Deciding to Leave Your Church. Also, consider the issue of beliefs below.
Do Beliefs Matter?
As you prayerfully approach leaving, what do you look for when searching for a new church? What do you hope for in a church? Do beliefs matter? Do you simply look for a worship style you enjoy or a friendly congregation? Certainly these are important and it's reasonable to list the things you hope for in a new church. But do you learn enough about the beliefs of churches you visit? Roger Olsen writes in the Mosaic of Christian Belief,
"Many people have such little familiarity with or concern for beliefs that they don't even know what to look for other than clues to how churches worship. Many people base their decisions about churches more on worship styles or programs for children, youth or adults than on what the churches believe."
This rings true. Many Christians are naïve about gospel beliefs. Coming from unbelief we certainly were. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Methodists base their beliefs on Scripture, experience, reason and tradition (SERT). The experience part appealed to me. Like most women, I am tuned into feelings and experiential ways of knowing God. Faith based on reason pleased my husband. The pastor made it clear that Scripture trumped all other aspects. Doctrine and Scripture should be emphasized more than it is in many churches. In depth Bible studies taught and fed us, challenged and changed us over the years.
Michael Horton, a pastor and theologian, says, "I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful and perhaps even well-liked that it nearly mirrors the world itself." This is the danger. In today's world it's important to investigate the beliefs of a church before deciding to join. Pastor David Smith, editor of SBC Voices, says:
"Those who refuse to exercise doctrinal discernment swim in shark-infested waters with open wounds. They invite on themselves and their churches the deception of Satan and the excesses of human emotion and impulsiveness. Without an anchor to hold it, without a rudder to guide it, the church is cast about by every wind of deceit that blows. God's Word is that anchor, that rudder, which helps us navigate through the lies Satan has sown in this world."
Christians, we need to take our faith seriously. Why do we go to church? Are we true believers? Have our lives been changed by knowing Jesus? Are worship and prayer significant in our life? Without Bible study how do we understand our faith? How do we continue to grow? How are we able to pass our faith along to others? I'd love to hear your comments.
Christians, have you truly committed your life to Jesus and his church? As individuals we need to recommit ourselves to Him, study his word, pray daily, even hourly and jump into a church with both feet. Just make certain the church you join is biblical, will teach you, disciple you, and hold you accountable.
P.S. For much more information on Changing Churches my book is available on Amazon. It describes our journey in three churches and also raises questions about changes in the church. See my reviews on Amazon.