After walking away from the Lord for a VERY long time (I was the prodigal son on steroids), I returned to Him in early 2014 and my wife and I began attending a small Southern Baptist church with a brand new pastor shortly afterwards. However, it became increasingly evident that the teaching at that church wasn’t in line with our beliefs on a couple of very important issues and we finally reached a point last June when we had to walk away.
Genuine evangelical Christians share a common belief and faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. We are all part of the Body of Christ and are brothers and sisters in the Lord. But we have our differences in regards to a long list of secondary doctrines. And that’s okay. You worship the Lord the way you believe is right and I’ll do the same. The problem is finding a pastor and church that believes as my wife and I do.
We began searching for a new church but that’s not a simple task. In our area, there’s six yellow pages (Am I showing my age?) full of church listings but I wouldn’t bother visiting 95% of them because they either don’t preach the Gospel or I don’t agree with their teaching on some of the secondary doctrines. It used to be you could pretty much tell what every particular church believed and taught by the denomination they belonged to but churches are now shedding denominational tags and adopting ambiguous names to attract the younger crowd. You either have to get a recommendation from like-minded Christian friends or you have to check each church’s web site to find out where they stand on various doctrines.
Well, with the Lord’s help, we finally found a church home on the first Sunday of November and we like it a lot. A whole lot! The contemporary worship songs are geared toward a younger crowd but I can still get choked up praising the Lord beneath the din of the amplifiers. Maybe it’s better that the folks around me don’t have to listen to me sobbing occasionally. The teaching and preaching are excellent. Some of the best I’ve ever heard. The pastor humbly instructs and admonishes us from God’s Word with amazing clarity. I’m very happy to say there’s no railing against secular society, there’s no nationalism and patriotism from the pulpit, and there’s no cooperation or compromise with apostate churches (e.g., Catholic, liberal mainline Protestant). The focus is on Jesus Christ and the Gospel. The Five Solas of the Reformation are referred to often. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with our pastor 100% on all issues. If that were the requirement I’d have to hold church in my own living room every Sunday. No, we don’t agree with the pastor on everything but we’re pretty close. And that’s a blessing. My wife and I eagerly look forward to worshipping with our brothers and sisters every Sunday! The Lord is GOOD!
A couple of weeks ago our pastor announced he was resigning to join a consulting ministry that counsels pastors and churches on how to “make more and better disciples.” Everyone was surprised and a bit saddened. The church leadership is currently searching for a new lead pastor. Gulp! Just when we were REALLY enjoying church, the pastor up and resigns! But as much as we’ll miss our pastor, we’re confident the Lord will work it all out.
Too often we set up our pastors as demigods. We engage in leadership idolatry. We put them up on pedestals and they will inevitably let us down. Our pastors are sinners saved by grace just as we are. It’s a tough job and a big responsibility and Satan certainly singles them out. We should pray for them and encourage them to stay faithful to the Lord and His Word. But our focus should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be on our Rock, Jesus Christ, not on weak and fallible stewards.
Thank you, Lord, for our pastor. I pray you bless him and his family in their new calling. I ask that you a raise up someone with a heart for You and Your Word to lead Your people according to Your will. Amen.