Over the last few years I have seen many of the people I grew up with leave the denomination that we grew up in. I find this to be an interesting tread. Any time a large group of people, that don’t live anywhere near each other, decided to change denominations/churches within a few years of each other it’s time to ask questions.
This particular post does not ask any of those questions (an upcoming post will). I did however ask a few of those couples to write short letters about why they decide to switch. Below is the Vela’s response.
Recently my family and I were searching for a new church to attend. With much prayer and by the grace of God we were able to find a church with sound doctrine. We have no harsh feelings against our old church. We love the people with whom we attended our old church and we loved spending time with them. But that’s just it. You see, we realized we were looking forward more to seeing the people of the church rather than focusing all of our attention on God. And I believe our disagreement with the doctrine lead us to focus more on visiting than focusing on God. I blame myself for not realizing this sooner, but I thank my Lord that He opened my eyes to see how I could better serve Him and learn from His word.
One thing I learned from transitioning to another church is that you will be very well fed if you agree with the doctrine of the church you attend. Doctrine played a very important role in helping me decide that it was time to leave the church we had been attending. I found myself in disagreement with certain teachings. And, as a youth Sunday school teacher I noticed that I was teaching the teenagers things that were contrary to what they had been taught all their life. I could not go on doing that and it was not my place to try to change the doctrine of a church that was set on its ways. Also, I didn’t want my children to grow up being taught one way in church and another way at home.
Something else that God put before me that made me start to think about leaving our old church was listening to expository preaching (teaching the bible word for word in the context it was written). It showed me how God’s word alone can bring conviction on the heart. This is opposed to topical preaching that we were used to hearing (a certain topic is the focus of the sermon, then verses from the Bible that talk about that topic are quoted). I soon realized I had a preference for the expository style of preaching. I first heard expository preaching on the radio and then on different websites. I also learned about it in books. Some authors you might want to check out are John Macarthur and R.C. Sproul.
Searching for a new church is a matter that should not be taken lightly. But if you are truly searching for a Bible-centered, Jesus-focused, gospel-loving church to attend then you can know that you are in God’s will. You can also rest in God’s providence to lead you to such a church. The most important aspect to look for in a church is its theology. You need to discern whether or not a church’s view of God is in line with Scripture. You also need to decide if you want to attend a church that has an Arminian view or a Calvinistic view of the Bible. I lean toward the latter view. Calvinism teaches that salvation comes by grace alone and I also believe it has a much higher view of God’s sovereignty. Paul says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). Therefore, man does not choose God, but God chooses man. Arminianism tends to believe that it is man’s decision, along with God’s grace, that results in salvation. In the first three verses of Ephesians chapter 2, the Bible stresses that we are “dead in our transgressions and sins” and that “we are by nature objects of wrath.” The key words in those verses are by nature and we are dead, which means we are spiritually dead. Being spiritually dead and being physically dead are along the same lines. For example, if a man is physically dead he cannot make any choices. Even if someone had a potion that could bring him back to life, the dead man couldn’t “choose” to open his mouth to drink the potion, he would need someone to do it for him. Likewise, if a person is spiritually dead, then he cannot choose a holy and righteous God; at least not by himself. By God’s grace he must die to his sinful nature and be born again. Jesus says to Nicodemus in John chapter 3 and verse 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And in the verses that follow, specifically verses 5-8, Jesus demands that one must be “born of the Spirit.” So, just as we do not choose when to literally be born into this world, we also do not choose when to be born of the Spirit. I believe it is safe to say this because in John 6:44 Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
I realize this may sound like a campaign for Calvinism. That is not my intention. But that just happens to be the road my family and I have taken. If you are in the situation where you are looking for a church to call home, I also recommend looking at a website called 9marks.org. This was a great starting point for us and actually led us to the church where we are now. Just remember in your search that there are a lot of churches out there with good intentions in their teaching, but Scripture is the final authority. Also, remember that there is no such thing as the perfect church.
I want to thank the Vela’s an the other couples that are writing the letters for the blog. If your have ever switched a church I would love to also hear from you. E-mail me at MooreMinistry@gmail.com.