Sometimes I feel so uneducated in all things biblical. I have read the Bible, been through different Bible studies, taken a course called “Understanding the Bible” which was taught in a secular institution but it was good in that it forced us to look at the harmony of the four gospels and more. I come from a background where I attended the church of the family I was with or ended up at a nearby congregation with a grandparent, step grandparent, on a bus, or walking by myself. I have attended services in Nazarene (the first I can recall from ages 5-10) and then a Methodist by myself for over a year. I went to Disciples of Christ Christian and Presbyterian for a two year time period (and my Bible on promoti0n Sunday is from the Presbyterian church). I also attended a Christian church in middle school alone (with friends but not my parents). Also from 7th grade through high school I attended a Lutheran church with my step-mom and father when they did go once or twice a month. In high school I was in a Youth For Christ group that met every other week. In college I went to a Free Methodist church with my Navigator friends. I attended Navigators for four years regularly. I switched to a Disciples of Christ church when I started “courting” with my husband and we were there for a few years. We moved out to the west coast and ended up in a “non denominational” church which used materials such as “homebuilders” for small groups. I think I first came across the “Willow Creek” materials there. We lived there for three years, and then moved to the midwest and began attending a “Bible church” here. I recalled the kids from the Bible church in my home town (well, from 7th grade onward) and they were always the ones that never danced and didn’t go to movies in high school. They were “serious” in their faith in my estimation. This Bible church was more lax on these rules than I recalled, but then again, so was the Nazarene church by this time.
Throughout my years, I read my Bible off and on. I would often read a passage, write a summary in a journal, wrote a few prayers for others in the journal (just basically a list of who I was praying for and their concerns…not a “journal” as some get into in some contemplative circles). I studied also, and bought a Strongs concordance. I used notes in the Bible frequently when growing up. I also eventually got a Greek/NIV/NASB interlinear New Testament which I love. I grew up reading out of RSV, King James, and NIV. I memorized some scriptures when I was younger but never enough. No one really pushed me to do this, and so I recall working on the the 23rd Psalm on my own. I kept my faith throughout, but certainly have always known I am not perfect. I was terrible about cussing in high school, and also had issues with a long term dating relationship I should never have begun. I recall thinking I should just stay friends but let myself get sucked in. Thank God I was able to keep my virginity and my clothes on, but we did cross lines of intimacy I would not have had I not been with this man in a dating relationship. Besides, he claimed to be a Christian and went to church and Navigators with me but didn’t really have a changed life. Three years of trying to work out something that was wrong, what a waste of time!
So, my growth as a Christian has been slow, and has been pretty much hit and miss. I did learn a lot about cults in college as I ran across them frequently and even dealt with them as a resident assistant in the dorms. Later, as a new mom, it seemed Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons would come to my door within the first six months of the birth of a new baby. I spent over a year challenging a Jehovah’s Witness (she was in her 60’s) and then several months talking with some Mormon women. I scared away a few sets of Mormon men too. I also read “The Dangers of the Rainbow” in college which opened my eyes to a lot about the New Age movement.
I write all of this to share my past experiences, and it is sure varied. There were some overlapping trends. The Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran all had creeds. If I recall right, they all recited the Lord’s prayer in service. I recall there to always be an order to service. There’d be music hymns, announcements, sermon, reciting of prayers and creed, standing, sitting, and a benediction. The Nazarene church always had an altar call after an emotional sermon and set of songs. People could “get saved” week after week (from my recollection as a child). Some churches had communion often…some weekly and others on a schedule of some sort. I recall the Lutheran church had an order of sermons and schedule for everything plus all the repeating after the pastor.
I learned very little about church history in my life. I never heard of Spurgeon, Calvin, and others. I did not know how all these different denominations formed except that Luther caused a split off from the Catholic church. I knew that some denominations didn’t like Catholic beliefs but didn’t know why exactly. I really never learned TULIP and only really only began exploring predestination in college during spirited discussions with other young Christians.
This is getting a little long and so I will cut for now. I think I’ll write questions I have been pondering…
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