Had a great conversation at the wedding this weekend with a former member who relocated for work related reasons. We were talking about his journey to find a new church. I never recommended one but he visited one that would have been well known in the typical neo-Pentecostal/charismatic circles. He was shocked to find a relatable atmosphere (similar worship songs, etc) but terrible doctrine.
The conversation is one that I have thought a lot about. As I said to him, the new orthodoxy is style & success while we pay lip service to doctrine. You are accepted into the fold & lauded not so much because you hold to similar historic doctrines but because you hold to a style & atmosphere while maintaining a certain amount of success. There is no doubt orthodoxy has been abandoned.
He said during the visit the preacher preached a man-centered, out of context sermon from a passage out of Isaiah. Mind you this is a larger church. The next week they visited a small baptist church who meet in a high school. Ironically, the pastor was preaching from the same exact text, but doing it faithfully. They settled there- in the small baptist church.
I told him I often wonder what I would do if I had to relocate. I have a value on Charismatic gifts but there is no way I’d raise my kids in a church environment that is not rooted in the gospel. Unfortunately, as another couple from our church who relocated to the Christian Mecca called Atlanta will tell you , Gospel centered is rare and charismatic/Gospel center rarer still. Even now, the term gospel centered us so deluded, that the my best guess of what people in my circles mean is some form of altercall at EVERY service. Emphasis on EVERY. One of the reasons why I hired Pastor Jim is a large church, larger than ours, was offering him a job, but after attending there for a few weeks he turned it down. The messages were something akin to 5 steps to better finances, 4 ways to improve your health. Essentially taking the interest grabbing headlines from the tabloids at the checkout at the supermarket, rewording their principles, and adding Scriptures. Boom, a relevant sermon. Sad.
All in all, the walk away is the lure of success & pragmatism is strong, but I pray God would grace us as a church to continue to be faithful to the gospel. Unfortunately, even amongst streams that have long been a blessing to me, I see the fathers celebrating nonsense in what I can only imagine as a charity act for them to connect with the next generation. Sometimes I’ll follow what they say about someone throwing down &, frankly, I want to throw up. We seem to forget that Satan plays the long game. He erodes slowly, not overnight.
Thank God for his faithfulness. As history shows, God is always in charge & knows exactly what he is doing.
I believe in the Holy catholic church. The communion of saints.