Your Thoughts on the FBFI

A number of ideas have been mentioned as to why younger fundamentalists aren't aligning themselves with the FBFI as well as why other fundamentalists have ceased to participate or left the group. Here's your chance to express your opinion. To continue the metaphor, maybe we can help the captains patch the leaks.

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Mark Mincy's picture

I can only say that after observing the last month's conversation(s), I am convinced that movements like fundamentalism can be very unhealthy and in many ways distract us from the pursuit of true, Christian community.  Arrogance and obstinance are antithetical to authentic Christianity.

Mark Mincy

rogercarlson's picture

I have stayed out of the conversations.  Mainly because I cannot post from my tablet, not sure why.  Anyway, here are my thoughts.  I used to love the FBFI (there are still many that I respect there).  My unlce (Russell Rice) was on the board (he is with the Lord now).  I used to break my neck trying to get to regional meetings.  Then a few things happened.

 

Dan Sweatt's message was a problem to me.  But like Don, said, they don't screen what men preach, and I am glad they don't.  But I still think more could have been done, but it still didn't drive me away.  But the Schaumburg meeting was my watershed moment.  There was a panel discussion where us young men were warned about going to conferences where CE are.  That is good advice.  But there was a man on the panel whom I had never heard of, Dr. Bob Cogdon.  He seems like a good man and contributed quite a bit tot he discussion. 

 

Because I had never heard of him, I searched his website.  I was shocked that the next week, he was doing a prophecy (or dispensational, can't remember which) conference where he was speaking with a guy from Word of Life!!!  I have gone to Piper's conference once, two of the T4G meetings, and one Basics conference.  I have never shared the platform with CE.  But I need to be cautioned for going to conferences by Dr. Cogdon, but he can share the platform with a guy from Word of Life???  When I questioned this and asked similar questions to others, I was told I am on a vendetta.  I have never contact Dr. Cogdon, but I did contact others I knew, who made similar accusations and did similar things.

 

Then, I see shift towards the unhealthy part of the movement.  I see an embrace of West Coast Baptist College and I don't see that as a good thing.  Then there was the circling the wagons with Chuck Phelps.  The good ole boy network is alive and well in this movement.  I am sure it is in others.  It seems to me, there are some things in common with Phelps and Sovereign Grace.  Many don't want to rock the boat with abuse and I find that sad.

 

The movement seems serious about separation and music.  But it does not seem that serious about theology, unless it is being against Calvinism or for Dispensational Eschatology.   As a reaction to these, men have taken extreme and dangerous positions like Synergism, or making eschatology a fundamental of the faith. 

 

So, I have decided that I am going to glorify God the best I can as a pastor.  I am going to glorify God as best I can as a hospice chaplain.  I am going to glorify God as best I can as a firefighter and chaplain of the department. 

 

OK, my rambling is now done.  Smile

 

 

Since then, I have noticed a shift towards the unhealthy wing of the move

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

rogercarlson's picture

I should add, I probably won't have time to interact much, and I didn't say these things to bring up old issues.  I was just answering Ron's question as best I could.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Jay's picture

The movement seems serious about separation and music.  But it does not seem that serious about theology, unless it is being against Calvinism or for Dispensational Eschatology.   As a reaction to these, men have taken extreme and dangerous positions like Synergism, or making eschatology a fundamental of the faith. 

I'm going to write my piece a little later on, but this is an indictment like no other, and I agree with it.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

There are a lot of complex issues that go into people's views of such organizations, and that applies to my views as well.  This will probably be a bit rambling, as I have a number of different thoughts on this topic. 

I'm not even a young guy, but as time goes on I think I would stay away from most organizations of this type, fundamentalist or evangelical.  I probably identify as somewhere around a B+ on Joel's scale (and even A- on some issues).  Given associational issues, I don't think I'd be comfortable trying to be a member of either most fundamental organizations or evangelical organizations.  That wouldn't stop me from hearing messages from particular men in any of them.  I've been to fundamental congresses and conferences like 9Marks.  I've found many good things to pick up from individuals, but also things to avoid in both "camps."  I'm not a calvinist, for example, but I'm not a rabid anti-calvinist either, as I believe the scriptures present a balance.  That's true for many of the "big issues" debated among and between those in the various "camps."

To be honest, I'm not sure there are any longer any really good reasons for maintaining such a group.  With the communication methods available to us today, it's very easy to find others and examine their views.  We can see what's written, hear messages, and easily find out about and order published works.  We can easily communicate via email, text, phone, and blogs.  We don't need a big organization to be able to associate with and get together with those of like faith.  Scheduling speakers and conferences doesn't really require the organizations either.  We are no longer in the position of Elijah, needing to be told of the 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

That doesn't mean of course, that care doesn't need to be taken.  There are many sources both in print and on the internet that declare many things.  It is still easy to be deceived, which is why all of us need strong spiritual counsel, usually available from our local church.  Sometimes, unfortunately, it works in reverse, since individual churches (especially those with just a single pastor with too much authority) can go off into the weeds.  In the old days, a pastor's membership in an association might have helped him firm up his beliefs as well as keep him on track, but organizations are not really necessary for that today.  Any man who wants to stay informed can do so.

In any case, even if there is still some good that comes out of large fundamental organizations, I believe that over time they will grow less and less relevant to churches and individual believers.  The larger a group gets, the less likely it is that the beliefs of those in it will be completely coherent, and it will be only a matter of time until someone at the fringes of the group does something embarrassing or even wrong.  If you are not a part of that group, you don't need to worry about it.  A church is hard enough to maintain scripturally.  It's hard to see that larger organizations are really worth that kind of effort.

Dave Barnhart

Chapman's picture

The difficulties and challenges of maintaining fellowship organizations have been enumerated and discussed.  I am grateful for the discussions!

I have been out of the Pastorate for about a decade (having returned only within the past two years).  You see, I was demoted to serve as a Chaplain in the military, although the privilege to serve the Lord is not diminished by such demotions.  Having been around some literal battlefields and done real "boots on the ground" work (as opposed to figurative), I am motivated to offer some reminders, although I realize I am offering these to my betters.

  • Not everyone in a given fellowship may agree on every point, but knowing that there are others not so far away who are in the struggle also is a very, very real encouragement.
  • Not everyone who joins a given fellowship might be an absolute reflection of the Lord, but often with patience, genuine brethren can be found who can offer powerful building-up rather than tearing-down.  It is worth the effort and the wait.
  • While it's true we are required to be responsible first and foremost to the house which has been entrusted to us, "arms-length" fellowship is exactly what our enemy hopes for us.  Our enemies hate each other, but they are unified in their attacks.  Although I agree we have a primary responsibility to our own house, abandoning the idea of organizing-with-others-for-the-sake-of-fellowship is a serious mistake - maintaining such organizations will always take a degree of understanding and "bearing one another's burdens".
  • There is a time for separation, but there is also a time to expend the very real effort to clean house.  Somebody's got to do it.  But sometimes it is as worth it as it is difficult.  Just a note: someone will probably have to do some bleeding.
  • Even when we must stand alone, our sufficiency is in Christ - it's very true and a very precious truth.  And yet we have been given each other also.  To ignore such a gift because it takes effort to maintain the relationship... who are we to deny what the Lord Himself has provided so we can serve Him more effectively? Or to deny Him the use of our tongues, hands, or minds to be such an encouragement to someone else who might be struggling within the fellowship?

There's more in my head, but the more I write the more I feel like I have less and less right to express these things.  I guess my point is... the value of organizations for the sake of fellowship far outweighs the effort of maintaining them... even in light of the growing home-front fight.  I'm not arguing for diminished Biblical separation.  But maybe understanding the desperate need for allies is only best grasped when you've experienced the terrible lack.

If I have expressed these thoughts out of turn, please forgive my presumption.  I don't yet have the years of wisdom many who post on SI do.  I spoke only from having been through some years in which genuine fellowship was extremely difficult to find.  Recently I have been blessed to have become part of two organizations which offer this thirsty soul sweet refreshment - though they are not perfect, of course.

CH CH

emitte lucem et veritatum

 

Post Script:  I am still learning about FBFI.  My thoughts are concerning the value of organized Fellowships in general - especially Fundamental ones.  It does seem to me to be at least partially relevant to the discussion concerning FBFI, but I am speaking (typing?) from a great deal of practical ignorance on the matter.

Mark Mincy's picture

Chapman (Mark),

Thank you for sharing your perspective.  Excellent and challenging thoughts to ponder.  Much appreciated from one who is mulling these things over.

Mark Mincy

Andrew Henderson's picture

I truly do not mean to be snide at all, but what good does it do someone to belong to the FBFI? Honestly, what possible benefits are there to joining?  And I ask that question with all sincerity. I really do not know.

Andrew Henderson

Greg Linscott's picture

I joined early in my ministry. There were some benefits- you got the magazine, which had some good things to consider in those days, such as Mike Riley's writeup on John Piper. You got a listing in the directory, which had a little upside, but honestly, not much where I was (in rural Maine at the time).

I had fellowship in those days with some of the other New England members, like Ken Endean and (yes) Chuck Phelps. I found, though, that it was not a significant door opener, as most of the people I found local fellowship with were not FBF members.

I let my membership lapse, because there were really no benefits that I felt I really wanted that I could not access in other ways (such as reading articles online). No one asked to see my FBF card (not that I had one) before fellowshipping with me. Missionaries found us whether we were in the directory or not. Smile Not to sound snarky, either, but the magazine always felt a little more geared to BJU alumni (regular articles by Minnick and McAllister, updates on the BJU seminary, prominent advertising...), and since I wasn't one, maybe that also decreased the appeal. I don't know.

But a major deterrent to me was the lack of anything meaningful to cooperate on. In that way, I much prefer an association of churches like you have in Regular Baptist fellowships or the Minnesota Baptist Association, or more informal cooperations like the Round Robin missions conference our church is currently a part of here in SW MN and NW Iowa. There are things that happen in those settings that also can draw out to little or no profit, but the things that they cooperate with that a small, rural church could not hope to do on its own make some of the variances and differences seem worth working through. Whether local things like camps or church planting, or broader efforts like mission agencies, it's more than issuing resolutions and patting each other on the back. Also, a lot of what gets done  or talked about in these venues is difficult to immediately connect to what happens in the venues where I have ministered. No one in my churches knows who Danny Sweatt is unless I explain it to them. Is it worth the bother?

I have no strong feelings against the FBF. I met some good people whose friendship I continue to value. I also joined the American Council of Christian Churches around the same time- and much of what I say about the FBF would apply there, too. I would say that if there is a place for an organization like the FBF (and there very well may be), they need to justify the reasons why it is good they get together, and what could not be accomplished if they didn't. The chaplaincy is a good example, but you need more things like that. The MBA is struggling, in part because after the demise of Pillsbury, what are we actually accomplishing together? People need to feel like their investment matters. At least that's how I see it.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Mark Mincy's picture

Andrew Henderson wrote:

I truly do not mean to be snide at all, but what good does it do someone to belong to the FBFI? Honestly, what possible benefits are there to joining?  And I ask that question with all sincerity. I really do not know.

...and I'm not sure what the answer is (or if there is an answer).  I can only speak for myself when I say that my experience over the past 8 years has taught me much.  I've transitioned from the corporate world into vocational ministry.  I've also transitioned from a fairly sheltered view of church and ministry to a much broader understanding that God is doing some wonderful things for His glory through a diverse people of His choosing.  Perhaps the greatest lesson I have come to understand is this: I learn far more from people I disagree with than from those I agree with.  That truth has been revolutionary, freeing, and humbling in my life.  And yet organizations like the FBFI seem so concerned about uniformity on so many things - many of which I just don't see as fellowship-breaking issues (eschatology and music, to name a couple).  And so I have no desire to join.  Because while they may rally around some very good things, they also rally around some things that I just don't think deserve that level of emphasis.  God has been very gracious to place some people into my life who love the gospel and yet who disagree with me on various aspects of theology, church, and/or ministry.  There is nothing more humbling than realizing that I might just be wrong :).  The fellowship with these dear brothers has been sweet and has been used of God to encourage and sanctify me along the way.   It seems like true koinonia happens when we are willing to at least dialog and even admit that we might be wrong about some secondary issues.  It doesn't seem to me that the FBFI is willing to do that.

Mark Mincy

Andrew Henderson's picture

Mark Mincy wrote:

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have come to understand is this: I learn far more from people I disagree with than from those I agree with.  That truth has been revolutionary, freeing, and humbling in my life.  

 

Mark, in that case, maybe we should join the FBFI together Smile

Andrew Henderson

Don Johnson's picture

It is not because of what I get out of the FBFI, but because I want to support what the FBFI does and what it stands for.

FrontLine magazine is really an excellent resource. We have been getting a bulk subscription for our ministry for some years and encourage our church people to pick it up and read it. It is an excellent tool for discipleship. The feedback we get is quite interesting. I would say the most popular part is Dr. Minnick's pastoral insert, even though most of our people have no more than a high school education. Some of them have even less than that.

In addition, we promote our regional fellowship meeting. Our folks are not able to get away to this all the time, but it has been a blessing when they have been able to attend. For me, the fellowship meeting has long been a highlight of the year. Perhaps for those of you ministering on the east coast these meetings are a dime a dozen and you have other fellowship opportunities. Out west, we are much further spread apart and I live on an island - it is costly to travel and our brethren are far apart. There are a few small churches on the Vancouver Island, but it is encouraging to us to be able to join with like-minded brethren once a year. To me, this is incredibly valuable.

The chaplaincy ministry of the FBFI is also very important. You all have a unique opportunity to provide faithful ministers to the military, an opportunity we don't have in Canada. I am glad to support this vital ministry.

Finally, the men who make up the board of the FBFI are men I have long supported and appreciated their position on the issues. I am a little astonished to now be among them, but I am glad to contribute as I can.

Several of you have expressed negative sentiments. That's your choice. No organization is perfect, I am sure mistakes have been made in the past and there is no guarantee we will always get things right in the future. But in the main, what the FBFI promotes is what I like to promote and I'd encourage the readers to check out our ministries and see exactly what it is we do.

You can read most of the older issues of FrontLine online at www.fbfi.org (the most recent issues are available to subscribers only). You can also read selected articles from past issues on our blog, Proclaim & Defend. Before making a judgment based on the comments of critics, at least take a look and find out a bit more about what we are doing. And join us for fellowship at least - it costs nothing and you might find a group of like-minded folks you would like to join.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Mark Mincy's picture

Andrew Henderson wrote:

Mark Mincy wrote:

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have come to understand is this: I learn far more from people I disagree with than from those I agree with.  That truth has been revolutionary, freeing, and humbling in my life.  

 

Mark, in that case, maybe we should join the FBFI together Smile

Good point...I still have plenty of opportunity to learn from FBFI folks in spite of my non-membership Smile

Mark Mincy

Mark Mincy's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

It is not because of what I get out of the FBFI, but because I want to support what the FBFI does and what it stands for.

FrontLine magazine is really an excellent resource. We have been getting a bulk subscription for our ministry for some years and encourage our church people to pick it up and read it. It is an excellent tool for discipleship. The feedback we get is quite interesting. I would say the most popular part is Dr. Minnick's pastoral insert, even though most of our people have no more than a high school education. Some of them have even less than that.

In addition, we promote our regional fellowship meeting. Our folks are not able to get away to this all the time, but it has been a blessing when they have been able to attend. For me, the fellowship meeting has long been a highlight of the year. Perhaps for those of you ministering on the east coast these meetings are a dime a dozen and you have other fellowship opportunities. Out west, we are much further spread apart and I live on an island - it is costly to travel and our brethren are far apart. There are a few small churches on the Vancouver Island, but it is encouraging to us to be able to join with like-minded brethren once a year. To me, this is incredibly valuable.

The chaplaincy ministry of the FBFI is also very important. You all have a unique opportunity to provide faithful ministers to the military, an opportunity we don't have in Canada. I am glad to support this vital ministry.

Finally, the men who make up the board of the FBFI are men I have long supported and appreciated their position on the issues. I am a little astonished to now be among them, but I am glad to contribute as I can.

Several of you have expressed negative sentiments. That's your choice. No organization is perfect, I am sure mistakes have been made in the past and there is no guarantee we will always get things right in the future. But in the main, what the FBFI promotes is what I like to promote and I'd encourage the readers to check out our ministries and see exactly what it is we do.

You can read most of the older issues of FrontLine online at www.fbfi.org (the most recent issues are available to subscribers only). You can also read selected articles from past issues on our blog, Proclaim & Defend. Before making a judgment based on the comments of critics, at least take a look and find out a bit more about what we are doing. And join us for fellowship at least - it costs nothing and you might find a group of like-minded folks you would like to join.

Don,

I know we've had our differences, but I appreciate this post of yours.  I think you will have much more success in garnering interest in the FBFI if you concentrate on communicating the positives of the organization (like you just did) as opposed to the negatives of those with whom you might disagree.  I say this knowing that I am far, far from perfect in this area of communication.

Respectfully,

Mark

Mark Mincy

Greg Linscott's picture

Out west, we are much further spread apart and I live on an island - it is costly to travel and our brethren are far apart. There are a few small churches on the Vancouver Island, but it is encouraging to us to be able to join with like-minded brethren once a year. To me, this is incredibly valuable.

Don,

Are people prevented from attending if they aren't members? Is there a benefit to being a member that there wouldn't be for a non-member at the regional? 

Again, I hope my comments aren't considered to be hostile. I am actually considering attending the national meeting this year. At the same time, the benefits of a magazine have diminished to readers in both Christianity and the wider publishing world, when they can read articles from blogs or online journals, not to mention accessing them later when they are needed. But when you have something like the Sweatt situation, that drives some of a certain persuasion away. The things I saw at the last meeting I attended in 2009 (which I reported on here at SI) don't seemed to have changed a great deal. The discussion I am seeing here, even between you and Kevin and Mike, still leaves me with little reason to think that there is a significant change in the mindset of the leadership, or for that matter, any significant moves to accommodate the perspective of younger pastors into the leadership.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Don Johnson's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
Are people prevented from attending if they aren't members? Is there a benefit to being a member that there wouldn't be for a non-member at the regional?

No, not at all! Of course!

What I meant by my post was to say I want to support an organization that promotes these kinds of activities. I could simply attend and get the benefit of the fellowship without joining. However, by joining, I help support the effort that goes into coordinating meetings and the other efforts of the FBFI. I don't look at my membership as something to benefit from but as an opportunity to be part of supplying these benefits to others.

Greg Linscott wrote:
Again, I hope my comments aren't considered to be hostile. I am actually considering attending the national meeting this year.

Not at all, I hope to see you then. I'll send you a note privately later about that. It'll be great to get to know you (and others) personally.

 

Greg Linscott wrote:
At the same time, the benefits of a magazine have diminished to readers in both Christianity and the wider publishing world, when they can read articles from blogs or online journals, not to mention accessing them later when they are needed.

That is true. We are aware of the diminishing interest in print magazines. There does still seem to be some interest in the print version and so far we are hopeful that it will continue. But there is now also an online option. Go check out the archived copies on our site and you will see what I mean. You can have an "online only" subscription, I believe. I have used the online version some and it is quite interesting. I still like paper, and we do have some folks in our church who still are computerless and aim to stay that way. And they are by no means our oldest members! Some of the older ones are amazing.... but I digress.

 

Greg Linscott wrote:
The discussion I am seeing here, even between you and Kevin and Mike, still leaves me with little reason to think that there is a significant change in the mindset of the leadership, or for that matter, any significant moves to accommodate the perspective of younger pastors into the leadership.

Well, I'm doing my best. Communicating in this medium is fraught with the potential for misunderstanding. Kevin Mungons, KTB and I have had some offline discussion as well and it has been entirely cordial. We do have some differences of opinion, but I am pleased in general with how that is all going.

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

There are advantages and problems with any kind of support group. I'm part of the leadership team of a homeschool support group, for instance. We have a SoF, by-laws, and policies, which were crafted to hopefully prevent some problems, as well as give us guidelines for dealing with issues as they arise. The SoF allows us to take certain things for granted- we meet regularly for general meetings and field trips, and don't have to worry about one of our members promoting Catholic doctrine or evolutionism, for instance.

This is, IMO, a great thing. It isn't that homeschoolers can't meet together without a support group, but sometimes people need someone else to organize networking with meetings, field trips, communications, and newsletters, and encourage them to fellowship with like-minded families. There are plenty of folks who are self-motivated and will find these opportunities of their own, but for the ones who don't, a support group is a wonderful ministry. 

I can see organizations like the FBFI serving this purpose.

But what can happen is that someone is elected to leadership who wants to promote their vision of home education. They want to actively discourage folks from attending certain conventions because of the vendors or speakers that might be there. They use their position to intimidate anyone who has anything positive to say about public schools (public schools must always be described as 'the arms of Molech' or some such hyperbole). They work behind the scenes to ostracize certain families who don't meet their expectations or standards. If someone complains about these underhanded tactics, they can do their wide-eyed innocent act, point at our group policies, and declare that they never did no such thing. 

I've not experienced this with our group, but I have in churches. I imagine it can happen in a group like the FBFI. Some of the conversations I've read lead me to believe that is has happened.

I also wonder what policies are in place that make sure that member churches are operating Biblically. My dh and I visited a church that claimed to be a member of FBFI, and they were a complete disaster- we're talking a former pastor indicted for sexual molestation being allowed to teach and preach, a member who was a registered sex offender being allowed to roam freely and interact with the kids, the pastor's wife working to support her husband- while he bragged about staying up late to watch movies and play on the internet then sleep until noon- and members who weren't qualified to babysit a canary being put in charge of all and sundry. Yowzers.

Or does the FBFI view itself in that way? If someone reported immoral shenanigans at a member church, would the FBFI do anything about it if the usual means (confronting church leadership) are ineffective? 

Greg Linscott's picture

If someone reported immoral shenanigans at a member church, would the FBFI do anything about it if the usual means (confronting church leadership) are ineffective?

The FBF does not generally have churches affiliated. As I recall, there are affiliate churches, but they are relatively few. It is predominately an association of individuals.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Joel Tetreau's picture

While not being an "active" member of the FBF, I still enjoy local and regional meetings with the FBF men. At least here in the West, the FBF men in the main tend to be balanced and careful men both exegetically and theologically. Some of those men include here in AZ: Kevin Schaal, Mike Sproul, David Shumate, Dick Mercado Sr. and Jr., Keith Gephart, (my father) Jerry Tetreau, Brent Snow (California), Bruce Hamilton (Alaska), Dan Mauldin (New Mexico). Frankly I love these men and (also frankly) in my mind there is not that much difference between my view and their's. Many of these men share my 4.5 Calvinism. I am a bit more decentralized in an approach to leadership and decision-making than some. In our church we will use a bit more contemporary music but even then we play newer music with a traditional feel. The largest difference is that I'm able with both a clear and excited conscience to have an "active koinonia" and some level of cooperation with a few militant yet conservative evangelicals (men who I call Type C fundamentalists). By the way, at least here in the West FBF men do not have an outward antagonistic attitude towards men like myself who would be a bit to the left of themselves. These men while not agreeing with me in every sense, continue to reach out to me with a loving spirit. Frankly I am humbled by that. That also tells me the FBF has changed because the leaders who were leading the FBF twenty-five years ago probably would not be as charitable to men like myself than the present batch of FBF leaders. 

For what it's worth.

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;

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Greg Linscott wrote:

If someone reported immoral shenanigans at a member church, would the FBFI do anything about it if the usual means (confronting church leadership) are ineffective?

The FBF does not generally have churches affiliated. As I recall, there are affiliate churches, but they are relatively few. It is predominately an association of individuals.

So the member directory is made up of everyone from Joe Sixpack to pastors? I had the idea that the directory helped members of the FBFI to find churches of like faith and practice. 

Don Johnson's picture

No churches are members. Some churches advertise in FrontLine, but they are not advertising as members or affiliates or anything like that. The directory is just individuals, which includes pastors primarily, but anyone who agrees with the doctrinal statement and wishes to support the FBFI may join.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Greg Linscott's picture

The directory lists the members, which are mostly pastors. It includes where those pastors serve. 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Ron Bean's picture

How is the leadership/board of the FBFI selected? 

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

BryanBice's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Article IV, Section 1.

 

Regarding election to the Board of Directors:

 "They shall be elected to three-year terms with one-third being elected each year....They may be re-elected indefinitely as long as they meet the qualifications herein stated, and have been faithful in attendance and support of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International. Their election shall be by majority vote."

Elected by whom? A majority of whom or what? Answer: The Board of Directors. So the Board votes on new board members who can serve for the rest of their life. Hmmm.

"A Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer shall be annually elected by vote of the Board of Directors....A President shall be elected by two-thirds majority of the Board of Directors."

Note: All officers are chosen by the Board of Directors from the Board of Directors.

"Long term members of the Board of Directors may be appointed as non-voting Board Members Emeritus, to serve without expiration of term while they are members in good standing of the FBFI, or until resignation. Appointment shall be by the Board of Directors."

What qualifies as "long term"? Who decides when someone's been on the Board of Directors long enough to merit this honor?

"Potential future board members who are members in good standing of an independent, fundamental, separate Baptist church, shall be elected by the Board of Directors to a three year term. At the end of the three year term, they shall be eligible for re-election for one additional term or nominated for the Board of Directors by unanimous consent of the Executive Committee. Advisory Board members shall serve without voting privileges."

Even Advisory Board Members are chosen by the Board of Directors, that is, those who are to be advised.

So it appears that the Board of Directors chooses the Board of Directors as well as its advisors (who could become Board Members if they're liked well enough by those they advise) and all the officers. What role does the membership play in this, other than being part of a pool of potential board members? The membership doesn't nominate board members, doesn't vote to approve or reject potential board members, and doesn't vote on the officers of the organization.

In my opinion, this kind of closed system easily lends itself to the charge, "Good Ol' Boys Club."

Jay's picture

In the secular nonprofits I've worked with, it is primarily the Board members' responsibility to cultivate and bring on new Board Members.  Church polity is different, of course - you "select from among you men of good report" is how Acts 6 puts it.  Paul makes the same case in I Tim. 3.

That being said, I agree with Bryan that this does seem to be somewhat insular and a lot a bit of "Good Ol Boys' Club".  ESPECIALLY in light of allegations that the FBFI IS a de facto network by the vocal and obnoxious anti-IFB groups that exist.  It would be VERY good for the FBFI to start opening up a little bit to the members that aren't connected to the movers and shakers in the group. 

I tried to put down my thoughts on paper last night, and while I'm not done yet, this was exactly the first thing that jumped out at me, so I'll post that portion of my take on here now.  I hope this is helpful to the powers that be in charge of the FBFI.

I think, after trying to puzzle this out in my own head, the operative word that comes to mind for the FBFI is 'Insularity'.  I get the feeling, based on my own experiences and some of what was touched on above, that the biggest problem with the FBFI is that it's far too concerned with issues that it perceives as important and not enough on the issues that the rest of us might be dealing with.  I'm not sure that the leadership at the FBFI is cognizant of how quickly they're losing in the 'marketplace of ideas' or even that they want to be taken as relevant for Christians today.  I'm not even sure that they can look beyond the axis of it's own membership and acknowledge that there are even real problems, as the SI 'Featured Discussion' is making very clear.

So...someone asked for my take on this.  There it is, in part.  Maybe later I'll add more.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Don Johnson's picture

BryanBice wrote:

Regarding election to the Board of Directors:

 "They shall be elected to three-year terms with one-third being elected each year....They may be re-elected indefinitely as long as they meet the qualifications herein stated, and have been faithful in attendance and support of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International. Their election shall be by majority vote."

Elected by whom? A majority of whom or what? Answer: The Board of Directors. So the Board votes on new board members who can serve for the rest of their life. Hmmm.

Perhaps you missed the bit about "three-year terms". That isn't "the rest of their life".

BryanBice wrote:

"Long term members of the Board of Directors may be appointed as non-voting Board Members Emeritus, to serve without expiration of term while they are members in good standing of the FBFI, or until resignation. Appointment shall be by the Board of Directors."

What qualifies as "long term"? Who decides when someone's been on the Board of Directors long enough to merit this honor?

If someone has served for some time on the Board and wishes to still be identified with the Board, they are put on the emeritus board, usually at their own request, in my limited experience. It means they don't have to be present at all the board meetings, but still want to identify with the board. They are not voting members. If you look at the roster of emeritus board members, you'll see who that includes.

BryanBice wrote:
In my opinion, this kind of closed system easily lends itself to the charge, "Good Ol' Boys Club."

You are welcome to  your opinion, Bryan. I don't know the history of the setup, but the board has been self-perpetuating for a long time. I suspect the reason for the organization was to preserve the fundamentalist character of the leadership, but others can comment on that. It does seem to me that member-driven groups haven't had a good record at perpetuating once solid fundamentalist positions. You also have much more politicking going on in member-driven groups.

The FBFI is not a church, it is an association of individuals for the promotion of certain ideals. It is what it is. You are welcome to not be a part of it if you choose. I don't see why you should be indignant, the FBFI has been set up this way for a long time.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

BryanBice's picture

BryanBice wrote:

Regarding election to the Board of Directors:

"They shall be elected to three-year terms with one-third being elected each year....They may be re-elected indefinitely as long as they meet the qualifications herein stated, and have been faithful in attendance and support of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International. Their election shall be by majority vote."

Elected by whom? A majority of whom or what? Answer: The Board of Directors. So the Board votes on new board members who can serve for the rest of their life. Hmmm.

Perhaps you missed the bit about "three-year terms". That isn't "the rest of their life".

Well, no, I didn't miss that bit. I was commenting on the fact that they "CAN serve for the rest of their life," in contrast, say, to the boards I've served on where their service was limited to two consecutive 3-year terms (meaning that, once elected they CAN'T serve for the rest of their lives).

It does seem to me that member-driven groups haven't had a good record at perpetuating once solid fundamentalist positions. You also have much more politicking going on in member-driven groups.

And a lot of "closed" organizations have become inbred (read, "Good ol' boys club"), isolated from their constituents (read, "We know what our members need to think about [topic X]", more isolationist in their positions (read, "We're the only ones who've got it right."), and controlled by a single strong personality.  As far as politics go, I'm not so sure there's any more politicking in a member-driven group, but I suppose there could be. Fact is, though, any human organization is apt to find a fair share of politicking going on, whether it's an IFB church or the RCC.

I don't see why you should be indignant, the FBFI has been set up this way for a long time.

Indignant? I'm not indignant. Ron asked how the leadership is selected...you linked to the Constitution...I answered his question based on your link...and simply expressed an opinion on how this leadership set up can easily open up the organization to the charge of being (and, in fact, can actually become)  a "good ol' boys club." And I'm sure you've heard that charge more than once, especially from men under age 45.

Again, I'm expressing my opinion here, but from what I've read about the younger generation of fundamentalist pastors & pastors-in-training, from what I hear them saying, from what I read them write in forums like SI, and from my limited experience with them, they're going to stay away from associations/organizations that 1) have a closed leadership structure (like FBFI's),  2) give them no voice, 3) lack real, tangible means of member participation in worthwhile endeavors, and 4) seem to serve no purpose beyond that of perpetuating itself.

Joel Tetreau's picture

So - I've mentioned that I've enjoyed occasional fellowship with several good men in the FBF here in the West. On other occasions I've noted my disagreement with this or that which at least to me characterizes the main of the men in the group. On the one hand I don't have a problem sharing with our FBF friends why we might think differently than many of them do. On the other hand, there has been good change. The FBF is far more exegetically and theologically responsible than what was the case 25 or 30 years ago. The group is headed I believe in a better direction than when they were more connected to what I would call Type A+ types. That's not enough to pull me back into "the fold". I will continue to be a friend to these men from outside the FBF as long as the main of the fellowship is antithetical to allowing/understanding/respecting of what I call, a "type b" fundamentalism within their midst.

What changed for me? So early on I thought maybe I (and those like me) could influence change within the FBF towards what I believed (and to some degree still believe) to be a better fundamentalism. About 7 years ago I came to grips that it's probably not fair for me to try to change them or to fight them on the inside when the majority would be against what I have called a "type b fundamentalism." The reality is - I'm the one that has changed......not them. I'm the one that believes there is a version of evangelicalism outside of fundamentalism today that is God honoring, (not newevangelical) and worthy of some kononia. The FBF has never taken a view that koinonia with militant and even separatistic conservative evangelicals is something that should be on occasion grasped. As a matter of fact the resolutions of the FBF over the years have called such a view "embryonic newevangelicalism" or "pseudo fundamentalism." Many within the FBF won't even pursue fellowship with other non-FBF fundamentalists not to mention men like Mac or Dever. Even in an era when Billy Graham ecumenicalism and rank liberalism was causing havoc to the gospel, the FBF over and over passed resolutions against Jerry Falwell. I mean for years the FBF acted like FBF stood for Fundamentalists Bashing Falwell!

So back to this issue of occasional cooperation with men like Mac and Dever. The bottom line - I believe it is Biblical to do so. They believe it is not. One of us is right......one of us is wrong. I must continue to practice koinonia as I believe I should. They must continue to limit koinonia as they believe they must. So I've gone a different way. In my view, a better way. And while I will separate from the majority of those the FBF will separate from....the difference is still too much to allow for a "full functional fellowship." So be it! I now have great relationships not only with some in the FBF, but men and ministries that are in a myriad of other groups. I'm thrilled and relieved because I'm exactly where I need to be. Perhaps the best way for some of you who disagree with the FBF is to "pull out," or "remain out" and find men and ministries that you are closer to in belief and/or practice. Look - if Kevin, as brilliant as he is can't move the FBF more than his influence has - how are the rest of us (who have fewer gifts and less influence) going to change these brothers? (hello! Smile )

What's closer to reality and probably more healthy is for us to continue to be grateful for the great ways God uses the good men within the FBF. Furthermore as we are able to continue our friendship with these men - we do so. There is a middle option. One does not have to be in the "FBF" or an enemy of the "FBF." As Dever mentioned in Lansdale, we can keep the denominational or associational fences low and continue to shake hands over those fenses......that sounds right. 

So - a few thoughts from the shadows of the cacti!

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;

Don Johnson's picture

BryanBice wrote:

Again, I'm expressing my opinion here, but from what I've read about the younger generation of fundamentalist pastors & pastors-in-training, from what I hear them saying, from what I read them write in forums like SI, and from my limited experience with them, they're going to stay away from associations/organizations that 1) have a closed leadership structure (like FBFI's),  2) give them no voice, 3) lack real, tangible means of member participation in worthwhile endeavors, and 4) seem to serve no purpose beyond that of perpetuating itself.

Bryan, I don't want to sound flippant in my remarks. It would be one thing if the FBFI were a denominational structure and had a self-perpetuating board. That would be an old boys network and I doubt anyone would be happy with that structure.

The fact is that younger men do have a voice in the FBFI. In our region, the leaders regularly ask younger men to preach to us, and we all value the relationships and friendships that we have with younger men. We want to encourage their ministries. Some of our board members have been younger when they came on the board. The nature of things is that we do age, however. Haven't figured out how to avoid that yet.

If you think the fellowship meetings, the magazine, and the chaplaincy aren't worthwhile endeavors, then I guess there isn't much we can say. Member participation is most visible in the fellowship meetings and member support is needed to perpetuate the other ministries. For me, it is worth it, perhaps not for you. You will also have to decide whether these ministries have a useful purpose or not. It sounds like you don't think so, but, again, that's up to you.

Some of the criticism you and others express seem to suggest that there is some kind of power structure going on where the FBFI is seeking to control a group of churches. It just isn't the case. We promote the ideals we believe in collectively and hope that will influence others in the same direction. We are not a denomination. Your criticisms, it seems to me, would be more appropriate if we were a denomination, but we are not. You seem to be criticising us for not being the GARBC, but we are not the same kind of an organization.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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