Monday, November 14, 2011

When to Leave a Church, Part I

Are we in the Last Days church? Some days it really looks like it.

The other week some "new" teachings being introduced at a local church were brought to my attention. I did some research which involved looking at both sides of the issue (pro and con) and also watched multiple sermons by this particular teacher. I then brought the research to the attention of one of our small group discussions and was met with some resistance. I prefaced my comments by saying that the information I was bringing forth was nothing personal and that I knew some people had spent years studying this particular preacher's works. Some eye-opening comments came forth and none of them were based on comparing things with Scripture.

The meeting ended with me choosing to leave early and seriously questioning what direction the church was moving. I soon realized that perhaps it was time to move on to a different congregation.

I then sat down and compiled a short list of the reasons why I, and others, would have grounds for leaving a particular congregation. They included:

  • When it becomes more interesting to find "gold dust" in a Bible than actually reading what's on the pages
  • When people become more focused on the "experience" rather than learning anything from the Word
  • When you point out substantial errors in the new teachings that directly conflict with the Word and no one seems too concerned about it
  • When there is talk of a lack of "unity" over the new teachings, not because they are unbiblical, but because they are "new"
  • Little to no comparison of the "miracles" with what Scripture teaches
  • There is widespread twisting and spinning of Scripture in the new materials being taught

As you can probably see, some of this has to do with an ongoing "signs and wonders" movement that is sweeping the churches around the world. Often times these "signs and wonders" are attributed to the Holy Spirit, but is that really what is happening? Or is it a confusion of true miracles with false signs mixed in? Why is every supernatural event being attributed to the Holy Spirit? These verses came to mind as I was doing research:

II Thessalonians 2:7-10 (NKJV) states:
"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
Matthew 24:24 (NKJV) states:
"For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect."
In Acts 17:11, the Bereans were commended by Paul for searching the Scriptures to see if his teachings were true and worthy. I saw none of that occuring with these recent events. I even willingly offered to compare the new sermons and teachings with what the Word actually says. There did not seem to be much interest in that. Although there is hope in this situation, it brings to light a much bigger ongoing issue that shows little sign of improvement.

Next Monday, I'll cover what I think is leading to this phenomenon and where it may be leading next.

Have you ever left a church you've attended for a long time? What led you out the door?

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