I am IFB

I am a member of an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in my hometown.  I have been a member of an IFB church for many years. Here is what that means to me:

My church is “independent” because it does not belong to a convention of churches. It is “unaffiliated,” although it often joins with church fellowships, missions boards, school conventions, and other organizations to advance the cause of Christ and the Gospel.

My church is “fundamental” simply because it identifies certain teachings as essential and non-negotiable to what it means to be a genuine Christian and Bible believer.  The inspiration and authority of the Bible; the Diety, Virgin Birth, and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and the teaching that salvation is by “grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone” are often listed as primary “essentials.” These teachings are “fundamental” but are not necessarily the only beliefs we have that are of major importance to our church.

My church is “Baptist” because it agrees with, practices, and teaches the Biblically-based distinctive that Baptists have adhered to for many centuries, even prior to the Protestant Reformation. The authority of the Bible, the autonomy of the local church, and the priesthood of every believer are all vital to what makes our church Baptist. We further believe that the church has two offices – pastors and deacons, and two ordinances – baptism of believers by immersion and communion.  We believe in the separation of church and state, meaning that the state should never hinder the freedom of religion and the freedom of ones conscience to serve God as they believe they should.  We believe in individual soul-liberty and that membership in the church is only for those who are saved and Scripturally baptized. These beliefs and practices are what makes our church a “Baptist” church.

In no way do I believe that my church, or IFB churches collectively, are the only ones who love God, serve Him, or are being used of Him. Although my church is not part of a convention of churches, I know that many of these also believe the “essentials” and the “distinctives” and love God, serve Him, and give the Gospel just as surely as I do and as my church does.  There may be elements of their convention that would make me uncomfortable and with which I would disagree, but there is no doubt that many are very similar to my church in their doctrines, distinctives, and desires to advance the cause of Christ and the Gospel.  I also am aware that many churches who do not call themselves “Baptist” also believe the “essentials” and the “distinctives”  and have the same goals and desires that we have. In the spirit of Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi, I do my best to rejoice when the Gospel is preached and when lives are impacted for Christ. Even when I may not, by conscience, conviction, or preference, for instance, be able to join with or partner with such a church, in no way do I consider them unbelieving.  I love them and pray for them, and rejoice when God blesses and uses them. I have often preached in such churches and have partnered with them in various endeavors (camps, missions works, conferences, and revival campaigns, for instance).

Churches who are IFB may have positions that differ on any number of issues – including, but not limited to – textual issues (both inside and outside the KJV-only ones), issues of attire both in the pulpit and out of the pulpit, styles of music, which missionaries are worthy of support (often based on their board), and even which college is deemed the best.  As an evangelist, I have perhaps seen almost every nuance of position one could have inside IFB churches, and while I prefer some over others, I really do believe in the autonomy of the local church (no matter the group with which it tends to identify). In the spirit of Romans 14, I make every effort to receive brothers and sisters with whom I disagree and I endeavor to do so without fussing, fighting, condemning, and arguing.  It doesn’t mean that I never discuss an issue or that I never attempt to persuade someone to “take” my position. It does mean that I will treat my brothers and sisters graciously and kindly and gently. 

Does that make sense?

I hope so.  Tell me what you think in the comments below. I want to hear from you.

Your sincere friend,

Dave Young

18 thoughts on “I am IFB

  1. You expressed my heart and thoughts exactly. One of my closest friends is not IFB and is very different in attire, music, and biblical versions but I am very thankful for his gospel influence in our community and I have for a couple of years felt like I should hate him because of his lack of conservative conviction and rejoice because he is here winning souls at the same time. I may not feel comfortable having him fill my pulpit but I have learned not to be disgusted with him but instead be his friend as much as he has been my friend.

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  2. Exactly Right Dave both in spirit and content. I appreciate your stand, your preaching, and your testimony of faithfulness to God and His Word.

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  3. Great article Brother Dave! In your opinion, why should someone not be affiliated with SBC? The churches in the cooperative program are autonomous and are required to sign a doctrinal statement that they will preach and practice the fundamentals of the Christians faith. If they stop preaching or practicing the fundamentals they are not allow to be apart of the convention.

    Beside ones preferences, is there really any reason to contend for separation between IFB and SBC? Thanks for sharing your thoughts brother Dave. I always have appreciated your spirit!

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      • As for the last question, it would depend on each persons preferences, beliefs, and convictions. And each of us have to make decisions based on those matters. I have never personally thought that we have to “contend” for separation from Godly and Fundamental SBC brethren. Certain associations or seminary issues and so forth may cause a person to go a different way. But even then, we can each do the work we believe God has called us to do and in the way we believe He has called us to do it. We can discuss our differences and we can even highlight those we believe to be more important. We don’t have to attack and “strive” but can be loving and kind.

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  4. Hello good friend!

    What fun is a discussion if all the comments come from the choir? As a long time former member of IFB churches I’ll raise some other points of concern that I have. Your article is well written. It succinctly summarizes the quintessential rudiments of IFB as it should be. However, and unfortunately, you are in my experience the exception and not the rule as it pertains to balancing all that in a spirit of love. While I have had the privilege to intimately know many members who genuinely love God and others, it’s tragically rare to find this at the leadership level in IFB churches.

    Again, you are the exception as I have experienced first hand. At a time when I was going through an intense trial neither my pastor or any Bible faculty surrounding me reached out or attempted to help when I approached them. In fact, I was shunned. You were the man everyone was clamoring to be around and yet you made a deliberate effort to establish a friendship with me.

    To be clear I will not be addressing my personal grievances with a bad experience I had that left me with a sour taste, I just wanted to encourage you with how much I thank God for you before I get started. I do not apply this to every IFB, but it was common, at least up until 12 years ago when I last attended. I hope it has changed.

    I don’t disagree with the elements you wrote about. However, in my experience, this is unfortunately what I have seen and why I choose fellowship elsewhere. IFB churches tend to have a spirit of pride, a blindly arrogant anti-intellectualism, a complete lack of love, and insecure leadership resulting in self-promotion all culminating in a flavor all too reminiscent of the Pharisees who crucified Christ.

    The distinctives inherently appeal to our fallen nature producing pride, especially as they become more extreme. This leads to judging others for dress code, music, etc. There is also a pride over knowledge of Scripture, and the average attendee knows it better than any other denomination I’m aware of, but the Pharisees memorized even more. Above all else there is the pride of being right.

    This leads to the ignorance of their own intellectualism. If you know everything and you’re right about everything you have nothing to learn from anyone else so you only read books written by your own authors and immediately dismiss anything that disagrees with you. I know of IFB churches that teach the earth is the center of our system because it says the sun stood still in Joshua. It would be tremendously enlightening if they would read books like “Mere Christianity” and listen to people like Ravi Zacharias more often. Study a little logic and philosophy and become well versed in worldview and apologetics. Pro tip: many amazing books reference other versions than the KJV.

    I’m sure everyone can quote I Corinthians 13, but do they know what it looks like in everyday life? What about James 2? How do you communicate with those you disagree with? How do you treat your family? Love is volitional self-sacrificial action exclusively for the benefit of others regardless of the consequence.

    I’m sure everyone has experience with the insecure leader. IFB is the denomination of the celebrity pastor. After all, if preaching is the most important thing, then who is the most important person in the church? Is not glorifying God through obedience to His Word the most important thing?

    I still have many IFB friends whom I’m dearly love. It’s certainly by no means a perfect church outside either, but who would you rather be with in the parable of the sinner and the Pharissee? Oh I pray that the denomination takes their solid foundation and destroys the corruption of pride, ignorance, and insecurity and begins to love as God loves until they see what God sees resulting in God honoring words, attitudes, and actions until that blessed day of His return.

    What would happen to your community if your church disappeared? Would anyone grow hungry or cold? Would orphans and widows suffer?

    Do you believe that what you believe is really real? How do you know? Can you reason your beliefs with skeptics?

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    • Hello Dr John- thanks for the long epistle. I know why you feel as you do and unfortunately, a lot of what you say has been true and still is true. I know that some proud men did much damage and hurt many, many people. I know that the culture around us changed and we often withdrew into our “rightness” and loudly denounced the changes. I heard one IFB leader (older one) say that he watched our movement get bigger and bigger and some where along the way, some decided we were “the most right” because we had the biggest churches in the world. Then the Charismatic Movement churches outgrew the IFB ones as did the SB ones. He then postulated that the IFB movement divided itself around leaders who promoted various levels of their “most right-ness!” One was “most right” because they had the best music standard; another because they were the true Baptists; another because they had busses; another because they had the best dress standards; another because of how many professions of faith they could claim; and many because of their particular position on the KJV. His theory is not inspired, but perhaps is true.

      And yet, for me, I was won to Christ by an IFB man who loved and lived and gave and served and sacrificed and was the most Christlike man I had ever met. And I know many, many others who are the same. My father-in-law is now in heaven and love and gentleness and kindness and giving were all words to describe him and his ministry. My previous pastor was the same as is my current one. I love them and am thankful for them and know many who are just like them.

      You know, God has allowed me to travel the country and preach the gospel and teach the Bible in these churches and my prayer has always been that God would use His Word to bring us to revival – from the leadership to the people in the pews. Pray for me and pray for us. We can improve in so many ways. Well, at least I can anyway! And I do want to do so.

      I love you my friend. I am glad that you are growing in the faith, loving your God and wife and family, and that you are becoming more like our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Never stop pursuing Him.

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      • Thank you Brother Dave!

        You’re a great ambassador for both the faith and the denomination. My wife and I are contemplating putting our kids in an IFB school at our next duty station. We both have very fond memories from our childhood. While in DC we’ve been getting fed from David Platt at McLean Bible Church. It’s a little ginormous for our taste, but he has a genuine love for the Lord and others and he’s grieved with the spiritual condition of the church in America.

        May God continue to bless you and I hope He’ll use me to do so in big way in the future!

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    • “IFB is the denomination of the celebrity pastor.”

      That statement sums up the issues with the movement. It’s what causes the “rant of the week” as well as the coverups for sexual sin/abuse “for the good of the ministry.”

      Keep up the good work, Dave. And Jonathan, I don’t know you or what happened, but I appreciate the spirit of your post.

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  5. I agree while heartedly. I grew up IFB, I actually got saved at a revival you preached at, and I would say in general it is my preference. Unfortunately, there is not always a solid, biblical IFB church available. I now attend a Southern Baptist Church, since it is the church I agree with most closely in the area. I have found that regardless of the affiliation of the church you attend, it is vital to take the Acts 17:11 approach and study out what’s being preached for yourself.

    Anyway I thank the LORD for your faithfulness in ministry, and I encourage you to keep on because your labor is definitely not in vain.

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