What is Founders Ministries?

Tom Ascol
| November 7, 2016

Founders Ministries grew out of a prayer meeting that took place in a Holiday Inn hotel room on November 13, 1982. The seven men who met that day recognized that God was stirring up a fresh interest in and commitment to the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace among Baptists. Because of our church connections, we were particularly aware of that happening among Southern Baptists.

From that prayer meeting we decided to host a conference the next year. We called it the “Southern Baptist Conference on the Faith of the Founders.” That was mercifully shortened to “Founders Conference” before long. From that annual conference several other ministries naturally grew. We began publishing the Founders Journal in 1990, established Founders Press and Founders Online in 1996 and the Founders Study Center in 2003. These and other efforts justified the change of our name to Founders Ministries in 1998. Though our efforts have expanded far beyond hosting a conference, the purpose as originally expressed in our 1982 Statement of Principles remains the same:

We seek to “glorify God and honor His gospel by providing encouragement…in historical, biblical, theological, practical and ecumenical studies;” to be “balanced… in respect to doctrine and devotion expressed in the doctrines of grace and their application to the local church, particularly in areas of worship and witness;” and to “establish the theological foundation…as the doctrines of grace, specifically including a historical Calvinistic understanding of election, human depravity, the atonement, effectual calling and perseverance of the saints….”

In short, Founders Ministries has been committed to the recovery of the gospel of God’s grace and the biblical reformation of local churches from our beginning. Over the last few years, we have sharpened our focus in pursuit of those goals. The result is a determination to emphasize three areas of biblical teaching that are vital for faithful gospel ministry.

The first is pastoral ministry. From the outset our efforts have been geared toward pastors and church leaders. After all, if you help a pastor, you help a church—maybe more than one church. In a day when so much of pastoral work is being shaped by therapeutic and business models, it is vitally important to understand and apply what the Bible says about who, what and how a pastor should think of himself and his ministry. Founders seeks to provide resources to pastors and churches that address these vital issues.

Second, we are committed to emphasizing the importance of law and gospel to healthy, biblical Christianity. John Newton rightly observed,

“Ignorance of the nature and design of the law is at the bottom of most religious mistakes…. Clearly to understand the distinction, connection, and harmony between the law and the Gospel, and their mutual subserviency to illustrate and establish each other, is a singular privilege, and a happy means of preserving the soul from being entangled by errors on the right and the left” (Works, 1:339–50).

Charles Bridges notes the importance of this subject for gospel ministers:

The mark of a minister “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” is, that he “rightly divides the word of truth.”… His system will be marked by Scriptural symmetry and comprehensiveness. It will embrace the whole revelation of God, in its doctrinal instructions, experimental privileges, and practical results. This revelation is divided into two parts—the Law and the Gospel—essentially distinct from each other; though so intimately connected, that an accurate knowledge of neither can be obtained without the other” (Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 222).

We believe that every aspect of pastoral ministry, and for that matter, the Christian life, is impacted by one’s view of law and gospel. If that is true, then it is a subject that needs to be addressed in our day.

The third area of emphasis is confessionalism. The Christian faith is inherently confessional and the appropriate use of sound, biblical confessions promotes spiritual vitality. The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith is what has guided this ministry from its inception, and we continue to believe that it can be very useful to pastors, individual believers and churches today. No confession is infallible, nor should it compete with the Scripture’s sole and final authority over our faith and life. All good confessions, like the Second London, recognize this and guard against it. Rightly used, however, written confessions of faith can help strengthen and protect an individual’s and church’s commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

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