Hey guys.  We just discovered the podcasts about two weeks ago my wife is hooked.  To hear other people saying the same things we have been saying / asking for years is refreshing.

My story…  I didn’t grow up in church at all.  It wasn’t until my wife and I were married that we started attending a little country church down the road.  On easter Sunday the Lord convicted me and broke me.  I saw myself for what I was and I saw God for who He is.  This church wasn’t tied into any of the big names in the IFB.  Our pastor was a former missionary that attended the BBF school.  There were standards in the basic areas of dress, places you shouldn’t frequent, and behavior, but not near as bad as the mainstream IFB.  Six months later I surrendered to preach.  Six months after that I decided to move to Mississippi to attend Bible College.  The college was very much a Hyles Anderson clone.  Shorts on men and pants on women was not allowed.  Soul winning and visitation twice a week was required, Christian Service Reports were to be filled out every week, etc…  The church ran about 300 on Sunday morning and at that time had a streak of 80 something weeks with a baptism.  They never mentioned the asterisk to that streak was that the majority of people got saved and baptized multiple times.  Some weeks when there wasn’t a baptism on Sunday or Wednesday they would bribe some bus kid to get baptized on a Thursday or Friday night special service just for them.  I saw the red flags pretty much the first few months.  Several college students had turned up pregnant, others leaving to join the military, one of the staff being in adulterous relationship moving on to another church to serve, etc…  I still tease my wife, 20 yrs later, about the 4 point outline that was used and abused there.  Pray, Read your Bible, Go Soulwinning, Counsel with the pastor (only available on Thursdays 1-4pm)  Brother Phil Kidd was asked to preach there several times.  Listening to the podcast with him as a guest brought back so many memories.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  He hasn’t changed a bit.  I respected him then, and after listening to the podcast I respect him even more now.

I lasted 2 yrs at the college before returning to the church I was saved in.  The nail in the coffin happened in the fall when evangelist Carl Hatch came to preach a series of meetings and preached the Wednesday chapel service for the college.  The altar call wasn’t as large and moving as they wanted so they scheduled another chapel service on a Friday.  There was a handful of us that said we wouldn’t be there because we were attending the funeral of a parent of one of the bus kids.  We were reprimanded, shamed, and viewed as unfaithful.  The special chapel service was pushed to the following Monday and we endured an hour long sermon on how miserable we were as college students, how we lacked character, spirituality, maturity and many other positive traits.  I did go forward at the end of that service.  I prayed that God would remove me from that mess.

This experience turned me totally against the IFB movement.  I wanted nothing to do with anyone or anything that resembled that cult.  That eventually led me to the Sovereign Grace Baptist movement (Calvinist).  Like the IFB, there are some wonderful people and churches that are Sovereign Grace, but it ended up being the opposite end of the same turd.  These people fought over head coverings on women, wine or juice in Lord’s Supper, 4 point or 5 point TULIP, etc…  The same trends began to surface.  Hating anyone and everyone who wasn’t your stripe.  Not letting certain men in the pulpit because of who they fellowshipped with.  Every message had to somehow end up with predestination / election / foreknowledge or you were a heretic.  The IFB hangs it hat on numbers, size, and converts.  The SGB hangs it hat on knowledge and doctrine.  The IFB is all about the working, serving, doing more than everyone else; while the SGB is all about knowing more than everyone else.  I have always been the outcast in both groups.  I was too Armenian in the eyes of the Calvinist brethren and too Calvinist for the Armenian brethren.  Because of this I have been somewhat of a loner when it comes to ministry.

After 17 yrs in ministry; being an assistant pastor at 2 different churches, pastoring an existing church and even starting a church.  I stepped away from the ministry.  It all just became so fake, repetitious, and unfulfilling.  It was a big adjustment for me and my family.  I’m not sure if I have been written off by the majority of my peers and mentors, but I only hear from two men that I have known and served with.  I do realize phones work both ways, so I will assume some of the blame for that.

We currently attend an Independent Baptist Church.  We have a young pastor who is very level headed and has found that middle ground.  Things were going well until the usual Baptists things have happened.  Someone is unhappy and begins to fuss and cause division.  It’s the same crap I have seen in every church I’ve been a part of.  Always a power struggle.  Whether it’s money, who is in charge, not liking any change, etc…  I am about ready to walk away from it all.  Several years ago I came to realize that true worship can be found in churches without the name Baptist on them.  Now I wonder if true worship can survive in a church with the name Baptist.

Thank you so much for putting yourselves out there like this.  In doing so you have brought a bunch of likeminded people together to share heartache, experiences, and even victories.  I realize my journey is a bit different from the majority of your audience because I only spent a brief time in the IFB, but it definitely had an effect on my faith, outlook, and decisions.  My journey is ongoing, but I still know where it ends.  Feel free to share any of this with your listeners.