Why we left N********* Church

I put off writing this post for several months because it documents a difficult experience and decision, but here goes…

I returned to the Lord in 2014 after a very long and very dumb prodigal “season.” My wife and I then attended a small, Southern Baptist Convention church in close proximity to us, but we left after one year because the young pastor made it increasingly clear that he was very favorably-inclined towards ecumenism with Roman Catholicism.

I then drew up a short-list of possible church homes. Finding a solid Christian church up here in Western New York isn’t easy. The vast majority of churches are either Roman Catholic or mainline Protestant, all of which are apostate. There are a number of Pentecostal and charismatic churches, but we are cessationists in regards to the apostolic sign gifts. There’s also a number of fundamentalist churches, but they weren’t an option after our 1983-1991 experience at an IFB church. That left only a few non-denominational church options.

On a Sunday in November 2015, we drove to the first non-denominational church on our short-list, which was ten miles from our home. Services were held in the auditorium of a public middle school. It was actually one of two satellite campuses, with the main church campus being ten miles away in the city of Rochester. Each of the three (eventually four) locations had it’s own pre-sermon “worship” (song and singing) portion, but the sermon was a digital feed from the main church to big screens at the satellites. Hmm. That was different. But we enjoyed it. The preaching (more like a lecture) was actually quite good.

So we settled in at N********* Church, but were disappointed six-months later when the senior pastor announced he was leaving for a new career with a pastor-placement consulting firm. A new pastor was then selected from a list of candidates. One of his most desirable qualities, we were all told, was his young age (30).*

We attended N********* Church every Sunday for the next three-and-a-half years, but were increasingly conflicted. There were things about the church that we didn’t particularly care for, but we told ourselves no church is perfect. Then COVID-19 hit in mid-March. We began watching live-streaming of our church’s Sunday morning services, but around the same time my wife and I also began listening to 25-minute segments from Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons nightly throughout the week (See here. There’s also an app for smart phones). Well, in listening to MLJ’s sermons it became painfully apparent that we had compromised way too much by attending N********* Church and we resolved we wouldn’t go back. As the pandemic lingers, we continue with our daily sermon podcasts from MLJ and others (but definitely NOT from N********* Church).

Let’s now get into some sad specifics. This mega-church followed the Warren-Drucker-Hybels seeker-growth model which included the following characteristics:

  • The auditorium was darkened like a movie theater to accentuate the “rock concert” light show experience during the “worship” portion of the service. The worship band played Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) exclusively and the volume was quite loud. The singing of the congregation was completely drowned out by the amplified singing of the worship leaders and by the electric instruments. Songs popularized by apostate Hillsong and Bethel were occasionally featured.
  • As an essential part of its seeker-growth model, the pastor avoided deep topics in his sermons. Doctrine was skimmed over and church history was absolutely avoided. The previous pastor did refer to the Reformation and the Five Solas, but those topics were never to be heard of again after he left. Presentations by heterodox teacher, Francis Chan, were available from “RightNow Media” as part of the church’s online resources (see photo above). We participated in a “small group” for about eighteen months, where the church’s shallow teaching was also manifest. A couple of our group’s members used Joyce Meyer devotionals for their daily “scripture” readings.
  • Every facet of every church service was geared towards an 18-49 age group including the rockin’ worship portion of the service and the numerous videos and handouts. Members over the age of 50 were glaringly excluded from presentations. I strongly suspected that the main reason the previous pastor left was because he had just turned 50 and felt he had come to the end of his rope with the church’s self-imposed focus on young adults. We’re in our mid-60s and already felt out of place, so it’s impossible to imagine a believer in their 70s or 80s attending this “hipster” mega-church. It wasn’t a welcoming atmosphere for older believers to put it mildly.
  • The previous pastor mandated that he and all of the staff follow a very casual dress code. Polo shirts and khakis were not an option. Jeans and flannel shirts were the uniform de rigueur. Not a huge deal, but the new pastor gradually took the “casual look” to a radical, Steven Furtick-like level, wearing skin-tight, skinny jeans with requisite holes in the knees along with a trendy, swag haircut. I frankly was embarrassed by his skin-tight jeans and, excuse my bluntness, his unavoidable “man bulge.” It’s beyond disconcerting that I must use “pastor” and “man bulge” in the same paragraph. After taking a guest to a church service one Sunday, the first thing out of his mouth when we got back into the car was, “Man, that pastor has some TIGHT jeans!”

There you have it folks, all of our reasons for leaving this last church. We had compromised way too much by staying as long as we did.

*I’m certainly not averse to 30-year-old pastors, but this church specifically chose a young, “hipster” candidate to fit its Millennials-focused, seeker model.

47 thoughts on “Why we left N********* Church

  1. As you know my experience is similar. I am thankful that I didn’t have to witness male skinny jeans. No, just no! I’m proud of you for sharing this! It’s not easy. I am praying for God to heal me from my experience as well. I know there is no perfect church this side of Heaven but there are definitely compromised and false churches.

    Are you leafing today?! Love and blessings to you and Corinne!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mandy! Yup, this was a difficult post to write for many reasons. I was checking out the websites and sermon videos of a few of the other non-denominational churches in town and the similarities to N church are striking. They’re all reading off of the same playbook.

      The leaves are coming down like crazy because of the stretch of warm, dry weather. I mover 4 tarps on Monday and 9 yesterday. I’m whipped! I could easily haul another 10 tarps today, but it’s been raining off and on.
      Thank you and love and blessings to you and Nathan!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, I just checked the updated forecast for today which shows no more rain. As sore as I am, I’ll be itching to get back out there. But the wet leaves will be a lot heavier to drag.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Mandy! The good news is almost all the leaves are down, which is three weeks ahead of normal. The last three days they came down like rain. I think the recent long stretch of very warm, dry, and sunny weather got the leaves to fall early. I’m normally working on leaves into the first week of December, but after “killing” myself today, it looks like there’s just a few more tarps to go.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Also, did you see that Pope John Paul II knew about sex abuse?! This is unconscionable to me. Francis will do nothing to stop this. All he cares about is asserting liberal theology and politics upon his adherents. Sorry I know this has NOTHING to do with anything written about today!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks for the heads-up regarding the Vatican report on abuser McCarrick and pope JPII. I’ve already got the story queued up for this weekend’s roundup. We knew that “saint” JPII covered up for McC, but we were waiting for the Vatican to admit it. JPII also covered up for a very notorious abuser in Mexico. So how is it that an enabler of pedophile predators can be declared a “saint”? The whole system is a sham.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The irony is that the RCC teaches people must become increasingly holy in order to possibly merit their salvation, but even their priests and prelates demonstrate they can’t toe that line.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep! This is happening all over! Those quaint Southetn Baptist Churches -that you just new that preacher was talking directly to you-have become a large Godless “feel good” business ☹️💔

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Directly to you “ or AT YOU! while preaching the truth of God through Jesus Christ alone! You know what I mean? It was like he had this knowledge from God that he needed to directly point me out with his words -but not directly point his f get at me in front of everyone-PURE CONVICTION FROM GOD’s HOLY SPIRIT!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, and that’s the kind of encouragement and conviction we get from solid pastors via videos and podcasts. It was impossible to continue with N church after listening to Martyn Lloyd-Jones for awhile. The difference was night and day.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Each satellite had its own “pastor” but the church relied on the “small groups” leaders for personal interface with members. The lead pastor didn’t know me from Adam, and I had very brief conversations with the satellite pastor maybe 5 or 6 times in 4.5 years.

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      1. The pastor we had never sought us out when we decided enough is enough snd left… it makes you feel like they have enough $ they don’t need yours … know what I mean ☹️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I think these hipster mega-church “pastors” are much more focused on the production/marketing elements rather than actually pastoring members and families. I also believe they’re not all that sorry to see older members, such as my wife and I, leave because we don’t fit their model.

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  3. The N******* Church is a widespread phenomenon! Our church is morphing into the same model. With marketing strategists and creative directors, the total expressed emphasis is to capture the youth. They must be planning their financial future bc they’re not preaching for eternal future.
    I’ll be looking more at Martin Lloyd Jones and other godly forefathers.
    Press on Tom, thanks for sharing. 🍃🍂🍁

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You did the right thing. Living just down the road from you I have a full appreciation of the difficulties in finding a solid church. There are no perfect churches, so it really comes down to discovering where the Lord wants you to be right now. The church model you describe seems to somehow think that if you can bait people in with worldly trappings they will somehow magically develop an interest in spiritual truth. It borders close to a deceitful bait and switch marketing ploy, which is utterly disgusting. The Lord doesn’t need the help of fallen man to market the gospel. That approach is founded on bad theology and carnal thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments, Craig. Yup, the Warrem-Drucker-Hybels seeker/growth model is all about worldly marketing methods (Drucker was a marketing guru) used to attract unbelievers. I actually took a Marketing 101 class at RIT that used a book written by Drucker.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Tom for this post about leaving your church. I know this is not an easy topic to talk about. Many say we must be part of a church no matter what. In fact I heard a pastor recently say that if you are not part of a church you will never reach your full potential as a Christian. I know that’s NOT true but it made me cry when I heard that. Maybe because I think it’s so sad that we can’t find a church to attend and these pastors have no clue as to the grief we endure because of that. It’s interesting that the very same day the pastor said that someone posted a totally unrelated comment regarding serving the Lord alone when fellowship is lacking. The Lord sees and understands our tears and griefs even if others don’t. He is faithful! 🙌

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Cathy! We’d certainly like to attend a good church, but they’re becoming a rare commodity. Given the current state of evangelical Christianity, I’m sure there are MANY Christians who feel they are compromising their beliefs to a degree by by attending at their current church. Our church was so bad we should have left long ago, but we kept convincing ourselves saying the good outweighed the bad. Listening to a rock solid pastor was a bucket of cold water thrown in our faces. After the revolving door we’ve been through, my wife is happy just to listen to a few solid pastors via video and podcast. I think from your past comments that you can appreciate the dilemma we’re in. We’re too “conservative” for these hipster mega-churches and we’re too “liberal” for fundamentalist churches where they’re constantly beating you over the head with guilt and also always mixing faith with red, white, and blue nationalism.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve been to these churches, Tom, and they are sickening indeed! Fortunately, here in Orlando, though there are plenty of the kind you described, there are also quite a few that still teach the Word of God in an honorable way … though, of course, they are dwindling.

    Thanks for sharing this important post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! Yes, I’ve noticed that many churches have adopted this seeker/entertainment model. I’m glad you still have churches in your area that teach the Word in an honorable way. I’ll keep looking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s right, David. My wife and I are in a good “habit” of listening to a sermon every night after dinner. I’m genuinely tickled and grateful because I can still remember after I was first saved and my wife wasn’t, and I would listen to sermons on cassette by myself a few night each week and my wife would scoff at me and thought I was in a cult.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry to hear, brother, but I do praise God for the incredible resources we have like the MLJ sermons! Exposit the Word has been given the entire MLJ’s trust for their project of having sermons for every single verse in the Bible. David said it was a huge undertaking, because MLJ preached expositionaly.

    Just as a side note, as a 32yo I find it very discomforting to be shepherded by someone my own age. Especially if they show up in flannel and mom jeans. When extreme events, like death or even this pandemic hit, it’s more comforting to me to have a bevy of elders who are more experienced to turn to. I have heard from several folks my own age that they find the pandering very off putting, I think the seeker driven model is more attractive to the lost than it is to be young believer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, sister! I appreciate your comments. Yup, we are so blessed to be able to listen to MLJ’s sermons. We’re currently listening to Romans 2. MLJ was such an excellent and godly preacher/teacher it’s unfair to compare other pastors to him, but our former church was off the rails. My wife actually doesn’t care for MLJ a lot, he’s a little too meaty for her. So we listen to MLJ only one night per week and listen to others the rest of the week.
      I hear what you’re saying re:older, more experienced pastors. That would probably be my thinking, too, if I were 32. But if a young pastor loves the Lord and is trying hard to serve Him to the “best of his ability,” I would be wont to get alongside the young fellow and encourage him. I think that’s a good role for an old geezer like myself at church at this point. Yup, the seeker model is so bad. So worldly and shallow.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you Tom for sharing. I am so grateful for preachers like MLJ.
    My church is also focused on the young people . There is a reformed church I was considering to visit but due to Covid still closed .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy! Yup, I am so grateful that there are excellent resources available like the MLJ Trust. Because of that, we don’t feel pressured to have to find a new church, especially with C-19 still going strong. After our experiences with church over the past six years, my wife is of a mind to just stay at home and watch/listen to sermon videos and podcasts as we are doing now. But I think it’s important to be a part of a fellowship. Just need to find one.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reading this made me very very sad. It is so sad to see the famine in our land with sound churches and preachers and teachers. I can take my own church for granted; sometimes in the midst of ministry we have so many think we are narrow and leave. This year I count that so much as a blessing than before as our country is hit with so many disagreement, our church is about the BIble and Gospel, not politics nor seeker sensitive compromise with the world stuff. Praying for you in light of this post

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks! Yup, this seeker “steamroller” is quite a “phenomenon.” Northridge church was actually an IFB church with “only” 300 members until 2000, when a new pastor was chosen who introduced the Warren-Drucker-Hybels seeker model.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This church was so focused on conveying a “young and hip” image that I’m guessing (without any actual knowledge) that they purposely passed over older candidates.

        Liked by 1 person

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