Finding Church…”Where Two or more are gathered in My Name”… Church pt 3
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. ( Matthew 18:19-20)
A good many people have written me over the years , asking me to recommend churches in given areas. They tell me they simply cannot find a church that they can commit to. It is becoming increasingly obvious that finding a church home has become a seriously difficult task.
I am not talking about people merely complaining about the different but trivial styles of worship. The people who have written me with these concerns cannot find a church that is willing to remain true in it’s doctrine, or a church that refuses to be taken up by various religious fads that have swept over the church through the years; ie the Toronto Blessing, Pensacola, Purpose Driven, The Shack, and lately, BLM and other politicized expressions of Marxism.
This is a serious problem. People need to belong to churches, they need a place to call home, a body to worship with, and to sit under teaching which is sound. They also need a place that is safe to bring sinners and new converts into. I get it when people write me and say, “What you are saying about church is true and I agree, but I cannot find a sound church in my area, Pastor Bill”.
This is why a good many Shepherds will be called into judgment.
They were needed to hold the line, to keep a holy place open as a true refuge, but in the various apostate movements which have swept Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism over the last four decades, so many of these Shepherds have let the flock down. Perhaps they wanted to grow the church, no matter what the means, so they pursued false revival movements. In a good many cases they wanted to reach the youth, so they painted their sanctuaries black , substituted the Hymns for Rock music, and became hipster celebrity Pastors, (selling out the majesty of the gospel in the process). Many of them are just guilty of being ignorant of scripture, and relying on their own personalities to ‘build the church’, as if Church was just another human institution.
There was a major movement among evangelicals in the 1980’s and 1990s in which highly esteemed Pastors paid lots of church money to consult with secular Marketing gurus in order to learn new ways to “grow the church”. This became the rage and out of it we got the phenomenon of the “Mega Church”. The late John Wimber told us that he was a 400 dollar an hour church growth consultant, before he founded the Vineyard Church in the 1970s. One of the highest paid and most renown of these church growth experts was a New Age marketing Guru named Peter Drucker. He took on the Church as a challenge. He had radicalized the growth of corporations and industries, perhaps He could do the same for the Church.
Shame on those false Shepherds, so hungry for fame, “success” and renown that they actually went this way. This is so obviously worldly and demeaning to the Church ,as though it were a badly run business. The Church in America has undergone radical changes alright, and they aren’t the kind of changes which are spiritually beneficial.
I said all of that in order to point out, that I get it, that people cannot find churches in some areas. These trends have infected nearly all churches, completely altering the character of a good many of them.
I know a lot of ‘refugees’ who have had to come out of churches, that they once built, served, grew up in, were saved in, in earlier times. But the church Leadership took it on themselves to just change the church! I know one Pastor who was steeped in these new faddish concepts, who told me, that He stood up before the elders at a church which had hired him and announced, “We are going young!”. I asked him what he meant by that, and he told me, we are going to take out the old organ and the hymns, and bring in younger musicians, more ‘contemporary’ with the times… etc etc. What gave him the right to just change a church? What did he throw out in the interest of “going young”?
I see why people flow out of churches. I see especially how conscientious and devoutly Christian people would leave churches, even if they have no idea where else they would be going. This is heartbreaking, but is happening all over the nation.
There are valid reasons for leaving and invalid reasons. I always advise,”If a church changes to the point where you cannot bring a person to a service, without fearing that the sermon will actually deny or obscure the gospel, you have no business there”. We are called to loyalty to Jesus and to His saving message. Another one is, if the church allows blatant immorality, it is no longer worth supporting. Go through the process of Matthew 18, and try to help the church by calling for accountability, but if they will not deal with sexual sin, it is time to move on.
I believe part of the problem, when people say they can’t find a church, in an area, is because they have too limited a concept of what a church actually is. Maybe you came from a well established evangelical or Pentecostal church which had various programs, support groups a well established hierarchy,(Pastor,Elders, Deacons), but it changed, perhaps it started promoting garbage like “THE SHACK” or false Prophets , or maybe it went “WOKE, and you start hearing sermons about “Social Justice”. You leave, but can’t find an acceptable version of what you left.
This begs the real question, “What is Church?”.
I asked the LORD for an answer to the many who have inquired about this, of me over the years, and He clearly gave me a precious scripture as a starting place;
Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.( Malachi 3:16-18)