IFB Commonalities

I frequently get messages from people complaining that I’m generalizing too much and that not all IFB churches deserve the same retributions from this site. As a result I decided to put together a list of common attributes of the Independent Fundamental Baptist belief system. These can be found in all IFB churches to one degree or another and they are all used in abusive ways by the IFB.

  • Independent – do not associate with any religious conventions – very little accountability
  • Separation – teach be separate from the world and any appearance of worldliness
  • Fundamental – strict focus on only the fundamentals of the faith (salvation and evangelism) almost to the exclusion of all else.
  • Strict and inflexible literal interpretation of the Bible
  • Rejection of emotional responses to music and sermons
  • Baptism – teach that a Believer is living in disobedience until baptized by immersion
  • Membership in the “local church”
  • Tithing
  • Exclusive use of the King James Version of the Bible. All other Bible versions are considered “perversions”, wrong and sinful to use. Some IFB churches will only use the Authorized 1611 King James Version.
  • Strict music standards. The refusal to listen to, or participate in the performance of music that is not approved by the IFB. This is a complex issue but usually music is restricted to Hymns and productions from IFB type music ministers such as Ron Hamilton, Frank Garlock, Bill Gothard, etc. The mantra is “If it sounds ungodly it is ungodly.”
  • Clapping – After a musical performance by an individual or choir, the IFB teaches that it is not right to clap since clapping brings glory to the performer rather than to God.
  • Authoritarian leadership style
  • Patriarchal society – Advocate traditional patriarchal lifestyle and excludes other alternative lifestyles
  • Women are to be quiet, submissive and obedient to men. Women are not allowed to preach and are only allowed to teach if it is only to other women or girls. Women are not allowed to hold positions of authority in the church.
  • Strict education standards – usually home school or attend an IFB school
  • Corporal punishment for the discipline of children – “Break the will”, “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, etc.
  • Strict standards regarding dress and clothing style
  • Striving for purity and holiness through human effort – perfectionism/legalistic righteousness.
  • Strict standards for living. Not allowed to (or at least strongly discouraged) participate in “worldly” activities, such as dancing, drinking, smoking, going to the movies, gambling, eating at certain restaurants, etc.
  • Delayed obedience is disobedience. If you fail to obey authority immediately then you are still disobeying since it is delayed obedience.
  • Paranoia about modern science, health care and psychology
  • Unacceptability of missing church if not sick. Strong encouragement to attend church every time the doors are open

This list is by no means all inclusive and I will be updating this list as more come to my mind and attention.


  1. “strict focus on only the fundamentals of the faith (salvation and evangelism) almost to the exclusion of all else”


    The one I recently left had gotten absolutely obsessed with piling large numbers of presumed converts into its local church. Even the women were told to go to book clubs and quilt shops and ‘win souls.’ I asked them if the Great Commission was really extended to women in such a way, and they responded with the out-of-context example of the woman at the well, failing to take into account how that event occurred prior to Jesus’ command to His *male* followers to go out and make disciples (and with an emphasis on _discipleship_, which isn’t a priority of IFB churches). When I pointed out the proper context of that passage, they had no counter to it and instead simply persisted in their views, with no Scripture to back up their claims, because there is none (not once did Paul, Peter, or the other New Testament writers who came after Christ, tell women to go out and make converts — that should not be the woman’s primary role or focus in the church — Paul laid out what the woman’s priorities should be, and evangelizing out in public is _not_ one of them).

    The goal was to get the church at least doubled in size within a year, and the pastor kept comparing us to another nearby IFB church in the state that was overflowing with membership, and how we needed to be like that church. Just constant focus on numbers, “winning souls,” numbers, “winning souls,” ad nauseam. Very little (if any) focus lately on proper Biblical exegesis, sound doctrine, hermeneutics, the Holy Spirit’s role in converting, discipleship, and other important matters that are plain to anyone who has read the Pauline epistles closely, and how true New Testament churches are supposed to operate.

    While there were some good sermons and occasional spiritual edification there, I finally drew the line at their increasingly shallow, throw-something-at-the-wall, hope-it-sticks version of local “evangelizing,” the focus on numbers over examining whether or not the conversions are true and bear fruit, and the complete lack of organized discipleship for members. As a married woman, I know my priority should be on being a godly example in the home to my husband, not going out in public and trying to badger women into going to the church by using their gimmicks. Not going to let them try and mislead me in such a way.

  2. Did you know that different components of the IFB fight with each other, within the IFB? For example, PCC, BJU and Trinity in Jacksonville, Florida, all take shots at each other? It’s bad for unity in the body of Christ.

  3. A few months ago..I was searching for a church. I was reborn almost two years ago and tried a couple in my city..but I am very shy and do not know many people. Also my past tends to haunt me. Lo and behold, I meet a guy online, and our first datewe go to this little intimate church he’s been telling me about. Seems fine at first, great singing, reminds me of my grandparents’ Mennonite church I attended as a child. I did notice all the men went up on cue of the young vibrant pastor to pray on their hands and knees at the foot of the pulpit. Also the women and girls wore conservative long skirts and boots. I didn’t think much of this until much later when I realized they ALways dressed this way. After a few attendances I wound up being depressed every time, and questioning my own salvation. One eveni g I went for, what I thought, was just coffee with the pastor’s wife. I was blue because the fellow who had introduced me to this church turned out to be an alcoholic, and we broke up. I looked to her for guidance and instead she publicly questioned my faith and salvation..and blamed me for this fellow’s downfall. After this it was never the same, I attempted to go back with an open heart, but I knew my lifestyle could never realistically be as conservative as theirs, and I never did feel accepted. If I had questions or wanted to talk to the pastor he was always to busy praying with’the men’. This brings me back to the very first post.. Every thing on that list I can also attest to. I will never forget one Sunday the Pastor said, “Ladies, spread out your skirts and get down on your knees and pray!” I felt very left out because I wear dress pants.

    1. Sounds kinda strange to me, probably best you found out sooner than later about the weird goings on at that church!

      Stay in the bible, and develop a strong relationship with the Lord, and of course pray for the Lord to guide you to a good church, but bear in mind none are perfect!

      Prayers for you in the lovely name of Jesus!

      1. Hi Melissa,
        There’s nothing wrong with being conservative in doctrine and lifestyle coupled with a balanced, Christ-like attitude. However, what you’re describing here is pure pharisaical legalism, or which Christ Himself condemned in the Pharisees. The Spirit of God is not in that sort of thing, although I’m sure they are very proud of themselves. “The Letter of the Law condemns but the Spirit gives life…” See: 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

        My wife and I being full-time missionaries to Thailand (Church planting & Bible translation), when we came home on furlough we wanted to place our young children in a wholesome Christian grade school type environment. I was aware that one of the Baptist churches in the area we lived (while on furlough) had a small Christian school on campus.

        I knew the pastor so arranged to meet with him concerning enrolling our children. Everything went well until he got out the “Rule Book” and read off to me the dos and don’ts… mostly don’ts. Now I believe in conservatism in the proper, balanced sense of meaning, but when he got to the part about boys not being allowed to wear jean-type pants (a sin in their eyes), I asked him to explain. The evil part was the double or overlapped stitching down the pant legs… a sign of worldliness!

        I felt like laughing in his face, but held my cool and said, “thank you for the information… I believe we can now go home and discuss the matter of enrollment.” We didn’t go back. The man was obviously a rank legalist… about as bad as a rank liberal. Later, I learned that the church had disbanded (essentially due to legalism, I believe) and the property turned over to another (well-balanced) Baptist church in town, where we had our membership. They set up a satellite venue on the property.

        Bottom line: Be secure in your understanding and position “in Christ” and don’t let others shake your faith.


  4. Just testing–I posted something a few days ago, but it’s not here. Is there a delayed reaction re: prior approval of postings?

  5. Anonymous- Just one final thought that I forgot to mention. If you can’t see the light on this site, you may be in serious “spiritual” trouble.

  6. “you are truly disciples of Mine”

  7. Anonymous – It sounds like you and your pastor may be emphasizing “works over grace.” Works follow faith. Behaviour follows belief. Fruit comes after the tree is well rooted. Martin Luther said “Therefore all works, no matter how good they are and how pretty they look, are in vain if they do not flow from grace.”

    Many IFB pastors are so intimidating that their authority is unquestioned.

    Many in the IFB have no room for gray areas. Everything is either black or white, right or wrong. I actually wish it were that simple! But as a result of this type of thinking the “Leader/MOG” maintains strict control over the followers. Fellowship is based on whether there is full agreement. Herein lies the tragedy. This self-righteous, rigid standard becomes more important than relationships with individuals. Can this be God’s way?

    Grace-killers are notorious for a judgemental attitude, they cultivate a judgemental attitude toward those who may not agree or cooperate with “their” plan.

    I think Jesus would be a good person to listen to as it relates to wicked “legalism” Don’t you? Standing before the “brain trust” of legalism, the Pharisees, he said.

    “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him, Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mind: and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:30-32

    He spoke of the liberating power of the truth. Even though the official grace killers rejected His message, He assured them it could make them free. All who embrace grace become “free indeed.”

    Anonymous….today Jesus is pleading with you to “embrace grace” Won’t you?

    Most of the above is from Chuck Swindoll’s book “The Grace Awakening” I encourage all IFBers to read this book right away.

  8. @IFBPK

    IFBPK :One thing I can say with certainty is that because of the independent nature of IFB churches, each church tends to assume the personality of its pastor. Some are fairly laid-back and friendly and others are downright cult-like. Some are nurturing while a few can be abusive. Some are evangelical and active in the local community while others are separatist to the point of paranoia. There is no “one-size-fits-all” description.
    From my observation IFB preachers tend to come from a few similar types of backgrounds. They either come from poverty, an abusive or otherwise dysfunctional home or a hard-partying lifestyle in their younger years which may or may not have landed them in jail at one time or another. For these preachers, their salvation experience was an epiphenous event in their lives, which is why so many IFB preachers preach against drinking, dancing and the like because they associate those activities with the excesses of their former lives rather than as normal activities which may be enjoyed in moderation.

    amen. i have grown up in an IFB church, under the same pastor, and i completely agree with what you’ve posted. my pastor was wild in his younger years, was disgusted with his lifestyle, stole a bible, and accepted Jesus as his savior. immediately God began changing his heart and lifestyle, and called him to be a minister. he went to BJU, and just in the past couple of years got his doctorite in theology. he does preach strongly against smoking, drinking, etc. and highly encourages coming to church, and evangelism. like you said, this is an example of him trying to stop other people from going down the same path he did as a youth.

    my church definitely takes on my pastor’s personality. he is calm, laid back, and funny, and so is my church. my pastor is all about getting the word out, but my church isn’t quite as evangelical as he’d like. we are somewhat separatist from other “denominations” but not from the community, or other churches we mostly agree with.

    thanks for your well written post, and for bringing some light to this site.

  9. Proverbs 29:20 ESV
    Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

    Proverbs 18:2 ESV
    A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

    Proverbs 17:28 ESV
    Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

    Proverbs 15:1-33 ESV
    A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent. …

    Proverbs 12:18 ESV
    There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

  10. anonymous – So “your” church does things abit differently in only 6 areas of the 26 listed, and you still wish to complain? Are you saying you agree with the positions taken by “most” IFB’s in the other 20 areas?

    In speaking for myself, I do have a negative “perception” to IFB churches because of this entire list and more.

    Why don’t instead of you praying for us “not to have a negative perception of IFB churches” (btw, that appears to be “your” will, not God’s) why don’t you pray for God to “change” these IFB churches to conform more with His plan and His will for them?

  11. I do happen to agree mostly with what you have written, however, there are a few things i must point out.

    from point 1: there is an IFBF meeting where many church groups go to meet, and be taught. many ifb churches encourage attending such church conventions.

    from point 3: we do not exclude works,etc. The focus is on evangelism and salvation, but also on living by the word of god.

    from point 5: my church encourages amens, and sharing blessings and prayer requests. we do not reject responses to music and sermons.

    from point 6: my church believes that christians should be baptised once they’re saved, but do not hound you to do it. they do suggest that it is in God’s will that all believers be baptised, but they will not force you, or constantly be after you to do so. i don’t think anyone has ever asked me if i’ve been baptised.

    from point 21: my church is not afraid of modern science, my church embraces new discoveries. we get the answers in genesis newsletters, and when new discoveries that pertain to the sermon are made, my pastor tells us about them.

    also, i agree with fred, those who know nothing about God, especially young children, need to hear His word in a language that is easier to understand than elizabethan english.

    I just thought I’d give you some of my thoughts. I hope you don’t take offense to me as you did to others. i am not trying to be accusatory, but merely show you some of the things that my church has enjoyed for many years. god bless you, and i pray you will not continue to have a negative perception to ifb churches, but open your heart, and be willing to hear other’s views as well.

  12. Brian, I hear ya loud and clear, brother! Even though I personally prefer a more traditional and conservative style of worship like IFBers do, one thing I will NOT tolerate in any church is abuse — sadly to say, many (not all, mind you) IFB churches are notorious for that. In fact, if I had a choice between a church that was traditional in their worship but abusive versus a church that did contemporary-styled worship and treated everyone with love, respect, and fairness, then give me the contemporary church!

    BTW, where we’re going to church now is a Freewill Baptist church that, on Sunday mornings, tends to feature more of the contemporary praise and worship choruses, but on Sunday evenings tends to incorporate more hymns into their worship, and we like it there a lot.

    I still tend to prefer the KJV, although our pastor uses the…NIV? I’m not the least bit dogmatic about Bible versions, and as far as I’m concerned, our pastor using a modern translation is perfectly fine with me, and I’m sure that people who are searching for Christ and have possibly been unchurched don’t need to have to decipher each and every last bit of the Elizabethan English of the KJV — they need God’s word in a way they can understand.

  13. One thing I really appreciate you mentioning is about the Independent Fundamental Baptists’ strict music standards and mentioning specifically Frank Garlock and Ron Hamilton. I do not like their stance on CCM. Their argument is that the sound of CCM is no different than what you would hear at a bar or nightclub. At my southern baptist church in Alabama, we sing CCM all the time, and most of it is very good. There is really no difference between songwriters such as Fanny Crosby, Charles Welsey, Issac Watts and Keith and Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend, Travis Cotrell. The only difference is the ERA of which these people of God wrote songs about Him. God inspires people to write songs and music about Him today the same way He did in the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s. The IFB doesn’t get that. Does anyone agree?

    Also, how can there be so much power in one family? Ron Hamilton is the son-in-law of Frank Garlock, he is also know as the infamous “Patch” the pirate due to eye cancer and wearing the patch. That family and organization, “Majesty Music” have had such a tremendous influence on the IFB.

  14. I don’t mean to beat the dead horse of semantics, but there is no such denomination/church/cult as “the IFB.” “Independent Fundamental Baptist” is a descriptive term rather than a title, an adjective rather than a noun. It is important that folks understand this because a person does not join a singular group called the IFB because there is no IFB to join. There are only local churches that describe themselves as “Independent, Fundamental and Baptist.” All that said, I will now use “IFB” for the purposes of this post, but know that I am doing so merely for the sake of convenience. IFB churces are a subset of the Baptist denomination. They have been fairly accurately characterized elsewhere in this website. I say “fairly” because not every church follows every single point listed.

    It bears mentioning that the first word in the title is “Independent.” This means that although a local IFB church may share many beliefs with other IFB churches, the churches have no official ties with each other. Pastors may fellowship together or perhaps they went to the same Bible college as other IFB pastors, but it ends there. I have known of small, localized groups of IFB churches that form loose associations, but those associations are generally informal and for fellowship and little else.

    I grew up in an IFB church and attended an IFB school. I have attended many other IFB churches and have heard literally hundreds of IFB preachers over the years. One thing I can say with certainty is that because of the independent nature of IFB churches, each church tends to assume the personality of its pastor. Some are fairly laid-back and friendly and others are downright cult-like. Some are nurturing while a few can be abusive. Some are evangelical and active in the local community while others are separatist to the point of paranoia. There is no “one-size-fits-all” description.

    From my observation IFB preachers tend to come from a few similar types of backgrounds. They either come from poverty, an abusive or otherwise dysfunctional home or a hard-partying lifestyle in their younger years which may or may not have landed them in jail at one time or another. For these preachers, their salvation experience was an epiphenous event in their lives, which is why so many IFB preachers preach against drinking, dancing and the like because they associate those activities with the excesses of their former lives rather than as normal activities which may be enjoyed in moderation. One final, but less common background is that some IFB preachers are the sons of other IFB preachers or church leaders.

    Many IFB preachers started out in another denomination (Southern Baptist is typical) but had a falling out with the organizational hierarchy or had a disagreement with some point of the other group’s doctrine. Many of them have educations that are not well-rounded. They know the Bible well, but have little education in other subjects. There is so much more to say but I’ll stop here.

  15. Hi Ben – Maybe you should look around this site abit more, I daresay there are hundreds of abuse stories on this site, (including my own) and most are eerily similar to the 20/20 story.

    There are many reasons for this but I personally think the crux of the problem is that in the IFB too much power is given to the MOG (man of God) and not nearly enough oversight on him, usually the deacons are lap-dog yes men and wouldn’t dream of going against the MOG, they have been taught, from him, the Mog, no less, that anything other than 100% compliance is rebellion, and most men can not handle that much authority. Were I you I wouldn’t want that much authority, I would want real oversight.

  16. I was born and raised faithfully in the IFB. Went to public school. Took on agnosticism in my late teens. Went to a secular college. Accepted Christ at 23, surrendered to the ministry, and I’m now a IFB youth pastor. My experience wasn’t anything like yours. I’m deeply sorry you had the experience that you did. My home church in MS is conservative, but not crazy dictatorial like your description above. The same can be said for my church now in TX. I own a KJV, NIV, NRSV, and NKJV and use them in my studies. I exclusively use the KJV in my teachings. I love me some Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin. My wife and I dress conservatively. Our church music is conservative, but I had never heard of Bill Gothard or the other two until now. We like some pep. 🙂

    I’m not interested in arguing. If my life has taught me anything (lol, I’m not even 30 yet), it’s that arguing over something like this will get us nowhere in life. 20/20 has already made those of us honest and open IFBers look miserable enough. I’m sorry that your life long experience on the fringe was so bad that you had to start a site tearing down the IFB. We’re not all like what you described,we’re collateral damage, every church I’ve been involved with is actually far from it. We don’t all buy the hype. Thats why I’m Independent first and Baptist second. I’m ready for Heaven so we won’t have to deal with this anymore.

  17. I have heard about churches like you described as above. However, I attended BJU and never knew that you must obey immediately. That sounds really funny! So, if I fell asleep before I did my “chore”, I was sinning? The red, white, and blue church down the street must really be as goofy as everyone thought. I don’t remember the name (since I moved to Indiana) but I remembered hearing that they thought BJU was sinning because they are a 5013C church. The really kind of funny thing is that the film which I appear in the soundtrack (in a “Russian” choir) makes a very big deal about the Russian churches that were registered with the Communist Party. I guess it is, in a way, the same principle. I don’t see the U. S. government as overtly going head over heals for conservative Baptist churches unless maybe a tea party president ushers in the next generation of Supreme Court Judges which may be worse than Communism! Pidradio.com is a good site and has a link to the Politics of Religion seminar which is a current expose on mixing church and state. I am not one to say that it is illegal to mix church and state, but maybe it should be before Joel’s Army comes to a training ground near you! The only thing worse than people that like pretty Ron Hamilton songs are Joel’s Army folks that stone people if they don’t listen to hardcore Christian punk rock. I don’t think this is a metaphore, but you should probably research the group to make sure. I try to not think about them because I get too scared! Dominionism isn’t much better, though. The two are related.

  18. We’re used to everything being instant and immediate and for sale. We’re people, not objects. Sometimes maybe I just want things to slow down to a simpler time and place. I want to be more than just an application on an instruction manual. i want a relationship. Maybe this is why I struggle.

    At the same time, I also realize probably I need to focus on the present and my posts really are past, very past in the sense they are not based on my current situation. I do feel somewhat haunted by these memories though and maybe it’s cause others define me by these experiences and I no longer do.

  19. I guess at times I feel production is the only goal this movement has whether it’s mass production or theatrical production. Everything is centered around production.

    I knew i did grow up in the industrial age so I can understand how mass production enters the picture since people do bring their jobs to church along with other stresses from life. We are also in a cutlrue strongly influenced by mass media and the theater. By the way I do like the arts. But somehow I think something has been lost.

    In the Bible, Jesus is compared with the craftsman who individually creates a vessel from clay. Each piece in its own is a masterpiece that is individually different from the next. Well we’re used to molds that one can put on a tray and pop into the kiln.

    I do like the theater. But there is a lot that goes into the theatrical production before the curtain opens up to the audience. The same is true for the picture on the cover of a magazine or book. God sees the whole preparation. We only see the final performance.

  20. A lot of my frustration actually has more to do with tactics than with the actual beliefs and values. Some feel that in the name of Christianity, anything goes. I question that philosophy.

  21. It seems clear to me from the exchange between ‘Site Moderator’ vs. ‘Me’…that the site Moderator is the one in error here. I’m not raised IFB or really any denomination & I can see ‘Me’ was not berating etc…but rather Site Admin did not like that Me had rational arguments & Site Admin seemed to have had a temper tantrum…& has some issues possible from spirtual abuse & they if not taken to Lord in forgivness, as well as, repentence for any sinfulness not letting go of in walk/faith I fear the enemy can & will use to hurt the body…thus repeating in a different way the same thing encountered. I’m truly sorry if he was abused & yes the persons doing so if so should apologize & do know that regardless God loves you.

    Saints…we must examine our own hearts, ask God to show us whats wrong in us & repent & forgive. Not taking Gods word seriously (like using the exscuse not literal when it’s no way other to interpet) in order to promote onw self as authority (example women in submission to own husbands…God says to do so…site admin list or out right suggest a church to believe as God says is commiting hurt against women…is example of this. Thus, one must be discerning especially if whether he is in proper spirtual sound mind to judge other believers behavor as Biblical or not ‘if’ he does not believe the entire bible. Any abuse that occured may also be intwined with personal sins of not submitting whole heartdly to word of God…thus satan comes in & uses this misfortion, alongside error sin, to further hurt Church. This is not new…we the Body must submit to the God (incl His word) & love one another…any disobediience (incl by those who profess Christ & spirtually abuse saints, as well as, those who profess & are not upholding the Word ) only add fuel to satans fire incl casuing hurt to the Church.

  22. The church I attended plus its elementary and secondary school was a satellite campus in respect to the fact that many of the teachers and members of the church administration were graduates, and still are, of the same colleges and universities and are associated with the same publishers, mission boards, etc… While each may consider itself independent, there still is a hierarchy structure of command with the leaders of the colleges and universities having an exceptionally strong influence in all the affiliated ministries even though they are not a formal denomination.

  23. John mark:

    Christ forgave. Instruction is not the only function of the church. A church is supposed to help its members and its leaders rebuild their lives. How can this happen if they throw out their members and lower level leaders and even sometimes their families. i do believe there are social responsibilities outside the church which the church is supposed to provide to the community including nonbelievers. I do believe this is in the Bible also in all the apostles and the epistles. Leaders are instructed by the apostles to lead by example.

  24. John Mark:

    Martin Luther jeopardized everything when he posted his 95 thesis on the doors of the church in Wittenburg. He was fortunate that he was one of the few who did not die because other reformation leaders didn’t do as well. Actually neither did the Apostles or disciples when they dared question authority.

    We are questioning abuses in power and corruption as well as the way discipline is applied to lower and middle members and management whereas the highest levels of the leadership pyramid face little or no accountability.
    Actually eventually they usually do, but by that point, it’s when there is a great scandal that threatens the viability not only of the ministry, anything associated with it, and really causes the public to question all ministries as well even those who are not connected or are causing the problem.

    We’re also questioning a very exclusive attitude within some of these IFB ministries where they believe anyone who is not involved within their circle can possibly be a Christian or is some type of reprobate who will go to hell.

    If you did not have this experience yourself, I’m thankful. Others have.

    We’re trying to rebuild our lives afterwards. Remember, church is supposed to be a place of community trust.

  25. If a bus ministry exists to help people commute from home to church, I don’t have problems with the church that has a few buses. i know some churches also minister to the elderly and disabled. This is not what I’m complaining about either. I have concern when I feel that there is competition in numbers against two or three churches or even communities when you have several churches that share similar beliefs and values. i realize that buses and carpooling can be helpful. I don’t think bus ministries though should have one church competing against another for numbers. I’m not sure the goal is to process members as fast as an assembly line. Also i believe membership should take time and instruction, especially in situations where churches have very strict standards. One wouldn’t think about just signing a blank contract or check. Yet this is what some churches expect of their members. At many churches, there is room for disagreement. At some, there is no room and the consenquences for disagreement are very severe.

    It’s great when a youth group can help youth abstain from activities that could get them in trouble and also provide moral support and fellowship. It’s great when they can find alternatives that are wholesome and healthy. I am not complaining about that.

    I’m not complaining about retreats and camps and other activities of fellowship.

  26. Whoever made this site, I am praying for you. Sure some ideas from IFB may seem different but what about the standards they have that is saving people from Hell? (ex: Soulwinning, Bus Ministry).

    If I was an unbeliever and I saw this, I would agree with Gandhi who said “I like Jesus Christ but I don’t like his followers”.

    By the way, I am an ex-IFB. I currently attend a Lutheran church but I commend IFB for their strong outreach ministries. I mean what else matters then getting people saved?


    1. John,
      pray for me too; I don’t think anyone has a problem with the outreach that brings people to Christ, so long as the outreach is bringing people to a knowledge of the truth. The issues we are addressing is false teaching and cult-like leadership. Would you really want to see more children and families brought into a church that trains them in legalism and false doctrine.
      I believe that some people do get saved at IFB churches, in spite of the harmful teaching and practices. I could say the same thing about the Catholic church. However, their good deeds don’t out way their bad deeds. Even though there is some good going on there, it doesn’t justify the abusive false teaching that is proclaimed in the name of Christ.
      By the way, who cares what Gandhi said?

    2. John Marks – Got some news for you John, “standards” are not what “is saving” people from Hell, the Lord Jesus Christ is who is saving people from hell.

      Not sure I would bring Ghanhi into a discussion about salvation.

      I’m wondering why, if you support all the things that the IFB do, why are you in a Lutheran church, and why trouble yourself to comment here.

      There is alot more to christianity than just getting saved, that is just the beginning, but after all the years I spent in the IFB it seems that’s about all they are interested in.

      I wish you well on your journey fellow traveller.

  27. My issues were regional accreditation although I do feel that organizations can choose whether or not to participate in public funding. I am aware of some very prestigious institutions in my state of residence which are considering private funding options. I will add professional accreditation and licenses in respect to those occupations which require them.

    There are very well known ministries which have extensive TV and radio ministries as well as publishing both nationally and even internationally. My institution fell in that category. I really believe that the highest levels of administrations have to approach the public media with great care. This wasn’t just a matter of liberal verses conservative or fundamentalist but in this institution, even other IFB ministries were adversely affected at the time I attended as were public figures. Nobody took students seriously due to the bad media coverage.

    I am aware of some of the bad experiences from other posts even though I did not necessarily have these experiences myself. A church is a place of community trust. This erodes trust.

    I do not believe the Bible calls for pride or public humiliation which was a common practice. When discipline is applied, it should be applied with humility and in private, at least at first and in the initial stages. If there is a crime, that becomes public domain. If something is not criminal though, especially if the people are willing to step down or leave the church, I think discretion should be used.
    This also applies to personnel records. I don’t think people should be discredited. A church can say they won’t financially support an individual who becomes part of an organization they don’t support, but that’s about all. If there is public disclosure at any point, it should be the very last resort and only used when necessary. And those in high profile positions should not be excused or given light discipline soley because they are popular or bring a celebrity status or money to a ministry. I also believe there is intense pressure on members of the church administration, especially ministers and teachers to be perfect.

    I believe churches do need to reach out to the communities they serve. I am referring to some of the social ministries as well as disaster response, etc…

    I also believe it’s a lot easier for people to attend churches within a close proximity to where they live so they can participate in activities. I am not saying I object when families want to attend the same church where they grew up even after they move to another neighborhood. Sometimes that happens. in rural areas, one may be limited. In towns and cities, often one has many choices. I do not oppose bus ministries; however, what works in the Great Plains and isolated areas may not be necessary for towns and urban areas.

    I forgot to mention medical supplies in respect to at least pulling long hair back. I think if churches have requirements, they should state the reasons whether or not they are Biblical. They are private and do have right to set their regulations. I definitely think they should discuss these before membership rather than expecting their members to sign a blind contract or just abide blind trust. Trust and respect are earned, not automatic entitlements.

  28. I don’t feel as strongly about issues like mustaches or beards as those organizations practiced at the time I attended them. I also felt they were not necessarily Biblical.

    I do know that some issues are occupational concerns in respect to work and keeping the hair away from the eyes and/or face and away from merchandise and food.

    If one is just starting or needs some help in grooming, ask a state licensed barber or cosmetologist for assistance or read some tips in fashion magazines.

    I do know that many schools and businesses do have dress codes. While this may or may not be necessarily Biblical, it is a reality we have in the situations we face. Also different occasions and establishments may have dress codes as do special events. These may or may not be Biblical. But this is just something in life and if we want to be involved in those activities, we may have to consider the appropriate dress code for such activities whether or not it’s Biblical. Men did have long hair and did grow beards in the Bible.
    i also know that there were other aspects of campus life where some were bothered by the dress code; however, I was neutral in the sense that it did not pose an issue one way or another, mainly cause the public and private schools I attended had similar dress codes. It wasn’t so much whether they opposed or approved of beards of mustaches in many cases, but whether or not they were groomed or looked unkept. Many churches i know probably won’t make this an issue. Businesses and schools do.

  29. I wear pants now. I am referring to rules I lived by when I attended the first church and its supported organizations and colleges and universities. Generally I follow dress codes that may be in effect at work.
    Many businesses do have dress codes. Some schools even have school uniforms.

    Many businesses have dress codes. They will advise you how to dress prior to an interview. Even fashion magazines make recommendations.

    On other posts, I mentioned the matters which really bothered me. I am also disturbed about what i read on other posts. i do not think this happens at every IFB church myself. But the fact that it is happening and has happened at some very well known churches and has even made local, regional and national news definitely affects the perception of others whether or not they are Chrisitans and whether or not they are members of the same organization.

    The outside world also overgeneralizes. If one organization makes the local, regional, national, and international news, they apply what goes on there as being something that goes on everywhere. There have been a number of scandals over the years. A church is an organization of community trust. And there are serious problems which destroy that trust for the secular public as well as for others in different religions as well as different sects. So I think many others inside and outside are affected. Change is needed.

  30. My experience at camp was different not only in respect to affiliation but also in respect to the fact that there were scenic nature trails as well as boats. The camp provided private retreats where I could meditate by myself. While I don’t worship nature itself, I do feel God’s presence when I am in a place of natural scenic beauty. I love to look at the sun rays gleaming through the tree tops. I like open areas where I can actually see the constellation at night. The rhythm of the waves is soothing for those who live near the ocean or lakes. Find a place and take the Bible somewhere where you can be truly alone and can meditate without a lot of external distractions. Try to leave the worries behind. This may sound strange but since I already had memorized scriptures, I was able to do this on a balance beam in a gym. Music sometimes can be helpful too. I like music without lyrics for these times. Anyone can do this whether one is in an IFB or outside just seeking a private time with God. It’s a great way to wind down from stress. It’s a great way to escape all the pressures of conformity for just a few minutes or as long as you like. I didn’t do the extreme wilderness camping I saw in one of Wheaton’s cinematic movie productions. The movie production actually had to do with wilderness survival and spending private time with God in a remote place with complete self-sufficiency.

  31. Privacy is important. Jesus had many times of privacy and for longer periods also. Of course he spent a lot of time with others. I think the importance of privacy is taught in the Apostle of St. Matthew, Chapter 6 along with the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus did not always respond immediately himself. He waited and prayed for God’s guidance. Since Jesus is not walking with us, we are instructed to read his word and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I can think of scripture after scripture where forbearance and patience are taught. Jesus waited for the right moment and sometimes it occurred at the will of the followers and other times it didn’t. There were times when not even the Apostles understood and definitely the disciples were puzzled.
    Jesus didn’t boast about everything he did either. Nor did he always encourage others to do so immediately either. Boast is not the word I really want to use. I remember when situations were kept private for a while until the right time. Of course the Bible teaches that it’s important to fellowship with others in Hebrews as well as Acts and many other epistles. I’m not sure whether I blame the IFB for the rushing or whether it’s just the overall pace of our society in North America. In other societies, people take their good old time. This might also be influenced by the advances in our society. Technology increases the pace. Technology removes the privacy too.
    I didn’t really consider the privacy issue at the time I went away to school. I had shared a room with my sisters for many years until my family moved into a larger home. I had also shared cabins with others at camp. In the hall in our dorm, there was a room one could retreat to for private moments, although now as I think back, that was only on a space available basis. People do need moments of privacy. Read Matthew Chapter 6. Read John 14. I had a private room when we moved to the second house so I didn’t have to share with my sisters and they didn’t have to share with me anymore. I loved moving into my own place a year before I got married. I’m so glad that I did this. I know there is a need to fellowship with other believers. I also read Hebrews. I read Acts. I have read the entire New Testament. I like Ecclesiastes where it mentions that There is a time and season for everything. So I don’t know really whether the issue is rushing or whether it’s privacy. I do believe there are times in the Bible where we are to act instantly. But I also believe there are times when we are to wait for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Witihout privacy, one can get so influenced by the desire to conform or external pressures, one hears but doesn’t have the opportunity to absorb without distraction. We can hear all kinds of noise in our environment and we pick up the sounds whether or not we want them. Listening is an act of stopping time and just waiting and hearing. That’s the difference. I’m not sure if you understand what I mean. For athletes, spotting makes one stop and focus. Spotting is used for balance and control and focus. Focus is the source of concentration. For me, when I have privacy, it’s much easier for me to focus.

  32. i commend what you are doing. i am a member of a ifbc but do not agree with everything they teach. i think it is important to have open discussion in our pursuit of truth. i believe it is critical that the individual christian search the scriptures for himself and let the holy spirit reveal his truth us. it is good to spark the flames of thought in these areas. keep on doing what your doing, and may
    God be your guide.

  33. Concerning women’s dress code. You stated “strict standards”. Does this mean, not cutting my hair, wearing a head covering to church, wearing dark colors, wearing my hair in a bun, not wearing wedding rings or crosses, wearing dresses only, a certain length, no make-up or nail polish?

    1. If those are the standards that your particular church is pushing on you then yes, those behaviors would fit the definition of “strict standards”.

    2. Shane:

      In the very first IFB church and its affiliated institutions, they had dress checks in respect to the cut of the dress as well as the length of the dress, which was at least knee-length and also slits within any dresses or skirts. They didn’t allow anything reveling and definitely not halter tops. Proper undergarments were required. Halter tops were definitely forbidden although spaghetty straps and bare shoulders were allowed providing that the private areas were covered. And we used wraps and shawls and other accessories. The third church was affiliated with different organizations although it also called itself IFB. They weren’t as strict; however, while we were allowed to wear pants there, they expected your common “office attire guidelines.” The college did allow us to wear own gym suits for special occasions like roller skating but only if we rented the full facility. in the dorms we were allowed to wear pants, but not openly in mixed coed crowds. That rule has been changed since i left and pants are now allowed for girls.

      The hairstyles were more traditional. Makeup was allowed but generally more conservative. Finger nail polish was allowed, but it was applied more conservatively. The focus was more on modesty. Actually there are many business which have similar guidelines for employees whether or not pants are allowed. Jewelry was allowed, but again, it wasn’t excessive.

      Males were required to wear business attire including ties for semiformal and formal occasions. They did wear sportswear; but nothing could be really revealing.

      Swimming was not coed. They had a large Olympic size pool at the college campus. We weren’t allowed to walk around campus in bathing suits. They were restricted pretty much to the swimming pool, locker rooms, and dormitories. We had single sex dormitories at the college campus. At the college, if we wore pants to an event off campus, we had to get special advanced written permission and wear only our gym uniforms. This rule has changed since I left. Pants are allowed now on campus and off campus.

      The church was actually stricter in the sense that they required coulottes that looked more like skirts for trips to theme parks.

      The dress issue was not the issue which caused me to leave though. There was a time when girls and adults had to wear dresses and skirts to public schools. I wasn’t allowed to wear pants even in school until I was 12 years old, and that wasn’t even an IFB church. The changes in policies started in the 1970s in public and private schools.

      At camp, since it was outdoors and very sporty, girls wore pants to every event but the actual worship services and concerts. At the camp, swimming was coed. The camp wasn’t as strict as the first church or the college.

      I didn’t mind dressing up at that time in my life, so the dress code was not my primary reason for leaving cause I was neutral about it. Also i know the college relaxed the dress code since I left. Pants are now allowed but i think they still require dresses for worship services. I think they are worn for special events. I have not been on the campus for 30 years though. I read about the changes in their publications.

      I do know men had to wear “regulation” styles. I use the word regulation pretty much the way it’s defined in the military. Long hair past the color wasn’t tolerated for men at the church or on campus.

      I don’t consider the long hair requirement Biblical for men either. Also many American Indians do wear their hair long. It’s really not a personal issue for me one way or another at this point. Those were just the rules at the very first IFB church and its affiliated organizations. The third church was not part of the same organization.

  34. Some ask if we are talking about an association, denomination, movement, etc.? I am going to use the wor5d, subgroup. Why do i use this term? They teach that anyone who does not fall into their set of beliefs, values, rules, and affiliations cannot possibly be an Independent Baptist Fundamentalist Church or organization. They use derogatory terms to exclude others, who by the way may also call themselves Independent Baptist Fundamentalists. If there are overgeneralizations, I assure you they are taught in formal instruction in the materials published by associated churches. But I don’t believe all churches who call themselves Independent Baptist Fundamentalists are associated with this subgroup. Some are parts of other affiliations and associations but this is not exclusive to one association. It’s structure is looser than a typical mainline denomination. There are similarities to movements with similar beliefs and values, however; they are not necessarily affiliated and may even disassociate themselves with such movements. One can’t use that word either. It’s a subgroup or mathematically speaking, a subset. If there is overgeneralization, it comes from the teachings of institutions.

  35. Within Independent Baptist Fundamentalist Baptist Churches, there are a few who will not recognize others untille they fall into the same description that is outlined in this post. This is what these churches taught their members in formal instruction. Others who did not fall into this category, even if they called themselves “independent Baptist Fundamentalist” were labeled in other derogatory terms, including “pseudo-fundamentalists.” This name calling comes from formal instruction by churches who are Baptist who do not accept the teachings of others who also call themselves baptist. There is even a division among those who support regional accreditation and professional affiliations and licenses from those who don’t. There are also differences between Charismatic Baptist churches and those which are not, and sometimes they also use the term “independent Baptist” in reference to being more traditional and independent in autonomy. But the affiliations of membership may be different in respect to mission boards, publications, social ministries, colleges and universities, community organizations, etc… Some churches will give you this information openly and others are more secretive.

    I did attend an Independent Baptist Church after leaving the church I posted and that church was very different from the first in many ways. i’m sure the first church might have called the second “pseudo” or some other derogatory term. I know that there were at least five Baptist Churches in my community and probably within the two counties and three nearby cities, somewhere between 10-15. i didn’t have to go to a third county to receive Bible instruction. Other deonimations also practice separation. That’s not restricted to Baptists either. Other denomiations also have invitations. Others also practice Baptism by immersion. I found this out over time. If they don’t visit other denominations, i don’t know how they can jump to those conclusions.

  36. Wow. While your list of common traits of IFB churches is fairly accurate, your bitterness is clear. The biggest problem I can see with your list is the idea that each and every IFB church is exactly as your list depicts. I’ve attended IFB churches my whole life, and a couple of Southern Baptist churches. I steer clear of the churches you’ve described.

    The church is comprised of people. The pastor is an individual. Deacons and trustees are individuals. No two people are the same; so how could any two churches be the same?

    In logic terms, your conclusion is non sequitur.

    1. Actually, if what you say were true then it would be the fallacy of sweeping generalizations. A non sequitur doesn’t apply here. Perhaps you should learn the logical fallacies before you accuse someone of committing one.

      You say my list is “fairly accurate” then accuse me of sweeping generalizations. If my list is “fairly accurate” then how could my generalizations be wrong?

      Anyway, I’ve already answered your objection in this site. Please see: https://baptistdeception.com/debate-number-1/

      The issues I present in this site are specific errors of doctrine, teaching and exegesis that are toxic to the Christian and to Christianity. I am telling people the specific things that are wrong in the IFB church which are things that most, if not all, IFB churches teach/preach. I am warning folks about the errors that are specific to that “brand” of church. Yes, there are individuals that run the different churches, but they are still teaching/preaching the SAME message – the teachings of the IFB.

      Allow me to illustrate with an analogy. Lets pretend for a moment that this site is about McDonald’s. I give specific errors that McDonald’s makes and I caution people to be careful about the food McDonald’s serves because it is high in saturated fats and salt content and eating at McDonald’s has been shown to increase obesity. I share my experience and educate people on how McDonald’s gets their food, processes their meat and preserves their vegetables. Did I have to experience EVERY McDonald’s in the world to know this? Of course not, that would be near impossible. Since almost every McDonald’s does business and cooks their food the same way, after all it is a franchise, what I’ve discovered about them can be easily “generalized” to almost all other McDonald’s. That doesn’t mean I’m making the fallacy of sweeping generalizations. That just means that caution is warranted since most McDonald’s perform their food preparation/service in much the same way. If those things don’t concern you then by all means feel free to eat at McDonald’s. However, to hundreds of thousands of people world wide, those things are “deal breakers” for eating at McDonald’s. The same is true for the IFB.

      Finally, thanks for being an example of the judging attitude I speak out against. Perhaps you should worry about the log in your own eye before you try and get the speck out of mine. Even if you are right about me being bitter, what’s wrong with that? Bitterness is a human emotion it isn’t sin. Bitterness results when one has been abused. Had the IFB not abused me then I wouldn’t be bitter.

  37. So much good discussion here. I am so glad that people are finding freedom and liberty, and conversely that so many have been negatively impacted by ifb extremism. I would just caution folks to watch and be alert to “leaders” who are grace-killers, remember to whom the Lord sets free is free indeed. God is mighty and awesome and His ways are above our ways and if we seek Him earnestly, He is faithful and just and will lead you in the way you should go. Its exciting and scary all at the same time when one comes to that spot where he begins to see how his “church” is going against principles that are set forth in the scripture. Just follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and He will lead you in the way you should go.

    I do wish to caution folks that “escape” from ifb extremism, that just because you have been bombarded with legalism, that now that you have escaped that anything goes, of course I’m sure most don’t do that, and yet some may fall into practices that aren’t healthy for a christian. This brings up another idea. You know the ifb rightly preach on seperation, but then go too far, trying to spell out how it should apply to what movies I see, complete abstinence from alcohol, no dancing, (you name it) instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to direct the christian’s life. So I think any pastor could speak about modesty and that’s a good topic, but then instead of him pointing out the specifics of that, to allow the Holy Spirit to take over. You see the pastor should have convictions, but his convictions aren’t necessarily my convictions.

    I am currently in a small Baptist church (about 15 on Sunday) and its wonderful. They use the kjv, and the pastor loves it. I have spoken to him about it and also wrote him a long letter about it. He believes it is the “best” version, which is fine with me, I happen to disagree, but he does not force people to read it or bring it to church. He knows that certain things are not “perfect” in it like easter instead of what should be passover. He certainly knows my position, which I have made completely clear and has warmly welcomed me to the group, and calls on me to pray and also has me participate by singing/performing in services. So far so good. I hope never to become “legalistic” again. Its deceptive so I must be on guard, as do we all.

    God Bless,

  38. For the most part your commonalities seem accurate to me as someone who attended one of these churches for a couple of years. The degree each individual experiences probably differs from church to church as there is no real central leadership.

    The only thing I didn’t experience was the “rejection of emotional responses to music or sermons”, the “no clapping” allowed part, and “baptism: teaches you are living in disobedience until baptized”.
    The church I went to taught that being saved was most important, and baptism was of secondary importance that was used to be a member of a certain local church. A couple of the others you mentioned were not as strict as you seemed to have experienced, like missing church and strict enforcement of dress. Of course having long hair for a male or a short dress for a female was definitely frowned on and attending every service encouraged.

    I do recall my pastor saying about tithing that it is to be 10% of gross income to start, and to “give give give” until it hurts
    (yes, and we were told the more you give, the Lord will return the money many fold over with blessing, even in the form of a monetary blessing). The pastor also continually made everyone in the congregation feel guilty and seemed to not be happy unless we were all out trying to do conversions at every available oppoturtunity (approaching people and handing out pamphlets). I was a shyer person to start with and these guys don’t seem to realize most people do not want to be approached. Negativity about other denominations was also pervasive (the Catholics and other Protestant Demoninations) and public schools were viewed as teaching falsehoods. Many of the sermons were about hell, including my pastors Easter day sermon.

  39. Wow, this is incredible…I read this list, wondering what if any would apply to my church, and each and every one does! It’s odd that IFB’s are not a denomination, and yet they’re incredibly alike anyway…I will admit that other commonalities could be “judgementalism”, “brow-beating” (if you don’t agree with them on certain issues), “singling-out” (as in being singled out from the pulpit with a sermon aimed at a certain person in regards to a sin or what the Pastor perceives as “back-sliding”, despite the fact that the Pastor assures everyone that he NEVER singles anyone out, it’s very obvious!, “ruling through fear”, (as in you are a back-slider who is condemned to a life of not being right with God, unhappiness, and worldliness if you were to ever leave “the church”…since of course theirs is the only “real church” in whatever town they’re in!), “home visits” for those who are considered to be back-sliding and need correction (had several of those lately, but have not opened the door!), “heavy guilt burdens”, as in you are a lazy, milk-fed Christian if you’re not willing to get out and evangelize weekly, pass our tracts whenever you can, and witness to people at work. Never mind that you could lose your job for doing so, the work of the Lord comes first!), “constant and heavy pressure to do more and more, and give more and more”, (as in everyone needs to serve, not just a little, but there’s always more that needs to be done, and if you truly have the love of the Lord in your heart you’ll do it gladly!, and giving should not be just a tithe, but offerings to missions, love offerings, money for your Pastor’s and his wife’s birthday, buying food for the kitchen, food for camp, donations of this and that, money towards building funds, money to sponsor kids to camp and school, etc, etc, etc. Never mind that some of us have not been on vacation for in some cases decades…if you give cheerfully and willingly the Lord will bless you!)

    I could go on and on, but you get the picture…after years of trying to be just what my church wanted me to be, and never feeling the incredibly joy, receiving of blessings, etc, that were almost guaranteed when you were living for the Lord as you ought, I have had enough.

    Couple this with my (gasp!) very unfundamental position that I’ve come to realize through the years, and that is that I am no longer 100% certain that a person needs to “remember a time and place” that they got saved, and I actually believe that there are a lot of people who do not go to fundamental churches, yet realized that Jesus died for them and their sins, and place their trust in Him. I’m not saying there can’t be, or shouldn’t be more, I’m just saying that I think there are a lot more than fundamental churches preach! Of course, they would say that these people are also placing their trust in works, which is a false doctrine, well, I think of James, saying that our faith is proved by our works! This is definitely an area in which IFB’s are lacking, except for in the area of missions and evangelism!

    Anyway, for these and many other reasons I am leaving my IFB and joining what our Pastor would consider a “seeker-friendly” church, but it is one in which my soul gets fed, and I feel myself growing as a Christian. Amen and praise the Lord! Thank-you for your website!

  40. you sir obviously never got it, but i will add you to my prayer list.

  41. I would respectfully submit that you add anti-Catholicism to the list of characteristics that define fundamentalism.

  42. My family and I belong to the Southern Baptist, but Im sick of their worldly practices they are getting into, not to mention they are very wastefull with Gods money. We just visited an IFB church, and I have been doing research on the IFB’s. After reading through your site, you have convinced me they are right in their beliefs and practices. Everything they believe and practice IS Biblical. We ARE to be set apart from this world in every asspect of our lives. It sounds to me like you want to claim your a Christian, but keep one foot in the world. You CANT be both! Yes we are saved by the GRACE of God, but their is a whole lot more that God put in the Bible for a reason. We can NOT pick and choose what we are going to obey or not.

  43. Sorry for the double post ~ blame it on the pregnancy! Anyways, I do applaud you for this site and making others aware that some churches can be dangerous. I just wanted to point out that not all IFB churches share the same views as those listed above. The 1st IFB pastor I had will not let his daughters swim in anything but shorts and t-shirts (because of a vs. in the OT that says anything above the thighs is nakedness). But, he is the same pastor who let me teach in gauchos. And when he went home on furlough, the couple who replaced them was completely different! the wife taught water aerobics at the Y in a swimsuit! The pastor I had in Ga. liked to watch UFC and that church held Christmas cantatas and plays with surrounding churches. they reached out to the community in other ways other than visitation.

    So, regardless of what kind of church a person attends, he/she can not be lazy and assume that everything the pastor says is 100% correct/100% Biblical. Crack open your Bible and read it for yourself. If you have any doubts, ask. Our pastor in japan would always say we were in the wrong church if 1. we didnt feel comfortable inviting friends/family to the services 2. we felt uncomfortable asking the pastor questions. You should always be able to voice your concern over doctrine.

  44. I have attended 3 IFB churches over 6 years. My husband is military and we move often. Of the 3 we attended, some of the statesments listed above we have never been taught/had to deal with. All 3 have taught that the pastor doesn’t save you, the church doesnt save you, communion doesn’t save you~ salvation comes through faith in Jesus alone. 2 of the churches are through BIMI, and were specifically planted for ministering to the military community abroad. each church has varied greatly in their “strictness”. I am a young female and have worn pants to all 3 churches, we clap after performances at all 3 churches, I have taught various things at all 3 churches (including aerobics). I have never had an issue with not homeschooling (I have 3 kids, one on the way and my oldest 2 go on base to school like the other American kids). I also go to the base chapel for Bible study. There have been times when I thought I’d be in trouble (I have bellydance certifications and taught a bellyrobic class on base) but I have never been ‘reprimanded’ or anythign like that.My husband has often joked that we haven’t been kicked out of the church because we are the “affirmative action” family. if I have a question I ask it and will continue to ask until I have a suitable answer. One time, i was given a bunch of books about Biblical seperation to read, and I responded with “I dont need all that. Just show me in the Bible”. i didnt feel convicted about the matter, so I still go to different churches/services (my father is an associate pastor at a southern baptist church, and I visit those all the time).

    My point is that each church is different (and Im thinking we might not make it at the IFB church we are at now. We just moved to Italy so Im trying to give it a shot.) Each pastor is different. I honestly am not surprised that you had such a horrible experience (and Im deeply saddened by that also). I can see how IFB churches could try to manipulate people. At the same time, I see the positive. Growing up I went to a missions camp over the summer, but we never supported any missionaries. IFB churches support missionaries and those who are trying to spread the gospel around the world (we even support a female missionary in Mexico).

  45. Sounds to me like you (the owner of this site)have the same attitude towards disagreements with you opinions as the IFB-ers you expose here!

    “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord: 1 Thimothy 1:2

    1. Then I’m afraid you don’t understand where I’m coming from or what I’m trying to communicate. If you would like to ask questions or present a counter argument rather then making assumptions and judging me then feel free, but I’m not holding my breath.

  46. Sir,

    I have read this website extensively….it caused me to search myself and my heart ensuring I am not becoming Phariseeical (sp?).

    As I did much thinking on many of your comments and postings then realized one particular thing. You are at the center. Shouldn’t JESUS CHRIST be at the center? I understand your goal. But Where is CHRIST magnified? Where is He PREACHED? If someone comes to your site does that person learn of CHRIST’s love for them. I only perceive your self-centeredness. Know that I am praying for you and for GOD to work in your heart.


    1. To answer your questions, J.D.L., Yes Christ should be at the center, Christ is magnified all through out the site, Christ is preached here on the site, and you will have to ask the people who come to the site if they learn of Christ’s love for them since I can’t mind read or speak for the people who visit this site.

      This site is about me sharing my experiences. If that sounds self-centered to you then I can’t help that. If you would read the site and try to stay open minded long enough to understand where I’m coming from rather then attack me and the site you might be able to see more then my self-centeredness.

      I do appreciate your prayers though. I only hope you understand that God will work in my heart HIS will not YOUR will and certainly not the will of the IFB.

  47. I think your summary of the IFB commonalities was quite accurate. I am not sure what got the anonymous writer “ME” so irritated, but I had no problem understanding what was written. Clarification is simple enough by asking for it and you were kind enough to provide it. I find “ME’s” response very typical of his group. They do not like being questioned or having people disagree with them. They also cannot tolerate allowing others the same freedoms they demand for themselves. It is a control issue. His/Her comments are typical of the group–vindictive and abusive–the same reasons I left the IFB movement. None of your answers are good enough plus he/she is not willing to accept them as legitimate expressions of your perspective. He/she can express his own perspective as he chooses, and you can like it or lump it–anyone who disagrees with “ME’s” views is wrong. I don’t understand why they seem to find it so difficult to just agree to disagree and respect you for your right to your persepctive.

  48. While I whole-heartedly agree with the legalistic focus of the overwhelming majority of IB churches, I must say that I was raised in an independent Baptist church where the pastor’s wife was the director of Christian education, the women wore pants and shorts, singers sang to soundtracks, people applauded, other versions of the Bible were used, we had mixed swimming at church events, no one had any aversion to modern science or medicine, etc., etc. So your statement “these can be found in all IFB churches to one degree or another and they are all used in abusive ways by the IFB” is overstated and should say “most” instead of “all.” I can also name many others off the top of my head that were and are very similar to the one I was raised in. However, I understand where you are coming from, as I have been exposed to the abuses that occur from the cult-like atmosphere in a large number of IB churches. I think geography sometimes plays a part in the number of them that are legalistic. Generally speaking, I think more of them are legalistic in the south than the north. While I understand that Hammond, IN, is in the north (and I know that there are many legalistic churches in the north), I have lived in the south for the last 10 years, and I have yet to see a non-legalistic IB church, whereas, in the north I knew of many. Trust me, I am not defending the crazy actions of most of them, I’m just pointing out that while they are few and far between, there are actually some very balanced churches out there that are Baptist and not-affiliated with a Baptist denominational headquarters.

  49. Sir, you are missing something very foundational here with your assessment of IFB churches. They are similar because people who belong to them agree with them for the most part. Apart from children, adults join these churches because they agree. And then, those in agreement go out and start other like-minded churches because they agree. It is quite simple. Unlike Catholicism and other groups like the Amish or the Mennonites who are born into their religion, and are excommunicated from the family if they leave, the Fundamental Baptist churches do not believe nor teach this. Those of the former groups I mentioned actually lose their salvation (according to their beliefs). You might feel shunned by your family for leaving the IFB, but the IFB does not teach that leaving means a loss of salvation. What I am saying is that, like yourself, you don’t have to stay. If I were you, I would spend more time dealing with the Catholic Church and their TRUE deception than spending all of your time with your “bad” experience. It is the Catholic church that believes and teaches that one must be a Catholic to get into heaven.

    Be thankful you were not born in some gutter in India. Be thankful Andrea Yates wasn’t your mother (and I am being serious). It is amazing what we wine about concerning our lives. I will tell you mine sometime, and maybe yours won’t seem so bad. Life gets pretty miserable when our days are consumed with our “horrible upbringing.” I know you feel free now, but have you ever experienced peace? It seems this whole site is your way of getting back at your parents (and as a counselor of some type, you should understand what I am talking about).

    Life is too short to be consumed with this. And are you really helping other people? Did you need a site like this to help you? Probably not. You came to most of your own conclusions ( I am sure you read books and such). It would be one thing if you were concerned with abuses in churches. But you are only consumed with the abuses in the IFB churches. I know that is your experience, but someone as studied as you should be able to broaden his scope and deal with all hurting people. I believe your choice is simply vindictive.

    1. Woah woah woah! Hold up bro…that is NOT what the Catholic
      church teaches. I am Catholic (grew up IFB). And that is totally
      wrong. The Catholic Church does teach that salvation comes only
      *through* the Church. (working as a conduit) So in other words, at
      this point in history (what some would call the age of grace) if
      there were no Church there would be no salvation, b/c the Church
      *is* Christ’s body here on earth. However, the Catholic church
      actually teaches that we cannot expect that God will always or only
      save through the normative means, which would be the application of
      the sacraments, such as baptism, confirmation and confession, but
      that He is free (being God) to use any and all means to bring men
      to salvation (such as private revelation) , even those who have
      never heard the Gospel.

  50. why argue back and forth like at a Tennis match..anyhow we are all GOD’S PEOPLE.By that I don’t me we are all saved and Christian I mean all created by THE ONE AND ONLY GOD.and secondly we should if you both are Christians and if your going to debate back everything up with SCRIPTURE.
    Otherwise Let God take Control not man cause man is never ever 100% Correct but GOD IS ALL THE TIME.GOD IS PERFECT GOD IS PURE GOD IS HOLY AND We are supposed to be as Christ like as possible in these sinful bodies.so at least try.amen and have a good day

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  54. I’m not going let you draw me into a pissing contest. All I ask is that you show some respect. You know, you and the people like you are the exact reason why I left the IFB and why I will never return.

    I’m not making generalizations. I state very clearly on the “home” page:

    “Much of the information contained within this site can be generalized to other churches, but not all of it. I will let you, the reader, determine which applies to you and your unique situation.”

    Again, you would have known that if you had actually read the site, which I highly doubt you did.

    If this doesn’t apply to you then why does it matter to you so much? Why do you care what I write? You ask me to share with you information and when I do you tell me that you refuse to listen to it. You can’t get more closed minded then that.

    You complain that this site is misleading people yet you refuse to see how the IFB misleads people. This is but one site. The IFB is made up of many churches misleading hundreds of thousands of people each year. You should be ashamed of yourself for reading about how damaging the IFB is to people and then turn a blind eye to it.

    By the way, how in the world do you know what the fruit of the site is?!?!? You don’t know what fruit this site produces. You are unbelievable!

    If you want a clear picture why this site exists I challenge you to read the many comments here about others who have had similar experiences as me. The IFB is run amok with scriptural misinterpretations, improper exegesis of scripture, manipulation and abuse. Just because you deny that it happens doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. You either can’t see it or you refuse to see it I’m not sure which, but either way I hope that one day you will and that one day you will come to know the freedom in Christ I now enjoy.

  55. @Site Admin

    I have not been judgmental or sarcastic, if appears that I was I do apologize, but I do so with the request of an apology from you as well. You are pretty sarcastic with your responses. Everytime you say “Did you EVEN read the post or the site” it oozes with sarcasm. If you are referring to my 3rd grade comment, I said that b/c it seems that you are doing to me what you are to other people and continually trying to make the other person seem stupid by making it seem they do not understand you b/c their post makes no sense to you.

    As to the rest of your post, this is not semantics. It is crucial to the debate. You make generalizations about IFB churches that I have had no dealings with before and others that I have heard of but from a minority of the movement. I would like to know how many churches in the IFB movement you have dealt with and in what region of the country you are in. I have seen people on here referencing Baptist Briders and calling them IFB which they may label themselves as, Briders that is, but it is not mainstream in the movement. You said, “There are vast differences among the individual Church of Christ congregations/churches yet we still identify the Church of Christ as a denomination. Same goes for the Presbyterians, Seventh Day Adventists, and others.” Correct, however, that only tells me what the foundational doctrine of the church is. I am a Baptist. That tells you my beliefs. The fact that I am Independent Fundamental tells you very little. You mention Presbyterians there are different types as well including Free Presbyterians which has similar doctrine, but different stances even among themselves.

    “I think you may be confusing the 5 IFB Distinctives with the Fundamentals of the Faith. True salvation and evangelism are not part of the 5 distinctives, but they are part of their “fundamentals of the faith”. You can read more about the IFB and it’s history here. The fundamentals of the faith for most IFB churches that I know include salvation and evangelism.”

    Ok. I teach on Baptist history at a Bible Institute and study it often. I have never heard of the 5 IFB distinctives. Is this something that a small group has assigned to themselves or that was given to them by another group of believers? The history of the IFB began with the rise of Modernism/Liberalism in the SBC, NCB and other Baptist association. It was not a single denomination movement. The fundamentalist movement encompassed other denominations as well.

    “The IFB churches I was in taught that emotional responses are wrong. Your experience was different from mine, but that doesn’t negate my experiences.”

    I didn’t say you didn’t have those experiences. I am saying that that is not the norm. I actually get upset b/c I have heard IFB preachers from across the country try to “build up” a service by encouraging shouting, running, etc… My problem with your site is that it misleads people into thinking that this is how all IFB churches are. That may not be your intent but that is the fruit of this site. Read the comments from other people posting and you will see this.

    Also no offense, but I will never listen to John Piper. I can’t stand Lordship salvation and he supports it. If you want to know what legalism is, study up on that.

  56. First of all, I’ll not tolerate you berating me or talking down to me. If you want to have a discussion then present your arguments without the sarcasm and belittling attitude. You’ve come here to disagree with what I write and that’s fine. I realize that not everyone is going to agree with me and I’m more than open to considering alternative thoughts, but you will be banned if you can’t communicate in a healthy, rational, non-judgmental way.

    Now to address your concerns:

    I ask you, and others, if you’ve read the site because you are asking questions and complaining about issues I already discuss on the site. If you’ve read the site then why would you need me to repeat myself? Again, I’m not above making mistakes. If there is something wrong with what I write then feel free to point it out and I will take it into consideration, but please stop asking me to address issues in the comments section that I already clearly address elsewhere on the site.

    You call it a network and I call it a denomination. I still don’t see the difference. To me you are still arguing semantics. If an IFB church doesn’t want to be identified as an IFB church then it needs to be named something different. Just because there are differences among individual IFB churches doesn’t negate the idea that they are a denomination. There are vast differences among the individual Church of Christ congregations/churches yet we still identify the Church of Christ as a denomination. Same goes for the Presbyterians, Seventh Day Adventists, and others.

    I’m not saying in this article that baptism, striving for holiness, being independent, etc. in and of themselves are abusive. I’m saying that the way the IFB practices and teaches these distinctions are abusive. That’s why I say “…used in abusive ways by the IFB.” For example, the IFB church I was in told a friend of mine that she was ‘out of God’s will’ because she was baptized in a church other than an IFB church. She had to be baptized in the IFB church in order to truly fulfill God’s command and certainly prior to becoming a member and serving in the church. They judged her heart based on her baptism in another church. This is contrary to the Word of God and abusive.

    I think you may be confusing the 5 IFB Distinctives with the Fundamentals of the Faith. True salvation and evangelism are not part of the 5 distinctives, but they are part of their “fundamentals of the faith”. You can read more about the IFB and it’s history here. The fundamentals of the faith for most IFB churches that I know include salvation and evangelism.

    The IFB churches I was in taught that emotional responses are wrong. Your experience was different from mine, but that doesn’t negate my experiences.

    I explain what legalistic righteousness is and also give an alternative on the site. You might want to read through my Discussions page and listen to the message by John Piper which can be found here. This is what makes me doubt that you have read the site. I hope to have a page dedicated to this topic in the near future.

  57. Ok first of all I have read your site. Is that all you can respond with? Thats all you say to me or anyone that says you are wrong. The IFB is a movement not a denomination. I have never heard anyone at all call it a denomination.

    I can justify not linking them together because they are self governing and self supporting churches. They have their own standards and convictions. There are 5 in my county alone that are all completely different in views on separation.

    Ok now I can ask you. did you even read your own site? I will copy and paste the areas from the above list that you listed as abusive:

    “As a result I decided to put together a list of common attributes of the Independent Fundamental Baptist belief system. These can be found in all IFB churches to one degree or another and they are all used in abusive ways by the IFB… Striving for purity and holiness through human effort – perfectionism/legalistic righteousness… Baptism – teach that a Believer is living in disobedience until baptized by immersion”

    Anyone with reading comprehension above a 3rd grader would think this. I am not saying you didn’t say that evangelism and salvation are not part of the fundamentals of the faith. I said you were wrong for saying that. There are 5 fundamentals of the faith and neither of the two you mentioned are on there.

    In regards to emotional responses, I went to one of the leading IFB colleges of our day. I’ve met people from CA to NC from TX to NY. While some may not respond emotionally, they do not say its wrong.

    I have never heard anyone use the term legalistic righteousness. Legalism is works based salvation. Please explain what you are complaining about(legalistic righteousness) and give the alternative.

  58. You’re arguing semantics. The IFB movement fits the definition of a denomination. What would you prefer I call it? A movement? An organization? A network? I guess we could call it a sub-denomination or a denomination within a denomination. Really, what difference does it make if I call it a denomination?

    I link them together not because I have hard feelings towards them as you assume, but because they are all IFB. How can you justify NOT linking them together?

    I never said being independent is abusive. I never said that baptism is abusive. I never said that “striving to live a clean life” is abusive. I’m not sure why you accuse me of such things. I also state very clearly that salvation and evangelism ARE part of the fundamentals of the faith. Have you even read the site?

    The IFB churches I’ve experienced do reject emotional responses. This site is about my experience with the IFB not yours. And I highly doubt that you KNOW for a fact that most IFB churches encourage emotional responses given the amount of IFB churches in the world today – or perhaps you can back up that statement somehow?

    I write about legalistic righteousness, not legalistic salvation. If you had actually read the site before making judgments you would have known that.

    1. Then you should re-tittle my experiences with certain IFB churches etc. since your experience, is what you are sharing and not the whole. Any denomination (fellowship) can be abusive & it would be more valide I think & productive to share about spirtual abusive experiences and how to recognize them & avoid, etc rather than risk lying on a church fellowship that is not (lying b/c they are lumped into this category & you classify the category as abusive but if all are not; then is that not a lie?)Desiring your best.

      1. Lynne – I would encourage you to read through the experiences here of hundreds of people, all are very similar. There are many books that are reccomended here, let me suggest you read some. Spiritual abuse is rampant, and while it is true, as you have stated, that it occurs in other denominations, the scope of this blog concerns itself with the IFB, and I can assure you that this blog speaks truthfully and realistically about the IFB. When I found this site last summer, I realized immediately that my experiences in the abusive IFB were, if not just like, very similar to what everyone else here was reporting. “If it walks like a duck”

        More than any other reference, read the scriptures themselves, when an IFB pastor tries to force you to “tithe” show him in the scripture where it says that God loves a cheerful giver, not one that is forced to give, that we are to give “not grudgingly or of necessity” When they lie and say that God only supports the KJV, show him where Jesus and the Apostles regularly quoted from the Greek Septuagint. When they try to dress you a certain way, ask for specific verses, when they say only certain music is permitted, ask for specific verses. Jesus was always concerning himself with the inside of the cup, not the outside, anytime pastors talk preaching about the externals too much they get over into legalism.

        Whom the Lord sets free is free indeed! It is wonderful to be free, I will not be placed under the thumb of any man, I serve a risen Saviour!

    2. On IFB common practices….One thing that particularly stood out to me… 13 years after leaving an IFB church, I can say that I still can not bring myself to clap in church. Whether it’s during a song or after someone sings in church. I just can’t. My hands just won’t do it. It’s like my brain’s nerve endings were permanently impaired in the “clapping while singing or the clapping for someone after they sing” department.

    3. I can attest to the fact that your article is right on track. I grew up in multiple IFB churches and this was my experience in all of them!

  59. Here is a major problem with what you are saying on the entire website. You call the IFB a denomination. IFB itself is not a denomination. Baptist is a denomination. As a Baptist distinctive, Independent churches are autonimous with different by laws and church constitutions. They all have their own standards some more strict others far less. You try and link all into your category b/c you have hard feelings towards them. I would like to ask a few questions: how is being Independent abusive? How is baptism abusive given the fact that it was a commandment given to us by Christ? How is striving to live a clean life abusive when we are to be holy as he is holy? Also you do need to corrected on a few things mainly that evangelism and salvation are not part of the 5 fundamentals of the faith. If you knew the history of the fundamentalist movement, you would know that it was a movement founded to combat modernism.(rejection of the authority of scripture, rejection of the virgin birth, the deity of Christ…) It wasn’t founded for evangelism and it wasn’t Baptist exclusively.

    As far as rejection of emotional responses, I don’t know of any IFB church that told people not to testify, weep, amen, shout, etc… Most actually encourage it.

    Also please check the definition of legalism, I hate it when people use that term in an improper way. I have never met a person that was IFB that was taught works salvation. Most people who use this term do so b/c they want to live their life in contradiction to God’s word and don’t want to be corrected.

    1. I think the best way to some “abusive” up is to regard the IFB as an abusive “cult.”

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