For a few weeks now, the word “rigid” has come to mind, particularly so because for the past 11 months, my husband and I have been actively searching for a new church home.
Some may say that we’ve become rigid in our older years, that our standards are too unrealistic, but our standards haven’t changed in our whole adult (Christian) life. Our former church, which we were members of for more than a decade, and many other church’s standards have changed.
In our church, the change started soon after the installation of a new pastor five years ago. Even though the new pastor was much younger than us, we kept an open mind about his ability to lead a flock because our thought was that everyone has to start somewhere, right?
That, and we were highly involved with several ministries at the church so we weren’t going to hightail it out of there on the first Sunday we felt uncomfortable. We were members, after all.
We wanted to keep our emotion about the change in pastors out of the equation and be discerning about his preaching/teaching/leading of our large congregation, but soon after he came, many of the “older” members left to find other church homes.
In the five years since the change, we have watched our once vibrant Sunday school class of 100, dwindle to a mere handful along with the complete disappearance of many other classes. In January of 2012, we decided to leave the church as well.
It’s been very much like a divorce in that we became uncomfortable because we no longer shared the same views, standards or goals as our church. We’d grown apart, and just as in many divorces, the church family was split in different directions as they sought to bring back consistency, direction and order to their lives.
The other thing we noticed after leaving was how much God was directing our new “home church” search. We’ve visited several churches looking for solid “bible” teaching. You wouldn’t think it would be hard since all preachers are called to teach/lead their flocks, but the meaning of that has taken a strange and dangerous twist.
Instead of “preaching or teaching” from the bible, many churches we’ve visited (and our former church included) have started using excerpts of one or two bible verses along with a devotional, or other material written in the last couple of centuries. The writings may or may not be those of a Christian, but are usually from someone with some wisdom. Or, they may forgo the bible altogether and just use man-inspired material for instructing the flock.
I’m not saying that devotionals or other materials are bad. What I am saying is that Romans 12 instructs believers not to conform to this world, but if preachers are teaching how we should “get along” or “how we live” in this world, and aren’t using the bible for instruction, reproof and correction as 2 Tim 3:15-16 says, aren’t they teaching us how to conform to the culture. How to fit in?
This is completely opposite what believers are instructed to do.
Something believers need to be wary about is that when a church is more concerned with finding or using material that everyone can understand, they are at risk for misleading their flock. Because God’s book — the Holy Bible — is whole. It is everything we need and should not to be added to, nor taken away from (Revelation 22: 18-19). According to 2 Corinthians 3:12-17, God removes the veil when we turn into Him so that we can understand His truth. By watering down (rewriting) the gospel, it leaves no room for the work of the Holy Spirit to give individuals understanding and clarity.
In John 5:37-40, Jesus says if His father’s words do not abide in us then we believe not. To back up a bit to verse 24, for those who hear His truth and believe will have everlasting life.
When we put our complete faith in God, the Holy Spirit abides in us and His truths: words/passages from the bible that formerly made no sense to us, are made clear to us because the veil has been removed.
My husband and I think we may have found a church we can call home. They so far, are teaching/preaching the bible from the pulpit. It is a small congregation, with a pastor whose focus and responsibility is on caring for his flock.
You might call that rigid, but I call it obedience to Romans 12.