NEW BOOKLET: How to Find a Good Church (And What To Do if You Can’t) by the editors at Lighthouse Trails is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of How to Find a Good Church (And What To Do if You Can’t), click here.
By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
Some Questions to Ask
We have often been asked, “How do I find a good Bible-believing church?” There are many believers who are struggling to find one in their own communities. To start with, we usually recommend they make phone calls to potential churches and ask a few concise questions such as:
“Do you have a Spiritual Formation program at your church?” or “Has your church implemented aspects of the Purpose Driven Movement anytime in the past ten years?”
Since thousands of churches would answer yes to both or at least one of these questions, they are worthwhile to ask, and it would certainly narrow down the scope of one’s search. Here are a few other questions that could be asked:
Is the pastor using The Message “Bible” in his sermons and studies? Because this paraphrase is very often used by pastors and teachers who promote contemplative spirituality or emerging spirituality (as the language in The Message helps support these false teachings), it is another indicator that a church could be going in the wrong direction. Possibly, the pastor just isn’t aware of the problems with The Message. If he is open to receiving information about it, that can be a good sign that this particular pastor/church is willing to become educated. However, if after giving the pastor some reliable information, The Message is still being quoted, this would not be a promising sign that the church is trying to be discerning.
Is the church affiliated in any way with the Willow Creek Association? Oftentimes, a church has not implemented the Purpose Driven model but is, rather, hooked up with Willow Creek. This is as problematic as Purpose Driven. See our article on our website titled, “No Repentance from Willow Creek—Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”
Is the church connected at all with Bethel Church of Redding, California? Bethel influence is huge today, and many churches are getting on board with the Bethel craze. That would include Jesus Culture too, which is an offshoot of Bethel. Before starting your search for a church, make sure you understand what the Word of Faith/NAR, Latter Rain, and Apostles and Prophets movement is. Lighthouse Trails has several trustworthy authors who write about these issues. You’d be surprised to learn how extensive this influence has been in North American churches, even in ones that do not consider themselves charismatic or Word Faith.
Ask a potential church if it would mind mailing you a few recent Sunday programs. When you get them, look for some of the key terms used within the contemplative/emerging/new spirituality camp: e.g., missional, servant leader, soul-care, spiritual formation, transformation, transitioning, silence, organic, authentic, reinvent, spiritual disciplines, Christ follower, Christian formation (or Christian spirituality—a term often meaning the same as Spiritual Formation). Just using these terms alone doesn’t suddenly make a church contemplative or emergent, but it does show that at least one person in leadership at that church is reading books of that persuasion, and eventually that person’s influence will affect that church adversely.
Ask the pastor or other leader at a potential church this: “What books on prayer and spiritual growth would you recommend? The answer to this question should give a clear picture of where the church leadership is at in many respects. If you are not familiar with the names of the authors the pastor recommends, do some research. Lighthouse Trails Research Project has a vast amount of research on many of today’s contemplative/emergent authors. Also try Let Us Reason Ministries and Spiritual Research Network.
Doctrinal and Mission Statements
In addition to these types of questions, be sure and visit a church’s website as there you may be able to find the answers to these and other questions without making the phone call. When on a website, see if there is more talk about unity, “culture,” social justice, relationships, and relevancy than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If it does talk about the Gospel, make sure it isn’t talking about the “social gospel.” You can check out the doctrinal and mission statements, but be on guard—a church can have a somewhat solid-sounding doctrinal statement and be actually going in an entirely different direction. Listen to a Lighthouse Trails interview called Beware the Bridgers for some information on that (a free link on our blog or a CD at the store are both available). And by the way, remember who some of the more popular “bridgers” are closing the gap between “rightly dividing the Word” and spiritual deception in millions of people’s lives: Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Tim Keller, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and/or the new spirituality.
When on a church’s website, you can usually find out which conferences the church is involved with or recommending to their church members. The IF: Gathering conferences are growing tremendously in popularity all across North America, but as Cedric Fisher has documented in his article/booklet IF It is of God—Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering, IF is an avenue through which emergent theology is entering the church. There are many other conferences and events (e.g., Catalyst, The Gathering, Global Leadership Summit, Storyline, Wild Goose Festival), usually with high attendance, taking place yearly that are pumping up Christians with heretical ideas and “theologies.” If you find out a church you’ve been researching is involved in any of these, that is a big warning sign.
Books and the Bookstore
Once your search for a new church has narrowed down to a few churches, a weekday visit to these churches’ bookstores would be important. Look for books by Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Phil Yancey, John Ortberg, Leonard Sweet, Dallas Willard, and other authors discussed and critiqued on the Lighthouse Trails website. Researcher Chris Lawson has a booklet titled A Directory of Authors: Three Not Recommended Lists that provides an extensive list of authors who fall within the contemplative, emergent/new spirituality/New Age camps. It’s an excellent resource. You can buy the booklet for less than two dollars or print it for free from our blog.
While searching for a good church, it would be important to find out where a particular church is at in relation to Jesus Calling and The Shack (two of the biggest sellers within the Christian market today). Many churches have been allowing New Age ideas, such as “oneness versus separation” into their congregations through such books. It’s essential to read former New Age follower Warren B. Smith’s materials which will help you identify what the New Age is and how it can disguise itself as a better, more enlightened “Christianity.” You might ask about women’s and men’s Bible study groups and which books are being used at these meetings. That will tell you a lot. And don’t forget to find out which books are being used for the young people. The new spirituality often enters a church through youth and college groups unbeknownst to the adults in the congregation.
When all this has been done in your search for a Gospel-focused, biblically sound church, if there are any in your community that have passed the contemplative/emerging/seeker-friendly/church-growth/Word of Faith/NAR/new spirituality test, maybe it’s safe to take your family for a Sunday visit. Are many of the people walking in carrying Bibles? Seeker-friendly and church-growth churches often discourage that because it might “offend” unbelievers (or as they say unchurched) who come to church. Does the pastor at some point in his sermon talk about sin, the Cross (the atonement), and salvation? These are subjects many churches avoid because of the “offensiveness” of these messages. Better to offer an espresso drink and a little rock n’ roll music during the service and a psychology-based, feel-good message that appeals to the carnal senses (sensual) than to spiritually build up the inner man.
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. (Ephesians 3:16)
Once you have found a church that seems to be sound, you should not stop being discerning. That must be ongoing. That might seem like a “paranoid” or overly concerned attitude to have, but if we remember the many verses in Scripture that talk about spiritual deception (right from the Garden of Eden all the way to the Book of Revelation), we will realize it is the responsibility of the Christian to be discerning and watchful. And if you have a pastor and church leaders who are truly led by the Lord, they will want you to be discerning. The Bible often refers to the latter days before Christ’s return where deception will run more rampant than ever. We must be discerning.
Signs to Watch Out For
In Roger Oakland’s booklet How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your Church, he gives a list of signs to look for to see if a church is becoming or has become emergent. As you begin to attend a new church, this list may be helpful to you and your family:
Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.
The centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.
More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now before Jesus Christ returns and less and less on a coming judgment.
The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.
The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future but instead has been already fulfilled.
An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the younger generation.
Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.
The pastor may claim that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity (e.g., turning to the Desert Fathers).
While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God. These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
A strong emphasis on ecumenism is occurring indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.
Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.
There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace—claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.
Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.
The Mind of Christ
The task may not be easy finding a church that teaches (and believes) the Bible as if it truly is God’s Word. And, obviously, there are many issues that have to be considered. May God bless you and guide you in your search. It may seem impossible at times, but we know there are still good churches out there as we often hear from pastors who are staying the course and are aware of the times in which we live. No church is perfect, of course; but we can and should expect a church to believe and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, that the Bible is God’s Word wholly and fully, that He desires for all to come to repentance and be saved (2 Peter 3:9), and that false teachings that lead people away from these truths should be identified and exposed. We should also expect a church to emulate God’s Word more than relating to and unifying with the culture around us. May God lead you to find one of these churches.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14, 16)
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN’T FIND A CHURCH
On almost a daily basis, the office at Lighthouse Trails Publishing receives phones calls from believers who tell us they cannot find a church to attend in their communities. Having gotten to know many of these people over the years, we can testify that these are not “church-hopping,” overly critical, mean-spirited people but rather are ones who love the Lord with all their hearts and love being part of a church body. In other words, they are not the kind of people who just go around from church to church criticizing every little thing that is wrong. On the contrary, many of them are willing to concede on some issues but not on serious matters such as some of the ones we’ve mentioned in this booklet. And after searching and praying wholeheartedly for a home church, they have come to the painful realization that there is not a church within driving distance (some are willing to drive sixty miles to church) that is not embracing the new spirituality.
If that is you and your family, you may be asking, “What do we do? We can’t find a church.” While Lighthouse Trails has always been very reluctant to advise people as to whether they should quit a church or just not go to church at all, we have offered some thoughts about this in a general sense. The reason we don’t advise specifically is because each family needs to seek the Lord in prayer and study His Word to find what His will is for their particular situation.
The following are some thoughts to consider while trying to decide what to do if you cannot find a church.
1. First and foremost, parents need to protect their children. If the church you are attending or thinking of attending is promoting false teachings such as some of the ones mentioned in this booklet and your children are in Sunday School or youth group, then you are putting them in harm’s way by allowing them to be taught by new spirituality teachers week after week. Thus, in the case where children or teens are involved, we always advise, you have to do what it takes to protect your children.
2. We know that some people decide to stay in a church that is going astray with the hope they can influence and help educate leadership and members. If you are able to actually do this, this can be very beneficial to the church (again, as long as your children aren’t being subjected to false teachings). While we do hear stories from our readers where they have approached church leadership with their concerns and are given a green light to help bring the church up to speed on these issues, more times than not, the stories we hear are quite the opposite. What we are being told by most is that when they approach the pastor and/or the leadership with concerns, they are treated with much resistance and often contemptuously, even to the point where they are told that if they don’t like the way the church is being run, they can leave. We can’t tell you how many times someone has been told to leave even after decades of faithful service. So what we are saying here is this: if your church will allow you to freely share information with leadership and congregants and if the leadership will actually heed your warnings and get rid of the offending material, then it may be best to stay and help. But if you are being told that you can stay as long as you keep quiet, you may really need to seek the Lord as to whether this is what He would want you to do.
3. If your decision has been affected by point one and two, then you are most likely now without a home church. It can cause an overwhelming sense of loss if you suddenly don’t have a church to attend. But remember, you have the Lord, and you have His Word. You are not alone. Here are a few practical ideas to help you:
For Teachings/Sermons: If you have Internet access, search out a few good livestream services that you can watch on Sunday mornings. If you don’t have Internet access, find out if a reputable ministry has a sermon lending library (in the form of DVDs).
For Fellowship: Pray and ask the Lord to bring you into contact with likeminded Christians living in your area where you can meet together on a regular basis. You can use the Lighthouse Trails Facebook page or our blog to leave a comment about looking for fellowship in your region. Of course, before meeting with any stranger, choose a public place (don’t meet in any dark alleys with someone you have never met).
You might consider starting a “discernment” study in your home or a restaurant or library auxiliary room. You may be able to let interested folks know about it through your local newspaper with a small ad or on a local community Facebook page.
If it is just your spouse or family (or a couple families), you can come together for a home “church” service (“where two or three are gathered . . . there am I in the midst”—Matthew 18:20). Pick up a few used hymnals from a local thrift store or the Internet that you can use for your worship time; you can watch a sermon online and spend time in the Word and in prayer.
While not having a church to belong to is not an ideal situation, we are living in a time of great spiritual delusion described in the Bible. In our human nature, it feels “safe” to be in a large group surrounded by others, but in comparison to the two-thousand-year history of the true church, the compromised condition of an abundance of North American churches is not the norm. The norm for the church has been persecution, isolation, imprisonment, and believers secretly meeting in homes or elsewhere. Just read Georgi Vin’s book The Gospel in Bonds to see this.
We are quickly approaching a time in North America (and throughout the western world) where it will not only be unpopular to be a Bible-believing Christian, it will be illegal. Meanwhile, an apostate “Christianity” is gathering momentum where the foundations are being destroyed while outwardly everything may appear to be normal.
In closing, keep in mind that God intended the church to be a place for building up the body of Christ and not for tearing it down. You are not alone if you are at a loss for good fellowship. In this booklet, we have offered some practical advice, but in our day, we must all seek the Lord in how we can best serve Him and find the fellowship we need.
Letters From Our Readers, From Those Who Searched For a Church
Where are the Shepherds?
With the influx of the heresies that are being introduced into the church, how am I supposed to go about finding a church that’s not being infiltrated? I keep looking for churches where I have recently moved to. On the outside, churches appear okay on the surface; but, for example, I visited a church online, then I saw a number of books that they are promoting and couldn’t condone. I was with a church for many years that I saw going in the wrong direction and spoke to an elder, also to no avail. Where are the shepherds? What’s a sheep to do?
Only A Few Aware
My husband and I recently left our little country church. The pastor there is practicing “Spiritual Formation.” He began as a co-pastor, but when the other pastor had to resign due to health reasons, it became evident something wasn’t quite right ever since the co-pastor assumed the position of lead pastor.
On the surface, everything seemed OK, but then we noticed some of the deacons resigned and left the church. Some of these folks were friends, whom we had been in Bible studies with, small groups, etc. At first, we thought they left because the pastor left. But there was something else we just couldn’t put our finger on. . . .
Attendance was continuing to dwindle; we started to make some phone calls to the deacons who resigned. As our calls were returned one by one, the common thread was the pastor wanted them to read a book by Ruth Haley Barton [a highly influential contemplative/emergent teacher]. . . .
We have been searching for another church in our area. Now that we are on our toes and know what to look for, it has become quite difficult to find a good church home. . . Knowing what we know now about SF and emergent, contemplative, etc., it has proven difficult to settle down anywhere. It’s like choosing the lesser of the evils. One multi-site church is seeker sensitive and Purpose Driven and offers Karate and Yoga. In the other community church, in the next county over, you are in a rock concert during worship, the lights down, and the band on the stage singing “to” you not with you.
Anyway, that’s where we are at. I was thinking and praying about doing a Bible study on the emergent church and SF and contemplative. Folks in our area have not heard of this. We didn’t until six months ago, and it’s been a revelation. There is only a few of us here who are aware of this movement slithering into our local churches.
Religious Correctness in the Churches
Our Christian churches are being strongly influenced by what I call Religious Correctness. It is similar to Political Correctness. If you question anything, you are told to sit down and shut up. Do not rock the boat.
I am a former Roman Catholic who now knows and loves Jesus Christ. In Sunday school class at my church, when I questioned Mother Teresa, and I also brought up some of the anti-biblical practices of the RCC, I was told that I could either keep quiet or leave.
Besides that, last Sunday’s sermon at that same church was all about getting more of the un-churched in our community to come to church. Nothing about a sinner’s need for a Savior was even mentioned.
The methods of Rick Warren and Bill Hybels for filling churches with more people are being adopted all over America. Instead of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a church is now supposed to be run like a business. Growth is the most important thing. Thankfully, the Lord has already led me to a strong Bible-believing church.
Popular Authors Leading Church Astray
I visited a church in my area for the first time today. When I looked online at the church’s doctrines before my visit, the doctrines looked very biblically sound. The church’s site clearly states that the pastor preaches from the Bible verse by verse, and he did. With all of the faithfulness to the Word of God that I observed, I was very surprised to glance at some bookshelves, which was the church library for this small church and see one of Dallas Willard’s [a pioneer in the contemplative prayer movement] books on the shelf! I didn’t get a chance to look through the other books, but I wish I had now for the purposes of this letter. The pastor even attended Bob Jones University, which I know you have listed as not being contemplative. These contemplative books clearly seem to be getting into the hands of pastors and Christians everywhere. A pastor’s seminary and even an individual’s denomination doesn’t seem to dictate who is reading them. As I was thinking about my experience today and doing some research on your site, I found this list of The Top 50 “Christian” Contemplative Books – A “NOT Recommended Reading List” and 25 Christian “Bridgers” to Them and am planning to share this list with the pastor from the church I visited today and others. I pray that more Christians will realize that many popular authors and teachers are leading the church toward a new, mystical spirituality and away from traditional, biblical Christianity. I pray that Christians will take heed, compare every teaching and practice of men to the Word of God, and warn others so that more will know what is happening today within the church.
Asking for Answers at Church, But Ignored
My nondenominational home church started making changes, mostly subtle, a tad unusual, but nothing overtly alarming or distressing. For example, they started reading from The Book of Common Prayers. Popular authors like John Ortberg and Gary Thomas were taught, and since they sounded good and got the stamp of approval from our leaders, we followed along. Here’s a surprising change, coming from a nondenominational church with missionary denominational roots: they started practicing Lent and even had an Ash Wednesday service. My mother was raised Roman Catholic and hates that religion (not Catholics). I was raised to avoid any and all things Catholic (except Catholics!). So I listened intently when a pastor informed us about the Ash Wednesday service. It was justified with “our church fathers did it, so we will.” Naively, a friend and I decided that reasoning was fine. I was heavily pregnant with my second child that evening. As they were calling people up to get ashes on their forehead, pew by pew, I was having contractions. When they were just a few pews away, we had to leave due to my contractions. The Lord was working to reveal something to my heart, something about WHY He would prevent me from participating in this ceremony, but I couldn’t connect the dots at the time.
Sometime soon after our second child was born, my mom became practically unhinged with concern. She was listening to radio teaching while she was driving, and someone reported that Lynne Hybels said she had no problem with referring to Mary as “Queen of Heaven.” Ma pulled over to the side of the road, the sensation being like a punch in the stomach. See, this title is given by Catholics to Mary and is unabashedly heretical. Lynne Hybels, however, is the wife of Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.
Sober and grieving, we had to address the issues at my church. We penned a letter to all the pastors, buying and sharing informational books on this movement, and asking for answers. We were ignored. A year later, a respected person there raised concerns about us, and then we were called. That meeting with the senior and another pastor revealed that the senior pastor did breath prayers (mystical prayer), and their pride was palpable. It was our second blow dealt by leaders we had loved and trusted.
We fully believe that if you are wondering for yourself if you are being called to take a stand against this apostasy, just humbly ask the Lord for wisdom. Humility is essential here. Yet this stand we are proposing is no small task. In Matthew 10, the Lord warns that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, dividing people from those whom they love most dearly for His namesake. Everything and everyone must be laid down at the altar; we can hold nothing back. Personally, we cannot count the relationships that have been lost or damaged due to our stand, nor can we express the personal toll this has taken on us. But by God’s grace, we endeavor to surrender all. Jesus is worth it!
Church Pastors Knew Exactly What They Were Doing!
A few years ago a friend at my church came up to me looking quite disturbed and said, “Can you believe our church is teaching contemplative prayer?”
I just looked at her in shock and asked, “What’s wrong with contemplating and praying?”
She said, “No, no, no! You don’t get it—it’s not that—it’s Contemplative Prayer!”
I asked again, incredulously this time, “What’s wrong with contemplating and praying? I don’t have a problem with that—at all.”
She said, “You don’t get it—but I’ll bring you a book next week that will explain it.” And she brought Ray Yungen’s, A Time of Departing.
It helps to have an open mind. If a Christian brother or sister tells you they have something they want you to consider—at least be willing to consider it. I started the book with an open mind and was quickly engrossed by it. It very methodically and logically lays out the case against contemplative prayer/spirituality/meditation. By the end of the book, I realized what our church was doing was really dangerous and completely unbiblical. It’s a prominent well-known megachurch in New York City where I had heard the pastor speak out against eastern/mystical meditation from the pulpit so I naively thought he must not be aware that the church was promoting it in several of its weekend classes.
After reading Yungen’s book and doing a little further study, I had the information I needed to go to the leadership of the church to warn them what they were getting into. I say naively, because as it turns out, they knew exactly what they were doing, and they had every intention of continuing it. They knew it was unbiblical, but they didn’t care. And that’s all I needed to know to make my decision whether to stay or leave the church. I decided to depart. It truly was a time of departing for me!
I will be forever grateful to Ray Yungen and this book for being the instrument God used to open my eyes to this new/old teaching that is consuming churches everywhere. Every Christian in America needs to know about this—even if you’re in a good church. Even good pastors can be fooled by it because it’s so subtly deceptive. And it’s absolutely pervasive. It is everywhere.
Booted Out Harshly
I went through a very difficult period when attending Calvary Chapel __________. I was very uncomfortable with what they were permitting and promoting. I was very distressed. I had concerns about The Message bible, Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz’s Circle Prayer, Greg Laurie, and a few other things. I was told to spit out the bones. I asked them to show me that approach in Scripture—they ignored me. I raised concerns again and was booted out harshly. It was mean. It hurt. LHT helped me to understand the concerns were reasonable. I am still sad for the way things ended—but God comforts me—I am okay. I think this is what happens sometimes, and what happened to me is mild in comparison to other situations. This has encouraged me to read and study God’s Word.
Many Churches Destroyed
The Purpose Driven Life teaching with its rock-like music bands has destroyed many churches in our area. It has become difficult to find a God-honoring, truth-preaching congregation. After different tries, we now look for truth-preaching pastors on TV. We do miss the fellowship with other believers.
One of the “Better” Churches
At one of the “better” churches in our area (the pastor still preaches straight from the Bible, speaking the truth in love), the pastor has also unfortunately been promoting Sozo, a new counseling method popularized by Bethel Church of Redding, CA, which has been engaging in problematic practices for some time. That local church also promotes “word of faith” teachers. I attended a Bible study there with a friend, and one of the leading women of the church was actively involved in reading Jesus Calling every day. It is very sad and very concerning to see “strong” Christians falling for these things.
We Thought We Were Safe
We left a moderate Baptist Church in Raleigh because of the emergent teaching. Thank the Lord, a number of families left because once we connected the dots, we left. We were all rather shaken that this extreme theology could be right under our noses and we didn’t recognize it.
So, my husband and I found a conservative church with their statement of faith reflecting the five fundamentals of the faith. We thought we were safe, but we still met with the pastor and his wife to be on the safe side. We discussed our previous experience, gave the minister books and materials from your website, and we were assured he would not tolerate emergent.
An assistant pastor, with the approval of the senior pastor, showed Jeff Bethke’s film, and he quoted Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (what is a Baptist pastor doing quoting him!). I just assumed he was ignorant, and perhaps he was. But I documented the dangers of these two people and gave it to him. No follow-up desired. At this point, I’d be flipping out if I was a pastor reading this information. But, no response to me. Then, a Sunday-school teacher was allowed to introduce Bill Hybels and his teaching. Then 1,000 Gifts [by Ann Voskamp] is allowed to be taught to the women. I documented in detail the dangers, the leaven, being brought into the church. I left it with the pastor and his wife. Again, at this point, after reading these articles, I’d be flipping out wanting to know, “What on earth!”
Then a familiar call comes to our home (this is our second church dealing with this) from the pastor basically telling me to stop it. Asking the pastor if he had a problem with 1,000 Gifts, he said 90% was solid and 10% questionable. I replied that since when do we as Christians put percentages on allowable heresy. I said, “I don’t mind if this book is taught as long as you also use this as a teaching time to warn about emergent and panentheism and all of its authors she references.” Deaf ears. Then I find out the Bible study leader for the women loves Jesus Calling and 1,000 Gifts. Where is the discernment? The pastors are not guarding their flock. We are sick at heart. This pastor said he reviewed Lighthouse Trails and had problems with you all.
Wish Pastors Would Be Honest
If the “new spirituality, soul care, contemplative prayer” are a gauge of what is happening, it seems like it is blossoming in leaps and bounds in the world. But what concerns me is that, often one would be able to attend our church and hear a magnificent, passionate sermon, and many of the sermons that are preached are such that they just couldn’t get any better. But then we hear of someone like Ruth Haley Barton’s series of Bible studies being held at the church. Occasionally, we hear of names of authors whose writings seem questionable, being mentioned in sermons, and there is little mention of the return of Christ anymore. And the word “sin” is hardly ever mentioned. The church does a lot of good things for suffering people in various parts of the world, and I sincerely believe that many of the people attending have never even heard of this new spirituality.
What I truly wish is that if the pastor/pastors are striving to guide the church in the direction of the new spirituality, that he/they would come out and tell us and be honest about their intentions. I sincerely think they should be more truthful, but possibly they fear division in the church. And so it goes on—a slow trend to the new!
I don’t attend the church anymore, but I am very concerned for my children and grandchildren. I tell them what I sincerely think is happening, and after hearing it several times, I think that young people believe that we “old folks” are of another generation and that they now know a new and better way. Am I alone in my thoughts?
To order copies of How to Find a Good Church (And What To Do if You Can’t), click here.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to share your experience in trying to find a biblically based church, please feel free to write to us. We will share your letter with our readers (without using your last name). We hope this booklet has been some help to you in your own situation.