Why Is Looking For A Church So Difficult?

My family and I have recently begun to look for a new church home.  I won’t go into the reasons we left our previous church except to say that we just did not “fit” there.  So now we have to find a church where we do “fit”.  It is proving to be more difficult that you might expect.  There are a few reasons for this.

First, unless you have a change of life circumstance (such as moving for a new job) you are probably leaving as a result of some problem.  The problem may be with you or with the church.  As a result, there are probably some frustrations or hurt feelings to overcome.  If not dealt with these will hinder most of us, at least for a while, in the search for a new church home.

Second, many churches are structured and function very similarly to every other church in your area.  This similarity can be a strength but it can also be a weakness.  So when you visit a new church, especially within the same denomination, you are likely to be very familiar with what is going on there.  What are you to do if one of the reasons you are leaving is the “traditional” structure?  For example, lets assume that one of the reasons you are leaving your current church is the emphasis on a person’s decision (decisional regeneration) in the way the altar call is done.  If every other church you can choose to attend does it the same way then you really have no options.  This would contribute to the frustration you have.

Third, everybody has personal preferences in some things.  For example, some prefer a certain style of music in the worship service.  Some prefer a certain style of preaching or a particular Bible translation.  It is common to hear someone say something like “I won’t go to a church that does contemporary music” or “I won’t go to a church that does not use the King James version of the Bible”.  So, in the search for a new church you want to find one that fits most of your preferences.  These preferences are important but should not be the sole cause for rejecting a church.  Placing these types of limitations on the search for a suitable church may cause God’s will to be missed.

Fourth, sometimes there are other factors in the search for a new church.  For example, some have children so they are looking for a church with a biblically sound and vibrant youth and children’s program.   There are many good and healthy churches that may have a small number of kids.  They do a good job with the kids they have but there are just not many of them.  Bigger is not always better but bigger does usually mean more opportunities / activities.

All of these factors apply in my personal situation.  There may be other factors that would apply to you.  None of these should outweigh God’s will in our decision.  The problem comes when we look at these factors and try to filter God’s will through them.  This should never be the case.  I see nothing wrong with keeping these factors in mind while looking for where God wants you to end up but they must be put in their proper place.

Are you currently or have you been looking for a new church home?  If so, what factors are you considering that I have not mentioned here.  Leave a comment and let me know what they are…chances are other will have the same or similar ones.

Moore’s Response to Reformed Red Flags

Jared Moore has responded to the document that was recently being distributed among West Tennessee churches in order to help them determine if their pastor is a “dirty Calvinist”.  It contained 16 things that churches should look for.  Moore responds to each of the 16 things with some much needed sanity.

There does not have to be a division in the SBC over this issue.  It is my hope that at some point those who are so vocal about their opposition to Reformed Theology in the SBC will realize this.

A Voice of Reason Concerning the Rise of Calvinism in the SBC

Jared Moore has written a response to a short video posted by Peter Lumpkins.  Lumpkins spends a great deal of time and effort on his blog decrying the rise of Reformed Theology in the SBC.  Personally, I think his concerns are all overblown.  In the video, Lumpkins mentions that 90-95% of the SBC is not Calvinistic and he wonders why the Convention has elected so many Calvinists to positions of denominational leadership.  Moore challenges Lumpkins assertions and gives some statistics refuting them.  He concludes with this:

The truth is that Calvinism is NOT a threat to Southern Baptist life.  Contrary to what Peter is arguing, Calvinists are not taking over the SBC.  There is room for both groups.  Why can’t the gospel be our emphasis, instead of winning others to our theological systems?

I believe there is room in the SBC for Calvinists, Arminians, Biblicists, or any group who affirms the Baptist Faith and Message.  I further believe that these could exist within the same congregations.  I believe theology is important but the Gospel is what should unite us.

Watch Lumpkins’ video and read Moore’s response and tell me where you stand.

2010 SBC Annual Convention Live Streaming

You can watch the 2010 SBC Annual convention at this link.

2010 SBC Annual Convention

2009 SBC Annual Meeting

If you can’t attend the annual meeting you can watch it online.  Click here to go to the 2009 annual meeting website and then click the “Watch live stream” button at the top of the page.

If you watch, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Need Suggestions For A Good Study Of The Book Of Revelation

I am looking for suggestions for a good study of the Book of Revelation for my adult Sunday School class.   Any format (book, audio, or video) will be considered.  Please leave the name of anything you might recommend in a comment.  A brief explanation as to why you like it would also be helpful.

Thanks for your help

Is The Teaching Of Theology “Weak” In The SBC?

There seems to be a general conception that the SBC is weak on theology.  I first encountered this claim several years ago from a co-worker.  I don’t remember the context of the conversation but one comment he made has stuck with me ever since.  He was a Presbyterian and he made the comment that Baptists did not know theology.  At the time, it did not concern me because I did not think theology was an important topic.  I was very uninformed!

Recently, The White Horse Inn played some question and answers they did with some pastors at a conference.  I don’t remember the date of the show or the date of the conference where they did the interviews and I don’t know the denominational affiliation of all the pastors interviewed but I was shocked to hear some of the answers these pastors gave.  The interviewers asked the pastors if their congregation would be able to define certain theological doctrines.  Most of the pastors said some could and some could not but it seemed that many of them also noted that they don’t use the theological terms and that their congregations might not recognize the term but would know the concept.

With the last couple weeks, I had a member of my Sunday School class ask me what the point was in studying theology.  I can relate to the question because I had asked the same question myself only a couple years ago.  Her point was that by studying theology we can go to far into legalism and create divisions within the body of Christ.  After all, we have the Bible, so why spend the time on theology.  I have encountered this same thought in other people as well.

Now, to the point, Is the teaching of theology “weak” in the SBC?  In some churches the answer would be yes but in others it would be no.  There are many very good Pastors (some well known and others not well known) at SBC churches who strive to teach the truths taught in the Bible.  Some use the theological vocabulary and some don’t. Either way, sound preaching leads to sound doctrine or theology.  Sound theology is essential to someone growing in Christ.

I think that problem lies more with the individuals in the congregation than with the pastors.  The congregation has to spend time on their own exploring what is taught from he pulpit by comparing it to what the Scriptures say.  If people faithfully do this, then they can’t avoid studying theology.  If they don’t then they will never gain and understanding of what they claim to believe.  We must strive as church leaders to motivate our brothers and sisters to dig into the Word on their own.  Once they do this, we can overcome the reputation that the SBC is weak on theology.

What do you think?  Have you come across the same sentiments?

Jeff Noblit: Causes for Rejoicing Concerning the Rise of Calvinism

Jeff Noblit of Anchored In Truth has been releasing a series via his podcast with the above title.  It is a very good series and I would recommend that you take the time to listen to it.  You can find it here.

I have been very excited about the rise of Calvinism in the SBC.  I think it is a very good thing that we get back to theology.  Whether you agree with Calvinism or not, the cause for Christ is advanced when we return to the study of theology.  What do you think?

Tom Ascol Says “SBC Churches Are Not Christian Enough”

Wow.  Here is the full quote:

The great problem with many churches in the Southern Baptist Convention is not that they are not Calvinistic enough, but that it is not Christian enough.

He makes this quote in an article entitled “The Other Resurgence” in the current issue of the Founders Journal.  You can read the article here.  In the article, Ascol compares the Conservative Resurgence of the 70’s to the Calvinist Resurgence occurring now within the SBC.  It is a good article and worth your time to read it.

What do you think?  Do you agree with Ascol’s assessment?  Why or Why not?

Should We Baptize Children And What Age Is Appropriate?

I have just read this article by David Rogers over at SBCImpact.  He addresses the issue of baptizing children and at what age it is appropriate to baptize them.  This is an issue that my wife and I are discussing right now.  Our 8 year old daughter has expressed an interest in being baptized but in our discussions with her she has admitted that her main reason for wanting to be baptized is that my wife and I and her older sister have been baptized.  She feels left out.  We have examined her extensively and have come to the decision that she is not ready yet.  She knows the basics about our faith but she does not yet understand her sinful nature, the penalty for her sins necessitate she spend eternity in Hell, and thus, her need for salvation.

The article refers to baptizing children under the age of 12 as “semi-infant” baptism.  Read the article and you will see that he makes a good case for this.  Iam not sure that I agree completely with some of his reasons but some of them are quite compelling.  I am also torn because my oldest daughter (she will be 12 in a couple months) was saved and baptized at 7.  My wife and I examined her and were confident in her decision at that time so we allowed her to be baptized.  She had a maturity that was far beyond her age (still does, most of the time).  With her, we could easily have waited and her decision would not have changed.  I think, unfortunately, that many feel that if a child makes a profession that we need to baptize them before they change their mind.  I know that is not true of everyone but it seems to be true for many.

After you read the article, what do you think?  Should we delay the baptism of kids until the reach a certain age?  The article suggests 12.  Or should we baptize any who come forward?  Also, how many parents actually take time to question and fully examine their children to see if they are truly ready and able to make such a committment?  I hope most do, but I really am a bit skeptical.