Our New Articles of Faith

Last Sunday, April 24, during a Special Business Meeting of the church, we voted to adopt our recently revised Articles of Faith with a 91% approval from the congregation. What a joy it was to see our church take such a strong doctrinal stand in support of the truth and in opposition to error. As Lead Pastor of PFBC, I was especially thrilled to witness the incorporation of a statement on our belief concerning the Local Church and where our church stands in relation to Biblical Marriage. As the old Articles of Faith did not address these issues, it is now comforting and encouraging to know that we have very clear statements on these issues. Thank you, Prairie Flower, for standing on the Truth of God’s Word and standing there with conviction and great courage. I proudly stand there with you.

To view our newly revised and accepted Articles of Faith, please visit our website at http://www.prairieflowerbaptistchurch.org/#!our-beliefs/c1gdy.

Overcoming Middle of the Pack Syndrome

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A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being the special speaker at a combined youth lock-in event in Des Moines, Iowa. Three distinct churches were represented and I thoroughly enjoyed my time interacting with the youth that were present. During my talk with the teens, I discussed “How to Overcome Middle of the Pack Syndrome”. In other words, I discussed how to rise above the average and become leaders in this world, not just followers…to be “culture-creators” instead of “culture-cavers”. I had 12 points, and they were as follows:

1) Do little things well (Luke 16:10).

2) Remember that any decision is better than no decision (Luke 9:62).

3) Don’t assume you have all the time in the world (James 4:14).

4) Stop using your personality as an excuse for why you do or don’t do something (1 Thess. 5:23).

5) Learn to verbalize your thoughts, not merely emote them (Prov. 25:11).

6) Embrace your maleness or femaleness (Gen. 1:27).

7) View your money as a tool to be stewarded, not stuff to be hoarded (2 Cor. 9:7).

8) When you grow up and get married and move out, be sure to leave and cleave emotionally as well (Gen. 2:24).

9) Please do grow up and get married (if you have that spiritual gift) and move out (Gen. 2:24)!

10) Start viewing ALL life (i.e. your own, the elderly, the handicapped) through the lens of significance and beauty (Ps. 139:14).

11) Remember, especially if you’re a dude, the Church needs you (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1).

12) Relationships are both the cream and chaos of life, but love is more than a feeling (1 Cor. 13).

Bottom Line: This world needs leaders…individuals who go beyond merely caving into culture, but instead create culture. So stop expecting life to be easy. It’s not! Life demands that you rise above the average and do this thing called life for God’s glory, your good, and the good of others that will follow you.

Thoughts for teens…thoughts for you…God bless!

The Mistakes I’ve Made At PFBC

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I have made many mistakes in my time as Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. Many of them unintentional…and most of them because I’m a rookie (i.e. PFBC is my first pastorate straight out of Bible College). With mistakes come hurt, healing, and a great deal of learning. I am so incredibly thankful for the loving, generous, and gracious people of PFBC. Without their love and support, I would be done for as Lead Pastor here. Below is an article from Hershael York. He is the Senior Pastor at Buck Run Baptist Church located in Kentucky. His words summarize my thoughts perfectly: 

Top 5 Rookie Pastor Mistakes

Finally, after all your training and praying and longing, you receive a call from your first church. You are elated—and determined to do a great job. They are God’s people, and he has graciously allowed you to serve them as their pastor. You have so many ideas for how to make them a stronger, more doctrinally sound, more Christ-centered church.

Three years later, after a series of anonymous letters, tense deacon confrontations, and rancorous business meetings, you are summarily dismissed from the office you couldn’t wait to hold.

What happened? What could you have done differently? Could you have avoided this outcome?

To be sure, some churches are filled with unregenerate members who would not respond to the apostle Paul. Some churches wouldn’t follow a pastor’s leadership no matter how spiritual or skillful he is. But often conflicts arise because well-intentioned pastors make rookie mistakes—the missteps that occur at the intersection of the ideal and reality.

The big five

Here are the five most common rookie pastor mistakes I’ve observed.

1. Have high expectations of the church.

Every pastor enters a church with a sense of what needs to be changed for it to meet his standard of what’s authentically biblical. Even before he arrives he envisions a strategy to get the church to “where it needs to be.” As admirable as many of those goals may be, their implementation makes the members feel like pawns in the pastor’s hand. Whether he’s determined to teach the church a particular doctrine or lead them to adopt a certain type of governance, the people who called him can’t help but read his immediate changes as “Let me show you poor people what you’ve been doing wrong all along.”

The pastor may be right, but he can be right and find himself unemployed.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, the best strategy for any pastor assuming a new ministry is to lower expectations of the church but raise expectations of himself. In other words, instead of having a list of things the church must do, he should have a list of actions he must take. His efforts should focus on preaching well, loving his people, winning the lost, visiting people in their jobs and homes, and inviting members into his. People will more readily follow a man who works hard and loves them. There is no shortcut to credibility, but there is a direct route.

2. Fail to embrace the church’s unique culture.

Just like families, churches have their own quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, and traditions—all of them for historical, theological, or sociological reasons. To ignore them is not only foolish, but also dangerous. What may seem trite or hokey to a new pastor may be a cherished institution or a theological conviction to the members who called him and pay his salary.

Small slights against the church’s culture can create an antipathy among some that will later undermine the pastor’s ability to make the substantive convictional changes the Bible would require.

3. Invoke pastoral authority without earning pastoral credibility.

A pastor only has the authority the congregation lets him have. While Scripture clearly grants teaching and leadership authority to an elder (e.g., Heb. 13:17), he can make it either easier or harder for his parishioners to follow him. Any pastor who constantly has to remind the church that he’s the leader has already surrendered his leadership.

Leadership can be granted by virtue of the office, but it can be kept only by maintaining a mutual respect and love between pastor and members. Credibility comes by walking through life together amid grief, joy, disaster, weddings, funerals, hospital visits, fellowship suppers, and, especially, the faithful teaching of God’s Word.

Pastors who try to reap the dividends of authority without making the investment of credibility will quickly find themselves in a leadership deficit.

4. Mistake preference for conviction.

When a pastor insists on his preferences and suggests they are biblical truths, he will lose trust and influence. Church members have the Holy Spirit and the Bible at their disposal just like he does, and will usually know the difference. Further, if he twists the Scriptures to justify his self-centered demands, so will they.

A wise pastor will always practice “truth in labeling,” being honest with the church about the things that arise from clear biblical teaching and the things that arise from his own sanctified tastes.

5. Show fear or anger in the face of opposition.

A pastor may rightly feel hurt or infuriated at the way he’s treated. What he must not do, however, is show it. Anger breeds anger, but calm in the face of insult or opposition is a significant assertion of leadership. Self-control yields situation control.

Similarly, if the pastor shows fear when someone dissents or resists leadership, the sharks will smell blood in the water and a feeding frenzy will ensue. Fear is inherently contradictory to trust. The shepherd who shows no fear when under attack or accusation will earn more and greater confidence from his flock.

Be wise

Difficulties and crises come to every pastor, regardless of his temperament or experience. The challenge is to apply godly wisdom, genuine humility, and servant leadership so his actions make the situation better and not worse.

Prairie Flower, I have made many mistakes in the ministry here. That’s why I’m so thankful for grace. That’s why I’m so thankful for you. I love you guys!

PFBC: Amended Articles of Faith

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On Sunday, April 24, immediately following the Morning Worship Service, we will vote upon our recently revised Articles of Faith. These revisions have taken months of work and are presented to you by the unanimous consent of the Pastors, Deacons, and Constitution Review Team (Edwin Luers is the Chairman of this team). We ask that you review these amended articles and if you have any questions whatsoever, please direct those questions to either Pastor Dave or Pastor Jon before the April 24th meeting. The vote to incorporate these new Articles of Faith will take place by secret ballot.

Amended Articles of Faith

The Bible – We believe that all sixty-six books of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) are verbally inspired of God and are inerrant in the original writings. The Bible is the supreme and final authority for all matters of faith and life, and is completely accurate in all matters to which it speaks (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:19-21).

The Trinity – We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Further, we believe that our God is the one true God and is distinct from any other supposed god (Ex. 20:2-3, Deut. 6:4-5, 1 Cor. 8:6, Rev. 4:11).

Jesus Christ – We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit, was born of the virgin Mary, and is both fully God and fully man. Further, we believe that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, was buried, rose again from the dead, and was seen afterwards by many people. All those who believe in Him are justified on the grounds of His shed blood. Currently, Jesus is in Heaven acting as our High Priest, Advocate, and Mediator (Gen. 3:15, Isa. 7:14 and 53:4-7, Matt. 1:18-25 and 28:6-7, Mark 16:6, Luke 1:35 and 19:10, John 3:16, Acts 1:9-11, Rom. 3:24-25, 1 Cor. 15:3-8 Eph. 2:8-9, Col. 1:19, 1 Tim. 2:5, 1 Peter 2:24, Heb. 7:25 and 8:6 and 12:2, 1 John 2:1).

The Holy Spirit – We believe in the divinity, personality, and power of the Holy Spirit. He was an active agent in the creation of the material universe, and is currently helping to maintain it. His current ministries include (but are not limited to): convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment, regeneration, sealing and sanctifying believers, continually guiding believers into all truth, and keeping believers saved and safe to the very end (Gen. 1:1-3, John 10:28; 14:16-17 and 16:8-11, Acts 5:3-4, Rom. 8:14-27, Eph. 1:13-14, Heb. 9:14).

Angels and Demons – We believe in the existence of a spirit world, composed of both good and evil spirits. We understand that good spirits (or angels) are primarily messengers of God and exist as guardians of God’s holiness. We also affirm the existence of Satan, the Devil, who is the leader of evil spirits (or demons) and is the primary enemy of both God and man (Ps. 68:17, Matt. 4:1-11 and 12:27-28 and 25:31, Mark 13:32, 1 Cor. 10:20-21, 2 Cor. 4:4, Heb. 1:13-14, James 2:19, Rev. 20:10).

Man and Sin – We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God and are totally depraved because of Adam’s fall into sin. Adam’s sin plunged all of mankind into physical and spiritual death. Furthermore, we believe that life begins at conception and that all human beings are sinners at conception and sinners by choice in thought, word, and deed. We are unable to save ourselves. Thus, we need a Savior – someone to save us from our sins (Gen. 1:27 and 3:1-24, John 1:3, Rom. 1:18-23 and 3:10-12 and 5:12, 19).

The Gospel – We believe that Jesus Christ (second person of the trinity) left the splendors of Heaven to become the God-Man. He lived a perfectly sinless life and then died on a wooden cross for the sins of the whole world. We believe that He was buried, and after three days in the tomb, He arose victorious over death, sin, and the grave! We firmly believe that all who respond in faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ will be saved from their sins. Those who are saved by God’s grace, through their personal faith, will then become children of God and enjoy a personal relationship with God (John 3:3, 16, 2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 2:1-10, Col. 2:13, 1 John 5:1).

The Local Church – We believe that the local church is a family of regenerated believers in Jesus Christ, who, on purpose, have united together, under leadership, for the following four purposes: 1) to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ, 2) to engage in inspirational worship of Almighty God through the preaching, teaching, and singing of His Holy Word, 3) to observe and celebrate the two biblical ordinances of water baptism by immersion and communion, and 4) to endeavor to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Is. 1:10-17, Matt. 18:15-17 and 28:18-20, John 4:24, Acts 2:41-47 and 11:26, 1 Cor. 11:17-34 and 14:26, Eph. 4:11-16, Col. 3:16, 1 Tim. 3:1-13, 2 Tim. 4:2, Titus 1:5-9, Heb. 10:24-25 and 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:1-3, 2 Pet. 3:18).

Last Things – We believe in the “Blessed Hope”: the personal, premillennial, and imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:42-44 and 51-54, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 3:10).

Heaven and Hell – We firmly believe in the bodily resurrection of both believers and unbelievers. Believers will be ushered into everlasting blessedness in a literal Heaven because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and unbelievers will be ushered into everlasting, conscious punishment in a literal Hell because of their disbelief in the person and work of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:42-54, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 20:4-15).

The Miraculous Gifts – We believe that the miraculous gifts of the Early Church in the 1st Century are no longer commonplace for today. That is to say, we believe that the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and direct revelation from God are no longer commonplace for today because of the completion of the Bible. Further, we believe that divine healing is a part of God’s provision for believers today, but we reject divine healers and the belief that healing of the body is included in the atonement (1 Cor. 12:1-15:41, James 5:13-16).

Biblical Marriage – We unashamedly believe that marriage is between one man and one woman till death separates them. Further, we believe that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with His Church. Thus, any other forms of marriage are perversions of God’s original design and corrupts His perfect plan (Gen. 1:1-3:24, Matt. 19:4-7, Eph. 5:22-33).

Creation vs. Evolution* – We believe the Biblical account of the creation of the physical universe, angels, and humanity; all were created in six literal 24-hour days; that this account is neither allegory nor myth, but a literal, historical account of the direct, immediate creative acts of God without any evolutionary process; that Adam and Eve were created by a direct work of God and not from previously existing forms of life; and that all people are descended from the historical Adam and Eve, first parents of the entire human race (Genesis 1; 2; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16, 17).

* Taken (in part) from the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches’ Statement of Faith.