Considerations for Connecting with the Bible Fellowship Church (BFC)
The Biblical Merit of Connectional Churches
The Scriptures give justification for connectional fellowships of churches. The New Testament presents evidence of churches joined by mutual doctrinal compatibility and fellowship, yet being autonomous, submitted to a local rule of elders. A number of biblical reasons support a connectional fellowship of churches and demonstrate the positive merits of such fellowships versus churches being totally independent.
- Union – A fellowship of churches manifests to the world that God exists and is united in His purpose to redeem His people and conform them into the image of Christ by means of the proclamation of the Gospel – Jn. 17; cf. Rom. 8:28-30.
Jn. 17:21 “…that they may all be one…”
- Accountability & Process – A fellowship of churches provides doctrinal, pastoral and congregational accountability. It also will assist in times of pastoral change and congregational growth, as well as conflict.
Acts 15:22 “…it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church…”
- Missions – A fellowship of churches provides a comprehensive missions approach that includes assistance, discipleship and support. It provides a synergism to create a church planting movement.
Acts 11:22 “…they sent Barnabas off to Antioch…and he left for Tarsus to look for Saul…”
- One-Anothering – A fellowship of churches thrusts Christians into community and united efforts to extend the Kingdom, and gives churches a sense of the broader universal Church. It also affirms the truth that we need one another, i.e. gifts, prayers, support, etc.
I Thes.1: 7 “…so that you became an example to all believers.”
- Glorifies God – God’s purpose for His Church is to bring glory to His name. We are created to give Him glory. When the Church hears of the broader work of the Spirit, in a fellowship of churches, it causes glory to be lifted up to God.
Acts 11:18 “…they quieted down and glorified God…”
- A fellowship of churches could cause bureaucratic tediousness.
- A fellowship of churches could slip into a competitive movement.
- A fellowship of churches could lose its vision to grow by concentrating too much on the local level.
Advantages to Connecting with the BFC
- Biblical Foundation: Acts 15; Rev. 1
- Credibility: A corporate support system
- Accountability: Pastoral, ecclesiastical, financial and doctrinal
- Counsel: Ministerial Relations Committee, Credentials Committee, Conference Pastor, Regional Fellowships
- Resources: Work teams, ministry teams, financial and material.
- Leadership Continuity: Pulpit supply
- Fellowship: Corporate, regional, ministerial
- Doctrinal Stability
- Training: Church planting, pastoral, other
- Missional: Church planting and foreign missions
- Christian Education Support
- Retreat Services: Pastoral and congregational
- A commitment to the Reformation views of God’s sovereignty and grace (Faith & Order [F&O] – Articles of Faith – Part I)
- A Presbyterian (federal) polity: rule by elders, autonomy of the local church, connection to churches of like faith (F&O – sections 200, 400, 500).
- Specific distinctives: believer’s baptism by immersion, elder rule, election, total depravity, perseverance of the saints, inspiration of Scripture, and a pre-millennial eschatology.
- BFC Conference (Faith and Order – Sec. 500)
- Autonomy yet mutual submission to fellowship and adherence to the F&O
- Support of the mission and departments of the Bible Fellowship Church – not regulated, rather a submissive support
- Reliance upon denominational procedures and assistance, i.e. pulpit supply, conflict between pastor and elders and/or congregation, discipline, reporting
- Agreement with the Biblical Principles for Living (Faith and Order – Section 100)
Steps for Connecting with the Bible Fellowship Church
- Contact the Director of Church Extension Ministries of the Bible Fellowship Church – email@example.com.
- Acquire information on the Bible Fellowship Church:
- Arrange a meeting with the Director of Church Extension Ministries.
- Send a formal request from the leaders of the connecting church to the Board of Church Extension Ministries, requesting to be accepted as a “mission church” of the Bible Fellowship Church. Acquiring this status will enable Church Extension to begin its assessments and make a recommendation to the BFC Conference for acceptance into the Bible Fellowship Church as a Particular Church. [Church Extension Ministries, PO Box 753, Whitehall, PA 18052]
- Proceed with the necessary assessments:
- Financial Assessment – This assessment determines the connecting group’s ability to support a pastor and the ministry of the church.
- Elder Assessments – This assessment determines if the connecting group has at least two men who will qualify as elders according to the Scriptural guidelines and the Faith & Order of the Bible Fellowship Church.
- Committed Participant Assessments – This assessment determines if the connecting group has at least twenty people over the age of eighteen, who are born again, and will commit to support the church with their prayers, attendance, tithes and service. (If a membership role is established, Church Extension will assess such a role.)
- Recommendations – The Assessment Committee will make their recommendations to the Board of Church Extension. If all is favorable, the Board of Church Extension will recommend that the connecting church be accepted into the BFC Conference of the Bible Fellowship Church as a “Particular” church. If there are areas that need more discussion and work, the Director of Church Extension will meet with the connecting church and determine what things need to be addressed in order to move ahead with acceptance into the BFC Conference.
- Reception into the BFC Conference – The director of Church Extension will arrange the reception of the connecting church into Conference. The pastor and delegate of the connecting church, along with some of its members, will need to attend Conference for the reception. Upon approval by the Conference, the pastor and delegate will be seated with the conference and a reception ceremony will take place. This includes greetings for the pastor and testimonies from the flock.