Things I Learned About Myself, When I Wasn’t In Church

33496411294_898d69b221_zPerhaps this sounds like a strange admission, but there have been times in my life when I had no church home. While I believe those were legitimate absences, upon reflection, I may have learned more about the need to be part of a church when I didn’t have one than the many years I did.

When I first moved to Washington, D.C., finding a good church was a challenge. It took many visits to find and settle in a church I thought was committed to the truth. Then, after roughly a year there, God opened my eyes to some serious false teachings entrenched there. I was devastated. After trying and failing to make any headway against the teachings, I left.

It was painful and discouraging time in my life. I missed the fellowship, the community, I missed hearing the Bible taught regularly. I missed singing praise aloud to God with other people. But church visit, after church visit, I kept spotting the same problems. And it wrecked me. The discouragement got the better of me and I gave up for awhile.

I was judged by some Christians during that time, which made it even harder to want to find a church again. I want to be clear – I never gave up my faith in Jesus. I didn’t somehow lose my Christianity because I wasn’t attending church on Sundays. During my absence, I also read my Bible and listened to podcasts and sermons when possible. Thankfully, that season did not last forever, and I eventually found churches I could regularly attend again and eventually even consider my home church.

But I learned some things during that season that I think are important and sharing them could help others. Continue reading

Don’t Miss List: Hello, December Edition

ChristmasTreeI picked up our Christmas tree last night, so I’m in a Christmas-y mood. That might be obvious with some, but not all, of this Don’t Miss List:

Rev. Kevin DeYoung pleads with pastors: Don’t cancel Sunday services for Christmas!

I LOVE THIS! As someone who loves Christmas Eve service but usually has to miss it in order to see all my cousins at our family party, I often wish more churches still held Christmas Day services (yes — that used to be a thing). Since this year, Christmas falls on a Sunday I really want to find  a service to attend.

I greatly appreciated DeYoung’s letter here and the reasons he gives for not cancelling Christmas Sunday services at your church.

Here’s one of them: “It’s Christmas for crying out loud! It’s the day we celebrate the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah, the entrance into our world of the second Person of Trinity. Don’t we want to sing? Don’t we want to celebrate? Don’t we want to preach and praise and pray?”

I do want to sing and celebrate and hear the word. Pastors, please know that some of us really do want to be in your church this Christmas!

Continue reading

Tithing Myths and Disturbing Video

What is it about tithing that still has so many churches confused? The tithe was an Old Testament act that was a part of the nation of Israel (a theocracy). It is not a requirement for Christians today. Should we give money to our churches? Of course. But are we commanded to give one-tenth (a tithe). Absolutely not. If you need convincing of that this site might be useful, or you can listen to the second part of this podcast from Fighting for the Faith.

Christians are told to give cheerfully, out of love and as we purpose in our hearts.

1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” Continue reading

Thinking Biblically about Race and Class from the book of Acts

My church has been studying the book of Acts verse-by-verse for months now. We finally wrapped up Acts 11 today, and I was extremely grateful that my pastor has been pointing out how both Acts 10 and 11 condemn racism and elitism of any kind. In Acts 10, a gentile (non-Jewish) man named Cornelius was seeking the true God and God sent the Apostle Peter to explain the gospel to him and Cornelius was saved.  Continue reading

Can you make the gospel attractive? Should you try?

This was originally published Jan. 26, 2015.

There is a rampant problem among the Christian church at large today that some might call the “attractional” model of church. More people are probably more familiar with the term “seeker-sensitive.” This is also a philosophical tenet of the Church Growth Movement which you can learn more about in my post from a couple days ago.

Too many churches and church leaders think if they make church more appealing to non-Christians they’ll attend and eventually be converted.

This is s driving philosophy of nationally known pastors like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley and their respective mega-churches. Stanley’s writings and interviews have made it clear he thinks the church should be for the “unchurched.” He’s even claimed pastors are no longer supposed to be shepherds of their congregations.  And Warren speaks freely about the fact that he set out to build a church for “Saddleback Sam,” actually polling people to find out what they wanted in a church.

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The Word: Ephesians 4:1-6

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,  being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB