Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I want to take this time to thank you for all the work you do. I read the post today about the pastor complaining about Castles in the Sand. I read the post he is referring to and what it did for me was make me buy the book. I finished reading it in 2 days. The [excerpt from Castles in the Sand] was not offensive, except maybe to someone who has a propensity towards this practice, and that is unfortunate. Please do not let responses like this pastor’s discourage you. You do a great work for the body of Christ, and I appreciate all you do. I’ve been reading your blog for the past several years, and it has been a wealth of information-as well as an “eye-opener” for my family. We had joined a church when we moved to a new area, and it was so warm and friendly we made it our church home. It held all the doctrines of the faith that we grew up with (Baptist), but it was also very different in that the music was contemporary (as in loud and popular) and the dress was casual, which we never thought much of because we live at the beach.
They had small groups as opposed to traditional Sunday school which was kind of fun, meeting new friends in someone’s home. But, there was never a real teacher in the groups we had-we even hosted a group in our home, and our teacher was always a video, complete with fill-in-the-blanks books. The group we held at our house chose (from the approved list by our elders) one study on prayer by Philip Yancey. Later, we picked one called Be Still, not knowing anything about it. During one session we all even got down on our knees and tried to “quiet our minds” while we chose a verse phrase to repeat. We all thought it was very strange but no one knew anything about what we were getting in to. All I can say is the Lord protected us from anything harmful during that study. [see research on the Be Still DVD]
About 6-9 months later, I joined a BIBLE study ladies group (praise the Lord for one faithful teacher in that church) and only then did the Lord begin to open my eyes to the unbiblical things going on in that church. Before we joined, the pastor wore a suit every week and was an expository preacher. Then he changed and started wearing hawaiian shirts and was no longer preaching expository. They took Baptist out of their name, got together a worship band, and became very “relevant” to the community around us-meaning, no longer including too much of the gospel in the sermons. (I now pretty much hate the word “relevant,” and it’s a shame cause it’s a good word.) The sermons weren’t called “sermons,” and when we met, it was a “worship gathering.” We were no longer “members” of the church, we were “partners.” We promoted Rick Warren right and left, including selling his book in our “lobby” of our new and updated (and expensive) building. In fact, when I finally did read Purpose Driven Church, it was almost verbatim as to what had taken place at this church. We had been through every RW study that he had and even had repeated some of them to make sure we were changing how we were supposed to.
Anyway, during my time with this particular Bible study teacher, we were studying the end times. I was actually studying the Bible for myself (for the first time in a long time), and God had begun working in me in many ways. Praise the Lord! I “stumbled” upon your website one night while I was researching how Satan was currently affecting Christendom (for our study). God used Lighthouse Trails to help me understand what was going on in our church, and I thank Him and LT for that! My husband and I felt terrible for the studies we had done in our home (Be Still-and looking back the Yancey one was weird too), and we immediately told the elders about our concerns. They did review the Be Still video and removed it from their “list,” but how it got there in the first place was because they had declared that everything Saddleback and Willow Creek did, we could do, not really filtering any of it for themselves.
We spoke with them numerous times about our other concerns over the direction the church was going, but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears. Honestly, I think part of it is that they have invested a lot of time and money into a new building, new band equipment, new children’s wing complete with flat screens for entertainment, and the new and relevant atmosphere. It broke our hearts. . . . we felt so alone. We still pray for them, but we felt we had to leave. The good news is that we found a “Bible-driven” church. . . . Not as many people are members, but we sure get the Word every Sunday-doesn’t it seem to be that way?
I do have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. I know y’all are busy so if you don’t have time to answer I understand. After reading Castles in the Sand I began to wonder if a lot of colleges are really that saturated with Spiritual Formation.1 Are they? Or are they dabbling with it here and there and maybe the book portrays it more than it is to get the point across? Now, I understand that once you go down this road, I’m sure it only gets worse. But I’m asking because we have ___ kids that will be college age in ____ years. . . .
I’m sorry this is so long-it’s longer than I intended, but I thought you should know what a blessing you are to me and I’m sure to countless others. May God continue to bless your ministry as you contend for the faith.