By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md.—Several Network Churches are hosting live simulcasts of “Secret Church 16: A Global Gospel in a World of Religions” on April 29.
Secret Church is a type of house church meeting. In many countries, “going to church” doesn’t mean going to a building to pray, worship and listen to a sermon. It means gathering in an apartment, or home, often under the threat of persecution, to worship and study together for many hours. Secret Church seeks to be a version of that type of gathering for intense Bible study, lasting six or more hours, including a time of prayer for the persecuted church. International Mission Board President and former pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Ala., David Platt, started the project. Platt, after spending time with underground house churches in Asia, wanted to try to convey the urgency of the Gospel and instill a hunger for God’s Word in America. Secret Church began at Brook Hills Church. LifeWay Christian Resources and Disciple Making International, founded by Platt, partnered to provide simulcasts so families and small groups can share the experience.
Participants in this Secret Church will delve into the study of different world religions—is one right and all others wrong? How are they different? When Jesus says He is the only way, what does that mean for the billions of people following other religious beliefs? And how can Christians share the good news of Jesus with people of different faiths?
Some Network churches participating include Dunkirk Baptist Church; First Baptist Church, Dundalk, Harvest Baptist Church, Salisbury, North Harford Baptist Church, The Bridge, Stevensonville, and the Baptist Campus Ministry at the Naval Academy.
“In my experience, God has used Secret Church to shape and form some of my own values, attitudes and actions,” said Fred Dyer, Interim Pastor of Dunkirk Baptist Church. Dyer has used “Secret Church” several times at White Marsh Baptist Church, Perry Hall, where Dyer previously served as senior pastor.
“I have been blessed by the Secret Church six-hour sessions from both the Bible study and the prayer emphasis. Some of the material has become the basis for sermons or for a sermon series that I’ve preached. We’ve used some of the material in small group studies and a number of the folks who attended incorporated the information into their daily quiet times or used it for family devotions. The key factor is that the material must be digested in small bites following the event. Those who take the time to do that will find great reward,” said Dyer.
“The study this year is intended to help believers in sharing the gospel with those who are involved in different world religions – Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Atheists. The opening chapter on ‘The Gospel, Evangelism, and Conversion’ will help give those attending a deeply biblical understanding of the topic.”
John Manry, pastor of North Harford Baptist Church, said, “I am not a night person, generally, so the idea of trying to stay up past midnight does not appeal to me, but clear, heart-felt Bible teaching does, and David Platt is an excellent teacher!
“We have participated in Secret Church each year and have found it to be an enriching and reviving time of teaching, prayer for the unreached, and fellowship. We usually have about 50 adults, youth and some children begin the evening and about half that remain to the end. During the breaks we enjoy refreshments, compare fill-in-the-blank answers, and often have significant conversation about the subject matter. We provide each person with the printed study guides and they become a doctrinal resource well worth keeping. Those who don’t make it to the end can get any missing answers online or from a friend. Most all who come leave with a revived heart for Christ, His church, and the work of the gospel, even morning people like me.”
“This is the first time that we have sponsored a simulcast so I do not have much beyond our excitement and high expectations to share in that regard,” said Jeff Pearson, pastor of The Bridge Church. “With that said, our church has gone through all but one of the Secret Church video teachings sessions… and they are truly awesome. For those with a heart and hunger for God’s Word, Secret Church is a theological Thanksgiving feast for the faithful.”