One of the hardest things about figuring out that the church we attended for about 8 years was beginning to reveal emergent/missional thinking and also used Purpose Driven Life and Warren’s plans (not just as a passing fancy), has been realizing that I fell for it so easily. If there’s so much wrong with the things leading our old church, why did I not see it? I have been thinking about this and have come to a conclusion about myself. Because I have many flaws as a Christian, I missed it.
First, I was not rooted in the Bible as I should have been. There’s the concept I should have known, to be so familiar with God’s truth that when a lie comes our way, we recognize it. I have always been lax when it comes to scripture memorization and also reading. I should be reading daily, should be memorizing whole passages for context and not just one verse here or there. In my selfishness, I choose not to do what would benefit me most. Second, I was focused on life’s problems and not Christ. This focus allowed me to be helped by church members emotionally. I could be needy. Being needy meant I told people of my worries so much, and they helped me through. This is not always bad, to rely on Christians. However, prayer is what I needed to be doing first of all. When you are focusing on problems and worrying, you are not taking time to pay attention to the messages coming in. Third, and this is a biggie in our lives. I am worldly. Yes, I said it. I watch television and listen to secular radio often. I read things on the internet in excess (like news, and I have a particular focus on pregnancy, babies, nurse blogs, etc.). I just love to entertain myself with things that do nothing for me…and may actually be harmful to me. I am somewhat conformed to the image of this world as an American in the culture. It then means that when my church does things that are just normal for the culture but not right for the church, I don’t notice. I’ve been desensitized. I settled for a life less worthy of the calling to which I have been called. Worse yet, I have exposed my kids to far more than I should have already, though we do have some restraint, it’ s no where near enough. Finally, (though there probably is more I will learn about myself in the future that is ugly and I would not like to know), I have not been a Berean style Christian. I went through the 40 Days of Purpose, 40 Days of Community and didn’t once ever mention to someone else how the scriptures were being used in a loose way. I did make fun of Warren’s shirts, noted our pastors wore them to be funny. I did feel annoyed that my small group was split for this thing, and was annoyed that we were watching dumb videos and repeating things over and over as if we couldn’t “get it” any other way. What should have bothered me was the way Warren uses scripture. I noticed he uses many translations and actually recall thinking that could be convenient for him. He could easily get what he wanted out of one translation or the other…he could chop a verse in half and make it say what he wanted it to say. I even thought about looking up the verses in context but in the end, didn’t do it. I went right through these campaigns not really putting much thought into them. I did write my own notes, did study and read Warren’s books and the Bible at the same time. I just didn’t go much further. This is because I trusted my pastors, and thought they surely had enough wisdom to warn us if there was a problem with these books. In short, I didn’t do the homework I should have done. I swallowed 40 Days like it was candy.
What woke me up? A turbulent time in our small group showed me that the church just handed teaching and leadership to people unprepared. It also got us out of using our small group for support. We then listened to the messages at church with a new hope, with a hope that we could get spiritually fed there. When we didn’t get that food, I personally began to notice what actually was being said. Speakers were saying strange things and taking verses out of context or applying meanings to them that the narratives weren’t meant for (like that Lazarus had graveclothes on and those wrappings are like our hang ups and worries in our lives…what?). Pastors were using the same buzz words, but I didn’t know what they meant. It made me think of my conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. I would always have to recheck for what they meant, not what I thought they meant. I began to research also online, and found critics of some of the same things that were happening in our church from people in churches all across the country. When one pastor began quoting emergent church leaders profusely, and when he was saying things like “god consciousness,” and “we are little Christs,” I knew we were in big trouble. These quotes did more than wake me up, but alarmed me.
So how will I live differently? I have to get back to basics, which is study the Word of God, pray, repent, and humbly turn to Christ. As a mom I need to focus on teaching my children. I need to work on what influences I allow in our home, television, radio, and more. I need to also pray for believers to be more careful, more watchful, more critical.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in His wonderful face…and the cares of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His mercy and grace…”