2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
As some of you know I have moved and I am now on a quest to find a new church. It is a very frustrating experience in the Ozarks. I am in a low population area so finding a suitable Christian fellowship within an hour drive of my place can be a challenge.
From what I see, I think the time mention in the passage above has arrived. Pastor/hirelings are teaching presumption, tales, (made up or real) psychological theory, packaged programs, mysticism and twisted scriptures instead of teaching sound doctrine in their churches. That apparently is what the churches that hire these people want or these hirelings would not be there.
I call them hirelings because they are not from the local churches and most of these hirelings would not be there if they could find a better job. Hirelings jump ship every few years for more wages and they prove the point. Many do not have the nature of a shepherd so I do not know why they pretend to be one.
Most churches in this rural area have 10 to 150 attendees. The smaller ones have a part-time pastor. Most of these part-time pastors are under-educated. They teach presumption or twisted scriptures as the gospel truth because they did not learn the truth. They have little understanding of scripture. They heard it on “Christian” TV or read it in a book so now they will repeat it in their own words.
Nobody wants to really study the scripture to show themselves approved anymore. They just take a verse and run with it down any path that is long enough to allow for 20 or 30 minutes of preaching. They will even claim the Holy Spirit gave them new illumination. However, the end result is twisted scriptures.
Most churches near me are denominational churches. The hireling leaders just copy the programs of larger churches in their domination and their pastors give messages about anything their congregation might like. Their teaching generally does not show sound exegesis from the scriptures.
All the denominations have some strange make up doctrines. Wolves in sheep clothing always creep in and confuse sound doctrine in any denomination. Any careful reading of scripture does not support some major points in all denominations.
For this reason, when searching for a church, I have to rule out most of the denominational churches located around here right off the bat. For example:
- Catholic doctrine is not based on biblical Christianity, it is full of paganism, ritualism and clergy-made traditions. They use common words that Christians use such as grace and faith, but they put their own meanings on the words. Salvation is something you must earn in Catholicism.
- Church of Christ thinks water baptism and certain words saves people and they believe that others that are not baptized their way are not saved. Among other legalisms, they also do allow musical instruments in the worship service.
- Seventh Day Adventists believe Ellen White was the prophet to their church and they generally follow her presumptions and twisted scriptures as being directly inspired by God. They generally also think one has to keep the many laws of the Old Testament to stay saved. Some are a cult.
- The Methodists have a social gospel and have many women pastors, they discount sinful lifestyles and put such people in leadership. They twist the scriptures by demoting or redefining scriptures that they do not like. Most Methodists have joined with the world.
- Some Presbyterians also often have a social gospel. They use twisted scriptures to teach Replacement Theology. Most also add extreme Calvinism and they deny millennial theology about the Lord’s coming Kingdom on earth.
- Lutherans believe in a formal clergy of hirelings and believe infants are regenerated as Christians through water baptism. Only twisted scriptures gets you there.
- Assembly of God, Foursquare and others believe that the new birth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are two separate experiences. They say getting saved by trusting in Jesus does not mean that you ever got the Holy Spirit. They teach that you have to do something to get the Holy Spirit and you must speak in tongues as the evidence that you received the Holy Spirit. They think Christians can lose their salvation if they do not measure up.
- Word of Faith churches are popular around here, just about every small town has one. They are all clones of each other. Their name it and claim it presumptions and twisted scriptures are copied from notorious wealthy TV hucksters. The churches are attended by delusional people who never find the prosperity or the healing that they think they can get by conjuring up enough faith to believe that they have received it. The control freak hireling/pastors of Word of Faith just love to Lord over others using twisted scriptures!
- Oneness Pentecostals such as United Pentecostals are also big around here. They deny the Trinity. They deny that people baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are Christians. They are very legalistic. They really are a theological and sociological cult.
The denominations listed above are most of the denominations around here that are not Baptists. Baptist churches are probably about 80 percent of the churches around here. There are a few other denominational churches in the general area but they are rare, have very small congregations, and they have serious issues of their own. There also are a number of small community churches where the members don’t agree on much of anything.
I believe the Bible is the only infallible authority for Church doctrine and practice so it should not surprise anyone that the “people of the Book” (Baptists) would be the main churches that I would be checking out.
One major problem I have with the Baptists is their stupid church covenant. Almost all of them have this covenant hanging on the wall as if it were the ten commandments. Since I will not keep their church covenant, I will not join the formal membership of any church that has it in their constitution and bylaws. Most of them do.
Some Baptist churches will not tell you about their covenant even if you ask. I was deceived more than once. That is because the pastors and many of the members do not agree with or abide by the covenant themselves but they do not want to risk a church split to remove it. Yet, they do want new members.
For example, the covenant does not allow alcohol use or the sale of it in any way, shape, or form but most of the members use it or are associated with some business that sells it. I think prohibition is not the law of the land anymore and it never was the law of the Church. But, the sad thing is that people agree to the covenant to become members knowing that they do not intend to abide by the covenant. People have no integrity. They become hypocrites to join a local church membership. If they did not go along with this man-made nonsense, the churches would have to change.
Even so, because I will not attend the other denominational churches for the reasons I give above, I am pretty much left with the Baptists around here. Southern Baptists are the churches I usually attend but they generally do have that covenant. If they do, I will not join their local membership.
Besides the Southern Baptists, around here you also have the General Baptists, the Free Will Baptists and the independent Baptists. The General Baptists and the Free will Baptists are Arminian in belief. They believe Jesus died to save all (no predestined elect) and you can lose your salvation if you do not live like they say a Christian must.
I avoid such churches, but in desperation I checked out the Facebook page of the General Baptist in the nearest town. The pastor had a LinkedIn picture of Rick Warren. He was the only link on the page. Barf!! I am not going to any seeker sensitive purpose driven church. Why would any sound teacher link to Rick Warren?
I also checked out the website of a big General Baptist in a small city about an hour from here. It was obvious from the website that they were just a seeker sensitive entertainment center.
I have visited Free Will in the past by invite of friends. The Free Will Baptists are a legalistic bunch and they tend to have not very well-educated part-time leadership. It seems that everyone is watching everyone else to make sure they meet up to their Christians standards. If they don’t, they are ostracized until they get saved again. I knew one person that had been made pastor, demoted, disfellowshipped, restored in membership, made pastor again, and disfellowshipped again within a two-year period. I also am not into foot washing rituals. That is a big thing in Free Will churches.
The Independent Baptists may be of that denomination (Independent fundamental Baptists) or they may be unaligned but around here they all seem to be KJV only. If Pastors will tell you what Bible version is the only inerrant word, they will also tell you many other things that God has not revealed. These churches are very legalistic and they are not my cup of tea. If I really wanted a control freak for a pastor, I could go to any Word of Faith church. They control people with a smile and lying promises. These fellows control with the threat of eternal damnation.
We checked out the First Southern Baptist Church in the nearest town. I could not believe it. The youths were running the service that week and they had no message other than they went on a trip to the beach. They finished with a 5 minute line dance to rap music. In desperation I thought I would check this church out again online and listen to the latest sermon of the pastor.
It started off good, the man could speak and he talked about 9/11, and he told us to turn to a Bible passage. It soon went downhill. The Pastor was just making things up from Old Testament scripture as he went along. He used eisegesis to make the passage say what he wanted it to say. He made the seven-day march around Jericho some Christian application for living today without any regard to proper context or correct exegesis. He even brought in 2 Ch 7:14 as if the Church is the blame for what happens in America.
We checked out the First Southern Baptist Church in the seconded nearest town twice. I cannot remember what the sermons were about. That probably is because the Pastor said nothing much worth remembering. On the second visit we first went to Sunday School. That was a total disaster. The leader of the class is also the worship leader at that church of about 125 attendees. So he probably is the second most influential person in the church.
In Sunday school held in the auditorium he just read from some commentary on John as if he were reading the whole thing from the Bible. He did not even come up for air so you could tell when his Bible reading stopped and the commentary on the passage began. At the end, he did mention that we should ask ourselves what would Jesus do and he did say that something he read reminds him of something in the “Heaven is for Real”. Movie. Are you kidding me!
We checked out a small community church twice that is about a dozen miles away. The second time de-iced the cake. The pastor did not show up. I guess that Saturday he asked his second in charge to give the message. The second in charge admitted he decided not to prepare any message. Instead he just babbled about something that nobody remembers. I guess the few people who attend there go there because they live in that neck of the woods and they want to know others living in that woods. I don’t live in that woods so I will not be attending there.
We tried another community church almost an hour away. I got the impression that they were just playing Baptist Church. I never get a good impression of a church when they start off the service with who had a birthday or anniversary this week. What are we here for? It was another backwoods community church where the people did not live in my neck of the woods. I should drive an hour for this?
I am almost getting desperate now, so on the Internet I check out all the churches within a city of about 20,000 people. That city is about an hour away. Thus far I cannot find anything that is worth the travel time. I cannot even find one non-denominational Bible church. There is a big First Baptist in town. However, the pastor is retiring next month. The town gossip site suggests that he is retiring because he is fed up with certain people in that church. It also says the church has lost a lot of members for the same reason. I might still check it out but I certainly do not have high hopes.
Now don’t tell me to start my own church. Watchmen are not pastor/politicians. Maybe I could solve the dilemma by just asking, what would Jesus do? What I do know is that it is much easier to find a biblical church in the Southwest. How about some Calvary Chapel setting up a fellowship around here?? What do you think?