The Office of Deacon is Not Limited to Men

“Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” -2000 Baptist Faith and Message

It’s Time To Take a Closer Look

Should women be deaconesses? Yes. Is this something I just made up? No. According to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, it seems that the office of pastor is the only office limited to men.

“The office of pastor is limited to men.”  

So why don’t we see more women serving as deacons in our Southern Baptist churches? Because deacons tend to function like elders, instead of the way the Bible defines them. When we define these offices based on what the Bible has prescribed will we start to remove the barrier for women to fully use the gifts that God has equipped them with? I believe, at least for, Southern Baptists, we have long kept women in our churches from carrying out their gifts in this biblical office. It’s time we revise our statement of faith in this area so that we, together as a denomination, can enable the women God has raised up to serve our local churches in a God-ordained, and God-glorifying office.

It’s Time to Stop Limiting Women in Our Churches

According to the present structure in the majority of our Southern Baptist churches, women cannot be deacons because they would be functioning outside of the Biblical mandate. What I mean by this is that the way a lot of SBC churches are setup deacons act as pastors. According to Scripture, deacons do not have authority in the church. Pastor/Elder is the only office that has been ordained by God to hold authority. Now, most churches may not specifically define that deacons have authority in their church’s doctrine, but this is what they are practically living out as a church. Especially if you take a closer look at how a deacon board is run. Most business meetings may be moderated by a pastor, but most cases a man called the “head deacon” has the final say. The role of the “head deacon” is an extra-biblical term and because most churches give this position authority it is not from God. This man-made structure has caused women who would be willing to demonstrate their gifts to shy away.

God has gifted Christian women with gifts of service. Some women have been set apart by God to meet the qualification of deacon. But because our churches have gone the traditional man-made route of how they view deacons we have restricted what God has designed.

It’s Time to Revise How Autonomous SBC Churches Should Be

I trace part of this problem to the autonomy of churches. Autonomous churches are able to make decisions based on how they interpret Scripture. Of course, our hope as Southern Baptists is that these churches who give to the Cooperative Program would also act like an SBC church and affirm the BF&M 2000. But there is a difference between affirming a statement of faith and living it out in the church. Autonomous churches are able to govern and define leadership roles as they choose, but this has proven to be unhelpful especially when it comes to hindering women who are biblically qualified for the deacon office. Though the Southern Baptist Convention may make a resolution toward a Biblical view of church government the local churches do not have to adhere to it. It’s more of a statement than an applied or constituted action. On the other hand, if Southern Baptists want to reflect honesty and bring candor back to its denomination they will submit to a firm Biblical view of ecclesiology. It starts with a good lesson in Baptist History. There is a lot to be written on this crucial issue. It needs to be solved. This is a hill worth dying on. I have known many women in the past who struggle with leading in the church and this is one way a woman can lead and not be in a position of authority. There’s a difference in having the authority and leading through service.

It’s Time to Clarify the Diaconate

One of my pastors has written an excellent post at a site called Thinking & Theology on how our church has revised the roles of the deacons. This is a step that every SBC church needs to take. I think it’s safe to say that when the last two generations defined deacons they weren’t always looking to the Scriptures. This has done too much harm to our churches. We need to revise the diaconate both in what the Bible says their responsibilities in the church are and who can be a deacon. As Southern Baptists, we need to reconsider our position biblically and doctrinally if women should be left out of the diaconate. According to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which all SBC churches should affirm, states the pastorate is limited to men. This should be interpreted then that women should be allowed to be considered for the office of deacon.

It’s Time We Start to Do Church God’s Way

If you were to join a Southern Baptist church in the deep south, it wouldn’t take long to see who had the authority in the church. Historically, the people of the church had the final say on matters within the church. As we turn the clock from the late 1800’s to the late 20th century that has not been the case. Most SBC churches in the south are made up of one pastor, a board of deacons, and the body of believers. While the pastor should spend most of his time in prayer and studying the Word it turns out this is not the case. Instead of this, the pastor tends to do everything in the church from ordering flowers for a funeral, changing the church sign, mowing the grass, and closing up the church. The responsibilities that the pastor takes on usually should be divided up to the deacons who biblically speaking are responsible for serving the church building and grounds so the pastor/pastors can study, handle membership interviews, pray, and make hospital visits. Also, something that needs to be said is that church members have responsibilities too! There may be specific qualifications and expectations for elders and deacons in the Bible. But this doesn’t mean that church members don’t have tasks too. When we start doing church God’s way, the pastor(s) will be less likely to face burn out, the deacons will not take a misstep of authority, and the congregation will see that they are a vital part in the life of the church. When the body of believers starts taking steps towards biblically healthy habits then they might start fulfilling the Great Commission. When we don’t follow God’s instructions for church polity the church body can confuse God’s mission for the church.

Concluding Thoughts

Our SBC churches must consider whether or not they want to honor men or honor God. When we choose to honor God we will start to examine our churches through the lens of the Word. We have looked to man-made models that exist in worldly structures too quickly. Man-made created positions within the church have caused confusion. Church members who don’t partake of the Word have allowed power-hungry leaders stir the church off the path of the biblical way. As a Christian and a Southern Baptist, I desire that women don’t have to tip-toe around how much they should lead. Revising the diaconate with the Word of God will prove that women are welcome to serve as deaconesses. The “Phoebes” of the church will rise up and it will be better for the church. Women in seminary can be trained for more than just counselors. They can be trained for the church as members and aspire to be deacons. This is not just a Presbyterian idea, but a biblical idea.

Here are some articles I’ve found helpful 

On the biblical role of deacon:

The Role, Requirements, and Reward of a Deacon by Nathan Rose, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church

On the support of women as deaconesses:

I’m a Complementarian, But… Women Can Be Deacons by Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor at Anacostia River Church

Woman Servants by Ligonier Ministries

The Case for Commissioning (Not Ordaining) Deaconesses by Tim Keller


What are your thoughts? Should the SBC revise their statement on who can be a deacon or deaconess? As a Convention, are we limiting women who are qualified to serve as deaconesses?








When you’re called to leave a healthy church

Today my wife and I are celebrating our second year anniversary. We are sitting in our recliners watching a movie and trying not to stress about all the boxes that fill our living room or the clutter in the other rooms. We have two more full days of being residents of Russellville, and a few more weeks of being members at Crosslife Church.


In March of 2013 I joined Crosslife Church. The elders were so gracious to me before I became a member. They invited me to join an internship where I learned some of the marks of a healthy church. A lot of what I’d studied before about the early church started to make sense as we discussed the church according to Gods Word. Fortunately, some of the friends the Lord had led me to be with were members of this church too. It made the transition easier. I was not only welcomed into the body by my peers, but by others of different generational ages.


As Callie and I have planned for the big move members of the church and friends in the church have helped us out in huge ways. I’d always tell most of them it is amazing how hard it is to leave a solid church family. I told them it must be a good thing when it is difficult to leave people who God has used in uncommon ways. My wife and I do not deserve the goodness God has demonstrated to us through this body of believers.


It wasn’t until Callie and I got engaged that she decided to transfer her membership to Crosslife. The women of the church were so kind to her and it was so good for our marriage for her to build such incredible friendships with these women. I’ve noticed lately that it has been hard on her. She had made some hard sacrifices for our move to Kansas City so I can finish seminary. She has been able to be apart of such a biblically minded school and develop some beneficial friendships that will last a long time. But praise God that it is hard for us to leave. This means that we were called here for the time we’ve been here. Though we could always have done more of evangelism, God in His goodness has allowed us by His Spirit to be obedient with what He has led us to.


As we make our move to Kansas City, MO (if the Lord wills us to make it safely) we know He has already provided us a healthy congregation to be apart of. This congregation was the first one we visited back in the spring when we toured the seminary. Liberty Baptist Church in Liberty, MO will be our church home after making the move this weekend. My wife and I plan to start the membership process as soon as we move. God has allowed me to take part as a Pastoral Resident at the church in the Pastoral Training Center. The pastors who have started this internship are likeminded with the Christian members at Crosslife. They desire to be a Jesus-worshipping healthy church. This internship will consist of reading, serving the church, and discussing topics related to the local church. It will last for 18-months and my hope is that I will be done with school in two years. What happens after this is in the hands of the Sovereign Lord.


My wife and I are thankful for Crosslife and I am ecstatic about who the Lord is leading to serve this body of believers as we leave. I believe that this is such a pivotal time for this church and that God will use the people He is guiding to this body to challenge and grow the church in areas that may be weak. God knows how to grow His church. My prayer for the members at Crosslife is that you would continue to pray for the elders, deacons, and fellow believers. Remember that the church’s ministry is just as much your responsibility as the leaders. I hope that Callie and I encouraged you all to continue to be faithful church members. After seminary my end goal isn’t to become a pastor. I aspire to pastor a congregation but no matter what I desire to be a church member who serves in whatever capacity the Lord allows. However, I know that even in seminary or wherever I’m at in my life, I will always have the extraordinary calling of being a church member. Serve the church and the community well for the sake of Jesus Christ and the glory of God.


May the Lord delight in your work,



Taylor Cain June 28th 2017

Church, Keep the Herd Together

Authors note: I commend churches that preach the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not believe all churches that offer multiple services are far from being Gospel-minded and striving to honor God. If you are reading this and you are a born-again believer who serves a multi-service church. I encourage you to examine these thoughts closely and prayerfully.

Multiple Services means Multiple Churches

I’ve known of a lot of churches in the city I live in who are starting or have started transitioning to the multiple service model. This is where the church offers multiple times when their congregation comes together and worships. The preaching of the Word stays the same through the worship might change up a little. Some churches have a contemporary worship setting for a later service while earlier services play the traditional music. Typically worship times are 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Some churches have a similar makeup of service times. This allows for families to choose what service they will attend based on what their weekend plans look like. I know of one church that offers Saturday night services for those families who want to worship earlier or might want to have a more open weekend. Now I don’t put everyone in the same boat as choosing the multi-service method for convenience. But more than likely the church chooses this option to cater to their congregation. Another reason churches will move to offering multiple services is in hopes of growing their church attendance. If I have a building that can hold two hundred people and I offer two services. I can potentially hold up to four hundred people. This is the way some churches try to grow. This modern strategy comes from other churches who have used this strategy and thrive on it. Other churches see this and would rather try to find a grow quick gimmick than remain faithful and continue working hard in the fields. This places more stress on the pastor to spread himself out to preach two services and be shepherding two or more churches. However, this is not the main problem of the multi-service model. The danger of churches that go to multiple services is the demise of church unity. Churches that follow this model would say they seek church unity, but in reality, this model hurts the Body than it does help.


Just Getting the Conversation Started

I am writing this just to start the conversation about the danger of the multiple service model.  Kyle Cheatham a careful and insightful writer for the 9Marks ministry who helps Christians think about the church writes an article that exhorts churches to reconsider splitting up into multiple services here. I don’t see how multiple services can practically be beneficial to the congregation, the pastor, and the leadership of the church. I understand that churches who build large facilities want to fill their pews, cushioned chairs, or stadium seats. But the Bible doesn’t command the church to fill their sanctuaries, auditoriums, or stadiums for the sake of numbers. At the end of this post, I offer a solution to church planters going into establishing churches and pastors who desire a healthier model as they and their other pastors care for the people God has entrusted them with. God calls the church to be full of regenerate people who display their love for God by following His commands. This does not mean that they are trying to use obedience to earn their salvation. Instead, it means that the church is a place for regenerated hearts mainly. Back on the purpose of this post, I desire this post lead those who are apart of multiple services to think carefully about why their church has decided to go towards this popular but unhelpful model.

Multiple Reasons Why Multiple Church Services are Not Helpful

  • First of all churches that have more than one service breaks apart the body of Christ into two or more bodies

The body of Christ is meant to be one local corporate body of believers that gather together to worship the Lord God. When a Body of believers meets at 8 a.m. and then another body of believers meet at 11:00 a.m. isn’t that two separate body of believers meeting at two separate times? Are they truly worshipping together as an assembly? To assemble means to bring together at one time. Then someone might say, “well I sometimes go to the 11 a.m. service, and sometimes I go and worship with the 8 a.m. service other Sundays so I share my time worshipping with all believers in both services.” I’d ask you to tell me the depth of your relationships with people from both services. The more you spread yourself out between those two services the shallower your relationships will be. In the church, we want depth to our relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. In this model, the family of Christ is split or divorced because the two service model would cause you to serve one or the other. It would be difficult or even harmful to the believers’ health who might see a member of their church shopping at the supermarket and not be able to identify their own church members because they don’t see each other due being kept from each other by the two or more services model. This can also be seen in the larger churches model.

  • It makes it difficult for biblical shepherding

When a pastor has to preach two or more messages to two or more different body of believers how is he suppose to truly care and be watchful over the believers if he is not able to be among them. 1.) there is too many people for elder pastors to watch over the flock according to Acts 20:28-35. However, the instruction model we see in this passage is for the church to have multiple elders or multiple pastors. 2.) the traditional single pastor led churches in the SBC who try to go to multiple services set up the pastor who experience “burnout.” The pastor who has deacons who are properly Scripturally defined are usually put in place to help the singular pastor care for the many people. Usually, in these church settings, deacons are to look out for a certain number of families and then report back to the pastor so that he is able to “watch over and care” for the flock. But that is not truly being among them and with them. Preaching a sermon to three different bodies of believers and getting feedback from your “deacons” is not biblical shepherding. Or some churches will have a committee or executive team that acts as elders. They meet basic qualifications that are vague and have little to do with the instructions given to Timothy and Titus. Having two or more services is not realistic for the pastor to carefully demonstrate proper oversight. And we wonder why our churches fill up with unregenerate people every Sunday who are enabled by the church to vote and make decisions. The multiple service model makes it easy for wolves to creep in unnoticed and for goats to think they are sheep. Thus making the task of the pastor and leadership more difficult to maintain the Body’s integrity. Gossipers, maligners, liars, and busybodies are let loose in the church when biblical oversight is neglected. The multiple service model makes holding church members accountable more difficult, but hey churches that turn to this model probably aren’t practicing proper church discipline anyway.

  • Evangelism Becomes Consumer-driven

When churches turn to having multiple services the duty of Christians starts to become more about inviting people to the church than sharing the Gospel in our community. Evangelism is not inviting people to church but sharing the Gospel. Building a culture of evangelism in our church should be natural and outwardly flowing in our church members lives. I am not against inviting people to church, but that does not replace evangelism. The teaching elder on Sunday mornings job is mainly to edify the believers through the expository preaching of the Word. That is to be done preaching through books of the Bible, not month-long series on how to’s. Now the Gospel is to be proclaimed from the pulpit and Christ who is the Word is to be pointed to in every chapter that the pastor preaches. But the church is not for unbelievers in the sense that they can only find the Gospel there. If you are in Christ and you have been born again you have the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God that we are to take outside of the walls we gather in and into our communities. I am not saying that the direct result of multiple services is that they intentionally will tell people that inviting people to church is more important. However, the typical multiple services model calls the importance of making service times more available to fit the need of the one we are inviting. Through the multiple service model, it seems like we are turning the church into a convenience store that believes that if they have their doors open at more convenient times. Then the consumer will want to come. Therefore we will put it on our website, on our church’s card, and on our church sign that our church is open at certain times. So come when it is convenient for you. Are we calling people to come to Christ at their own convenience? Are we trying to shape our churches and our gospel in a way that seems attractive to people so they will come in and buy it? Some churches feel like marketplaces or shopping centers that market the salvation to people as though it was something they could purchase for themselves instead of the power of God that only through God granting faith to the child of darkness that enables them to walk into life.

A Plea to Meet Together as One Body, not Multiple Bodies

Usually, when churches meet separately it is to cater to a generation of people. The older folks will come into the early morning service. The families with young kids need to sleep in before will come to the later service at 11:30 a.m. And the college kids will usually want to sleep until noon and they will have homework so we will set a time that is easy for them. So they will come to a service in the evening. What this does is it splits up generations. The church which could meet together all at once has segregated into two or three different age groups. The singular service model brings these generations together. Instead of having the generational gap between young men and older men the singular service model brings these two groups to worship together. The church is to be a multi-generational church. How will our youth learn to respect their elders if there are not any elderly around to respect? How will our older men disciple younger men and older women younger women if we split them up? Now, this is more obviously seen in generationally driven programs and age-designated ministries, but multi-services offers to broaden this gap between generations. If you are in a church that is thinking about going the multi-service route I beg you don’t do it. It is not healthy. It might bring people to your church, but if those people are not believers what good is it? To the believers in Christ convenience shouldn’t be an issue when we gather together as a body. If it is then it is not Christ you seek to worship. The Body of Christ is one body with many members. The only way this body can function correctly is if these members are amongst each other on a regular basis. We must know who is in our church and not be divided by the barrier of multiple services.

Solution: Prepare for Growth before Your Church Faces Unexpected Rapid Growth

Up to this moment, I cannot trace in the Bible where the Early Church planted churches like I will lay out my Church Growth Preparation Plan. However, I believe as I read of Paul’s missionary journey that churches were planted similar to what I will suggest. My preparation for rapid church growth takes into account the church leadership and the congregation. Now I know the Bible doesn’t constitute a specific numeral limit for a church that made it necessary for another church to be planted. But I do see multiple churches that were their own corporate gathering with their own elders. My model doesn’t allow for multi-site or multi-service, but it will seek to replenish what is unhealthy.

  • Let’s say I am going to plant a church in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Bella Vista, Arkansas has about 22,0000 people in their city limits.
  • Are there any churches that practice healthy church habits? Is the Gospel being preached? Is the pastor handling the Word of God properly? Is there biblically qualified leadership appointed? Are the members being challenged to disciple their family, other church members etc.? Is there a culture of evangelism being cultivated? etc.
  • Is there a church in the area that is like-minded that is dying or on the verge of dying and is willing to be revitalized? Usually, there will be a remanent of believers in this church that is willing to reach out and corporate with a pastor or group that seeks to guide churches back to health.

After prayer, my hope is that myself and a few others from a sending church will go into this city to plant or to revitalize.

New plant strategy: Let’s say I didn’t find a church that was willing to be renewed or revitalized. This means there needs to be a healthy church in this area. Now, this doesn’t mean a Christian church doesn’t exist. This just means that a Christian church who is practicing healthy habits doesn’t exist or is unwilling to see their need to be restored.

  1. Start with a family or two that desires to plant a healthy church in Bella Vista. Meet for worship, preaching of the Word, communion of saints, and equipping to evangelize. Evangelism is crucial in building the church. Don’t depend on your few families to be the church so much you miss evangelism. (month 1-6)
  2. Meet in a house until enough families to sustain renting a building is met. (I am not opposed to remaining to worship in a home) (month 6-1 year)
  3. Of course bylaws, church covenant, statement of faith, confessions adopted, policies written are taken care of. (month 6-1 year)
  4. Start training leaders and be careful to appoint elders which will be elected and voted by a congregation. (1 year-2 year)
  5. Appointment of deacons (1 year- 2 year)
  6. When the church reaches between 50-75 people or 8-10 families start intentional training with few members or have elders watch carefully for those God sets apart as gifted teachers of the Word and leaders. (2 year to year 3)
  7. When the church starts to reach 100-125 members start (whenever) start discussing amongst your elders to pray about planting in the same area. Your goal as the church in Bella Vista is to create a culture of evangelism in your church reaching into the community. The objective of this church is to plant churches in this city.
  8. If I were to draw this up I would start my plant on one side of the city. Probably in the same neighborhood or community where most of my members live. But my evangelism and prayers would be far reaching the entire city. That God would bring His people to Himself in that city.
  9. If my plant started on the east side of the city my elders and I would draw up where our members were located in the Bella Vista area. Then we would call a family meeting where we would prayerfully discuss planting and appointing (after asking) families to plant on the west side of town. I know this would be hard and I do not believe this would be splitting the congregation. Because of the whole time as I am teaching I am encouraging these believers to reach this city by planting churches. I am not wanting to build a bigger building to house all the people. I am not wanting to add multiple services because that would divide the congregation. Instead, I urge you to consider creating a culture of evangelism in your church which would lead your believers to have the mindset of planting more churches that might be smaller but would have a greater impact as these multiple church plants would zone in more on neighborhoods.
  10. All the churches that would be planted would seek to localize their mission. Now, this wouldn’t neglect being involved in community events. The purpose of sending out families into the community is so that the Gospel mission would be more focused and not spread out. Neighborhoods, apartment complexes, and college campuses can be thrown under the radar when we focus on building up one church on one location instead of planting smaller churches in intentional places in the city.
  11. Each church that would be planted would be its own church. They would have their own budget, their own elders, deacons, and teaching elder. There would be three months of support from sending congregation. But the hope is for churches to be their own churches that operate independently.
  12. I don’t want to say that I believe this model would work for the sake of saying “it works.” I haven’t tried. I don’t have experience in church planting. This is based on reading Paul’s missionary journeys and his instruction to the churches in the New Testament. However, I do see this as being practical and biblical. This is the solution to churches that want to have multiple services or even multiple campuses or sites. The New Testament calls the church as being one local assembly that gathers together to worship. Each church is a church independent of another.
  13. I believe this model advocates a healthier way to plant or to revitalize churches. This model would leave a healthy impression on churches and would cause churches to last into the future. I believe this is a replicable model. I believe that mega-churches that have been caught off guard and had to implement multiple services because they weren’t ready or had to build larger buildings because they weren’t ready would be able to look at this model and have a church growth preparation plan. We need healthier churches that allow congregations to worship together and churches to operate how they were instructed to.

The Church and the Trustworthy Word

“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict itFor there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceiversespecially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” Titus 1:9-11


Two Things: Set the Church in Order and Appoint Elders

In Titus chapter 1 Paul lays out instructions for Titus to follow as he organizes the Cretan church. Titus, who is Paul’s “true child in the common faith” (Titus 1:4) is being presented with the commands of God in how He desires His church to be handled. God cares about His Word being properly handled as well as His church. Paul instructs Titus to “put what remained in order.” Here in verse 5 of chapter 1 we see God cares about the order of His church. The first matter of order is appointing qualified elders. Verses 5 thru 9 are necessary qualifications that Titus is to be aware of as he examines the Cretan regenerate men who will hold authority in the church. Titus is to choose qualified elders in every town. I imagine that the appointment of elders was crucial for the churches protection against false teachers and spiritual health. 

Dual Purpose of Teaching Right Doctrine

In verse 9 we see a “must” statement. Other “must” statements are found in 1 Timothy chapter 3 pertaining to elders qualifications. Paul, by the inspiration of God, tells Titus that elders or overseers of the church “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught.” In order to hold firm to the Word of God we must first have hearts which He has transformed, because the “natural man” cannot understand the things of God. Only those who are of the same Spirit of God can understand the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). How can a person hold firm to the Word of God without being taught it correctly? But first, how can a person be taught unless God has given them His Spirit to understand? Titus is on the lookout for men who have the Spirit, who have been taught the Word, and who hold firm to the Word. Why is this important? On the island of Crete there were many Jews who were teaching heretical doctrine (man’s commandments and Jewish myths) that caused confusion. Titus was to choose men who had a credible testimony of salvation, and had a tight grip on the Word of God. What do you see in your church today? Are there men who you voted into leadership who are genuine believers and who hold firm to the Word of God? How do we make good judgments about such leaders? The rest of verse 9 shows us that by holding firm to the Word these men are able to do two things:

1. teach healthy doctrine

2. rebuke those who try to contradict it

Does the Church Have the Right Leaders in Place?

The elders should be holding fast to the sound doctrine, the Word, by teaching it faithfully to equip others. This is similar to how Timothy was directed by Paul to “entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (1 Timothy 1:2). What Timothy was to entrust to faithful men was the Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. Also having men who are teaching the sound Word fulfills the Great Commission by “teaching all what I’ve commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). If we want healthy churches, we will appoint men who are set apart in the church. The church should be able to distinguish these men from others because they are the watchers and caretakers of their spiritual diet. In the church at Crete needed God’s ordained structure for the church. God, through the pen of Paul, wrote out the blueprint for how His church was to be put in order. Elders were crucial to handle the “rebellious men,” the “empty talkers,” and the “deceivers.” In some churches today, we have a similar system; however, each office is defined in contrast to Scripture. In some Southern Baptist churches, deacons have been given the authority that, according to Scripture, only elders should have the right to possess. Deacons are men and women who are just as vital to the church as elders, but who carry out different responsibilities as assigned by Scripture. In some SBC churches, deacons are defined as having leadership roles; therefore, women are left out of being deacons. However, the Biblical role for deacons is that of a servant leader. They are not specifically described as teachers of the Word. In light of this, women are qualified to be deacons with the church. The unbiblical, traditional SBC model hurts the biblical complementarian view of gender roles in the church. The Biblical model shows us that women and men have distinct roles. God has ordained and designated certain men and women to meet qualifications as laid out in 1 Timothy 3 for elders (men) and deacons (men and women).

Don’t Recklessly Appoint Your Leaders

Let us be careful when we do things or name leaders just because their family is good tithers to the church. Beware of the leaders who inherit their deacon or elder status. Make sure that the men and women who are in leadership are qualified to be there. Pastors will have to give an account concerning their flock. I hope they have appointed leaders in a way that lines up with Scripture’s mandates while being fearful of God’s instruction. His way. Not ours. Now church polity isn’t my gospel, but I do believe that as Christians we must strive to honor God. Honoring His word is honoring Him. Churches who strive to honor God will honor His word. His word is sufficient for how to structure the church that brings Him glory. He knows how to bring himself glory. As Paul Washer said back during the G3 Conference, “His Church, His way.”

Posses the Word To Defend It

Christian, are you so familiar with the Scriptures that you could point out false doctrine if it were taught from the pulpit? Christian, is your pastor teaching you a Biblical gospel? If you entered the doors of a Mormon or Universalist “church” can you tell the difference between their false gospel and the Christian’s true gospel? When you hear false teaching, whether on the television, internet, or in your office, does it make you cringe? The false teachers in Crete were “upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.” Has your church prepared you to know the difference between false teaching and Biblical teaching? In 1 Peter 3:15-17 we are taught to be ready to make a defense for the reason of the hope that is within us. This means that the gospel that is the power that brought us to salvation is the same gospel we need to be ready to defend. First, we must possess it if we want to defend it. There are many today in the church who try to defend a gospel they don’t hold firmly within their heart. Charles Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers,” once said in a lecture to his students to “take heed, therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade others to be and believe that which you persuade them daily to believe, and have heartily entertained that Christ and Spirit which you offer unto others.” Also Richard Baxter in his book Reformed Pastor wrote, “Take heed to yourselves lest you should be void of that saving grace of God which you offer others, and be strangers to the effectual working  of that gospel which you preach; and lest, while you proclaim the necessity of a Savior to the world, your hearts should neglect him, and you should miss of an interest in him and his saving benefits.” O, how trifling it would be to work in the ministry for 40 years and miss heaven because your ministry was your righteousness.

Working Out Right Doctrine in Church Community

Our work as Christians on earth is done in submission to the Lord not for admission into His family. As church members, we should be striving to ingest the Bible allowing it to shape our understanding of God. If we go elsewhere to develop our theology and neglect the Bible, then we may wind up being influenced by men or women who are teaching for “sordid gain.” This is where elders or pastors come in. Having multiple elders whom the body of believers trust allows for guidance, reproof, and accountability. The overseers of the church are to maintain the churches doctrinal integrity. Now if the Spirit is at work in your life as a church member, then you too should be aware and able to discern what is truth and what is a contradiction to truth. However, elders are designed as tools of affirmation and commendation. The purpose of churches having more than one or two elders is for the sake of congregational care. Having elders in the church spreads out the responsibilities amongst several men instead of one man. I believe that much of “pastoral burnout” has to do with churches who have unbiblical models. I believe if these churches were to transition to the New Testament model their pastors would be focusing more on what the Bible calls him to do instead of what the church culture says he ought to be doing. Hospital visits, home visits, mowing the lawn, cleaning the sanctuary, ordering flowers for funerals, organizing home meals list, etc. was never meant to be the pastors job. In the Bible, these are not even his two main responsibilities. If you want your church to be healthy you’ll spread the ministry tasks out correctly. The teaching elder will be about submitting to the study of the Word and in fervent prayer. The elders will take care of the church business, doctrinal fidelity, church discipline, and teach when needed. The deacons will serve by caring for those in need within the church. The church members will heed to the call to disciple those within the church, serve the community, encourage one another, pray for each other, and obey the Word. There are many more duties of elders, deacons, and church members, but I hope you see that the church’s ministry is to be divided to the whole Body. How else can the church be the body if we are not also the hands and feet?



It Pleased God

(Brady Boone, who is a faithful church member at Crosslife Church in Russellville shares his testimony about Gods gracious pursuit of his life.  Brady’s testimony truly tells of the good and bitter providence of our Lord. (Genesis 50:20) I hope his testimony leads you to glorify God like Paul’s testimony did in Galatians 1:24.) One of the many things I’ve learned about Brady is that he desires to learn and grow in Gods Word. He loves to meditate on the attributes of God and to think correctly about Gods church. 

Growing up in a church, seeing most of your friends walk the aisle, and not seeing anything change in their lives was the hardest thing for me to understand as a kid. My friends thought I was a believer, and assumed so because of how I acted and treated others. Even as an 11, 12, and 13-year-old kid I fell into professing I was a Christian and knowing I was not.
I remember the night clearly when The Lord broke and changed my heart. Eric Fuller was preaching a revival at my church and explaining the seriousness and realness of Hell versus Heaven. He talked about the narrow path and how few will choose to follow Jesus.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Matthew 7:13-14

I knew I wasn’t one of those few but every part of my soul wanted to be. I did not “walk the aisle” to fall at the feet of Jesus. I went home, locked my bedroom door, and got on my knees. I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins, to take my life and make it His. I remember saying I will do whatever you want me to do, I’ll go wherever you want me to go, and I will love you forever and that my heart is yours. I was no longer running towards death, I was beginning my lifelong walk with Jesus.

Growing up and going to church before this, was kind of a blur to me. My knowledge of God was truly bleak. I failed to understand much or recognize how blessed I was to hear about Jesus on a regular basis. I knew who Jesus was, I knew what He died for on the cross, and that God was perfect. Bible stories that were taught to me in my early years I knew and I definitely picked up on things whenever I did really listen on Sunday mornings. I remember just wanting to sleep through the sermons on Sunday and not caring much at all about what was being said. I was more distracted by girls, my friends sitting in the pews next to me, and my next basketball game. After that night I can remember still battling with these things during the sermons, but there was something new in my life, that wasn’t there before. This new thing in my life was conviction brought on by the Holy Spirit. It didn’t take long for me to start having a desire to listen more to what my youth leader, Mike Dixon was speaking on and what he would be having us talk about on Wednesday nights. The convictions of not listening and not seeking the Lord’s will for my life could sometimes make me feel awful. It could completely wreck my heart and my life.

Around 14, I remember understanding the New Testament more and more. (The Old Testament was a lot harder) The Bible wasn’t so blurry anymore, but was still sometimes hard to grasp. Especially about the law and big words that I was afraid to ask about. Bro. Gene France and church camp that year were huge for me in my walk with Christ. The camp in Hot Springs may not have been the most biblical camp, but it was exactly what I needed to ask the questions I knew I needed to ask. After church camp that year, I asked brother Gene if I could be baptized. We had a meeting and he asked me some tough questions about who Christ was and baptism. He read to me where Jesus set the example and had been baptized by John the Baptist and explained the significance of baptism. (Matt 28:19-20) (Romans 6:4) On August 9th, 2009 I was baptized in Table Rock Lake, with a few others. My family and church family came to support me. It was one of my favorite days growing up.

The Lord taught me a lot in my high school years and also disciplined me countless of times. It was during this time where I saw the Lord’s sovereignty so clearly in my life. Battling lust almost daily after being introduced to porn in 8th grade was a constant battle. These struggles led to many nights of asking for forgiveness, asking why this sin was a part of my life and wondering why I kept running into sin to satisfy my “needs”. This struggle in high school and into college taught me the importance of memorizing scripture. I saw my need for His word, daily prayer, and repentance of sin.

I learned even more about how sweet the Lord’s grace is through an injury that would never go away. After my 10th grade year ended, the Lord started taking away a major idol in my life. Basketball and baseball were two idols that I placed before God. Due to an autoimmune disease that took years to diagnose, my body would not allow me to compete at the same level I once had. This destroyed me and what I had thought my identity was in. The Lord through his kindness took basketball away from me. He allowed me to play baseball but even then I was nowhere near the athlete I was before the disease affected my joints. This caused a period of depression for me. During this time in my life of deep struggle and confusion I was beginning to push the Lord away and fall deeper and deeper into sin. To this day I praise the Lord for a brother who came along side me and spurred me on to Christ. It was not by accident that Cody Hudson came into my life. Cody challenged me and gave me a role in a basketball camp affiliated with a church camp called Rock Haven. This camp and the Lord placing Cody in my life pointed this lost sheep back to his shepherd and reminded me of my real identity in Christ. Cody would disciple me and teaches me biblical ways of handling sin in my life and teaching me even more about my calling as a Christ follower. In a time where most high school students, have little to no accountability, I had accountability with Cody. There is no sweeter friendship to me outside of my wife and family, than my friendship with Cody.

When I look back at high school, the best thing for my walk with Christ was these idols being removed from my life. Even through my wretched sin, my heart being hardened, and my lack of self-control, the Lord taught me a lot during this time. My understanding of who Jesus was and what it means to repent (to literally FLEE) from sin and how to study God’s word were crucial in preparing me for college. As I was growing in my sanctification God was laying out a solid foundation for me. In this I was being prepared to be a man who fears and completely trusts in Him.

I am eternally grateful and thankful for God’s grace, His leadership, and discipline in these first 5 years of walking with Him. It is by His grace alone that I am one of His!

*By faith alone, by Scripture alone, through Christ alone, by grace alone, and for the glory to God alone.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Romans 8:28-29

Church Membership is More Than Showing Up on Sundays

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:9

I was 14-years old when I joined a Southern Baptist church in the town I grew up in. There wasn’t much to it. I walked down an aisle when the invitation was opened up to the church and I told the pastor I wanted to become a member. It was a few months after it pleased God to reveal His Son to me and I was born-again. I was baptized and became a member of that church. I didn’t know what church membership was. I just knew that the last time I was asked to join a church I wasn’t a Christian.


My First Encounter with Elders

My father was an elder at another church in Pottsville. There were three churches within a rocks throw distance. When my family moved to Pottsville we went to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church. I stayed there until the youth got too small for my liking. So in ninth grade I started attending church at the Southern Baptist church on Wednesdays and I went with my family to the ARP church on Sunday mornings. I wanted to be around my peers. When I was 12 years old the pastor at the ARP church came to my home and asked me if I wanted to become a church member. I knew I wasn’t a believer. It didn’t matter if it pleased my parents or not I didn’t want to commit to something that I wasn’t familiar with. After joining the Southern Baptist church I didn’t know what my responsibilities were. All I knew was what I remember my dad telling me, but it was from the ARP perspective. In the ARP church, at least this ARP church, membership was taken seriously. People who wanted to join the church had to go before the elders of the church. These were men who the church appointed to oversee the congregation. The people who were interested in church membership had to answer questions that gave the elders understanding of where this person stood in the faith. If they were professing believers and the elders believed they saw genuine faith in these people then they were given the right to join the church. If not then the process was extended. The elders also made sure if the people were in good standing with the churches they were coming from.

Front Door Back Door Policy

In the Southern Baptist church that I first joined didn’t have a plurality of elders. They didn’t have someone that made sure I was a genuine believer, and it was easy to become a member. Mark Dever in his book, “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” talks about how most churches have a open front door, closed back door policy. He explains that churches who have open front doors let anyone in without checking to see if they are in good standing with the church they are coming from or if they are even born-again believers. Churches who tend to be liberal with welcoming just anyone in treat church membership with recklessness and not reverence. These same churches who have a wide-open front door also have a closed back door. This means that these churches who let just anyone in have a hard time seeing people out. Usually this means that this church probably doesn’t practice church discipline for the sake of “unity.” It is a shame that churches who say they are striving for a biblical church dismiss practicing healthy church discipline. Using the excuse that they avoid practicing church discipline in the name of the loving, forgiving Jesus is a cop-out. It is far cry from the Bible to say that church discipline is unloving and something Jesus wouldn’t do. (Matthew 18) I was an ignorant church member for too many years. However I went to the business meetings when the other youth “church members” was outside playing. In my pride I got to practice something I didn’t realize was so vital to being a healthy church member. As I look back on those 8 years of being a church member there are so many things that I realize now that I didn’t fully understand as a “church member” then. I am not sure if I would consider that 14-year old as a true church member.

A Look into the Window of Unhealthy Churches Practicing Unhealthy Church Membership

Churches who do not teach the congregation what healthy church membership looks like should get rid of church membership altogether. What is the point of church membership if your “church members” do not understand their responsibilities to the church? When I would show up for the business meeting that took place once a month on Wednesday night, I noticed something unusual. It was a trend that was unsettling in my heart even to this day. Out of the 120 people that came on Sunday mornings only 20% showed up on Sunday nights or Wednesday nights. This 20 %, if that many, made the decisions for the entire Body. If something needed to be voted on they were the ones that could vote. At the time and to this day I believe this 20 % were healthy church members. They were faithful to the core. They loved the Lord and displayed it through their lives. Now there were some who couldn’t make it and that is understandable. However, excuses were fleeting for those who wanted to check in on Sunday mornings and check out the rest of the week. Healthy Church membership is about being active. What does being active mean? It means that these church members are not neglecting corporately worshipping with other fellow believers. (Hebrews 10:24-25) These members care about the business of the church and take on the ministry as a whole not something that is just designated to the church leaders. Being an active member is about having family worship in the home, evangelizing those in your workplaces, and growing in your understanding of who God is according to His Word. Inactive church members who do not show up to church on Sundays regularly and who do not practice healthy church membership should be held accountable. Too often it is easy in churches today for people who profess to be Christians to disobey Gods command to worship with a body of believers. Two things can happen to those who profess to believe. They can forsake the church or they are not held accountable by their church. They will get caught up in heinous and habitual sin. Therefore it will be plain to all that they “went out from us because they were not of us.” (1 John 2:19) And that church who was their “church” will be held accountable by God. Such churches who neglect church membership and who do not hold people in their church accountable to the teachings of Christ should examine their theology. Also, these people who are inactive “members” do not need to receive support from the church. Only those who the church has recognized as genuine believers ought to receive support from the church. This starts with guarding the church doors. Has your church appointed biblically qualified leaders to watch over the sheep? (Acts 20:28-30) If not unhealthy habits are sure to form. A church that is not holding their church members accountable might as well hold the church’s neck in the Wolf’s mouth. It’s disturbing how church’s want to see growth, but neglect discipleship of their members. In some cases it is just these churches don’t know how or what discipleship is. Then these churches will turn to external resources to help them, and forsake the Bible which is sufficient and accessible.

Why is all the stress of church ministry placed on the pastor?

Either because that pastor is choosing to overwork himself or church members have a poor understanding of church membership or both. Now the pastor is supposed to be a laborer among laborers. In the SBC churches, I’ve had ties to I have noticed that the issue of the common pastoral burnout usually fell on both the pastor and the member. This is frightening because the few church members who do show up to business meetings who have the control of the churches decisions place the blame on the pastor rather than looking within to see the problem is a lack of leadership as well as a lack of discipleship which is the responsibility of the Christian church member. In most SBC churches that I’ve been to or have learned from conversation with fellow SBC believers. I have noticed that the term “burnout” is just as much the pastors fault as the church members. If we want to see more healthy SBC churches we will point our pastors to their biblical duties as the shepherd/shepherds of the church. And we will point our church members to their biblical responsibilities in the church. When we see pastors spending more time studying the Word of God and praying we will see more healthy churches. When we make the distinction between church members and church goers we will see more regenerate church members who are know they are to be held responsible by the gracious overseers of the church. (1 Timothy and Titus instruction for elders)

Church Membership Needs Revitalized

It’s easy to hop from church to church. It’s hard to stick with a church through the thick and thin. However God has instructed every Christian to be covenanted to a local church. He has designed it for the Christian and we must not neglect what He has designed for us. In the church today church membership is underrated. In some churches it doesn’t exist because the view of church membership may have been poorly demonstrated. But when we read Gods word I believe we would see what biblical church membership is. Today church planting is the coolest thing to do. Also because it is pretty easy to do in some sense. However church revitalization which is to guide a church back to health is strenuous and hard work. It is like bringing an unfruitful garden back to producing an abundance of fruits and vegetables. The same is for church membership. It is easy to do away with it. It is also easy to not really give much worry to what it means. But being apathetic and negligent isn’t helpful for the church. When we study to learn biblical church membership then we will be able to properly teach our believers the importance of church membership. We need to emphasize the role of the church member. It is not a elementary role in the church. God has given church members the keys and He has designated elders/overseers to lead the church. If we believe that the congregation has the final say then we ought to have a sound understanding of our responsibilities as church members.

*a note of clarity: I believe that those who are in the military, elderly shut ins or anyone who may work which would prevent them from coming regularly are to be supported as the elders and congregation sees fit. Also the purpose of church discipline is restoration of the individual not condemnation. (Romans 8:1)


What if your church stopped singing songs you knew?


My wife and I went to Kansas City, MO this past week to tour Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We stayed with our cousins (Disheroons) Saturday night and then left around 7 a.m. Sunday morning for church. I started online classes through MBTS in the Fall of 2015. In the summer of 2015 Callie and I got married and within the first few months of our marriage I started searching for healthy churches in the Kansas City area. So I browsed the 9marks church search site and came across Liberty Baptist Church. Along with some other notable churches, I tucked my KC church list away in a file to open up when it came time to start looking for churches.

Callie and I arrived at Liberty Baptist Church ten minutes before the service started. For the first time in our marriage we never stepped into a church on our own. Usually we’d visit churches with family or friends. As I was driving into Kansas City traffic my heart started beating faster like when you are about to give a 30 minute speech in front of your 100+ classmates. I was nervous about worshipping with believers that I’ve never met. We turned onto Birmingham road and there set the 40 year old looking brick church. The church that house believers that one day we could call our church family.

I put the car into park, grabbed my Bible, gave a nervous smile to Callie and we began to walk up the hill to the church doors. We were welcomed by the assigned church greeters. I nervously looked every one of the greeters in the eye with a diagonal smirk. As we walked through the sanctuary doors I scanned the place like a CIA agent getting a feel of his surroundings. Callie and I took our seats in the soft connected chair pew, we took the first two seats near the aisle. Aisle seats are the best especially if you want to be the church pew gatekeeper. There was an older lady on our row who took the wall aisle seat. No one else bothered to fill up the other 9 or so seats between us and the older lady. When Callie went to the restroom the teaching pastor greeted all the faces that he may not have recognized row by row. He came to my row. I was frantic. Well for one there was a flowery notebook with a girly phone case sitting next to me. I didn’t want him to think they were mine. After the manly affirmative handshake we chatted before Callie came back. I was relieved of maintaining my man card duties. We talked briefly before we told him we were visiting from Arkansas and he directed us to another Arkansan, Lucas the drummer. We talked to Lucas until worship service started.

As the singing and praise part of the worship service started I began to realize I knew only half of the songs that were being sung. However I didn’t hesitate to continue singing because I didn’t have a good reason not to sing. What is a good reason not to lift up your voice belting doctrinal truths to the Lord who established them? Why would we neglect professing these truths together as a fellowship of believers? Because we aren’t familiar with the tune? Or the songs are not played on KLOVE therefore our tongues are unable to sing strange lyrics?

The worship pastor/elder introduced a new song which was about the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. Usually I would wait until he sang the first verse that way I could catch on to the tune, but I didn’t. The content of the song was greater than the tune that we feel like we need to follow in order to properly worship. God is not concerned if we cannot stay on beat or sing words out of order. I realized that God isn’t going to denounce my worship if I don’t know the song. My duty as a church member and a guest of a church, is to trust the worship pastor to have organized worship that is lyrically and compositionally acceptable for corporate Christian worship. Too often Christians find themselves in a ruckus if the lyrics on the screen or the beat of the song is strange or the song is out of date. In Gods kingdom, songs will be millions of years old, yet we will praise Him the way He desires. I am not against giving a modern tune to an ancient hymn. I am pro-modern worship as long as it considers the Word of God before all else as it is being composed.

What if your church stopped singing songs you knew? What if your worship pastor packed up and left. And the new guy who takes over starts to introduce songs that may be biblical in content, but may not have a catchy tune or familiar sound. Would you pack up and leave to scout out a church that plays all the greatest, latest, positive and encouraging songs? Or would you understand that theology compliments doxology. Our greatest need as the Jesus worshipper is to sing songs that use Gods Words to us that we revert back to Him in praise. May we never be stingy about the songs we sing to our Lord. Also my hope for you as a church member is that you and I would be patient with the worship pastor as he chooses songs that best leads us to exalt Christ and edify the worshipper. This Sunday trust that the worship pastor is seeking to honor God in the songs he chooses to lead the congregation because in this he does have your best interests in mind. When your church starts singing songs that don’t sound familiar. Take time to examine the lyrics, and be patient while you learn the songs. The Spirit doesn’t stop moving because the songs are unfamiliar or unpopular.