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holierthanyou

IFB Spectrum

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holierthanyou

Question for former (and current, if there are any) IFB-ers out there: How wide is the spectrum of IFB churches? What does a "liberal" IFB church look like (obviously 'liberal' is a relative term), and what are the 'rules' and practices of the most extreme conservative ones? I went to one last week that seemed pretty 'liberal' (e.g. still KJV doesn't need to be 1611, women said "Amen" in response to the pastor's rhetorical questions, a couple women with hair above the shoulders, etc), but I'm not sure how wide the spectrum is.

Edited by OnceUponATime
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Iamthatbean

At the church I grew up in, Women were not permitted to speak, period. Teen girls and unmarried women (up to 20ish) were permitted to teach Sunday school up to primary grades (1st and 2nd grade) and a married couple ran youth group, which was separated by gender. The pastor's wife stood at the door and turned people away if they were dressed immodestly. The believed in courting and homeschooling...but not everyone homeschooled, just the "best christians". Music (even Christian) except for hymns and some limited southern gospel was prohibited. KJV bible only. The Church had a piano which other churches kinda frowned on...but no other instruments.

I could go on and on about the church sanctioned abuse I endured before I got out...but that is my church in a nutshell. NE Ohio area.

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onomatopoeia

My parents go to an IFB church that I would consider fairly "liberal" on the IFB spectrum. For example,

-Dress standards are left up to individual couples/families. There are some dresses-for-females-only families, but not many. Most women wear pants; some wear shorts, although 95% of the women wear dresses/skirts to church. I can't think of any families that would do the modest wear stuff. But "modesty" is taught. Hair length for women is also left up to the individual. Interestingly, though, males are expected to only have short hair.

-They're not KJV only, although that is what's read from the pulpit.

-They don't do Contemporary Christian Music, and the pastor teaches that it's wrong. But I know for a fact that many of the families listen to it outside of church. Some even listen to secular music (*gasp!*). It's also taught that the movie theater is a place that no Christian should enter. A lot of members go to movies, though.

-No alcohol of any kind. The pastor says! My parents drink.

-Congregational music is accompanied my a piano, a keyboard, and a small "orchestra."

-A lot of women in the church work, and not just for their husbands.

-Where a person works isn't an issue (i.e., men are not told that they have to own their own businesses/can't work for non-Christians)

-Dating is approved of and even encouraged.

-Teens are encouraged to attend college (albeit approved Christan colleges), even females.

-Young, single people are encouraged to complete their education before getting married.

-Birth control and the number of children are both left up to the individual couple.

-Homeschooling is not pushed, but "Christian" education is (whether it's homeschooling or a private, Christian school). Public school is frowned upon. There are several families that send their children to public schools, though.

-Women are not told to remain "silent" in the church.

To sum it all up, there are a lot of personal "convictions" and standards preached from the pulpit. Some people agree wholeheartedly. A few have even stricter standards, but most just listen and pretend to agree but then do differently in their private lives.

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Kaylee

I would agree with onomatopoia that most IFB churches have a lot of "standards" preached that a few members live by, some give lip service to, and many just ignore. At my church, I sometimes got the idea that it was like we were obligated to officially be for or against certain things because it was just how IFBs did things, but that individual members tend to ignore the parts they didn't want to live by, and everyone was expected to accept and overlook that.

The IFB church I spent most of my time in was pretty average. We were fundie, but not as extreme as some of the people discussed here.

The preacher was KJV only, and most people believe the KJV was the only "correct" translation of the Bible, but we disagreed with the people who teach that the KJV is somehow "more perfect" than the original manuscripts.

The church covenant forbid drinking, the pastor occasionally preached against alcohol, and most of the church members I knew of did not drink. (The irony is most of the "core" members from that church are now ex-fundies and the majority, including the former pastor, do drink on occasion now).

Television was preached against, but the pastor had a TV in his home, and most church members probably did. Same with gambling - the lotto was a sin, our pastor was quoted against it in the paper, but a lot of the guys got together and played poker for fun. We weren't supposed to work or shop on Sunday; the pastor once apologized for suggesting people fill up on gas that day before a price hike, but it was normal to go out to eat after church on Sunday.

Rock music, country, contemporary Christian music, etc was preached against. Most people listened to CCM, country, and other secular music though. We only sang hymns (from the old "Red Book" hymnal) in church, but did have a piano and a band that included guitar, bass and drums, and sometimes a banjo player. Bluegrass was looked at as OK, mainly because the pastor was a fan, and played bass in a bluegrass ban, but the music leader was asked to step down because he'd auditioned for American Idol.

Women were expected to wear skirts or dresses, all the time, but one woman were pants to church occasionally and she was still accepted. A lot more wore skirts/dresses for church, but pants on other days. Same with swimming- officially swimsuits were immodest and men & women weren't supposed to swim together or see eachother in them, but most people went to the beach for vacation and wore normal swimwear. Men were expected to have short hair, but women could wear those either short or long (as long as it looked "feminine" I guess, extreme or subculture type styles were frowned on). I was accepted wearing a headcovering, but it was definitely seen as "weird" and as something that was not really required (the IFB college and church I went to for a while banned them, and later expelled some Mennonite girls because their caps/veils were seen as a distraction - one of the founders of "Charity Ministries" was a drop-out from this school, so maybe they were afraid that group was infiltrating them).

Men were encouraged to be leaders in their home, and only men could preach or lead men. The adult Sunday School classes were segregated by gender for a long time. Children of both sexes were taught by women, but a woman would not have taught the men's class. Men were encouraged to lead in their home, but we had a lot of women who "ruled the roost", and that was looked on as OK in a way. Submission wasn't really preached much and, if it was, it was usually by a visiting preacher and not our pastor. Women weren't told to be "silent" either - we weren't supposed to lead or teach formal classes, but women were the main ones who went "soul winning" (going door to door to invite people to church, hand out tracts, and try to convert them), were allowed to give testimonies and pray in the service, and took a lot of the organizational roles that weren't directly concerned with teaching or leadership.

Women were encouraged to be responsible for their children and what they were taught, and homemakers were respected, but working women were not put down and most women did work outside the home. I was a guard at a maximum security men's prison and that was accepted, but I was praised for being allowed to switch my uniform from pants to a calf-length skirt (worn over capris for modesty and safety). Both men and women were encouraged to go to college if their families could afford it, and sending your kids to Christian school was considered ideal, while homeschoolers were looked at as devoted but maybe a little odd. Abortion was very taboo, but birth control wasn't discussed much; the pastor had 5 kids, one other family in our small church had 8 children, but most people thought that was excessive and that people like the Duggars were nuts for having so many.

Raising children and discipline wasn't mentioned much and wasn't a big topic, but our pastor did say once or twice from the pulpit that he spanked his own children, and the implication was that it was the only biblical way to raise them. I was a little uncomfortable with it then, but not sure why (I assumed I'd use spanking some "in moderation" when I had children, but that changed when i got pregnant and started reading up on parenting). Of the people I'm still close to who left that church and are no longer IFB, the 3 with young children still spank them. I have mentioned I don't spank mine, and got a raised eyebrow from one person but no negative comments or lectures about it being the "only" way to raise a child (yeah, I'm trying to edge some people away from it and into other methods, at least most of the time).

It's weird, because there were all these rules, but I think most people ignored them. I think there was some wort of comfort in thinking we were "better" Christians by following these really old-fashioned standards but, at the same time, people didn't believe in them totally and just ignored them when they felt like it.

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Iamthatbean
Raising children and discipline wasn't mentioned much and wasn't a big topic, but our pastor did say once or twice from the pulpit that he spanked his own children, and the implication was that it was the only biblical way to raise them. I was a little uncomfortable with it then, but not sure why (I assumed I'd use spanking some "in moderation" when I had children, but that changed when i got pregnant and started reading up on parenting). Of the people I'm still close to who left that church and are no longer IFB, the 3 with young children still spank them. I have mentioned I don't spank mine, and got a raised eyebrow from one person but no negative comments or lectures about it being the "only" way to raise a child (yeah, I'm trying to edge some people away from it and into other methods, at least most of the time).

It wasn't unusual to see people carrying a switch in their bible or for someone else's parents to spank you if yours weren't immediately available. I remember one time...I was probably in third or fourth grade, I said something mildly smart alek and I was yanked out of my seat by my male Sunday school teacher, dress pulled up, tights and panties pulled down and switched in front of the class. And, no one thought anything unusual of it...

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