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Modern Reformation Conversations - Reforming A Local Church

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Rev. Ken Jones of The White Horse Inn discusses his views on reforming the local church, and why it's worth the headache.

The reality is that a church has the right to be wrong – if the conviction of the leadership of the church is different from what your new convictions are, and you try to teach in a secondary capacity that which contradicts what the leadership is teaching, it doesn’t matter how sound your doctrine, you are being disruptive.  It’s not a matter of trying to maintain false peace or maintain; it’s a matter of maintaining church order.




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  • [...] rest is here: Modern Reformation Conversations – Reforming A Local Church Filed in: Religion « PreviousKansas church plans resource center for released [...]

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  • Guest - Henry Jansma

    I am a pastor exactly as Pat describes and would welcome Ken's insight.
    I was converted under my own ministry in a liberal mainline denomination 7 years ago. I gradually changed my preaching to expository/Christ-centered, did teaching in our original confessional statements that remain as authoritative but ignored today and focused on Word/sacrament/discipleship.
    Seen some converted but half to two-thirds of the congregation totally rejecting the gospel & transferring to other liberal churches or abandoning entirely.
    Hard pressed financially, the congregation may soon no longer be able to support my position leaving me to discern if God is calling me to leave the church or even to leave the denomination entirely & seek one that is orthodox.

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  • [...] Reforming Your Local Church  In this short video Ken Jones talks about the challenges and pitfalls of reforming your local church. [...]

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  • Guest - Edward Hutcheson

    Question for Pastor Ken:
    Suppose you have an established Brethren Church, where the leadership begins to lean toward a purpose driven model,and "theology" is now seen as burdensome.

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  • Guest - Pat Pope

    After posting my original question, I think that a pastor changing some of their beliefs does not have to be problematic if that person has laid the foundation of being one who seeks to learn and grow. Thus, his or her congregation, if they are being led with a leader who is always learning, searching and growing and encourages the same for the them, shouldn't be too surprised when their pastor is led in another direction or receives greater clarity on an issue. Hopefully they would welcome it as they see the person evolve spiritually and it would give them encouragement on their own spiritual journeys.

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  • Excellent reflections by Rev. Jones. A layperson who attends or joins a church where his theology and practice is fundamentally at odds with the theology and practice of the church's leadership or with the church's doctrinal and/or confessional stance, and who does so with the idea that he/she is going to "reform" the church, is being disruptive (and deceptive). But what of a layperson who comes to different convictions than those of the church where he/she currently holds membership? In such circumstances there are several options: (1) If the church's constitution and bylaws have provisions for amending the church's doctrinal or confessional position, or if there is a Book of Church Order with such provisions, seek such amendments in an orderly and peaceful manner. Fully disclose your intentions to the leadership of your church, seek their counsel and feedback, be teachable and willing to be corrected, and in seeking reformation in your church fully submit to the governing documents of the church in the process of seeking such reformation. (2) If you don't have the patience for # 1, then peacefully withdraw from your current church and realign and/or transfer your membership to a congregation where the faith and practice is more in line with your current convictions. Or, if such a congregation does not exist in your area, contact the headquarters of a denomination or fellowship which aligns with your conviction and see if there would be interest in planting a new church in your area.

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  • Henry Jansma wrote: "I was converted under my own ministry in a liberal mainline denomination 7 years ago. I gradually changed my preaching to expository/Christ-centered, did teaching in our original confessional statements that remain as authoritative but ignored today and focused on Word/sacrament/discipleship.
    Seen some converted but half to two-thirds of the congregation totally rejecting the gospel & transferring to other liberal churches or abandoning entirely.
    Hard pressed financially, the congregation may soon no longer be able to support my position leaving me to discern if God is calling me to leave the church or even to leave the denomination entirely & seek one that is orthodox."

    GW: I sympathize with your dilemma. It is one thing if we are talking about laypersons seeking to further "reform" churches which are already fundamentally sound and orthodox (which Rev. Jones in his comments seemed to have in view). It is another thing if we are talking about Ministers (such as yourself) who are laboring in liberal church contexts where the historic creeds and confessions of the church are largely ignored, even contradicted, by current theological trends in the leadership of the church. Having grown up in a historically-confessional church (the Episcopal Church) which possesses a confession of faith (Articles of Religion) and a liturgy (Book of Common Prayer) which are fundamentally sound, but which has been overrun by a radically modernist/liberal agenda which is fundamentally at odds with its own historic confessional position, it is my conviction that in such "liberal" contexts it is actually the liberals/modernists (in particular, the liberal/modernist clergy) who are being disruptive and divisive. Why? Because they are deceptively seeking to move the church away from its biblical, orthodox, confessional roots. From your description of your situation I believe you had every right as a Minister of the Word bound by your ordination to the authoritative confessions of your church to try to draw your congregation back to the church's confessional position, even though the confession, while officially authoritative, is unofficially yet largely ignored. (What a church is on paper is not always what it is in reality.) At the same time, from your description it also seems that your ability to effect genuine reformation in your denomination or fellowship in an orderly way might be an exercise in futility (humanly speaking), so I think you are wise to consider aligning with a congregation and/or denomination that is more orthodox and consistently confessional. May God bless you with wisdom and strength as you wrestle through this issue.

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  • Guest - Henry Jansma

    Thank you for your reply & God's blessing, Geoffrey.
    I am one of those remaining Episcopalians in the TEC who is NOT a conservative anglo-catholic, but one who holds reformed evangelical anglican doctrine, subscribing to the historical creeds which speak of our belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as well as the 39 Articles with their reminders of the great Reformation principles of “Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, to God’s Glory Alone.” I am an American, but was ordained in the Chirch of England after completing my doctorate on the prophetic office of Christ in the theology of John Calvin. When I returned to the USA I discovered I was a rare bird indeed.
    I am truly wrestling with this one, looking to come to some discerning decision by the New Year. I would be very grateful for your prayers.

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  • Guest - Rayn

    If the church's Pastor is teaching things contrary to the church's confession (like eternal security instead of perseverance of the saints), how long should lay people seek to reform the church? What if the Pastor would never dare say we are "forgiven" (not justified, but forgiven) on the basis of what we do, but doens't understand how the gospel produces sanctification as the law guides? My Pastor has been preaching "strong" sermons to "carnal Christians" and says he will continue to do so until they surrender. This has been going on for a long time now because obviously depraved people can't surrender. I tried talking to him about the importance of doctrine too, but he says the people won't understand it or accept it.

    So how long should I seek reform?

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  • Here is a paper that I wrote that covers what is going on beneath the surface in reforming:

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=21518

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