Bible churches have grown in number in the past generation, but what are they? A particular problem in addressing this question is that Bible churches are each independent churches that do not belong to a specific denomination. Therefore, each Bible church must be evaluated individually to determine its beliefs and practices.
However, a few general principles can be mentioned that are helpful regarding Bible churches. First, Bible churches usually begin and operate on the basis that the Bible should be taught through expository preaching to the congregation. Historically, many Bible churches started during the 1970s following the start of Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas, Texas by former Dallas Theological Seminary professor Dr. Gene Getz. Challenged by students to start a church that reflected the teachings of the New Testament church, he began a Bible church that later started many other Bible churches directly or indirectly through his teachings.
Because Bible teaching is an emphasis, education is often highly valued. Pastors tend to hold Bible college or seminary degrees. Many classes are generally offered for various ages that are focused on Bible doctrine or books. Sermons typically include a series of messages through a particular book of the Bible at a time, seeking to teach biblical truth in context.
Due to the conservative nature of Bible churches, they are usually considered evangelical churches. Most are non-charismatic, practice believer's baptism by immersion, regularly practice communion, and include a range of worship styles from traditional to modern. Many Bible churches also emphasize church planting, which has resulted in the growth of many Bible churches in the past 40 years.
Another distinctive of many Bible churches, at least older ones, is an emphasis on a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy. These churches generally believe in a dispensational view of Scripture, believing in an any-moment rapture of believers followed by a literal, seven-year tribulation before the second coming of Christ to earth that will include a 1,000 year millennial kingdom and conclude with the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 20—22).
Since each Bible church is independent, those considering involvement in a Bible church should evaluate a potential church individually. Goals should include a focus on the Bible taught as God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), a genuine love among God's people, and service to those in the community that impacts lives.
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