We believe that a true New Testament church is a church that is independent. Perhaps that term is not equally understood by all people, so therefore I will define it here. Being independent means that the church is built up by itself to serve God. God’s goal for each church is that it is a singular lighthouse for the causes of God, and whether all the other churches in the world fall into compromise, spiritual ruin, or corruption of doctrine and practice, that particular church remains. In order for this to happen, each church must have the mind and practice of being independent of other entities. We are all indebted to the many great men and women of God that have gone before us, and to the many who today still living are serving God. But a biblical church must not “give up” their responsibility to do the work of God by relegating particular responsibilities to other outside sources. An example here is when churches stop trainging preachers, they have no plan, no participation, and no real involvement in the preparation of missionaries and pastors. Many (most) churches simply send their young people off to some Christian school hoping that they turn out okay.
A biblical church recognizes that the local church, and ONLY THE LOCAL CHURCH has the biblical burden, obligation, and mandate to teach the Word of God. They do these by means of the established means, by classes and sermons. This is the biblical way using the biblical means. They take an attitude that if a person fully applies themself to the things offered by that particular local church, that they will become a valid minister of God. The seriousness with which the church believes, practices, and develops its ministry to this end is what makes it biblical. Every local church should be a training center for its people.
The reality of this comes in two key points: (1) death of its lead pastor, (2) Missionaries. When a church is truly self-propagating, it provides its own new leadership when necessary which are young ministers with the same historic positions, beliefs, and practices as it has maintained over the years. Missionaries come from that church, and plant new churches just like the mother church. If this is not happening, then something is wrong in that church, and they are not serious about their spiritual obligations.
Starting a new church is a difficult proposition, and it is not a sin for a godly Christian or a missions minded church to give a donation to a young church. What is wrong is that the young mission work does not teach and emphasize financial responsibility to its members, seeking to be independent as soon as possible. We believe that God’s people should support the church where they are at, and the church should function fully without the financial underpinning of other churches.
Biblical churches fully believe in the position of pastor. Under the leadership of the pastor, each church should be self-governing. All of its doctrinal, procedural, and financial decisions should be “UNCOERSED” and local. The people of that church should make their own decisions. They should not be a member of a denomination, fellowship, or any other kind of religious group wherein the local church can “disengage” any individual decision making process and just accept the party line. All decisions should be explored, investigated, meditated, and decided in the light of what those local people consider to be the will of God. They should use the Word of God in that decision making process.
A “shill” is a person who seems to be independent, and independently minded, but in actuality has sold his soul for a little money or something similar. Many churches have pastors that are shills for denominational groups, or pastor fellowships, or for Christian schools. They have no soul, they have no opinion except that which is officially authorized. This is not a biblical church, and we denounce that. When a pastor does not have liberty to make his own decisions, when there is always external pressure applied to him as to his decisions, then he is not following God’s will, but man’s will. He may pour his heart out before his congregation and co-pastors or assistant pastors, asking for their opinions and input, because they are under the effects of any decision he makes. But when third parties external to the local church exert pressure, this is unbiblical.