The Growing Need for Bible Institutes

Back at the beginning of the 20th century, a massive change was taking place in the evangelical church in America. Denominations had become overrun by the ideas of Higher Criticism which was nothing short of an attack on the authority and inerrancy of the Bible. But the changes in the churches and denominations were only the symptoms of something much worse. The average person in the pew heard sermons from these compromised churches that denied the fundamentals of the Christian faith—so much so that J. Gresham Machen called Liberalism “another religion.”

These sermons were coming from the men that were trained at denominational seminaries where the professors had embraced the lies of liberal theology in many forms. Although begun as biblical schools, liberalism had kept in and taken over. From Europe to America, the eventual result was that the unwary Christian found himself shocked to hear the assault on the Bible coming from their pastors. But many Christians were ill-equipped to respond.

The historic Christian church did respond though. New churches were planted. Fellowships were formed to work together. Missions agencies were begun. And seminaries were started to train men for the ministry, and Bible institutes were raised up to equip the layman. The Moody Bible Institute, Philadelphia School of the Bible, Bible Institute of Los Angeles, and others sprang up to meet the needs of the church.

With our nation currently undergoing a dramatic change, the church has not been untouched. For decades many discerning believers have been sounding the alarm that what was once “evangelical” has changed. Although it is still known by that name, it no longer teaches the same things. The church in America as a whole has slid far from its foundations, and with it so have the churches, missions agencies, seminaries and Bible institutes. The reality is that liberalism never builds anything because it is parasitic. It only takes over its healthy host and then devours it from the inside.

The time has come for rebuilding once again. We must continue planting churches, form fellowships and partnerships, rebuild or replace missions agencies, and begin training our pastors and laymen in Bible colleges and seminaries that are faithful to the truth.

Not all is lost. There are still many who have not bent the knee to Baal. But with the way things appear to be headed, larger Bible colleges, Christian universities, and seminaries will have a hard time staying open with greater pressure put upon them from our government. We need to remember the power of the Bible institute.

Bible institutes are a powerful blessing to the local church. They can train local church leaders to better serve the church. They can be a source of training an army of Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, missionaries, evangelists, counselors, and more. They have low overhead and don’t often offer degrees, so tuition is affordable enough for almost everyone.

I’d encourage you to look up your local Bible institute and support it through sending students, praying for them, teaching if you are trained, and supporting them with your gifts.

If you attended a Bible Institute, what was your experience? Would you recommend them and how did it bless you and the Church?

What Happened to Evangelistic Visitation?

If we are honest, we would have to admit that many churches in the U.S. are not growing from conversions but from transfers from other churches. I’ll admit that there are some valid reasons for a Christian to leave one church to attend another, but the Great Commission isn’t about shuffling believers from one church to another. There are many things a church can do to bolster its outreach, but one that is consistently missed in the vast majority of churches today is evangelistic visitation. What is that you ask? Keep reading and I’ll explain.

Every Saturday for many years there were at least two people from Grace Baptist Church that would go out to share the gospel with our community—myself and one of our deacons named Everett. Some Saturdays there were others that would join us, but many times it was just the two of us. Everett and I shared Christ with gang members, homeless people in the park, people in half-way houses, and everyday people that look like you and me.

We had dogs chase us, people scream at us, a couple of doors slammed in our faces, and even a few people that I am convinced were demon possessed. Although we visited door to door in order to hopefully share Christ with our neighbors, we found that this method wasn’t too successful. Instead we found that evangelistic visitation was far more productive.

Whenever a person visited our church, they would receive a bulletin and a small visitor’s card that we asked them to fill out as a record of their visit. These cards were placed in the offering plate when the offering was received. When the deacons counted the offering, they would take out these cards and give them to me for follow up.

In my discussions with many pastors and church leaders, many churches don’t do anything to record visitors anymore. I’m not sure why, but they don’t seem to even collect a card to record visitors. In my many visits to different churches, most didn’t request a card to be filled out, and of those that I have filled out, only one has ever done something with it.

On Tuesday when I came into the office, I would send out a welcome letter thanking the visitor for coming. If they wrote the name of who invited them on their visitor card, I would include that as well. Sometimes I would call the friend of our visitor and ask them some questions to find out more about what brought them to our church.

But my follow up didn’t stop there. On the following Saturday, Everett and I would take that card and drive over to the visitor’s house to pay them a visit. Yes, you read that right! We actually showed up at their front door! When we did this, we followed a few rules that worked for us:

1. We only visited on Saturdays from 10am-12pm. This is because before 10 some people were sleeping in and after noon they would be leaving for the day. Three day holidays were almost worthless as far as visiting goes.

2. We took a church flyer or business card with us to leave if they didn’t answer the door. We wanted our visitor to know we came by and missed them. A quick note on a church invite flyer or the back of my business card was slipped in the door jamb for the visitor to find when they returned home.

3. We didn’t call to make an appointment. We found that when we made arrangements we would often find nobody home. It was better to surprise our visitors. Even so, the vast majority were happy to see us.

4. We thanked them for their visit and asked if they had any questions about what they heard. Their visit showed us that they had some interest in church and the Bible. Our conversation helped us determine if the visitors were Christians or needed to hear the gospel.

5. We made sure to express that we were there because we had an important message that we wanted them to hear. We assumed God had sent us as His messengers and we were not ashamed, but bold ambassadors for Christ.

6. We invited them to come back Sunday (the next day). Many people were shocked that the man that preached the sermon had taken the time to personally visit them. This impression made them more open to come back, and it showed them in a tangible way that we truly cared for them.

Having successfully visited our visitor, we usually asked them if we could pray for them and if they had any special prayer needs. The visit often ended with smiles, laughs, and a new relationship begun. Of all the people that returned a second time, many were those that had been visited by someone in our church.

When you think about what connected you to your church, what sticks out the most? What were the things that turned you off about visiting a new church?

The Comforting Effect of Biblical Eschatology

I have an opportunity to look at church websites quite regularly as I try to familiarize myself with many pastors and Bible teachers that cross my path. I look at their church website because unlike the old paper phone books, it says a lot about their theological persuasion and philosophy of ministry.

Although it is not something new, I have noticed more recently that more and more churches are reducing their already paltry doctrinal statements to something even smaller and even more generic. Instead of a document that helps you to understand the convictions of this particular congregation, many says little more than that they believe in the Bible, the gospel, and God. Although these might prove that the church is evangelical (or not), they also leave anyone looking for a church with many questions.

This trend toward generic doctrinal statements isn’t accidental. It follows from the attitude that doctrine divides and that the doctrinal statement of the church should be broad and accepting of anyone that is a Christian. But those who believe this have lost sight of the difference between the local church and the universal Church. One is a local expression of Christ’s body in a particular setting, while the latter is inclusive of all true believers. While the local church is a part of the universal Church, the local church must seek to teach and defend the individual disciples within her care.

But how can you do this if nobody knows what they believe in particular areas of doctrine? Do we baptize believers or infants or is it simply a matter of personal preference? How do we understand the Lord’s Supper? Is it a memorial, or actually the physical body and blood of Christ, or some spiritual mystery? Where does the local church view the role of women in ministry? What about the form of church government? How does a church make decisions and how do they defend their view biblically?

In some churches, the doctrinal statement says nothing. And there is one other doctrine that is probably left out or made generic more than any other—it is the church’s view of the end times. Try it! Go to the website of a local church near you, the bigger the better, and look at their statement on end times. It will, at most, probably state that Jesus will return bodily to judge the wicked and bring his Church into his eternal Kingdom. It won’t say anything about the timing of these events, or what their view is of the millennial kingdom. It wont, most likely, tell you if they believe in the rapture of the Church, and whether that event (if they believe in it) will come before, during, or after the tribulation.

Now, I am not saying all churches have left these out of their doctrinal statements. Not all have. But the trend of churches is to move away from a strong eschatology to a more generic view, citing that many people disagree over which view is correct. But that is a cop-out. Many people disagree over many doctrinal issues, and yet churches still take a stand as to what that particular church teaches. Baptists teach believer’s baptism. If you don’t teach that view, at minimum, your not baptist!

Those who have moved away from such specific statements about their eschatology have often done so for pragmatic reasons—they want to gain more attendees and if they say they take one position, they know they might lose someone who is considering attending. Others have said that the leaders in the church differ on their views, and so for the sake of “unity” they don’t take a position. I wonder if these churches simply skip over the massive sections of Scripture that teach eschatology? How do they defend the faith in regard to end times teaching? I fear they probably don’t.

In reading through Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, I am once again struck by the critical place that eschatology has in the church. Think about this: Paul wrote to the young church in Thessalonica: “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?” (2 Thessalonians 2:5 (ESV)) I find it interesting that so many pastors claim to not teach eschatology because they haven’t settled on a view, or they are rethinking their view or they don’t teach eschatology to their church because it is so confusing and difficult. Yet, Paul reminded the church that as a regular part of discipling them in their young faith, he taught them these things. Apparently, Paul didn’t think they were too hard for the average Christian to understand, nor for him to even consider not teaching them these things.


In Chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians, Paul actually offered comfort to the church through correcting their doctrine of the end times. It was false teaching which caused trouble to their hearts and only right teaching could correct it.

Instead of over-reacting to the former use of charts and graphs, and snarky humor about fictional Christian novels about the end times, the church today needs to get serious about studying and teaching eschatology. No pastor should lead a church if he hasn’t settled his views on the end times. I understand that we will keep studying, and by conviction might change our view. But to say, “I don’t know and I’m ok with that” is pitiful. Such a man is robbing his people of great treasures and cannot defend the faith fully if he cannot defend biblical eschatology.

From 2 Thessalonians 1-2, I have compiled a quick list of six benefits that teaching biblical eschatology brings to the church. If we fail to teach on this doctrine, then we do a great disservice to the church and rob them of many comforts and blessings.

Six Benefits of Biblical Eschatology

  1. It helps us endure suffering (2 Thess 1:5-10)
  2. It settles the heart (2:1-2)
  3. It guards against deception (2:3- 4)
  4. It produces a thankful heart (2:13-14)
  5. It grounds us in the faith and the Word (2:15)
  6. It produces a comfort that promotes continued ministry (2:16-17)