For the past several months, my husband and I have been looking for a new church home. It was not easy to come to this decision because we both had to agree that it was time to move on and while I was ready many years ago, my husband was not.
Don’t get me wrong, we love the church body, but we have noticed a change in direction that makes us uncomfortable.
I first started feeling this way about six months after we got a new pastor. I talked at length about this with my husband but afterwards, I felt maybe it was just me and my wanting “my church” to be a certain way so I started praying about it and agreed to withhold acting on my judgment.
After several years, my thinking hadn’t changed and my husband started feeling the same as me, that maybe it was time to begin looking for a new church home.
We were in for a rude awakening. So many of the churches we visited were like the church we’d just left. Very focused on the production value — from the smoke machine and lightshow of worship to the watered-down message from the pulpit — and while we don’t have anything against contemporary music, the more disturbing picture was that the pastors’ messages were almost apologetic (in the way that “we apologize that God seems so harsh, but…”). We jokingly called those feel-good services “God Light.”
I have no problem with churches who call themselves “seeker” churches; those are the people we need to reach, but I cannot in good conscious bring a “true” seeker to a church where the truth of our desperate need for a savior isn’t being preached.
It seems many churches have started something I call “coddling,” indulging our senses with coffee, bagels, and top-notch musicians. And actually, offering food and drink doesn’t bother me because you can break bread while fellowshipping with others, but in many churches, this is allowed in the services too.
When your hands are full, how can you prostrate yourself in your acknowledgment of your need for Jesus? (personal gripe)
Oh wait. Reverence (Col. 3:22) probably isn’t being taught from the pulpit so, no worries on where to set your food or drink.
But beyond that. Where’s the passion, the awe, and yes – the reverence for God’s sacrifice of His son on our behalf. Think about the gravity of a decision like that. If you were God and knew you had to sacrifice your “only” and sinless son to redeem sinful people, would you want those who were saved to drop to their faces in awe and wonder of your sacrifice that gives people grace? What, you think that seems self-centered?
It isn’t. It’s God-centered.
Why are seekers coming to church? Do they have a desire to be a better person, live life differently, or to feel better about themselves?
We are sinners. All of us. We are so corrupted by the sins of the world that we need to be redeemed and re-formed by Christ. Afterall, that’s why He suffered such an excruciating death. He didn’t do it so we could just be a better person. When we accept this, we understand we must die to ourselves, but that is a process. One we must pursue daily through scripture and prayer.
I didn’t learn that at my former church, nor did I learn that at the church I attend now, but after attending the new church for some time, I was being challenged from the pulpit to search God’s truth for myself.
Through searching the bible, I’ve realized that my self-centered life, cannot reside in the same body as a God-centered life. If people are having the same or like experience in their “home” churches, that’s great! Praise be to God, but if your church just makes you “feel good,” I’d question what’s behind that.
Why, you might ask? Because the bible says that many followers will be led astray by false teaching (2 Peter 2:1-3 just to name one verse). Satan is the father of “self interest, self centeredness,” which is a false doctrine, according to Jesus in Matthew 16:23.
I’m not criticizing my former church as one of those, but the bible is talking about many churches falling away, so it bears some scrutiny when a shift occurs in your home church, or as a basis when looking for a church home.
The other part of that is your motivation for going to church. In this time of life, no matter someone’s age, it’s important to search for the truth on your own. Do not rely solely on your church to provide for your spiritual growth. Seek it out and match it against scripture. God will reveal His truth through His word.
There is no better way to be transformed, than to read the words of the “the ultimate transformer.”
Love ya brothers and sisters.
See you at the top!