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Confused About Churches:

Response

The following e-mail exchange is commenting on the discussion Confused About Churches. The e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


>Brother Gary:

I was greatly moved by the email interaction at Confused About Churches. I would very much like to encourage this young man if you feel that it would be appropriate. I am not asking for his email address. I know that would not be appropriate. But if I were to send an email to him care of DTL, would you be willing to forward it to him? You would have my permission to leave my email address attached to it.<

I don't normally keep track of the e-mail addresses of the e-mails I post as it would just get too confusing. But if the e-mail is still in my "sent" folder then I will have it. In this case I do. So if you want to send me an e-mail I will forward it to him.

>I was also encouraged by your own revelations about your relationship to your own church. I have read you page on finding a home church and found it helpful. I too do not fit at all three points (godly men & women, fit in, and doctrine).<

I probably should have added a fourth: enjoy the style of worship. I discuss this in my case below.

> I am a Calvinist with regard to the Doctrines of Grace, I am Reformed with regard to the sacraments (as opposed to memorials), I am not a cessationist although I doubt most of what I see taking place under the terms of Pentecostalism, and I hold to a historic or classical view of pre-millennialism. <

With those views you will have a hard time finding a church that agrees with all of them.

>The church I attend is nondenominational with leadership that is a hodgepodge of elders and pastors from many differing theological views. Our only doctrinal statement is one of the essentials of the faith. The only issue I have is that I am always having to defend my views of doctrine to the leadership (the senior pastor and the elder board).

I would expect that in a classroom setting where students are searching and learning, but it troubles me that the leadership doesn't have more unity beyond the bare essentials. And I, like you, would look for another church home except that I am not sure I could even find this much agreement anywhere else. <

It is common for the leadership to be divided on secondary matters. But I would say the views of the head pastor would be the most important to consider as his views will influence everyone else's.

>I have looked at the only Reformed churches in Santa Maria, CA (OPC & PCUSA), but there is no way I could align with PCUSA and the hardcore cessationist stance and the scarcity of the communion celebration at the OPC make it less desirable. So I stay where I am watching and waiting for direction from my Lord.<

I am also in a watching a waiting mode. To get back to the style of worship issue, personally, I prefer a contemporary style of worship. And my current E Free church has this. But due to the not fitting in problem, I did decide to start looking around.

A local Presby church has a Saturday evening "contemporary worship" service. So I decided to check it out. But it didn't appear that contemporary to me! The pastor was preaching form the NIV, and there were NIV's in the pews. So that was a turn off. And the people were rather unfriendly. There was only about 30 people there, so it should have been obvious that I was a visitor. But the only person who even spoke to me was the worship leader.

So next I tried a small independent Baptist church. It was very friendly, before I even got through the door I had several people greeting me, a quite a few more before, during, and after the service. It was almost too much. And the worship itself was a mixture of contemporary and traditional worship styles, but with an emphasis on the former. But it turned out the next week that the contemporary music was just a "special" for Easter. The next week it was nothing but traditional hymns. However, they have a special contemporary worship on the first Friday of each month. So I'm anxious to see what that is like.

The preacher was using the KJV, which I can live with much easier than the NIV! I just have to be sure the church is not KJV only.

Moreover, the church is rather small, only about 70 people were there on Easter Sunday, while I prefer a church that is a little larger. And I'm not real thrilled with the idea of an independent church. I do believe a church should have some kind of formal association with other churches, but maybe they do that I'm not aware of. And as an added bonus, they're having a "Cults Awareness Conference" next month featuring Bob Larson. So they just might be interested in my ministry.

So I may ended up going to it just for the monthly, Friday evening service. But that means I'm still looking for something to go to on Sunday mornings.

My point is, a lot of factors go into choosing a church. That is why people get confused. And with all of these factors, there is no way a person is going to find church that is "perfect." So no matter what, compromises will have to be made. But the three points I mentioned previously, along with worship style, are probably the four biggest factors to consider. But even there, compromises will have to be made.

So the best you can do is find a church that is closest to the points that you find most important and be prepared to compromise on the less important ones.

>I need to get busy, but before I do I just wanted to say that I am so happy that your back is doing so well. I hope the Lord will give you much opportunity to give encouragement to others going through similar trials.<

I hope so too. That's why I decided to related my experience of how I overcame back pain in such detail.

> I wish that PA and CA weren't on opposite coasts of our great nation. I would love to meet you someday.

God bless you my distant friend and brother.
Grace & Peace,
Gordon
4/16/01<

Thank you.

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