As I write this blog post, I am reminded of the mind of Christ when He penned His seven letters to those seven churches. Out of those seven, Christ gave five of them a strong rebuke and warning. I am also reminded that a Biblical love will tell the truth, and will even oppose what is wrong (Eph 5:1-21). “Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; (Romans 12:9-10).
Searching for a new home church can be a wonderful learning process. And if you have the right attitude, it can also be a joyous experience. Thankfully there are web sites that will assist you in locating a local church that ‘might’ be like-minded. Though I appreciate some (but not all) of The Gospel Coalitions conferences that I’ve watched online. I cannot trust nor recommend their web based church locator. That is how I found the following local church.
Recently we visited Emmaus ‘church’ here in Redlands. My number one prayer was “Lord let us see and hear what Your will is for us to see and hear. Let my criticisms (if any) be from Your discerning Spirit, and not from me.”
As we pulled into a parking space, my first observation was a man parking his truck near us. I recognized him as a man that patronizes a nude bar in our City. Looking back on that day, while myself and a brother were recently evangelizing this nude bar (from the outside), he rejected a Gospel tract from us.
To confirm my observation, later today after church I went through some videos, and sure enough there he was. Obviously it would be wrong to judge the health of a local ‘church’ based on one man that attends it. And so we entered.
My second observation was that probably only 10% of the approximated 200 persons that entered this congregation had a Bible.
It is not known if the following young lady was saved or not. In all fairness she might have been a first time visitor as we were. Regardless, her entire back and shoulders (from her lower hip-line up) was fully naked. I am thankful that I was not able to see what her front looked like.
Another women that sat near us was probably about 5’-10” tall. She wore tight white short shorts. All you could see was legs and upper thighs. Every time she stood up, she had to keep pulling her shorts downwards, so that her lower buttocks would not be exposed (possibly). It was obvious that her husband was either on staff at this church, or very much involved in facilitating operations.
Until recently I worked a part-time job at a large secular company. Their General Manager has had to pull girls off the floor, and send them home for wearing clothing that was too revealing. Frankly those girls in my workplace wore more clothing than what the above aforementioned women wore in this ‘church.’ Is not that a terrible testimony? That women are welcome to dress more sensual at ‘church,’ than at a secular place of employment.
Then came the most important part. The sermon, which happened to be from Colossians 1:1-2 (this was during their first service). Their pastor’s introduction to his message was mostly about the recent death of their cat Gucci. If that wasn’t strange enough, later in his message he insinuated that Gucci’s “spirit” might somehow be present with us.
I should have used my stop watch, but he only spent about five minutes actually reading the Scriptures. It was an eisegesis rather than an exegesis. The remaining time spent in his message was telling stories, reading a lengthy quote from CS Lewis, and reading pages from a book, admittedly written by “psychologists” and “philosophers.” Later in the day I tried to pull up a recording of that message, but they only uploaded the sermon from their second service (we attended their first service).
One peril that is commonly seen in many other local ‘churches,’ is that he did not consider the fact that some (or many) sitting in his congregation may not actually be born-again (though they may be “believers”). He pretty much implied that we were all one. When in fact the Scriptures that he did read, were written specifically to born-again Christians only.
During their communion they provided choices. Choices of either alcoholic wine, or grape juice. I could not imagine how this could cause some brothers and sisters to stumble. And there was no mention of the importance of repentance, and/or being right with Christ before partaking in the communion.
When the pastor shared the importance of “sharing the Gospel” out in the world, my ears began to lean-in even more. However he did not encourage them to actually share or preach the Gospel. He asked them to take notice of the business cards laying on each seat, and to pass them out within our community. These cards were nothing more than an advertisement card to invite others to come to their ‘church.’ That is not sharing the Gospel, nor is that Biblical evangelism.
Fast-forwarding beyond other observations, needless to say we will not be returning a second time.
Is there a perfect ‘local church?’ No! But let me mention some good qualities (including but not limited to).
A healthy church will preach and teach the whole counsel of the Word of God. They will actively engage in Biblical evangelism. They will actively engage in Biblical fellowship, and Biblical discipleship. They will give strict warnings about communion. A majority of the people will be in possession of their Bibles. The unredacted inerrant sufficient Word of God would be the front and center of their message. The unconverted will not feel accepted as if they were converted, and there would be unity amongst those that are converted. The preacher will remain disciplined in his sermon notes, and will not ramble-on all over the place (I have learned this from my own mistakes). And those that are born-again, would dress modestly, not sensually. There will be a continual inceptive process of repentance, sanctification, and holiness.
UPDATE 05/29/18: Today I received an email pointing me to this article, which further exposes the sinfulness of The Gospel Coalition, as well as leaders such as Tim Keller, and sadly even Albert Mohler, et.al.
As always – Ye must be born again. Repent – be salt and light – be holy – be sanctified – fear God – pray without ceasing – keep His commandments – walk circumspectly – believe in and trust Jesus – obey the Gospel – share the Gospel – preach the Gospel – contend for the faith, – keep the faith, work-out your salvation, and endure to the end! Chaplain Bill 🙂