If you’re an evangelical Christian, how did you end up at the church you’re currently worshipping at? Probably a large percentage of you were invited by a friend or family member. But some of you had to do some searching. Here’s a bit of my history looking for a good evangelical church to worship at.
I returned to the Lord in 2014 after a 23-year hiatus. Many of you already know the story; we had been members of an independent fundamental Baptist church for 8 years until I walked out the doors and away from the Lord in exasperation. As a part of my journey back to the Lord, some Christian friends had invited us to a Sunday morning service at their Free Methodist church. I was already headed back to the Lord at that point but I returned to Him completely at that service and I’ll be forever grateful to those friends for inviting us to church. We liked the church a lot and planned on attending the following Sunday, but when I checked out the church’s web site, I saw they had a sister church which catered to disaffected liberal Catholics with female “priests” administering sacraments, etc. Whoa Nelly! No way was I linking up with a church that was even remotely connected with something like that! Bottom line: Read those web sites thoroughly and ask questions if necessary.
After some more searching, we ended up at a small Southern Baptist church and stayed there for a little over a year but found that the young pastor was way too ecumenical for us. He was enamored with Catholic theologians, but that’s a separate post all by itself.
Okay, time for a new search. We once again asked the Lord to help us. I began checking the yellow pages and the internet for possibilities. Folks, we have a ton of churches in our area but many are mainline Protestant that have drifted into modernism and no longer preach the Gospel. Included in that category are local churches affiliated with the following mainline denominations: Episcopalian, Lutheran (ELCA), Presbyterian USA, United Methodist, and American Baptist.
There are also four charismatic churches in our area. I love my charismatic and Pentecostal brothers and sisters in the Lord but I don’t personally believe in the apostolic gifts for today.
There’s also a couple of hardcore independent fundamental Baptist churches (both KJV 1611-only by the way) but there was no way I would ever want to set foot in an IFB church ever again after our 1983-1991 experience.
In addition, there are also a couple of conservative Reformed churches, but I’d rather stay in the middle of the Arminius-Calvin debate and I don’t believe in baptizing infants and children who are not old enough to personally accept Christ.
That left us with five “community” churches. These days you’ll often find that so-called community churches are Gospel-preaching but less-strident Baptist churches that replaced “Baptist” with “Community” because of the negative PR associated with KJV 1611-only-style fundamental Baptists. Before I even began my search, I figured that we’d end up at Browncroft Community Church. I had been aware of this church for a long time. It’s very close to us and it’s known to be a solid church among evangelicals in the area. But when I checked out the church’s web site, I found a problem. It stated anyone who wishes to be a member of the church MUST tithe their income. Wow! I thought the Bible said, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). I emailed the church and they confirmed their policy. What happens if a member stops tithing? Do they send out the tithe police? Do they excommunicate them? I’ll be writing a post on mandatory tithing in the future.
Four community churches remained on my list. Northridge Church was next. Even though my wife and I had agreed to try all four churches before making a decision, we attended Northridge at the beginning of November and it’s been our Sunday worship home since. It’s a ten mile drive one-way but we don’t mind at all. Praise the Lord for leading us to a solid fellowship!
There’s more to finding a good church home than driving to the nearest building with a steeple. It requires some homework and lots of leaning on the Lord. I hope my drive through the maze of denominationalism helps someone else who’s searching for a church home.
I’m sorry if I offended anyone by naming denominations or church groups. My personal beliefs and preferences obviously played a large role in my search but I certainly don’t claim to be above anyone else. May the Lord use you and whatever fellowship you worship at – as long as they preach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!