Readers may wish to take a look at our church website to understand better what we do (www.ChristFellowshipKC.org). We are very happy to promote the idea of the house concept with reform-minded leaders. Also, sanctuary style churches may wish to consider augmenting their work by using house churches as extensions of the present church. This can take care of the growth and building issues that active churches sometimes face, without huge expense. I’ve written an article on that which may be helpful to some ("An Appeal for the Use of House Churches to Extend Sanctuary-Style Churches").
LW: What do you see as some of the reasons people join house churches versus the current church model that is prevalent today?
JE: I think many people are looking for a group that is authentic, where people are not playing church. Also, I believe that the program-driven churches are wearing people out. A few are sincerely looking for more biblical meeting patterns. In our case, people are often drawn to the idea of a truly regenerate membership with good theology and intimate relationships. I actually think most of our people did not come first because we meet in homes, but because they thought they would find a solid church. Only one family in our church had any house church experience before coming to us.
LW: You are also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). What do you think of the latest information on what is going on in the SBC?
JE: I’m not sure exactly to what you are referring because something is always stirring in the SBC. But if you are thinking of the issue of integrity of the churches, meaning the restoration of regenerate membership, then I’m for it. I’ve written on this problem in an article called Southern Baptists, An Unregenerate Denomination. The SBC members need to be humble before God and admit that two-thirds of its membership don’t even bother to come to church meetings and are most likely unconverted. Humility is the real issue, and the need to be responsible in church membership. When a church is called a leading church, yet has 7000 on the roll and only 1500 coming, with 500 of those being children and guests (or nonmembers), then something is wrong. Yet these ratios are typical of both large and small churches. Our evangelism is not doing the job. In fact, we cannot tolerate much more evangelism like the kind we’ve had.
LW: I also see that you hold to the Doctrines of Grace. What do you think about the dialogue going on within the SBC about Calvinism?
JE: I’m glad that there is an ongoing dialogue on these doctrines in the SBC. When I was much younger, there were so few believing these great truths. They were held by the first SBC churches, up until the early 1900s, but for many years they have been nearly forgotten. The Founders movement within the SBC has been a significant help in this regard. I’ve had the privilege of addressing those groups many times through the years. Founders represents a viral, evangelistic Calvinism and is doing some real good. Also, the Christian media provides the average SBC member numerous opportunities to hear great preaching with sound doctrine from men outside the SBC. I won’t mention all the names of the well-known speakers, because your readers know these names already. Outside of the SBC, we associate with other Calvinistic leaders and ministries. For instance, I’m on the board of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE, www.Firefellowshipkc.org). By the way, it was at a FIRE Conference in Atlanta that I heard Anthony Carter and secured his excellent book, On Being Black and Reformed: A New Perspective on the African-American Christian Experience. As an aside, I prefer just to think of myself as biblical, of course, and don’t feel a tremendous need to use the word Calvinism, except among friends who understand. Most people have wrong ideas about the word, thinking that people like us are not evangelistic. That’s simply not true, as can be seen in the history of the church and, I trust, in my own life. Evangelism is a deep burden for me and I’m active that way daily.
LW: If anyone didn’t know, you are an author. What motivated you to publish books?
JE: I wish I could say I was motivated by greed, but there is no evidence of that even being possible yet! Writing books is usually not about money for most Christian authors. Actually, my wife encouraged me to write. When I began Christian Communicators Worldwide (www.CCWtoday.org), I thought of traveling and speaking in conferences only, but had never written anything significant. Pam pushed me to sit down in the little office she had made out of a closet to write my first book. It was so hot in that office, but I pecked away.
That first attempt at a book, Wasted Faith, has been distributed now to over 170,000 people. I certainly didn’t think such a wide distribution was in our future when I held that reddish brown book in my hands the first time. (The cover print actually came off on your hands!) But it has and we are thankful that many have been converted or brought to assurance through it. That experience stimulated our ministry to continue. Now we have several books and items to offer that we believe are helping people walk with God. We think of ourselves as a ministry first, and not merely a book publisher. Only God could make this work like it has. By the way, speaking of cover print coming off on the hands, one woman read Wasted Faith so often that all the cover ink rubbed off. But she was converted in the process!
LW: I wanted to talk specifically about your work Wasted Faith. What convinced you that a book on the subject of regeneration was needed for the Body of Christ?
JE: I was struck by the number of unregenerate people who were members of evangelical churches.
As you know, the book explains types of faith that do not save. It is a hard look at regeneration, that is, the life of God in the soul of man. What does that look like? The Bible has much to say about this. Even a person "with one eye and half sense" (as my father used to call him) should be able to see that most church members in evangelical churches are not regenerate. They do not have the marks of the life of God. The book is for those who want to understand the biblical basis behind that assumption, and for those who wish to check their lives out on the basis of the biblical tests to see if they are really regenerate.
We’ve now supplied a free online discussion guide for small groups so that people can study these life-changing truths together. And just recently we’re offering our new Wasted Faith Audio Book. Right now, we’re giving two free copies to anyone who writes us online at our new site, www.CCWtoday.org, just by paying shipping costs. I hope your readers will get these free copies so that we can introduce this to them. We don’t mind sending these out like this because we know it contains needed truths for the church today. So, we are driven by this idea that the churches are full of unregenerate people, most of whom are totally blind to their need.
LW: You have done some extensive work with childhood conversion. Where did this conviction come from and what do you think of the current youth ministries and its ever growing popularity?
JE: I simply observed that many of the people who had the least evidence that they were true believers claimed to have been converted while a child.
For years I’ve traveled around giving a seminar on childhood conversion. You can hear that three hour seminar online at our site. Now Steve Burchett on our staff travels and offers this seminar. We are writing a book together on the subject. The need for discussion in this area is great. I hope that many can listen to this seminar and attempt to evaluate their own childhood conversion experience more accurately. We have a set of seven interviews with Dennis Rainey and FamilyLife Today available on our site also, if any are interested in this material in a question and answer format. It is called "How Children Come to Faith in Christ."