Uh, it is so hard to be a Christian at times. It’s been a long three years of learning since we began to really pay attention to problems in our former church. Last night we had a meeting with one of the pastors from the church we currently attend. The pastor could tell based on what we said that we have many hurts from our former church. He said something interesting, that someone had decided to leave this church recently. The man stated, “I am leaving here, but these are the things I have gained from this church…” It was a disagreement, to be sure, but it was also a list of ways God had used the church to help him grow.
I do think we did experience good things in our former church. There was fellowship with other believers, there was some good teaching (a few pastors in particular). We did have some great times in our small group, made life long family, life long friends. We also did learn from some people who despite the church had a habit of studying the bible. Some lacked discernment (obviously we did and by the grace of God began to realize there were problems, how otherwise I do not know…blind I tell ya). At any rate, we did gain things, we did grow.
However, there was false teaching there. Most people preaching/teaching it had no intention to teach falsehood. They had bought into it and didn’t know. I know we all have, at times, had an uneducated concept of one thing or another about Christ or salvation etc. I do believe there are those who just make mistakes and haven’t studied and know no better. There are others who are deceived and despite being taught truth, they are convinced this or that teaching is the truth and is better. There are others blinded by their own pride, their own agenda. I think our former church was (and likely still is) filled with some true believers, some believers who are mistaken, some who are deceived. Then it also has many who think they are believers but aren’t because the teaching has led them astray. Then there are those who have come in and are being appeased, but are not in the faith. Every church has some of this, but not outright deception.
I believe our former church doesn’t just have doctrines with which people can agree to disagree, and can debate about. I do believe there is more to it, and that is where the hurt lies. No matter how nice the lead pastor, no matter how much you believe he has good intentions, he is teaching falsehood. Spiritual formation as it is taught in our former church seems to be works based. All the “seeker friendly” stuff is about filling the pews, and misses the mark when teaching the gospel. The preachers spent too much time off message, and that is where my pain can be found. There are people still going there, and even if they are true believers, and even if there is some growth, I cannot help but believe it is stunted.
And yet, God can use a bad thing for good. Beauty from ashes.
So there I go again, thinking of my former church and realizing how stupid we were. We were blind, and it hurts. It hurts when others cannot understand things, and do not see the false teaching for what it is and challenge it. It hurts to know their kids are in the church and are buying it all, eating it all up. And then they wonder why they leave the church and don’t ever come back? What are they being offered?