Sunday, September 03, 2023

On Searching For A New Church

God has been pretty heavily on my mind the last week.  Specifically, my relationship to Him and my involvement with Him.

One major issue I have been struggling with. - for at least 3 years if I am fair about it - is my relationship to my current church.

Yes, I know.  There are many people that feel that they do not necessarily need a church.  Like many things, I can come up with Scripture suggesting that is not the case but would also be lying if I said history is filled with those that did not have a "church" yet were close to God (Anchorites and monastics come to mind).  For better or worse, I am not one of those individuals.  I need structure and community.

It is not that where we attend now is unfriendly or wrong or bad.  Sure, it is a little more charismatic than I am used to and the music is loud (really loud, actually), but inherently 85% of what is preached is not un-biblical (I allow for 15% because I do not believe anyone is spot on 100% of the time, barring being an actual Apostle).

It is just that I am looking at my connection and the impact it is having on my life.  And realizing that effectively, it is just the same as if I was not attending church.

There are two solutions of course, either throw myself into it harder or seek another church.  

The first...seems unlikely.  There is just not a lot of enthusiasm from my side - which is odd in the sense that the people are very friendly and great, I know a fair amount of the staff, and I have never had a truly "bad" experience there.  It is just...that it leaves me flat.  I feel no connection because of being there, and certainly not a great deal more connected to God.

Which then, of course, suggests I seek another church.  Which itself is complicated by the larger discussion of if this is the time to go Home.

What might that look like? I am not really sure.  I need something with doctrine and structure (also, music that is a little less loud would be amazing).  And I tend to be a bit of traditionalist in such matters, so that almost by default rules out a lot. 

The final thing is that, barring some unforeseen circumstance, I would like this to be the last selection in such matters.

In my youth, we attended both Anglican and Lutheran (American Lutheran).  Later we attended the ELCA (in its early days), then non-denominational, then Lutheran church Missouri Synod, and now back to non-denominational.  Statistically I have 30 to 40 years of life left.  I would like to not do this again.

If you are so inclined, I would appreciate any prayers or well wishes for wisdom in the matter.

I remain your obedient servant,

Toirdhealbheach Beucail

27 comments:

  1. I've been in more churches of various types than anyone I know. Somehow I failed to hit any snake handling, or Lutheran, I was young, single and a friend and I would get dressed and just go to a church and see if we heard something that made us want to go back. We went back to one. Once. Years later and many churches later I found my questions being answered by people who were using the Bible and answering my questions,, the nondenominational churches seemed better at that. But eventually things changed, and a church was not there. Wrong teaching finally got to be too much. I had a friend who knew the Bible,he would come out, we would read, or if I had a question, he would go to scripture that addressed it. I had seen enough at 60 that the prayers,, the knowledge of what made up the contents of my heart and how wrong it was in front of God allowed those prayers to be very sincere. Remorse is required. Anyway, after a few years of not having a church, I got saved. The part about How you will Be a New Creature is real. And it's not always in a short time. I was aware of change daily for around ten weeks. And the things I feel today weren't possible before. But Now I want more. I want a church that can back up what they say with Scripture. And, during the lockdown, I got a call, a man, introduced himself and asked if I would like to visit about God, and the Bible, and now, after this time and untold calls, I have One question that I'm not able to get in full agreement with them on. And it's not important, as it doesn't change actions or principles.
    The history of this church? It was founded by people who had seen the error in their own churches, and had decided to study the Bible and they did. They grew in number and rather than preach the answers, they STUDIED the Bible carefully and looked at the scriptures for what they actually Said.

    I'm still struggling with that Lake of Fire thing, too,,so two questions remain. Dangitt, anyway, after a lifetime of not Actually having investigated their church, and the covid years of having a kindly old man who would listen to me whine and then offer advice out of scripture,we all finally got together,, if you have never spent Time with the Jehovah's Witnesses, I recommend it. I'm Glad I've seen so many other churches. I'm done shopping. I don't Go to the meetings at church. We go to visit that family. A few days ago it was the first part of From Darkness to Light, the beginning of that church, the historical figures who started the movement away from the Catholic, and how the various people went to a meeting and discovered there were others, from different denominations and all had seen enough errors.


    I've still got a friend who turns his nose up, but I don't care.
    I hope you find a place where you get what you need.

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    1. Justin O. - I, too, seem to have not been at a snake handling church, although they would not be plentiful any place I have lived.

      To your point, I have certainly seen a great many churches and practices in my time, and am grateful for all of them - but like you, I have reached the point where I would like to be done with shopping. Much like the belief I have one more move in me - whether across the street or across the country - I have one more church change - and then I think I am done.

      I am also reaching the point where I am comfortable belonging somewhere that I connect with 89% of everything, but not necessarily 100%. As long as the basics are correct, I can live with being ambiguously non-committal on the rest.

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  2. Anonymous3:33 AM

    Even Mother Theresa had "arid periods" when she prayed and could not feel an emotional connection. And she soldiered on.

    M. Scott Peck makes the assertion that Love is an action or a decision, not an emotion. Love is when we do "the right thing" when we are not motivated by the euphoria that is popularly called "love".

    If you have connections, perhaps suggesting another service where the music is not as loud? Many denominations will offer different "styles" of service because they realize that they are serving a wide range of people. For example, a common split is "traditional service" and a "contemporary service".

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    1. Thanks for the reminder on Mother Theresa. Even the best among us have periods of aridity.

      Unfortunately I both lack those particular connections and the "DNA blueprint" of this is very charismatic. Also, they have been experiencing phenomenal growth, so this (objectively) remains a me problem. But worship is only part of the disconnection; there is just a really sense (to me) that I do not "fit" - again, not from anyone else, simply from me.

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  3. Very important decision. I'll be praying for you. We are individuals, so our family will be one we are comfortable with. Enough challenge to keep it engaging, enough care to keep it encouraging, worship that leads us to engaging with the Father personally.

    I was a hermit for 10 years after a "blood sport Christianity" experience. Late last year, I realized the lack of iron sparks was leading to chronic and acute dullness (Prov 27:17). I asked a pastor buddy to meet once a week for lunch. I started attending his church when I could make it. It took a while, but I'm a regular now. Their theology is pretty good, and the people have become family. Each church has it's own flavor. This one is very familiar to me.

    An old farmer taught a lesson to a young Christian I knew long years ago. She was camping with his family. Her best friend is his daughter. He pulled a coal out of a camp fire and asked her how long it would last, burning by itself. They watched as it lost it's glow fairly quickly. He pushed it back near the fire, and it started glowing again. He told her of the importance of regular fellowship... how quickly we grow cold if we neglect the regular fellowship of our Father's family.

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    1. Thanks STxAR. One semi-complicating factor here is that The Ravishing Mrs. TB is employed by the church we have been attending. Lovely people, but it can become overwhelming for her when her work is also an effective ongoing social group - and spending 6 days a week at your "job".

      I am making a list of things that are important to me so I can begin to think about this a little more critically. In the past, I would have said "Scriptural Adherences" - And that remains super important, of course. But there are other things that remain important to me, things that are not that (type and practice of worship, for example) that I have sort of drifted into rather than consciously decided on.

      The fellowship comment is duly noted and (frankly) something I am missing - but as with the rest, I just feel disconnected in a way that I cannot fully explain. It is a me thing instead of a them thing.

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  4. I have trouble with transportation. So right now I attend online. Michigan was Southern Baptist when I grew up. I've attended a few, and yes, you have to feel drawn to make it work.

    See if there are any online churches at Old Home. I know you want to physical church, but an online service can give a feel for a church when you can't get there.

    There are a couple I "attended" online that didn't work. Right now I attend one from my home town. I have alarms set so I don't miss it. And sometimes I attend one here in Louisiana closer to where I live.

    If you are feeling a pull to Old Home, it may be the Holy Spirit directing you. So maybe look there.

    God bless, TB.

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    1. Linda, I have never inherently had a problem with online church - after all, back in the day of the 80's and 90's when radio programs were all the rage, that was a form of church attendance. It was more the commitment than the nature of location. And perhaps one of the few good things from The Plague is that churches figured out how to accommodate this more.

      Honestly, I am approaching it a little differently: what church (thinking denominationally here) might I start attending here that would accommodate on-line services? I do not know when a more full time move will happen.

      Thank you for your thoughts. I certainly feel the pull to Old Home; just not necessarily for a church that I know fthere.

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  5. Finding a church body to connect to is a challenge. I usually find myself thinking in terms of leadership-followship. Are they leading in a direction I'm willing to follow?

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    1. Leigh, this very morning I put together a list of what I would be looking for. While your specific comment is not explicit, I think it was implicit.

      It is interesting. There is a lot of things that I can view ambivalently about church that once upon a time would have created significant issues, while the core issue - adherence to Scripture - has remained and become more important. Perhaps that is a natural development of maturing, but perhaps that is also a development of the time and place we find ourselves in.

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  6. Anonymous9:24 AM

    TB - What a coincidence I have been doing same. I had a choice and the nearest candidate had a pastor that turned me off so badly I finally have chosen to attend one I cannot walk to as easily. Like Leigh I have a list, I won't go into it but ya!!

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    1. What a welcome coincidence!

      Honestly, as I have been walking through this mentally all morning following responding to folks, I am thinking that actually posting what my "list" is might be a useful exercise for me (and also, to explain my thinking on the matter).

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  7. Anonymous10:30 AM

    We attend the Church of the Great God which is focused on doctrine. Their website, CGG.org, has a wealth of resources - Daily Verses, Sermons, Bible Studies and streaming Sabbath services on Saturday afternoon (they are seventh-day Sabbath keepers). We have a small congregation and there are many small groups around the world that gather in homes to watch the Sabbath services and fellowship. I was also searching for a church and was led to CGG in 2021.

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    1. Thanks very much for the reference and website. I will certainly give them a look.

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  8. Anonymous12:26 PM

    I attend a continuing Anglican church, which is where the conservative Episcopalians went after the mainline went over to female ordination and gay marriage.

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    1. Thanks Anon. We were Episcopalian long, long ago. Certainly the service is in line with what I am thinking.

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    2. Anonymous2:29 PM

      You might like a blog by an Anglican Priest called lonestarparson.blogspot.com as he, I believe, has broken with the mainline Anglican Church.

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  9. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Many of today's churches with all that loud modern 'Christian' music are not there to worship, they are there to entertain.
    We moved to another Christ oriented church that is 45 miles away from where we live. It is worth the drive. Finally feel at home.

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    1. It often feels like that - or at least that the service is as much about us as it is about God. This is one of my general fundamental issues.

      I am also thinking that distance should not be an obstacle to the right church.

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  10. Anonymous5:42 AM

    The description of what you're looking for falls in the light of a
    non-denominational fundamental Bible church...
    Where Hymns are played, and sung...in a reverent and respectful manner...
    Where Gods' word is presented in a Scriptural and Biblical way...
    Where the belief of the incarnation and virgin birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ...His identification as the Son of God...His vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind by the shedding of His blood on the cross...the resurrection of His body from the tomb...His power to save men and women from sin...the new birth through the regeneration by The Holy Spirit...and the gift of eternal life by the Grace of God.
    Congregants can be spiritually fed when Gods' word is properly handled and presented.
    Liberal ideologies has No place in the teaching and preaching of Gods' word...
    A well rounded, and presented, message from the pulpit should be focused on Jesus Christ, His Cross, and the way of salvation.

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  11. Anonymous9:28 AM

    I’m compelled to comment because of the familiar acquaintance that has occurred checking in on your blog here the past year and more.

    I became divorced this past year. I’ve been a good standing member of a small congregation of Missouri Synod Lutheran’s for a number of years. Never presided as leader but lots volunteer board, committee, and trustee type work.
    Could be I’m simply using that volunteer work as a way to augment my simple existence as a member. But it has been a way to feel myself as a working part of the body of Christ. As a rambling soul after my divorce was thrust upon me the opportunity to become the Treasurer of the congregation seemed a logical move. So glad I did. My tasks and inputs make a difference. I think of the 90% of work done by 10% of the members. I know my fellow members want this church to continue. They don’t have the time or are afraid to commit the time for whatever reasons. But there are tasks that need fulfilled - or it starts to fall apart.

    I understand your pain with the LOUD praise music. Don’t entertain me, feed me with the word. In the current setting I’m in that happens, with our Pastor being diligent in tracking on the message of the free gift of salvation. I remind myself that is the earthly churches commission. Spread word of the free gift of salvation.

    My solution is greater commitment to serving my church. You seem to be needing a boost of your spirit. We are all part of the great communion of believers. As I read of your concerns I’m reminded there are many parts of the body of Christ. I hope you find the peace in your search.
    Franknbean

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  12. Strange, I came here because of an anonymous post recommending you look at Lonestar Parson's. Blog. I've followed him for a while. Not what you might expect from a Parson; but I find many of his posts interesting, even if I don't comment on all of them.
    https://lonestarparson.blogspot.com

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    1. I meant to add that I did not see the comment after I got here. That was the strange part. :)
      You all be safe and God bless.

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  13. Anonymous11:16 AM

    Try Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.
    I searched for yrs and settled down there. Dont buy the 7 wives ect misinformation stuff. We believe in the holy trinity and study the bible.
    No loud music ect..
    churchofjesuschrist.org

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    1. Anonymous - Thank you for the recommendation. All the Latter Day Saints I have met have been really nice and kind hearted people.

      (Of note, I no more buy the "Seven Wives" theory than I do that all Evangelical Christians are unknowledgeable lowbrows or that all Catholics somehow endorse some of the awful events that have happened there. In point of fact this is just the sort of propaganda that is imposed by others. One can disagree with a belief without blemishing those that believe it.)

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    2. You are welcome. I have found Latter Day Saints to be the best people in general also. If you go on the churchof jesuschrist.org site you can request missionaries to come visit and speak with you. Young folks with a deep love of Jesus Christ. I promise you wont regret it. They will ask you at the end if you would like to speak with them again and you can simple say , no, or you will think about it or yes, whatever you like and they will respect it completely.
      Enjoy your search, no matter where you end up it will be with Christ and that is what matters.
      Regards
      JT
      PS, I'm JT in above post as annonomous

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    3. JT - Thanks for the follow up (and letting me know who you are). Appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

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Comments are welcome (and necessary, for good conversation). If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!