Because we have many children and homeschool, a midday meeting with a pastor to ask questions is difficult for both my husband and me to attend. I trust my husband though, so since we didn’t find a sitter, he went on alone. This pastor is from a “church plant” of our former church. Some members came from our former church willingly for the plant, and others may have been less than willing to plant. In fact, a few have returned to our former church after the allotted planting time. We came to this church despite my fears because one of the couples who fought for two years in our former church goes to this church. They really have expressed that the pastor is very conservative and handles the word of God rightly and carefully. We had to at least try this church. It’s very small at this time. One benefit of it’s newness and small size is that the children older than 8 are with parents in service. They don’t have enough people to take the children out. This church does appear to have a wishy washy music ministry, if you ask me. I have been trained on this music for at least 8 years…if not more. I do like some of it, and rightly so. However, other times I am not so sure as it’s the 7-11 style music (seven words eleven times…). Also, one day the music pastor randomly said, “let’s have a bit of silence” for no reason. This has to be addressed if we are to attend this church seriously.
My husband let the pastor know up front our issues with the former church and even shared one email from someone in leadership to us. He started at the beginning with the “Christ followers vs. Christian” videos and the guest speaker Steven Smith. He spoke to him about emergent things leaking in, Youth Front connections, Missional, and on and on. He spilled it all (if you’re newly reading my blog you’d have to go back). He even talked about why we’re not comfortable with Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose.
This pastor’s response was so helpful. He first said that, as a former staff member of the church we recently left, he was having difficulties with what was happening before he left for this new plant. He talked about discussions of “missional” themes, and revealed to us one of the pastors was also against it from the beginning stating…”what does that mean anyway, it’s not even a word!” Knowing that pastor, I laugh because I could hear him saying it. He also shared our concerns about someone using quotes from emergent leaders and then trying to say they weren’t influenced by it. He says, “I don’t quote even respectable leaders like Martin Luther because there are aspects of his teachings I don’t agree with…so if you disagree with someone I quoted please come to me.” He also said he didn’t understand why the former church treated us so badly when it comes to being Berean like. He commented that this is important, we are to test the spirits and listen to preaching critically, and that it’s not bad to be discerning. He said he hopes we can feel comfortable enough to be able to learn from sermons. I think he sincerely hopes we are hearing truth at the church he preaches in, and that we will be learning not because we’ve turned off our discernment and are learning bad teaching. For once, my husband says he felt a preacher was truly hearing him and he wasn’t getting a “company line.”
I believe that if this church was on the Warren train, my husband couldn’t have opened up about this without the “company line.” This man is still friends with people and some leadership of the former church. However, he assured my husband that friendship didn’t mean this church is like our former church. He says they did seperate themselves rather quickly. In fact, they have never liked the “marketing” to young marrieds with children. He says he hopes this church is seen as a welcome place for Christians in all stages of life from birth to elderly. Really, we did attend a Sunday School Bible study class, and noticed how the older couples who are very conservative were asked questions and were respected in class.
This pastor also commented that people are still joining who are from our former church (it was big enough that we cannot know everyone). A couple joined a few weeks ago, they expressed that they have been frustrated with our former church and should have come when the plant was started. Very interesting to see the former church is still bleeding out the back door.
I am still nervous about jumping into a church plant affiliated previously with our former church. Everything in me wants to run 180 degrees in the other direction. However, I think it’s worth a look and to really see if this church is different enough to actually still be orthodox/Biblical. Since we have been visiting another church that appears to be very Biblically focused, Christ centered….it’s really still between two churches.