Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

Yeah, we’re different

4-ways-balance-job-searchFirst Baptist Church in New Philadelphia, Ohio is a different kind of church.  Not in the “big picture” sense – in that sense we are very mainstream.  We believe the fundamentals of the faith and believe that our lives in Christ exist to serve Him and produce fruit that remains for eternity.  But for those of you that are familiar with churches and church life, you will find a unique balance here at FBC.  I am not pretending to say that our expression is “best” or that it is even for everyone.  It most certainly is not.  I am saying that our church is an expression of the balance we enjoy in Christ and is based on our understanding of the holy scriptures.

For us it plays out like this:  We are theologically conservative yet practically contemporary.  What does that mean?

It means that we believe stuff people believed centuries ago.  We still use the old King James version of the bible because, quite frankly, we think it needs no updating and stands as the most accurate English language translation.  I’ll go even a step further and admit that I believe it is the greatest bible on the planet today insomuch as English is the world language of our day.  I know that is not popular, but we don’t do it for popularity; we do it for accuracy.  (I know people reading this won’t agree – that’s fine – I’m not soliciting arguments here, just trying to describe our unique balance.)  So that is a very “old school” position to take, but if it is right (as I think it is), then why change it just for convenience or to attract an audience?

We believe in expository preaching of the scriptures.  We teach the bible verse-by-verse.  Yes, we do occasionally do topical studies, but the bulk of our teaching is exposition.  God wrote His word and it makes sense that our job is to simply tell people what He says and let Him use it to produce the desired results in their lives.  Storytelling, embellishing, interpreting or extrapolating ancillary meanings are unnecessary and detrimental to the ultimate goal of accurately communicating God’s word to men.

At the same time, we are contemporary in our worship.  We believe that God loves for His people to sing to him “new songs” – which is the very definition of contemporary.  Sometimes the music is loud.  I think God digs it.  Sometimes it’s soft.  I love that too.  At the end of the day, we are just trying to connect with God and express our love and devotion to Him in sincere, current ways.

We don’t hold any specific “dress codes” or external standards other than modesty.  No one will think twice about judging someone for coming to church in blue jeans or shorts or t-shirts.  You can’t prove from the bible what kind of clothes God expects you to wear.  I know, I’ve heard the arguments and seen the “verses”.  Therefore, we give room for individuals to decide for themselves.  (I’m not their mother.  I don’t tell anyone but my kids what to wear – and then only when they were little!)

People who have enjoyed worshipping with us here at FBC for a period of time often find it difficult to find another church should they have to relocate.  If they want the strong, accurate bible preaching and teaching, they typically have to sing 150-year-old songs played on a single piano or organ, among a congregation of people who don’t seem very excited to be singing.  They might have to submit to external dress codes, which are fine, but may not be a part of their existing wardrobe!  On the other hand, if they enjoy the contemporary worship and casual atmosphere, the trade off is that they too frequently have to sacrifice good bible teaching.  The majority of “cool churches” out there water down the messages and infuse human philosophy.  It may be interesting for the 30 minute duration, but will be promptly forgotten after lunch digests.

If you’re reading this and are getting a little ticked, please don’t.  I am not attacking anyone.  My goal is simply to describe who we are and why we are that way.  We love it here!  That’s why we come and serve together.  I also believe that many more people would enjoy this particular balance if they had the option.  Sadly, this option is a rare bird.  Nevertheless, let me add this quote that stuck with me many years ago:  “If someone is rubbing your fur the wrong way, try turning the cat around!”

Stay tuned for future posts and I’ll elaborate further on some of these distinctives.  Hopefully this challenges others to consider the choices they make.  God bless!

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Comments: 6

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Yes! Your “balanced” church is a very coveted prize to find indeed. Very rare! Great post! Thanks!

 
 

I absolutely agree. I love the mix at our church. If you research Jewish history and music, you find that they get a little excited too and even dance. Making a joyful noise isn’t just an excuse for those of us that can’t sing in key, I think it also means, get a little loud, let people hear that we are having a good time worshiping our Lord.

Our Bible teaching is second to none. One can’t say our messages aren’t Biblical, because they come straight from the Bible.

Having been out of the area for a while, I know first hand what it is like to try to find a church similar to ours. For the most part, it just isn’t there. Although we did find one in Chandler, AZ that was close in worship and in teaching.

Thanks for “bringing it” the way you do.

 
 

Yep!

 
 

We are members of FBC! We love our church because of all the reasons that Jeff said above! It is a great place for young and the old! To learn the most import thing in life! How to understand the Lords will and live by his words! Jeff make it so much easier to understand! There is no mixed teaching at FBC!

 
 

Thank you for great words of encouragement. Thank you also for me having access to church via internet while I am recovering from surgeries.

 
 

I know you wrote this post two years, but it is SO spot on. I live in Springfield, Missouri and surprising can’t find one like yours or like that my like minded friends at Midtown Baptist Temple in KC. Your last couple of paragraphs very accurately the tone and experiences I have had recently of the polarizing opposites in churches here.

 
 

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