2) it states the emphasis of the church; by advertising yourself as a Bible church, you are affirming sola scriptura , and an emphasis on Bible content/study (as opposed to revivalism, music obsession, or an agenda to improve society).  As pastor of a non-denom without the term Bible (I wish we had Bible in our name!), we get people who want a "worship" (code word for music) emphasis, a wild charismatic church, or a seeker-sensitive church.  Although the term "Bible" does not necessarily preclude all these things, it is a guiding star as to what your church is about and can preclude some bad experiences for the sake of church shoppers -- and the church's sake!  We want to be a clear target for people seeking a church like ours.

But if you are going to be a Bible church, you should also differ from a Baptist church on some points, or you might as well retain the name Baptist.  You mentioned KJV, and that is a good example for certain regions where Baptist = KJV.  If we are going to be bound by Baptist traditions, what's the use of being non-denom?   To me, being a Bible church puts a special pressure on us to re-evaluate and hone our rulings and routines in light of the Bible, not feel bound by inherited patterns.  For example, we don't have standing committees. We have elders, deacons, and deaconesses. We don't take offering in our early service or evening service or Sunday School, just our main service.  So let me encourage you to find a new freedom in this name change, not that Baptist systems are necessarily ineffective. Bible Churches belong to what I call the "Baptist Family of Churches." Grace Brethren, Brethren, CMA, and conservative Mennonite and other groups would fall under this general heading.  The difference is not always the convictions, but rather how we got to those convictions.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Joel Tetreau's picture

Ed,

Wowzers - it's like you read my mind. Thx for sharing. These things you share very much reflect the heart and soul behind the change.

Straight Ahead Ed and all!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Seth Johnson's picture

Having been in similar discussions I am puzzled when people with strong Baptistic convictions, autonomy of the local church being second in the common acrostic, decry one church's autonomy to make such a decision. 

Similarly the phrase "in our view" need not imply that a change is beyond criticism but rather that the criticism should be evaluated with a greater weight to the sitz im leben of the church making the change.  If the local flavor of Baptist churches tends to leave a sour taste then criticism from those where the local flavor of Baptist churches is sweet bears little to no weight.  

My own like or dislike for JT's church's name change is irrelevant, unless of course he is asking for input on the decision.  Since he isn't asking, and the matter is not a defection of the faith then I am content to read his letter, and pray for the removal of the hurdle to be a blessing to their church; and perhaps that the compulsory and arduous paperwork with changing a church name will not be overly burdensome!   

Have fun in your corner of the field JT!  

PJ

Prov 18:2 a fool has no delight in understanding but in expressing his own heart.  

Mark_Smith's picture

I was saved in a Baptist church when I was 19 having NOT grown up in church. For 13 years after that I had no idea there was even such a thing as " bad revivalism", "KJV onlyism", or "music wars".

It is interesting that you attach those ideas to being Baptist. 

Mark_Smith's picture

In my city the largest church BY FAR is X Bible Church (name redacted because it doesn't really matter to you all). All of the politicians go there (I live in a state capital). It is known for its reformed theology and surface legalism. I wouldn't associate that church with "truth" or "love".

Ron Bean's picture

Imagine a small (7000) town in which there are over 20 Independent Baptist churches. Among them are at least 3 KJVO churches who've split from one another over things like inspiration of italicized words, the existence of the LXX, and pro and anti Cambridge;free will  and hard shell, charismatic and anti-charismatic, all white and all black, and music differences that are beyond number. BTW, the two big SBC churches are spiritually and numerically healthy. Confused? 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

josh p's picture

Anyone here saved in a non baptist church and eventually migrate that way due to doctrinal convictions?

Steve Newman's picture

So many have added to the negatives of the term "Baptist" that many flee from it. To me, its a sad commentary. If Joel really feels like he is going to something rather than leaving something that has become odious to him, all the best.  Like the term dispensationalist, Baptist is on the wrong side of the cool spectrum these days.

For me, the historical term has value, in spite of its excesses and problems.

Jim's picture

In Minneapolis, "Baptist" does not seem to have strongly negative connotations. I have some close relatives who are Christians and some of them associate "Baptist" w legalism. 

I suspect that Joel's church name change may enable them to reach some they would be unable to reach otherwise. 

Joel Tetreau's picture

So quickly just to give a bit more light:

1. In our case we have been more of an IFCA Bible kind of a church for 10 years. While being Baptist in denomination, we are much more Bible Church in attitude, feel, sub-culture, preferences, polity, etc.......In one sense this is sort of like "truth in advertising."

2. We are still very much baptist in belief. We are also Dispensational in Hermeneutics, Historically fundamental (with a small f), Reformed in Theology), Calvinistic in Soteriology, We are mixed in Worship between Hymns and some newer music, we are largely Nouthetic in our counseling approach, the best people in our church are confident Barnabas wrote Hebrews........So you see the delima - which of those do you put on the "sign?"  "Bible" - it's a good option. 

3. The third reality is that we look around and we just don't have as much in common with most of the Independent Baptist types and what they are passionate about (Flannel Graph, KJV, Must have Garlock- or Hamilton plus Hymns only, Supporting 2 or 3 Christian Institutions because everyone else and I mean everyone is a compromiser!", Jesus would "Home School Too!" and other belief's)......and we also don't have as much in common with the Southern Baptist Types (Messenger here, Messenger there, Messengers everywhere!). We do have a lot in common with the IFCA Bible Church type.

I don't know if that helps ..... but there you go.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Mark_Smith's picture

Fine. No skin off my back. But why insult independent fundamental baptists to justify it?

Joel Tetreau's picture

Mark,

I was having fun with the flannel graph, etc.....I'm sorry you took that as a real insult(s).

My interaction is almost never about justification. We have all we need internally within our autonomous congregation and our understanding of the Scriptures and it's application to our assembly to justify that which we are doing. Mark this is what in part it means for us to still be Baptist. While I care for my brothers and sisters here at SI, ultimately I don't care what you or anyone here thinks when I'm confident we are honoring Heaven with the decision in question. My initial motivation was simply to let folks know about the change and give my friends here at SI a short statement as to some of the core reasons for the decision. What matters to us as a congregation is the opinion of Heaven and the members of our assembly. However - because you opened the door let me walk through it. When I interact with these kinds of topics to the degree that you would take as "insult," usually it's my attempt to influence. When you and I disagree with something.....if I really care about it and I don't want others to agree with your position, I'll do what I can do to shed light on the foolishness or shortsightedness of your view in hopes that I can influence others towards a better way. Hopefully I'm not cruel. If I came off as cruel that is not my attempt. Sometimes I will use satire....maybe even some sarcasm. I want to make sure that is kept in check. Mark.... I see my comments here at SI as an extension of my pulpit ministry.....my ministry with IBL and even connected with other wings of my ministry such as my book. I see these kinds of things as opportunities for influence. So I share our decision to change the name, not only to communicate a move on our part but to continue to do my part to encourage those who partake in unhealthy forms of ecclesiastical ministry to consider a different way. In the end you don't have to do or agree with me for us to have a mutually encouraging relationship. Those that know me know that to be so. There's always an open spot next to me here at the SI round-table campfire. I'm always happy to share some cider and a marshmallow......when I'm not preoccupied on my Lawn 4000!

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Jonathan Charles's picture

I have never had a single unsaved person reached by our church for whom our church name (it's Baptist) was a draw or a deterrent.  It would be a very rare unsaved person who would think that to be Baptist would mean all that Joel has associated with it.  If they don't know the gospel, they surely don't know the other things Joel has connected with the Baptist name.  The name is only meaningful for those already in the church, it means nothing to those outside of it who are without Christ.  

Mark_Smith's picture

I am not offended in any way. As a matter of fact, I have nothing to do with your church. You all can call it whatever you would like.

Offended is being resentful or annoyed at a perceived insult. I am neither resentful nor annoyed. I am sad and disappointed. And it was no perceived insult.

What you do not have the right to do unchallenged is to say that "Bible church" stand for "truth and love" while "Baptist" stands for Jack Hyles, Frank Garlock, KJV-Only, and Flannel Graphs. I appreciate sarcasm (I use it a lot), but it seems to me that you went beyond that to overt criticism and mischaracterization of Baptists in general. I don't think that is very truthful or loving, to tell you the truth, and I don't think it sets a good example of leadership.

You all wanted to change your name, fine. You all are disappointed with many Baptists, fine. Change the name and be done with it. Why leave with a broadside?

Straight Ahead!

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

josh p wrote:

Anyone here saved in a non baptist church and eventually migrate that way due to doctrinal convictions?

I guess I am close to that, but not exactly, and not for the reasons you would imagine.

I was raised in a fundamental methodist church, which is where I accepted Christ as a child.  When I went to college (BJU, founded by a methodist), the people I ran into were mostly baptists.  That made me spend a lot of time evaluating what I believed and had been taught.  After college and grad school, when I was looking for a church, I discovered two things: 1. fundamental methodist churches were about as scarce as hen's teeth, especially in the area I got my first job, and 2. although I didn't consider myself a committed baptist, of the churches that were closest to what I would consider biblical doctrine and that I would consider attending, they were all baptist.  I am now in a baptist church, but like Joel's church, it is one that is considering a name change possibly including dropping the "baptist" moniker.  Seeing as how baptist in our area essentially has no meaning, as there are baptist churches that range from those that "marry" gays to those that are extreme KJVO and all the range in-between, that is a change I would support.

Dave Barnhart

Ron Bean's picture

Suppose that you're an unchurched individual whose heart has been moved to seek to know more about God. Suppose that you're curious enough to look for a church where you might find some help. What words are you going to enter into your Google Machine? I'm thinking words like church, God, and probably Bible. that's been our experience with people who've found our church. It seems that those who would Google Baptist would likely already be Baptists.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jim Welch's picture

I love and respect Joel T!  We are friends.  I am fine with the new name for their church.  A local congregation of saints should have the liberty to call themselves 'whatever.'  (One observation I have made is that it seems to me that believers have not called themselves by any name as much as unbelievers giving names to the believers)

I have felt some of what Mark Smith has identified.  Knowing Joel, I am sure that he is not trying to cast aspersions on any one.   The church I shepherd is a baptist church.  Here in rural CO, (eat your hearts out!) the average person does not care what the name of a church is.

In his insightful book, 'Surprising Insights of the Unchurched, and How to Reach Them', Thom Rainer notes that the unchurched do not attend our churches because of the name.

Not sure about the 'love and truth' statement in headings.  My family was searching for a church home about 18 years ago in the Tulsa, OK area.  We found a Bible church that was most unfriendly.  The friendliest (genuinely welcoming) church was Southern Baptist.  For the sake of our family's needs we became a part of a godly Bible church (different from the one mentioned)

One last observation.  I observed a junior teacher using Flannel Graph and the 45 boys and girls were in awe (in a good way!)

A rose by any other name blooms ......

Bert Perry's picture

Per Ron's comment and Jonathan's response, it strikes me that we ought not wait on Google to bring people to us.  Yes, name ourselves appropriately so a search will come up OK, but let's not rely on it.  Not that I was accusing anyone of doing so!

And on the flip side of Ron's comment, I've heard people up this way use "Baptist" in a good way, along the lines of "they believe the Bible", along with the bad way.  

One off topic (sort of ) note; Jonathan's link to the church with the "Vice Bishop" reminds me of a story my mom told about a Chinese student she went to college with.  The student had become an officer at the co-op where they lived, and at one meeting, introduced herself as the "vice house president."  It was my mom's task to explain graciously to her that a "vice house president" and a "house vice president" were two very different things.  :^)

Yeah, if it were me, I'd put the kibosh on the title of "Vice Bishop" for that and many other reasons.  Seems to reflect the title mania of the world and the tragedies with abusive priests a little too much for my taste.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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