Let me begin by telling everyone this: I’m proud of my upbringing and the heritage I’ve been raised in. I was raised on a Pentecostal church pew. I don’t want anyone to think I have resentments or regrets for the good experiences I’ve had in my walk with the Lord. This is not a knock or attack on Pentecostal Church. If you read it that way, this is not my intention.
Throughout my life, I looked at people who left Pentecostal churches to attend a different “flavor” – a Baptist church for example – as someone who was going weak and didn’t want the “full-gospel.” Many Pentecostals I know do the same. I’ve heard the talk, gossip, and speculations. However that didn’t stop those who left from leaving without ever looking back. Whether I’ll look back or not is yet to be said, but for now. We’re happy, plugged in, and growing again.
The last few years has been an entertaining ride, should I say, for us. It began about 6 months before I stepped down from an eldership position at a church that we moved here to work with. I began to disagree with so much of what was being said not just from the pulpit, but from my mind as a result of the dogmas I had adopted over most of my life. There were issues in my personal life and marriage that were not above the grace of God, but it was my responsibility to the health of that congregation for me to step down. So we stepped down and left abruptly so we wouldn’t talk ourselves out of it. It wasn’t a popular decision, but it was the right one for us.
We visited churches all over the area to just attend, regroup, and grow. Every one of them we visited (except one) was of a Pentecostal influence, because that was what we were used to. We looked for the energetic (mildly put) music, fiery preaching, and emotional experience we were used to. There was plenty of it, but all of them ended up to have a common thread that we needed to steer away from.
For a year and a half, we drifted around, and even helped another couple plant their ministry. Because we didn’t feel we fit in at the churches we visited, we even “helped” them by starting a Sunday morning service. As time went by, we realized that this kind of “help” wasn’t the answer we or they needed.
So we realized, maybe we were avoiding the very kind of place we needed at this time of our lives. We visited one church, one of the largest in the region that is negatively referred to a “seeker-friendly.” Just about everything I heard about them was false. The first Sunday we visited, they preached on idolatry, and in a very convicting way. We really enjoyed it, but it was too far from the area we live to really plug in.
Then we re-visited another church that we had not given much of a chance before.
Our kids went to camp with their friends that attend this church, and they did so much to make them/us feel welcome as part of the group – but not in a “we have to have you here, we sure can use people like you” kind of way. We decided after we returned from our vacation the following week we would come back and really see what it’s all about. Why did not give them a chance before? Because it was a Southern Baptist church. Period. It was all based on preconceived notions that it was lukewarm, dead, and condoned the mentality of “sign the card and you’re saved no matter what.” However, I found that those notions, too, were lies.
We are just as imperfect, and as jacked up as we ever were. However, we are no longer having to put on a mask to look good for everyone. We no longer have to smile when we are hurting. I no longer have to pursue doing “platform” type ministry, when my heart is not in it. All my talents and abilities are available to the Lord’s work, but it feels good to know there are capable people doing everything I know how to do, so there is no excuse or opportunity for me hiding behind a keyboard, soundboard, camera, or even pulpit while God deals with me.
I have to say, we have thoroughly enjoyed finding a church “home” once again in Little Flock Baptist Church. So often when looking for something we need we avoid what we need because we’ve been told something about it that is untrue. Maybe you are like us. Looking for somewhere to worship, where your family will grow, but you won’t go to “that” church because of what you were told. Let me tell you, forget what other people think about you and do what you need to do for yourself and for your family.
For those who are reading this, wondering “why don’t they come to OUR church?” It’s not because we don’t like you, or your church. It’s because this is where we felt the Lord wanted our family, and we know now this was finally, Him.