The panel discussion consists of the follow people: Fred Malone, Ed Stetzer, Ted Christman, Voddie Baucham, Donald Whitney, Andy Davis, Phil Newton, and Tom Ascol.
Q:The different between a Reformed church and not a Reformed church.
A: (Christman) We are all in the process of reforming; the definition allows for room between four point and five point Calvinists. A deep and profound commitment with sola Scriptura is fundamental.
Q: Voddie, how essential are godly men in the leadership of a local church?
A: I think godly men are essential in a local church. Baxter bemoans the idea of homes that are not governed appropriately and how difficult that is for the pastor and likewise how easy it is when there are godly men practicing godliness in their homes and in the church.
Q: What do you do strategically to gear discipleship toward men?
A: The first thing we do is to be priest and prophet in their home, to expect and equip men to do that. We put alot of capital in men to being disciplers in their home. “I double-dog dare you to be a shepherd in your home.”
Q: Phil, what’s the best training method or program for raising up elders in the church?
A: Biblical exposition is the starting point, but it is out of the natural teaching and preaching men are being raised up. Some accountability and discipling as well–we went through a series of questions for men in dialogue to teach doctrinal development in men. Small group and one-on-one discipling compliments the preaching.
Q: Andy, how do you know when it is time to leave a church?
A: I think all of us would sense the calling of the Lord (John 10 – my sheep hear my voice). The Lord is sovereignly and providentially leading us to a life of good works. When things are going very difficult, questions are being asked is it time? But no soldier who is called gets involved in civilian affairs. You try to stay because God has called you there. There are some key issues if the church significantly rejects, there may be a time to leave or resign (such as exclusivity of Christ, inerrancy, etc.).
Q: Would you say the burden of proof is on the change–the reason of leaving.
Q: At what point is a church in its size to plant another church?
A: (Baucham) When we started, we had it all figured out. But then we ran into this little problem–we grew faster than we expected, and we didn’t have planters ready. We learned to hold that loosely. We plant when there are planters ready. I think there is a danger inherent in the question to believe that you have to be a certain size to plant.
Q: But it is a battle–do we try to grow bigger here, or no, we are going to expand out. Can a small church do that?
A: (Stetzer) Every church should be involved in church planting at some level. I think ultimately to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the congregation. Most of you right now could and should be involved to be planting churches, but you will not because you are trying to maintain the ministries you have right now. There are two forces: the centripetal force (outward) and the centrifugal force (inward), and it is often that the centrifugal force wins the day. You can be involved in church planting at different levels, and you could be involved right now.
Q: Churches that have multiple services–would that not be a better option? Is that a good recommendation?
A: Yes and no. For me, the more we planted, the more we sent our way. Some of the best church planting churches have multiple services.
Q: Fred, Founders is openly Southern Baptist, but how can it reach out and bring in others who are not Southern Baptist but are Reformed?
A: (Malone) I think first of all in certain ways we tried from the beginning. We had contact outside of Baptist circles with the conferences to teach and rehearse Baptist theology and distinctiveness. I think the expansion of contact came through the Journal and now has come through the website. Our concern is not just to be Southern Baptist or Reformed, but to be biblically-based churches that are preaching the gospel solidly. The press, the journal, the media that we are doing, but now, there is such a rise of interest in the Reformed faith as expressed in the sovereignty of God in salvation and holy living in biblically-based churches, and we need to find new ways to bring encouragement and opportunities to facilitate those growing convictions.
Q: In what ways can churches who are Reformed and Southern Baptist work together to plant churches?
A: We need to provide opportunities for fellowship, recognizing that there are going to be differences between us. Just because you are preaching the five-points of Calvinism does not mean you are preaching Jesus Christ. Expository preaching is not just a running commentary but a putting forth of Jesus Christ. I don’t believe we have taught men to preach Christ faithfully in the pulpits. The best book for Christ-centered preaching is C.J. Mahaney’s The Cross Centered-Life.
(Stetzer) I want to encourage you that your influence is remarkable inside and outside the denomination. I am very encouraged that you are going to take that influence and focus in on church planting and evangelism. Do not underestimate that. There are thousands of people who are watching this conference. Taking biblically-based churches to plant churches will be an incredible gift to the body of Christ. Thank you for doing it.
Q: Does a church planter require a different skill set than a pastor who wants to revitalize a church?
A: It begins with a common set, but I do think you can be a great pastor but cannot plant a church or revitalize a church. Church planters have to be
Q: Are you churches biased to church planting than going into established churches and doing the work of reformation?
A: (Stetzer) Of course. Why would they not be? That is the natural order of thing. Dever’s guys have the t-shirts that “church planting is for wimps.”
Q: What’s the failure rate of church plants?
A: After four years, 68% stay around (through NAMB). Acts 29 success rate is 96%.
** Note: I did not type most of the Q&A. It was lengthy with a lot of going back and forth. I would encourage you to check out the archive video from the 316 Network under Bethel Baptist Owasso.