August 30, 2009

Looking for God in America


fter 47 years of regular committed church attendance I have found myself to be somewhat cynical and jaded. The biblical characteristic traits that a student of scripture would expect to find among Christians are not often found in churches.

I have seen love displayed by members of the Kiwanis clubs. I have seen care for others above self displayed by folks who unite in protection of the environment. I have seen patience and understanding displayed by schools, and bowling leagues, and garden clubs, and hunting clubs, and fishing clubs, and knitting clubs, etc. But these traits are often the opposite of what one finds in local churches.

Of course, I should not cast all churches in the same light when I have attended just a handful of churches. Certainly there are some churches out there where one might find marks of the presence of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

The church we attended this Sunday

So now we’re in a new town and must find a new church in which to worship and fellowship. Last week we visited a church that proclaims the doctrines we hold dear and seems to live in a manner one would expect of those who love Jesus Christ and recognize the sovereignty of God. And this may be our new church home. But I have always been very careful to research the churches we have attended in the past. I have checked out their doctrinal statements, their constitutions, their mission statements, and their core values. I have questioned the pastors about their commitment to the ministry of the Word. But more often than not, I have put my family in churches that don’t seem very Christian once you get past the statements and creeds and begin to look at the conduct.

Not the sanctuary we’re accustomed to
Perhaps because we’ve not known sanctuary before?

So this week, to be careful, we tried another church—just to make sure we’re checking out the possibilities properly. While Baptist, this church is unlike any church we’ve ever attended. Much more liturgical in style, it actually felt somewhat Presbyterian. But the people were attentive to the Word, friendly to us and each other, and seemed to display the love of God. The pastor presented an excellent sermon titled “Uncomfortable With Jesus” from John 6. Kim commented after the service that she got more out of this message than she had gotten out of any sermon for quite some time. I felt the same.

Perhaps all my careful researching of doctrinal statements, adherence to creeds, and core values is not producing the fruit I was seeking. Perhaps I just need to wait upon the Lord and allow him to guide us limping into safe harbor.


  1. Perhaps. But doctrine is important. Jesus was full of grace and truth. We need to treat others with grace and uphold the truth.

    The disciples would be known by their love for one another, but any other gospel than the one delivered to us in the NT is to be anathema.

    I will pray for you, that God would put you in just the place he wants you to be, as far as church goes.

  2. I agree with what you're saying, Lynn. And I'm not implying that we would attend a Mormon church or a Catholic church. But I think it's time for me to give up my dream of attending a church that holds firmly to the Doctrines of Grace while at the same time displaying Christian love and compassion to the world. After questioning our last three pastors about their stand on the Doctrines of Grace and being assured that they were fully on board with Calvinistic soteriology, I have ended up with a pastor who was a full-blown Pelagian, another who was a hyper-Calvinist (not evangelistic), and another who ended up proclaiming himself to be a 3-pointer (and who also didn't seem to even understand what evangelistic outreach is.

    So rather than concerning myself with the church's proclaimed stance on the Doctrines of Grace, local church autonomy, ecclesiastical separation, or "outreach," I think I need to look for evidence of Christian growth being modeled by the church leadership and followed by those in the pew. And I'm praying (along with you) that God will guide us to the proper destination.


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