Why Harvest OPC?Posted: April 1, 2009 Filed under: OPC Harvest Church 5 Comments
The past two months I have attended a church in Grand Rapids, MI called Harvest Church, Orthodox Presbyterian. I have been asked a number of times in the last month, “Why are you going to a Presbyterian church?” The reason for this is because many people know I am Baptistic. So it seems that many Dutch, Baptist, Reformed, Presbyterians, and Dispensationalist do not understand why I am becoming a member (when being a Baptist) of a Presbyterian church. So, I have reason in why (for you) I am becoming a member at the OPC Harvest Church in Grand Rapids, MI.
#1 Doctrinally Sound – The OPC is a sound presbytery. Harvest Church is doctrinally sound in knowing what is Major and what is minor in doctrine. They are bringing believers together, to worship Jesus together while still staying true to the Word of God in a culture that seems to easily be laying aside truths for whatever reason.
#2 A Passion for Solid Teaching – Harvest is a church with a number of different areas that have opportunities for church members to grow in their spirituality and continue to learn the Gospel while living among one-another. Areas like; sitting under the preaching of the Word, small groups to grow with fellow believers, theology class for their teens, catechism classes for children to learn doctrine at a young-age, bible studies with women and men, prayer groups for the church, new membership classes constantly being taught, and Bible studies on different books of the bible.
#3 A Living Gospel Community -The body of Harvest is different. Smiles, talking to others, wanting to meet who is knew, getting to know one another, building relationships with fellow members in and OUTside of the church. This is rather hard to find in a traditional Grand Rapids culture. Harvest is a church living out what they believe, wanting to create a community of believers that are enjoying the church, enjoying one another, and enjoying the gospel that they share with each other.
#4 A Living Church – A church that is growing in numbers, members and converts that are becoming excited about the Gospel and proclaiming it to both fellow believers and unbelievers.
#5 A Ministering Church – A body of believers that are looking forward to helping out one-another. At Harvest believers that want to help and pray for the job-less, to make friendships with the new-comers, and spend time out of church with one-another realizing the the church is not only a building on Sunday, but a body of believers every day of the week, that have friendships, that talk together, that work together, love each other and are constantly working together to learn the Bible.
#6 A Church that is Accepting – Harvest from day one wanted to know who Emily and I were. Asking questions, caring where we were from, and spending time from day-one of our first visit at Harvest, till still know getting to know us and who we are.
#7 A Church that is Gospel-Centered – At Harvest the Gospel is not only being preached, or heard, but it is being lived out among fellow believers.
#8 A Church that has Sound Preaching – The hearing of the Word is always an important doctrine of worship and Pastors Dale and Francis know exactly that. The preaching is great, for the understanding of a new convert to the even the thickness for a seminary student, Harvest preaches Christ constantly.
#9 A Flock that Wants to Know the New Sheep – Like I said before, from day one people wanted to know Emily and I. Not a week has went by were someone new has come up to Emily and I getting to know us.
#10 A Shepherd that Takes Care of His Sheep – The Pastor wants to both know what is going on today in culture, and hot theological issues so that he can continue to preach Truth to his flock, and deal with what areas the sheep are dealing with today in the world.
#11 The Gospel is #1 at Harvest – Harvest allows me, a baptist to worship with them. Harvest sees that there are major doctrines that are far more important to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They see that separating over minor issues do nothing but harm to the bride of Christ.
#12 A Passion for Young People – Out of 450 members, over 250 are under the age of 18! But yet the senior pastor is pouring his life and work into the Teenagers, the youth of the church because Harvest sees that is where our future lies.
A wonderful testimony for any church. It’s great to see a church so loved and doing kingdom work.
I think Harvest is a great church as well. I have many close friends that go there and are members there.
My only concern for you is the fact that you are Baptist. (And I still love you.) The OPC has traditionally allowed Baptists to be members of the church, but there is a HUGE string attached… and this is not Harvest’s rule, but the law and order of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church:
1. You will never be able to be an office bearer in the church. This is a concern for me, because I see the potential for you to be an office bearer down the road.
2. You will NEVER be allowed to teach. Someone who wants to be a teacher of the Scriptures should not bind himself to a vow which will cause him to not be allowed to teach God’s Word in a church setting. As far as I know, this is held across the board in the OPC- Baptists can join, but they can’t teach in the church. Do you really want to commit to that? In two months you will have a Master’s Degree in theological studies- and you won’t be allowed to teach in your home church?
As far as I can see there are three options that must be considered:
1. Am I willing to join the church and be perfectly content with the stipulations put on me? (Because if you join and say ‘Someday they will let me teach’ then you are joining under false pretenses and bitterness may set in.)
2. Am I willing to leave off my baptist convictions and be taught paedobaptism and its implications? (I know you have studied it, but now it is VERY important to study and has practical implications for your life as a Bible teacher).
3. Am I content with NOT joining, but just attending until I can find a Baptist church that has the same love for Christ and zeal for the church?
Mike, I wish and Em well. It is a great Church and there is SO MUCH that they have to offer. May the Lord help you in your decision.
With brotherly love,
Nate, thanks for your thoughts, concerns, and considerations. I am choosing to publish your comment, and reply to it, because it was done the most respect. Nate, maybe you (and the other OPCer’s from other congregations & individuals else-where that seem to have a concern about me becoming a member) have been mis-informed about the OPC church polity. According to OPC by-laws and the Form of Government of the OPC, the Harvest Session has their own permission and freedom to allow a Baptist teacher, and they have that in whatever context they desire.
Examples of this are asking a Baptist to speak at conferences, theological issues, Family Camp, for teens, small groups, or Sunday School classes.
I totally understand that fact that I will never be able to (while in the OPC) be an elder or deacon. But am I really planning on being an elder or deacon in the next few years I am there? No.
As the OPC Session of Harvest and myself, we have went over these areas already and we are aware of the concerns, and are willing to place those minor convictions aside for the sake of the lost, and proper teaching on the things that matter most to the Gospel.
Thank you D for putting these up, it is true and i agree whole-heartedly!