I haven’t posted here in about three weeks. There are two main reasons.
First, I’ve been super busy with homeschool stuff. I had two Classical Conversations Practicums back-to-back, one I attended just to learn as a parent (which drained my brain every day), and one I coordinated (which was…challenging).
Then last week we ramped up school here at home, even though we’ve technically had school since July 11. Plus I’m preparing to tutor again. So I’m trying to learn, again, how to balance our lessons and my prep time with the rest of our lives.
But really, it’s the second reason that I haven’t written that is the real reason.
We have started to look for a new church.
This is a hard thing to admit, because I know that someone is reading my social media accounts and gossiping about me behind my back. So even though my husband and I have properly stepped down from our leadership roles at our church, and explained to the respective ministers in charge of those areas that we are seeking a new church, I will now be accused of mishandling social media again and being “divisive” and a “troublemaker.”
(and no, I don’t know who that someone is, sadly, because I’d love to ask them why they just didn’t call me up and talk to me instead of spreading rumors about me)
These are labels that I have worn before. I have never shied away from Truth, even when it’s not been popular. Lately it’s the Truth that false teachers are being read, studied, defended, quoted, and championed instead of handled biblically. It’s the Truth that the Bible itself isn’t being studied at all, but instead, the heresy-inducing “what do you think this means” approach is taking place after studying what someone else says about it. It’s the Truth that there are not multiple ways to interpret the Word of God, but there is one correct way, and context is everything.
This is a hard thing to admit, because it’s emotionally exhausting. Not only are we leaving a church, but we believe it’s actually time to leave our “non-denominational denomination”. I have attended a Restoration Movement “mega” church since I was three years old. But I’m exhausted. This is the fourth one I’ve attended, and the sixth one in the area that I can name with love and affection (because I have friends and loved ones who attend or are on staff) that has gaping holes in its theology. While the pulpit in these churches may be theologically solid as long as the senior minister is behind it, the Bible studies, the guest pastors, the associate pastors, the special programs, the books recommended or sold, and the songs being sung teach a theology that is completely opposite of that in which the church is supposed to believe.
I’m so tired. I’m tired of the flashy lights (which is ironic, as I’m a lighting designer), the too-loud music, the songs that suggest Jesus is my lover or that if I sin more I get more grace, the sermons that are way more “feel-good” and “self-help” than theologically solid, the social justice guilt trips, and the fear of inviting people because I know they will be excluded due to the cliquish nature inherent in life/small/connection group-driven “community.”
This is a hard thing to admit, because I’m going to lose yet even more friends. When we left the mega-church we attended for the first ten years of our marriage, we lost almost everyone. There are two couples that we still see regularly (if you count twice a year as regular), and we know that we are not spoken of kindly or well. Women who had promised me they would be my friends forever wanted nothing to do with me when I explained to them why the things they were dabbling in were not, in fact, leading them toward Jesus, but further and further away from Him.
I realize Jesus said He came to bring a sword, not peace, and that He would cause division, even amongst families. But when rubber hits the road…well, it’s hard. It’s lonely. And it hurts. And yes, I am clinging to God, and He is worth more than all the treasures on earth. But rejection, even rejection because you are speaking the Truth of the Word, stings.
This is a hard thing to admit, because I weep for people I love who are lost and don’t even know it. A friend and I had the conversation the other day: whose fight is it to keep heresy out of these churches? Keith and I feel like this isn’t our fight. We have prayed and prayed and prayed some more, and we have searched Scripture, and sought counsel from people wiser than us, and we believe God has called us out this place. This isn’t our fight. When we stepped down from leadership, no one even asked one question about why we were looking at other churches. We tried to explain, and basically we were shut down. How far do we take it?
I expressed my concern over the “Bible” studies being offered to the women, and I was ridiculed, attacked, and shut down. There are women who will go to hell because they think they know Jesus, and they don’t. They know a fake, false-grace concept of Jesus based on works and a “to-do” list. But is it my responsibility to fight this? Either God will raise up someone to lead these women to the Truth, or His judgment will come. It’s not my fight, though; Keith and I have determined that with a fair amount of certainty.
This is a hard thing to admit, because visiting churches is hard for an introvert. To be honest, I said this to Keith the other day: “Can’t we just pretend we don’t see all the bad stuff and just keep going? I don’t want to meet new people and try new things.” 🙂 I’m a terrible introvert, especially if I think people are judging my parenting. The three churches we have visited so far have had family worship. I feel like everyone is staring at my incredibly active six year old son, our fruit snacks, our crayons, and the endless games of tic-tac-toe. He also asks questions, loudly, so…that makes me uncomfortable. And I’m sure no one is paying any more attention to me than I’m paying to them and their families, but…
Let me pause here to say that I absolutely LOVE family worship. There is such value in whole families worshiping together, learning the same songs, and hearing the same sermon. Oh my stars, I have LOVED family worship. Except…our six year old has grown up in mega-church kids’ church. So…there’s a steep learning curve. OH! And Sunday School! Two of the churches have had SUNDAY SCHOOL!! And all three of us have loved Sunday School before “big church.” Amazing.
Anyway…We have a child who is our highest priority (contrary to whatever Andy Stanley would be saying about us right now. Ha!). He has to see us rightly handle the Word of God, and he has to hear the Word rightly handled by others. It is urgent to us that he comes to know Jesus, and we want to do all we can, inside of our home and out, to facilitate that. But we know that we cannot rush a decision here.
We need to choose a theologically solid community. This could take a long time, and that thought makes me want to lay down and cry.
How many weeks do you visit a church? Do you go in a row? Do you alternate visiting other churches? How do you decide what is non-negotiable? Keith didn’t really grow up in the church; I grew up in the RM Independent Christian Church/Church of Christ…what if they only serve the Lord’s Supper once a month? What about baptisms? Does it matter if it’s a denominational church? What if it’s a large church…and I’m so scared of large churches now?
This is a hard thing to admit, because when you know the Truth, and you are desperate for a community of true believers, it’s hard to be alone.