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An analysis of the evangelistic impact of the Baptist Bible fellowship international

Dissertation
Author: Billy Hamm
Abstract:
A review of current literature demonstrates that very little material is available to describe the mission and effectiveness of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. Research reflects that for the last half of the 20th Century, BBFI was a formidable movement among Fundamentalists in its independent Baptist doctrinal position and its evangelistic zeal. It was also determined that the BBFI has struggled to maintain its growth patterns and should reassess its original purpose and identity though it still appears to be the largest expression of Fundamentalism in America. Both historical and empirical research methods are used.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER ........................................................................................................................ PAGE ABSTRACT ...............................................................................................................................v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................................................................................... vi CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................ vii 1. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................1 2. BEGINNINGS .....................................................................................................................15 3. EXPANSIONS .....................................................................................................................43 4. ADJUSTMENTS .................................................................................................................63 5. CONCLUSION ....................................................................................................................85 6. BIBLIOGRAPHY ..............................................................................................................101 7. APPENDICES ...................................................................................................................110 Structure .....................................................................................................................110 Missions .....................................................................................................................122 Colleges......................................................................................................................150 Doctrine......................................................................................................................153 Church Planting .........................................................................................................161 Methods......................................................................................................................162 Illustrations ................................................................................................................163 Research Tool ............................................................................................................166

CURRICULUM VITAE ........................................................................................................167

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

Baptist Bible Fellowship International is the heir apparent and a direct descendant of the Revivalism and Fundamentalist movement of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. It has been instrumental in advancing the American evangelical stream through dispensational premillennialism 1 in the last half of the 20 th Century. How has the BBFI done it? It was through missions, evangelism, Bible colleges, church planting, and national political involvement. 2

Within the BBFI, the term ―evangelistic‖ means, ―a zealous enthusiasm for winning people to Jesus Christ.‖ 3 Evangelistic methods involve presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone until all have heard and received its truth. Perhaps, the best slogan used by a BBFI pastor was the one Jerry Falwell used for his Saturation Evangelism, ―Using every available means, at every available time, to reach every available person.‖ 4

This project will introduce the philosophy of ministry and missions of the BBFI, the largest of the independent, fundamental Baptist groups (Table 1) from 1950 to the present. The evidence will be presented in the research and explained for each generation.

1 Thomas Ice et al., ―A History of Dispensationalism,‖ in What on Earth is a Dispensation?, (Springfield, MO: Tribune Publishers, 1994), 20. 2 Duke Westover, ―Moral Majority,‖ in Wow, What a Ride, (Springfield, MO: 21st Century Press, 2010), 62f. 3 Keith Bassham, interview by phone, June 15, 2010. 4 Elmer L. Towns, Worktext for 21st Century Tools and Techniques, (unpublished, n.d.), 53

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There is also a need to present the strengths and weaknesses of such a unique movement to student pastors and church planters today. The BBFI was highly successful in the last half of the 20th Century, but it has declined as many of its constituents have failed to face changes in American culture. From the early days of the movement, graduates have gone out from BBFI colleges to plant churches around the world. They are documented in the Baptist Bible Tribune. Their stories will boost the vision and the morale of church planters today. There is a new breed of church planting pastor in the BBFI and to their benefit there should be a well documented book to show them their roots and give encouragement to build on those roots with new strategies. It is planned that this paper is the beginning of such a project. Table 1 – Various Independent Baptist Groups Independent Baptist Groups

Office

Founded

Pastors/Churches

Fundamental Baptist Fellowship

Virginia

1920

429

World Baptist Fellowship

Texas

1928

852

General Association of Reg ular

Baptists

Illinois

1932

1,532

Baptist Bible Fell owship

International

Missouri

1950

4,352

Southwide Baptist Fellowship

Georgia

1956

1,334

Independent Baptist Fellowship Int ‘ l

Texas

1984

539

Ind .

Bapt .

F e l lowship

of North America

Pennsylvania

1 991

110

Source: A Profile of Independent Baptist Pastors and Churches 5

5 Mike Randall, A Profile of Independent Baptist Pastors and Churches, (Springfield, MO: Baptist Bible College, 1993), 2.

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Since 1950, global church planting has been an ongoing enterprise of the BBFI. The Fellowship is not a church, but rather a parachurch organization with the sole purpose of helping local churches do together what they could not do alone. The great commission of Christ is to the church, and the Fellowship makes it possible for its supporting churches to have a cooperative impact on the world. In 2007, author Albert Wardin, Jr. wrote about the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, ―Its growth has been due to a number of factors, including the evangelistic fervor of its pastors, its church planting, the growth of the Baptist Bible College, its extensive bus ministry, and its ability to grow large Sunday schools, some of the largest in the nation.‖ 6

In 1968, Dr. Elmer Towns put the BBF on the map with his book, The Ten Largest Sunday Schools and What Makes Them Grow. In his introduction he states: Six of the Sunday Schools among the ten largest are listed in the yearbook of The Baptist Bible Fellowship, Springfield, Missouri. Only one of the ten largest Sunday Schools is from a Southern Baptist Church. May we conclude that the Baptist Bible Fellowship has better laws for Sunday School growth, or that perhaps the laws for Sunday School growth as expressed by the Southern Baptist Convention are not as effective as once believed? Maybe the youthful enthusiasm of the Baptist Bible Fellowship produces more dedication and hard work than the older, more formal Southern Baptist Denomination. The Baptist Bible Fellowship does seem to be more effective in building larger Sunday Schools. 7

6 Albert W. Wardin, Jr., The Twelve Baptist Tribes in the USA (Atlanta, GA: Baptist History and Heritage Society, 2007), 69. 7 Elmer L. Towns, The Ten Largest Sunday Schools And What Makes Them Grow, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968), 12

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Towns also included in his introduction this comment from one of the founding fathers of the BBFI and a megachurch pastor: An interesting prediction was made by Dr. John Rawlings, minister of Landmark Baptist Temple, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Vice President of Baptist Bible College, Springfield, Missouri. He feels that in the next ten years the Baptist Bible Fellowship will have between twenty-five and fifty churches averaging over three thousand in Sunday School. Today, there are only seven Sunday Schools that average high in attendance and five of these Sunday Schools are listed in the Baptist Bible Fellowship yearbook. If the Baptist Bible Fellowship works as hard in the next ten years as it has in the past ten years it probably will prove Rawlings correct. 8

In 1987, noted Southern Baptist historian Leon McBeth wrote, ―The BBF movement split off from J. Frank Norris in 1950, set up headquarters at Springfield, Missouri, and over the years developed a full range of denominational ministries. By 1983 it reported 3,164 affiliated churches, making it apparently the largest of the Baptist fundamentalist groups. Of these churches, about 2,500 are said to be ‗firm,‘ while others support portions of the BBF work; many hold dual or even multiple affiliations with other Fundamentalist bodies.‖ 9

The Fellowship began with 142 churches, most of which were small with only four of them with over 500 in attendance in Sunday school. But its numbers soon expanded. By 1958, the BBFI had 600 churches with an estimated membership of 220,000. Although many of its churches continue to be small, at the same time the Fellowship has included some of the largest Baptist congregations in the nation, such as Akron Baptist Temple in Akron, Ohio; Landmark Baptist Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio; and Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1991, it was reported that five of the 30 largest Sunday schools in the country were in churches related in some way to the BBFI. The migration of Southerners also helped to provide ready mission fields. 10

8 Ibid. 9 H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, (Nashville: Broadman, 1987), 763 10 Wardin, 69f

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Church Planting and Church Growth

The BBFI showed remarkable success in the last half of the 20 th Century, building great churches in America. In 1968, the year Towns‘ book was published the largest of those churches was Akron Baptist Temple in Akron, Ohio which claimed more than 17,000 members and more than 6,000 in attendance each Sunday. 11

In 1954, the Baptist Bible Tribune reporting on Temple Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, gave ―attendance figures for April as 4,667; 4,674; 5,718; and 4,876. The church‘s unparalleled growth and the Tribune's emphasis on it, as well as the progress of High St. Baptist Church, Springfield, Lochland (Landmark) Baptist in Cincinnati, Akron Baptist Temple and others, reveals the importance of numbers to the early Fellowship. 12

Today, the largest church listed in the Fellowship directory 13 is Thomas Road Baptist Church 14 founded by Jerry Falwell and a small group of people in 1956. It still maintains an affiliation with BBFI as well as membership in the SBC. Thomas Road exceeds 10,000 in attendance and has more than 30,000 members. Jonathan Falwell became the senior pastor after the death of his father in May of 2007, and the church has seen continual growth.

11 Ibid., 12 12 Billy Vick Bartlett, James O. Combs, Robert J. Terry and Elmer Towns, The Roots and Origins of Baptist Fundamentalism, ed., James O. Combs (Springfield, MO: John the Baptist Press, 1984), 99.

13 The BBFI Contact Directory is a compilation of information regarding churches, pastors, and missionaries who give and/or receive support through the World Missionary Service Center of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. It is designed to foster communication among those entities and to enable them to contact one another more efficiently. It is no more than a list of self-declared Baptist churches and ministries associated with the BBFI by virtue of a support relationship. 14 BBFI Mission Office, BBFI Contact Directory 2009-2010, (Springfield, MO: BBFI Missions, 2009), 272.

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Summary

The exponential growth of the Baptist Bible Fellowship can only be explained by the hand of God moving on men He had prepared preachers and missionaries to take the gospel everywhere on Earth. Every pastor in the ranks was made to feel equal with the others, irrespective of the size of his ministry, but he was also motivated to reach more people and build a bigger local church. The older men trained and exhorted the younger men to find a place that needed a good Bible preaching church and get to work on building one. The primary method was soul winning through any method that worked within biblical parameters in that place. In other chapters, the anointed methods will be described and evaluated by their effectiveness. Challenges presented in churches, in youth camps, and to enrolled college students gleaned missionary candidates who would prepare themselves to live cross- culturally in other nations. They stepped up to surrender their lives for foreign service to God. When those missionaries would travel from church to church to raise their support, they would instill a vision and a passion among the people to give and pray for those families going overseas with the same gospel preached in their own churches. The BBF became a large family of Christ followers interested in each other and in the world.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to analyze the effectiveness of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, the largest of the independent Baptist groups. More specifically, it will expose the evangelistic fervor and effective methods of growth used by BBFI

7

churches in their outreach ministries. Another more practical purpose for the study is to encourage and challenge the men who now lead BBFI churches to stand on the shoulders of their forefathers, and do greater works with better training than those before them. As part of the hypothesis, included in the analysis is the practical question: "Why did the BBFI grow so dynamically in its first 25 years then begin a 35 year decline, and what can be done to cause it to grow again?" There are many opinions among leaders past and present to be presented in the research. Discussions seem never-ending when pastors and missionaries gather in the real world or the virtual world of ―cyber fellowship.‖ 15 High on the list of topics is the condition of the Fellowship with all of its variables.

Definition of Terms

The following key terms used throughout are:

ABBC—Atlantic Baptist Bible College in Chester, Virginia an approved college for missionary candidate training to the BBFI that recently merged with Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Baptist Bible Tribune—the official publication of the BBFI with offices located in Springfield, Missouri. http://www.tribune.org/

BBC—Baptist Bible College, owned and operated by the BBFI and has its campus in Springfield, Missouri. It is the original college of the Fellowship. http://www.gobbc.edu/

Boston—Boston Baptist College, owned and operated by the BBFI. Was founded in New York and later moved its campus to Boston, Massachusetts. http://www.boston.edu/

15 John Arnold, ―Making Prayer The Core Feature Of The Evangelical Church,‖(D.Min. diss., Liberty Theological Seminary, 2008), 1

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BBF—Baptist Bible Fellowship is a fellowship of pastors operating two colleges, a magazine, and a Missions Office located in Springfield, Missouri. It was founded in 1950.

BBFI—in 1975 the BBF approved a change to add International to its name representing its worldwide mission to reach the lost. http://www.bbfi.org/

BBFI Churches—Churches who actively support BBFI mission endeavors and/or schools but are not members of the BBFI because there is no church membership.

BBFI Pastors—Pastors who lead their churches to actively support the BBFI in its missions endeavors and/or schools. They pastor churches of like faith, and are listed in the BBFI directory.

BUA—Baptist University of America first located in Atlanta, Georgia later moved to Orlando, Florida. When the college closed in the 1990‘s, records and the library were transferred to Baptist Bible College in Springfield.

Fundamentalist—Subscriber to the fundamental doctrines of scripture as published in The Fundamentals in the early 20 th Century to contend for the faith.

KJVO—King James Version Only denotes those who would reject the usage of any other Bible translation. Extremists of this view will not fellowship with those who do not agree.

LBU—Louisiana Baptist University and Seminary is located in Shreveport, Louisiana. It is an approved college for missionary training but is not owned or operated by the BBFI. http://www.lbu.edu/

Local Church—A visible, local, autonomous, New Testament assembly committed to the Lordship of Christ and His work on earth.

Missionary—one who is sent by a local church primarily to people groups in all nations for the purpose of evangelization and church planting.

NCPO—National Church Planting Office based in Springfield, Missouri. The Office exists to recruit and educate Baptist ministers for existing and newly formed Baptist churches throughout the United States.

PBC—Pacific Baptist College located in Pomona, California is an approved college for training missionary candidates for the BBFI. http://www.pacificbaptist.edu/

PCBBC—Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College was located in San Dimas, California. School closed in 1998.

WFBMF—World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship is the parent movement of the BBF once headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.

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WBF—World Baptist Fellowship, newer, shorter name of the WFBMF, presently located in Arlington, Texas on the campus of Arlington Baptist College. http://www.wbfi.net/

Statement of Scriptural Basis

When Christ began His public ministry, He found and called men to be evangelists or as He phrased it, ―fishers of men‖ in Matthew 4:19 (NKJV). Since they were already fishermen, it was a metaphor they could grasp. He took their career skills and trained them to do His work—that of bringing people into the kingdom of God. Later, at the end of His earthly ministry He would add another dimension to their lives— that of being shepherds over the churches they would plant with the people they had caught for Christ. The story is found in John 21. They had returned to their trade of fishing but were unsuccessful and caught nothing. When Jesus appeared on the shore things suddenly changed—He made them successful. Then, after gathering them to a good breakfast, He introduced this new facet to their calling. He conjoined fishers of men (evangelists) with shepherds of men (pastors) to build His church. The metaphor is reinforced as the old apostle and former professional fisherman, Simon Peter, instructs in I Peter 5:2-4 (NKJV), ―Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.‖ As a result, the New Testament church employs evangelism and discipleship to advance growth. To evangelize and disciple people boldly in every place on earth

10

becomes the prime directive for the church in Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV), ―Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.‖ From the first day of its founding the Baptist Bible Fellowship embraced the previous passage and philosophy for its mission in the world. Hence, the BBFI excels in sending missionaries worldwide and planting churches wherever they go. Believing the church was God‘s idea and that He will bless His churches above other kinds of mission projects, the missionary model BBFI uses is that of a church planter. They could not talk of evangelistic impact without presenting the local church and its authorization to reach the uttermost part of the earth through missionaries. In fact, the work of planting churches in the United States is labeled, home missions in the BBFI. Having been commissioned by our Lord Jesus Christ to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), it is the dedicated response of the churches of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International to engage in an ever-enlarging, world-wide ministry. In order to maintain the autonomy of the local church, and at the same time to utilize the benefits of mutual endeavors in spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth, it is needful to formulate certain policies. Therefore, these policies are formulated from the findings of Scriptural instructions, much prayerful consideration, and many fruitful years of experience; and are adopted as an agreement between the churches, the pastors, and the missionaries. 16

Since 1950, global church planting has been an ongoing enterprise of the BBFI. The Fellowship is not a church but rather a parachurch organization with the sole purpose of helping local churches do together what they could not do alone. The great commission of Christ is to the church, and the Fellowship makes it possible for its

16 BBFI Mission Office, Missions Policies of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, http://bbfi.org/missions/policies/2009SEP_BBFI_Mission_Policies.pdf, [accessed February 16, 2010]

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supporting churches to have a cooperative impact on the world.

Statement of Limitations

This thesis is limited by its focus on the Baptist Bible Fellowship International and would not apply to every movement of evangelical churches. The analysis will not be a portrait of all Bible-believing denominations. This is not an attempt to produce an exhaustive explanation of evangelism or its various methods. It will focus only on the conservative side of the evangelical movement in independent Fundamentalist churches.

Statement of Methodology

Historical Research

The essential characteristics of the Fellowship from its beginnings and in past years will be determined by historical research. The first, second and third versions of the constitution and bylaws, articles of faith, and editions of the Baptist Bible Tribune will be primary sources. Minutes of Fellowship meetings will also be used as needed. These will be supplemented by other available documents and personal interviews.

Empirical Research

The primary tool for determining the current culture of the BBFI was a questionnaire distributed and collected from past and present Fellowship leaders and officers. The survey was emailed to them privately and their permission to quote from their writings was returned with their completed survey forms.

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Review of the Literature

Not much can be found about the life and times of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International on the shelves of libraries and book outlets. There are some small self- published works about the beginnings of the Fellowship, which usually include short bios on the early leaders and their boldness to bring about a new fellowship. There are some more serious books which contain short sections regarding the BBFI written by outsiders looking in at the BBFI and quoting from a few insiders who took the trouble to write. It is truly time for someone to write a serious book and this project may be the first step.

Summary of Chapters

Chapter 1 – Introduction This first chapter introduces the Baptist Bible Fellowship, the subject of the project, and the hypothesis around which the research was centered. It also addresses the validity and significance of the study, background information, and role of the dissertation. The scope of the project, research method, definition of terms, as well as biblical and theological models are included.

Chapter 2 – Beginnings The second chapter deals with a context of the times surrounding the beginning of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. It provides a biographical sketch of the key personalities in the new movement that influenced the founding and personality of the Fellowship. The leading personality in the parent movement is included and given particular attention

13

because it was primarily from him that the founders of the new fellowship inherited their practical theology. Evangelism and church planting paved the way for sudden growth of the new movement. One particular example is presented as the largest church in BBF history.

Chapter 3 - Expansions This third chapter will elaborate on the alterations made in the philosophy and organization of the fellowship as second generation pastors moved into leadership roles. Founders of the BBF began to pass from the scene and their loss was keenly felt. Evangelism, foreign and domestic, continued to have prominence. During this period the BBF changed its identity by embracing a new structure that altered it from a fellowship of pastors to a fellowship of state fellowships. New policies were introduced that affected missionaries and limited college students in their studies. BBC peaked and began to decline as did the whole fellowship.

Chapter 4 - Adjustments This fourth chapter reveals new leadership introduced from the third generation of pastors. Mission policy was enlarged to accommodate new methods to reach cultures in third world countries. Team missions became a reality during this period. Philosophical issues divided pastors to the right and the left of past fellowship thinking and a major split resulted. Its effects are discussed. An official branch of the BBFI was created to promote and support church planting in the USA. New policies were adopted that allow more freedom for new church plants to function in the Fellowship.

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Chapter 5 – Conclusion The final chapter summarizes the research, evaluates the current condition of the Fellowship in light of the research, suggests possible adjustments, and concludes the project.

Chapter 6 - Bibliography The bibliography identifies books, religious and theological journal articles, and dissertation materials read or consulted in the course of this research.

Chapter 7 - Appendices The appendices include material compiled in the course of this study that should provide further explanation and documentation.

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Chapter 2 BEGINNINGS 1950-1975: First Generation of Leadership

The Baptist Bible Fellowship International was a product of the Fundamentalist Movement in America during the early 20 th Century. From J. Frank Norris, ―leader of Southern Baptist Fundamentalism,‖ 1 to those who founded the BBFI, the faith and passion for the Fundamentals remained the same. Their priorities were evangelism and training, and their basis was the Bible. Speaking of early Fundamentalist leaders, Leon McBeth writes, ―In 1923 at Kansas City… they formed the Baptist Bible Union, clearly separating from Northern Baptists… Their major leaders included W. B. Riley, A. C. Dixon, J. Frank Norris, and T. T. Shields.‖ 2 ―The Bible Union adopted the New Hampshire confession, with the premillennial revision of the article on eschatology.‖ 3

America’s Original Megachurch Located in Texas J. Frank Norris became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth in 1909 and during his 43 years there the church became the original megachurch. David Stokes writes, ―In fact, people around the country were hearing and reading about ‗the largest fundamentalist flock in America, the 10,000 strong congregation of Reverend J. Frank Norris‘ First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.‘‖ 4

McBeth explains the rise and fall of the Baptist Bible Union then covers the path

1 H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1987), 757. 2 Ibid., 756. 3 Ibid., 757. 4 David R. Stokes, The Pastor of America’s First Megachurch and the Texas Murder Trial of the Decade in the 1920’s. (Minneapolis, MN: Bascom Hill, 2010), 3.

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Norris took after the BBU dissolved to create a unique fellowship primarily in the south. When the Baptist Bible Union collapsed, Norris along with C. P. Stealey, formed the Premillennial Baptist Missionary Fellowship in Fort Worth. A few years later that body was chartered under a slightly different name, and in 1950 the name was changed to World Baptist Fellowship most of its early churches were in Texas because Norris was there. The dramatic personality of Norris, along with his powerful preaching and sensational methods, attracted widespread attention, especially through the pages of his paper, ―The Fundamentalist.‖ In 1939 he founded at his church a Bible Baptist Seminary, later restructured as Arlington Baptist College, Arlington, Texas. The WBF formed its own mission agencies and by 1982 reported 80 missionary families at work in 24 nations. By that time, it had about 1,250 affiliated churches. 5

Baptist Bible Fellowship Begins The BBF was founded May 24, of 1950 in Fort Worth, Texas. Preachers, who were trained by J. Frank Norris on his staff and in his Bible institute, had had enough of his autocratic leadership in the WFBMF. They gathered in a large conference room in the nearby Texas Hotel and determined to start a new college, a new mission program, and a new paper all under the new banner of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. It would be centered in Springfield, Missouri. They pledged themselves to the Great Commission of Christ purposefully identifying the BBF as a mission and training organization. Former Tribune Editor James Combs, an institute student at the time, was in the meeting and gave this eye witness report: The World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship, which developed during the 1930s and was promoted nationwide in Norris‘s weekly paper, ―The Fundamentalist,‖ now had a school where independent Baptist philosophy and methodology would be instilled into the impressionable hearts and minds of a bright generation of potential pastors, missionaries and evangelists. Norris was pastoring ―two great churches‖ with a combined membership of over 20,000. G. Beauchamp Vick, who had worked with Norris in the 1920s, had become ―general superintendent,‖ and, in effect, resident pastor of the Temple Baptist Church and a choice in 1936, eventually being recognized as one of ―two

5 McBeth, 762f.

17

pastors‖ in the late 1940s when it moved up above the 3,000 mark in Sunday School, topping 4,000 on big days. In the spring of 1950 the 72-year-old patriarch launched on a course that would exacerbate a rift that may have started earlier, as many godly men wondered at the unusual tactics Norris now employed, not against the modernists or the compromising Southern Baptists, but against other independent Baptists whose doctrine and mission paralleled that of the Fellowship. A meeting was held on Wednesday, May 24, 1950, with over 100 pastors and students at the Texas Hotel to discuss just the founding of a new school in Springfield to be known as the Baptist Bible College, but during a post-luncheon meeting, there arose a tide of sentiment for a brand-new movement too powerful to assuage. Wendell Zimmerman moved that a new Baptist Bible Fellowship be founded. Fred Donnelson, missionary to China, announced, ―Let missions be our strong right arm.‖ Noel Smith moved that a new paper be designated the Baptist Bible Tribune. W. E. Dowell was elected president of the Fellowship. The Baptist Bible College was to be a reality in Springfield, Missouri, with G. B. Vick as its president. 6

Leading Founders of the Baptist Bible Fellowship George Beauchamp Vick was born in Russellville, Kentucky, the son of a lawyer politician. When young Beauchamp was a year old, his father quit politics and entered Louisville Seminary as a student-pastor. As a young child, Vick assisted his ailing father on pastoral visits, and the experience undoubtedly influenced his later emphasis on the visitation program as the key to church growth. Vick‘s first paid position was the superintendency of the young people‘s department at J. Frank Norris‘ First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas. Under Vick‘s dynamic leadership, the department averaged nearly a thousand per Sunday and annually led First Baptist in additions. In 1929, Vick ―hit the sawdust trail‖ as the advanceman--song leader for Evangelists Wade House and Mordecai Ham. In 1936, Ham held a revival at the Temple

Full document contains 176 pages
Abstract: A review of current literature demonstrates that very little material is available to describe the mission and effectiveness of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. Research reflects that for the last half of the 20th Century, BBFI was a formidable movement among Fundamentalists in its independent Baptist doctrinal position and its evangelistic zeal. It was also determined that the BBFI has struggled to maintain its growth patterns and should reassess its original purpose and identity though it still appears to be the largest expression of Fundamentalism in America. Both historical and empirical research methods are used.