After several years of full-time ministry in an independent church, our family moved to another state. We didn't feel to start another work, so we visited some churches close by. What we heard preached and taught from the pulpit was not only different from what we were used to, it was far from scriptural. And when you know better, it's very difficult to just sit back and be a polite spectator, isn't it? We left as much for conscience sake as it was for peace.
But in retrospect, we didn't leave the church. The church of the Bible isn't a denomination. We walked out of a glitzy organizational meeting.
There's an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the modern church wanting to fit in with our current society rather than being acceptable with God. It's worth reading, so I've linked to it below. The writer captures how many of us feel today. Churches have become cultural thermometers rather than the spiritual thermostats they're supposed to be.
The dilemma some believers face is this: This is the only church we know. If we leave, where will we go? What will we do?
Excellent question! Please don't stop asking because God makes this promise to us: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matt. 5:6) I can say with absolute confidence that God is no respecter of persons. If he's led others into a deeper more authentic church experience, he will lead you too!
Would you allow me make a few suggestions if you're wondering what to do next?
First, don't leave where you're at simply because you're angry or upset with someone. Please follow Matt. 18:15-17 to find resolve. There's a right way and a wrong way to handle things, and God may have you where you're at for a reason. Be sure that God – not your emotions - is leading you in another direction. If the leadership won't listen to you or can't address your concerns satisfactorily, it may be time to move on.
Second, realize that there is a priority of relationships. Your personal relationship with Jesus Christ comes first, then the relationship with your family, and then the relationship with the church, in that order. If you really don't have a strong walk with God personally, work on that now. Get into the Bible for yourself now, and start communicating with the Lord in prayer now. If you're not sure where to start, download the free Bible studies here, get a KJV Bible, and start reading the verses. Next, do it as a family while continuing to seek the Lord for where he wants you next. He might lead others to you! Please do not loose your faith! Far too many people will just stop fellowship all together. Folks, this is NOT an option. You will backslide.
Finally, be open to a very different church experience. Most of us are accustomed to talented praise teams, choirs, skilled speakers, nice buildings and lots of well dressed people all around us. That's what we're comfortable with. However, the early church was the opposite of this in almost every way.
Many churches met in people's homes. No high-definition TV screens, sound systems or Sunday School. Churches were overseen by elders who taught others to teach rather than a single pastor acting as a CEO. Instead of a regular preacher every week, everyone was encouraged to participate so everyone was edified. People prayed together, wept together, taught one another and experienced the power of God directly by his spirit (I Cor. 14:26). This may take some getting used to.
We sought God every step of the way through our valley of decision. We looked to the scriptures for answers and found them. Jesus has been faithful, never leaving or forsaking us. He will do the same for you as you seek him!
Church isn't about where we meet; it's about how we meet together. Church is something we are, not something we do. And if it's just you and your spouse or a couple of friends for awhile, that's okay. Jesus knew we'd be here and said,
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:22).
Don't hesitate to ask questions. Use the contact form as well as the other resources here. We're all in this together and should be able and willing to help one another.
Here's the Wall Street Journal Article.
May the Lord guide you as you walk this narrow way that leads to life!
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