In the past year I went from blessed believer in my church to blessed subtraction. The events leading to my exodus can be traced back to about three years ago. Circumstances culminated quickly within the past year-and-a-half as the veil of deception lifted from my heart. After serving this Assembly of God fellowship for over eleven years I finally came to the crossroad between conviction and compromise. I chose conviction.
So, my family and I have left behind friends, ministries and memories to embark on a new mission that God is leading us into. I am excited for the glories that lie on the horizon, but my heart aches also for those things I have left behind. Leaving a church is akin to getting a divorce from a beloved spouse. You might love her deeply but unfaithfulness must by necessity drive you apart. It is painful; resentment and bitterness can fester on both sides if the Lord is not sought to help heal wounds and forgive trespasses. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can at times be overwhelming. Opposition from those you called brothers and sisters in Christ can suck the life out of you; stirring feelings of guilt and doubt.
It is never a good thing leaving a church. It wasn’t easy for me. I kept finding reasons to stay. I desperately sought out the positive points of our ministry and hid behind them, not willing to look directly at the gargantuan lion roaring in the midst of the sanctuary. The beast is called ‘Purpose Driven’ and it is chained to a massive marble pillar named ‘Church Growth’, whose chief designer and builder is Rick Warren. Warren’s philosophies of church growth are the foundations on which the beast derives his power. At his command the beast decimates the pillars the church were built on: sin, righteousness, grace, faith, wrath, justice, sovereignty, atonement, the blood of Jesus, the cross of Christ, imputation, propitiation, adoption, the Second Coming and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In its place the beast erects new foundations and support columns consisting of the 5 purposes of the church, unity and community, felt needs preaching, high octane entertainment, hot coffee and warm seats, small life groups, spiritual gifts assessments, and positive, uplifting messages sure to never confront the ugly side of human nature. The gospel is transformed from a sword piercing the heart to a feather tickling the ear.
These pillars rose up one by one in my former church, sometimes escaping my notice completely. At least until God awoke me from my slumber, lifting the scales from my eyes and pointing me away from the road to Babylon, back onto the straight and narrow road of life.
Three events, all of which have happened in the past year, finally convinced me that our pastor and church have been utterly transformed by the power of purpose. I will chronicle these events in several upcoming posts. After the last eye-popping offense, I could almost audibly hear the thundering command from heaven, ‘Come out of her. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you’ (2Cor 6:17)
The fork in the road is well marked. The wide path of compromise leads down the doomed highway of church growth heresy while the road of Holy Spirit conviction leads to the Celestial city; that paradise which is the final destination of all who are in Christ. It is the same road that Christian, his wife and children took so long ago in ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress.’ I too, will follow that road, even if I must go it alone. I take great comfort in knowing no matter how harrowing a path I trod, the Lord is with me and shall never leave nor forsake me.