Philly Church Planting Meeting

          Last night my brother John and I met with a handful of Philly church planters, some who were meeting each other for the first time. There were men with Sovereign Grace Ministries, PCA, Vineyard, and Acts 29. And us, who at this time are not identified with any movement or denomination. What brought us together was our commitment to the gospel and our common burden for church planting in Philadelphia. The gospel transcends our denominational or movemental ties, or should. It does not erase those differences. We want to start a conversation to see how we can partner together and at what level in order to advance the cause of Christ.  It’s encouraging to see this happen especially since our experience with many independent Baptist churches has been less than encouraging. more

          You see, yesterday I received an email from a long-time friend who pastors an independent Baptist church. He doesn’t, wouldn’t support our church planting effort in Philadelphia because of “significant differences.” In his view and in his words “doctrine counts and where does it all end if we don't take a stand on convictions.” Of course doctrine counts and anyone who knows us knows that. I challenge anyone to listen to messages preached at Grace Church and conclude that doctrine doesn’t count. The question is more – What doctrine counts and for what? If this pastor friend and I were to sit down and talk theology there would be little difference in our doctrine apart from perhaps church polity and eschatology. My question to him is this: Does all doctrine count the same when it comes to partnership in the gospel? How much of what you believe that I don’t believe is important enough to disallow partnership in the furtherance of the gospel? I would rather have men not support me because they find me obnoxious rather than claim that there are significant doctrinal differences.

          I understand where my friend is coming from. I hope to have more conversations with him. I would like him to see that he has placed some of his convictions above the gospel although I’m sure it’s unintended. So for the moment many of my independent Baptist friends look askance on where I am as a man without a movement. Well, there’s no going back and I am thankful for the new friendships in the gospel that I have with men where our disagreements are not a hindrance to partnership in the gospel.  These are not men without robust doctrinal convictions. They are men in movements and in denominations where I might not fit but men who are committed to the centrality of the gospel and I can only wish them well – PCA, Acts 29, Southern Baptist, Sovereign Grace – and look forward to see how the Lord will use us together and apart for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.


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