What's in a name?
Lausanne Free Church "believing all things written"

Back to top

What’s in a name?

Lausanne Free Church

Why does Lausanne Free Church (LFC) have the name that it has? LFC also refers to itself as “Evangelical” and “Independent”. Why is this? The answer is that these words tell you about what LFC is and how it is governed and run.

In Revelation 2 and 3 we read of seven letters given to seven local churches. We see seven independent churches answerable only to the Lord Jesus Christ and those seven churches receiving instructions and guidance from the Lord. This passage is part of the scriptural basis for local churches being independent of each other and free from State control. LFC is an example of such a church.

What does “Church” mean?

A church is a group of believers in Jesus Christ, associated together under Christ for His purposes. It is organized in accordance with Bible teaching and will be recognized by other Bible believing churches as a local church.

The English word church is derived from a Greek word meaning “belonging to the Lord”. The church therefore is people NOT the building. Although the building at Chemin des Fleurettes 36 is sometimes referred to as “the church” strictly speaking that is not true.

“The local church is the special institution that Almighty God has created in this wicked and rebellious world to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Nigel Lacy: “God’s Plan for the Local Church”).

The New Testament speaks of the church of God at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2) and the Church of God at Antioch (Acts 13:1). The local church is therefore a present day manifestation of the universal church to which all Christians (the elect) are members.

The elements that make up a biblically- based local church include the following:

Membership limited to those who profess to be true Christians (that is those trusting in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of their souls).

The offices of elders (one or more whom may be a pastor) and deacons

Meeting together for praise, preaching, teaching and prayer

Celebration of the sacraments of communion and baptism

What Does "Free" Mean?

Free is a term that historically has designated a church as being one that was not a state-controlled church. Today it also refers to the way that the church is governed.

The church membership at LFC is involved in the decision making process. This is pattern for the early church that we find in the Bible. All members vote on major decisions such as:

Appointment of the pastor.

New members and excommunication of members.

Large financial decisions.

Day to day authority for running the church is in the hands of the elders (spiritual matters) and deacons (more practical matters). See Acts 20: 17-32 for the role of elders and Acts 6: 1-6 for the role of deacons. 1 Timothy 3:1-13 outlines the qualifications for such men. Individuals voluntarily submit to this authority when they become members.

What does “Independent” mean?

Independent means unattached and non-denominational. It means that the church is not part of a denomination and is independent in that the church is self governing. In practice this means that the elders of the church are answerable to the head of the Church (the Lord Jesus) and not a higher official outside the church like a bishop. See Acts 20: 17-32.

LFC is therefore not part of a denomination and no outside religious body or outside person has any authority over the church. The church accepts the authority of the government except if the government insists on action contrary to the Bible.

What Does "Evangelical" Mean?

The term Evangelical refers to the church’s commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel. It also believes in the authority of Scriptures as being inerrant in the original languages and the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.

What is the difference between how a Presbyterian church and how LFC is governed?

A Presbyterian church is not independent in the way a free church is. A Presbyterian church will be ruled by elders (either teaching elders called ministers or ruling elders). Some of the elders from each church will serve on a presbytery, which is the governing body that covers a group of local churches. Such governing bodies exercise authority over the local church.

What is the difference between LFC and a Baptist Church?

A Baptist Church will insist on believer’s baptism prior to church membership and sometimes limit communion to those who have been though believer’s baptism. They therefore would not accept into membership those who had been baptized as infants and hold to the paedobaptist position, such as Free Presbyterians.

Although LFC believes and teaches adult baptism it would not deny church membership to a Christian who sincerely believed in infant baptism and could support their position from the scriptures. Also the church does not make baptism a condition of receiving communion, although it does not offer the elements to children and young people known to the church who are not yet baptized.

Conclusion

The following quote from E.J. Poole Conner’s book “Evangelical Unity” helps sums up the independent evangelical free church position:

“It (a free church) welcomes into fellowship all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. It necessarily adopts a certain form of Church government: but it does not insist that it is only one that has scriptural warrant. It may administer baptism in a certain mode but it makes no obligation of membership or of communion at the Lord’s Table. It endeavours to make practical the principle of receiving the Lord’s people because the Lord received them.”

If you have any questions about this article, please email us.

Recommended reading:

God’s Plan for the Local Church by Nigel Lacey

The Keys of the Kingdom by Poh Boon Sing

Evangelical Unity by E. J. Poole Conner