The prequel to this blog would be the information in my About tab.
I returned to the Lord in 2014 after I had walked away from Him for 23 years. What a dummy! My wife and I wanted to find a good church home but didn’t want anything resembling the hardcore independent fundamental Baptist church we had attended back in the 80s. There was way too much legalism, nationalism, and focus on the “evil homosexuals” at that place. We hoped there was an Evangelical church out there that was true to the Gospel without being so arrogant and judgmental.
I asked the Lord to help us find a church home and came up with a short list of area churches for us to visit. The first one on the list, a non-denominational community church, reminded us a bit too much of the IFB church. The second church we visited was a small Evangelical fellowship with a brand new pastor. We both liked the church initially, and hung around for a little over a year. But, there were attitudes at that church that became increasingly harder for us to swallow. There were strains of some of the same nationalistic pride we saw at our old IFB church. Also, the young pastor was quite open about his admiration for a number of Catholic theologians and philosophers. How does that work? If Catholicism is doing such a fine job (ugh!) then just bolt the doors and send everyone to the Catholic church down the road.
So we left that church at the end of June and we’ve been mulling over beginning a new church search since then. My wife would just as soon we stay at home and read the Bible together and pray together as we’ve been doing for quite some time but the Lord commands us to worship and serve with other believers. I was very disillusioned with “church” after our break with the IFB assembly in 1991, but this time around my eyes are on the Lord who never disappoints.
I put together another short list of area churches to visit, which was no easy task. There’s tons of “churches” in the area but most are disqualified in my mind right off the bat:
- No mainline Protestant denominations on the list because the Gospel is generally no longer preached among them. Included are the Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterian USA, United Church of Christ, American Baptists, etc.
- No independent fundamental Baptist. Way too hardcore.
- No charismatic or Pentecostal. I don’t believe in apostolic gifts for today.
- No Reformed Presbyterian. I couldn’t sit there and watch babies being baptized.
- No “Land of the free and home of the brave” nationalism. God’s Word says when we accept Christ we become citizens of Heaven. Our brothers and sisters in Christ live all around the world and we are just sojourners here, not jingoistic patriots.
- No accommodation, cooperation, or compromise with works-based religions, e.g., Roman Catholicism.
I don’t mean to pick a fight. You might be fine with a church I mentioned above and that’s okay as long as the Gospel is preached there. The Holy Spirit blows wherever He will.
So what’s left? Not much. There’s five non-denominational/community churches on our list. Every week for four months there was a different reason to stay home on Sunday morning but today we finally ran out of excuses. This morning we attended the first church on the list. Northridge Church is non-denominational but its roots are in the baptistic tradition, which is a big plus in my mind. It’s one of those trendy, mega-churches that has three campuses with the lead pastor’s video message piped out to the two satellite campuses. I’m not a huge fan of that arrangement. I’d much rather see and hear the pastor live. But I think my wife and I need the “anonymity” of a large assembly at this juncture. The praise music was excellent and so was the pastor’s message on 1 Corinthians, chapter 10. There were no prayers for “our troops.” No references to U.S. politics. No praise of Catholic philosophers or theologians. And, most importantly, my wife really enjoyed the service. Thank you, Lord!
So after REALLY delighting in the service this morning, do we try church #2 next Sunday or do we continue at Northridge at least for another Sunday or two? Lord, lead us!
Postscript: We realize that our strong viewpoints regarding nationalism and ecumenism with works-righteousness Rome contrast with the viewpoints of many other Evangelicals. We realize not everyone is going to agree with us exactly on all issues but we won’t become attached to a fellowship which encourages nationalism or ecumenism with Roman works-righteousness.