Today I had a meeting with the pastor of the new church we’ve been visiting for the last month. We have been searching for a local church home with our move to a new town this past year. I had a lot of questions about the church’s protocol, doctrine, weekly schedule, etc., as I was raised in a different denomination church that was based on sound Biblical doctrine (the Word of God is very important to me).
The leaders of the church where we were members of for the last 12 years believed in the spiritual gifts, and allowed people to operate freely in them, which I also strongly believe is necessary for a Biblical, growing, thriving church. What were this church’s views on salvation, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, using women in ministry, encouraging the Body of Christ to use their spiritual gifts? Did they have a good youth group? Did they support missions?
I’ve been attending this church for about a month now and have enjoyed it. One of the things that really blesses me about this particular pastor is that he is very humble and open to God doing what He wants in the service. The pastor is not afraid to let God’s Spirit move and wants God to be in control. What a concept!
He is willing to even set aside his prepared sermon when God leads him and the congregation in a different direction. He doesn’t want a religious program, but desires the presence of God. I feel this is rare among pastors, and it is so refreshing to see the pastor step aside for God’s will to be done.
He shared a story with me today that was interesting. One Sunday as he was about to preach, God spoke to his heart and told him to sit down and be quiet. He told the congregation, “I’m sorry, but God just told me to sit down and be quiet. ”
He sat down on the front pew, and the congregation (and he) grew more uncomfortable in the silence as time passed by. Suddenly a young girl ran down the aisle to the front altar, bursting out in tears, and gave her life to Jesus. The pastor said nobody had been talking, and nobody gave an altar call. It was simply the Lord drawing her to repentance and salvation. He said after that, the entire congregation flooded the altars. Wow!
The presence of the Lord is in this pretty, little church with the steeple and the stained glass windows. The pastor believes in the gifts of the Spirit, and desires for the people – even women (shocked gasp!) – to use their gifts. I have a peace about attending there, and my husband Ray met the pastor and attended the church. He likes the pastor (it helps that they were both Marines – Oorah!). After a year of searching for a new church where we “fit,” I feel so relieved to finally find a place of rest and refilling.
Many times people give up on church because it’s “full of hypocrites” or because they are bored. Jesus strongly rebuked hypocrites (Matthew 23), and Jesus is never boring (only church programs can be, where there is no life of the Spirit of God!). Christians are not perfect, only forgiven. We are just sinners who struggle each day and come short of the glory of God. We all simply need more of Jesus.
As believers we need prayer, encouragement, and strength from other believers around us. Corporate worship of God can be such a beautiful thing. Sound Biblical teaching helps to equip us each week as we go out into the world to share the good news of Jesus.
If you are not in church due to hypocrites, wounding from church leadership or other members in the Body of Christ, or not being able to find a place that you really like or where you fit, I encourage you to keep searching. God has a perfect place for you, a niche just for you.
He desires to use the spiritual gifts inside of you for His glory. He wants to surround you with good friends and godly leadership to speak truth into your life and to help and encourage you. He wants people there for you to pray for and with you and to walk beside you in this difficult but adventurous journey of life.
“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:10, NKJV