For the purposes of this blog post, I will call the church we visited “This church.” Recently my wife and I were searching for a new church closer to home. While we were visiting churches, we had heard of a newly planted church here in Redlands, that being [name snipped].
This church was a sister church to a well-known church located in Sun Valley, California. Since my wife and I have appreciated the expository teachings from the sending church, we added ‘this church’ to our list of churches to visit.
lasted five weeks. Their pastor was a nice man, but never in my life did I hear
so much emphasis on “seminary.” Moreover, the emphasis was only on their
seminary (which is also located on campus with their ‘parent church’). We all
heard about his completion of “seminary” to ad nauseam.
morning during a men’s study on ‘Ecclesiology / Biblical leadership,’ one of
the men asked the pastor, “Is attending seminary Biblically required, to
qualify a person to be an Elder or Pastor in the church?” He answered “yes!”
hearing a couple other things that were not biblically correct; I asked the
pastor if I heard him correctly. He reaffirmed that his answer was “yes.” I
respectfully asked him in the presence of the other men, to show us this belief
in the Scriptures. Either with a chapter and verse, or through hermeneutics, he
did not. More about this later.
pattern that I have noted over the years, of those that tend to go off the
chart of sound doctrine, is that most of them hold an M.Div. or higher. In the
eyes of man education is great, but in the eyes of the Lord it means nothing.
With some, their education has become pride, and a form of idolatry. A seminary
driven church, can be just as bad as a purpose driven church. We must RUN from
churches filled with extra-biblical opinions.
you do not have a formal Christian education, don’t let anyone discourage you
from His service. However I would encourage you to pursue one, as it is much
better to have a higher education than not.
five weeks spent at this church, I learned the following. All of which many
other men also heard, at the same men’s’ study. Their pastor stated the
is was “Biblically required” to attend a seminary, to be qualified for Elder or
is was “unbiblical” for Christians to do any form of Christian outreach or
evangelism, without the approval of his church leadership.
he did not want any of his church members to attend any other Bible studies,
events, or conferences apart from his church.
the only people he desired to attend his church, were those that would agree
with him on everything. He stated “I don’t want my members to ‘agree to
disagree on anything.”
stated that there was only one other church in the greater Inland Empire (other
than his) that is “Biblical.”
have no plurality of Elders.
#1: Had he stated that it was his own personal preference, and/or the policy of
the church, I would have appreciated his policy. I too am for high standards.
But to say that it’s “Biblical,” and then when asked to show that belief in the
Scriptures, but he was not able to; that is wrong. It’s actually a form of
false teaching. The Bible says that the Lord has used even those that were
they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had
been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
#2: I understand that it would be better to have their approval (as I do from
my current elders,) for issues such as sound doctrine, accountability,
discipline, and etcetera. But again, when asked to show that command in the
Scriptures, he was not able to support his opinions with Scripture. Nowhere
does the Bible state that your elders shall first give you permission to
evangelize (though they should be sent).
#3: It is good and right for a shepherd to strive to protect his sheep from
false teachers. But he should not Lord over them, or control them. I am so
thankful for all the conferences and misc. events that the Lord provides us
#4: Folks if you ever belong to a church, where the pastor says that you have
to agree with him on everything, RUN as we did. This pastor even admitted that
when a lady recently left his church, that she accused him of being “cultic.” I
can understand why she said that. They really act as if they are ‘the church.’
anytime we become more loyal to our church, leadership, or denomination, than
to the Lord and the truth of the Scriptures; that becomes a form of ecclesiastical
idolatry. Truth is Christ is thee Head of the church, and He and His Scripture
are our authority.
that we place so much trust, and reliance on our education, we need to repent
from that idolatry.
#5. It’s PRIDE! Several times over that 5-week period, this pastor proactively
told several of us men “I am humble, and still teachable.” Anytime someone
proactively claims to be humble, they usually are not. Anytime someone
proactively claims to be teachable, the usually are not. That is usually the
same with love. We see people that claim to ‘love,’ but often it is a man-centric
unbiblical worldly sensual love.
#6. This church had no plaurlity of Elders assigned to this church. Though on
their web site they showed [name nipped] as an “Elder at large,” but he was an
attending Elder at the sending church, which was 80 miles away. Understandably this
“elder at large” was not able to see or discern the aforementioned issues that
a visitor could witness (and I was there for only 5 weeks). A plurality of
elders is Biblical. Amongst many other things, Elders can prevent the pastor
from heavy shepherding, from becoming a legalist, etcetera etcetera.
is this church is the same pastor that frequented a Starbucks while sisters
from his church were simultaneously being assaulted, as they labored outside a
nearby abortion mill (though they were not ‘sent out’ by this church).
is the same pastor that opposes Biblical open-air preaching. One day he
referred to open-air preachers as nothing but men “standing on the corner with
a bullhorn yelling at people.”
This is the
same pastor whose assistant attends the same seminary. His assistant (who is
bi-vocational) admitted at a men’s Bible study, that he’ a social liberal. He
then went on to complain that he only gets paid “minimum wages” at
the restaurant which he works at. He also stated that any Christian who does
not believe in tax paid social welfare programs, is “un-Christ like.” Of course
he started his political rant by prefacing it with, “I don’t usually wear
politics on my sleeves, but…”
We all fall
short in sound doctrine, we all fall short period (myself included). But when
there’s a ‘consistent continual practice’ of unbiblical, and/or extra-Biblical
errs, it’s time to say enough. I rarely pull the legalist card, as the Lord
knows many have wrongfully called me a “legalist.” But when a pastor legislates
his own extra biblical rules, expectations, restrictions, and/or requirements
that are outside the Scriptures; that is legalism.
This church has a lot of repenting and growing to do (and so do I). But it’s reasonable for laypersons to expect more from the local church.