Just joining me? If you hate joining in the middle, I encourage you to read the first two installments:
(read Part 1)
(read Part 2)
Before I continue with the final installment of my story, I'd like to point out two things:
- I am not bashing the SBC...I was saved in an SBC church and I know many fine folks who attend SBC churches. Not all SBC churches are the same, however.
- Along the same vein, keep in mind that not all IFB churches are the same, either. There seems to be a stigma attached if you are "fundamental" in your beliefs - it means you're really "old-fashioned" and don't listen to the most current "worship" music and wear long skirts and your hair in a bun. Don't believe everything you read or hear about the IFB, either.
Our move to our new church was most definitely orchestrated by God. We may not always understand the "why's" or the timing of things, but thankfully, that's not our job. Our job is to step out in faith and put our trust in Him and believe that He's really working all things together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
So I mentioned that we would soon discover why we were called to this church in my last post, and the few of you that read (and yay! there's more than two!) have been so patient, today I'll tell you why and what has happened. I'll try to keep it to the Reader's Digest condensed version, although I don't make any promises.
Two months after we joined our new SBC church, a dam broke. I don't know how long it had been cracked, but apparently, someone had been holding their finger in the crack for a while and evidently became too tired to hold it back any longer and let go. There was a skerfuffle within the Deacon's meeting wherein our Asst Pastor (who was over the youth) resigned, along with his wife (who was our choir director and pianist). They didn't want it this way, but it's how it turned out. I'll not go into details, because the details of this aren't important.
What is important is that when our Asst Pastor left, there was an amazing amount of confusion and hurt, and a good amount of anger and frustration that had been churning in the waters that also spilled forth when the dam broke. There was another Deacon's meeting...and eight Deacons resigned their posts because of the situation.
Now, with those eight Deacons, came eight families. Young families. Families with children that were faithful to the church and worked in the church weekly. Teens, juniors and elementary...you name it. Our church lost Awana workers, children's church workers, teen workers, an entire Sunday School class was obliterated, several more Sunday School classes lost teachers...all in all, it was a big old ugly mess. I was having a hard time looking on the bright side, to be honest.
For the first time, I began to realize that we weren't here for the long haul. God had moved us specifically to help the church in any way we could through this tough transition. From music to children's ministries, we served in any capacity we could. I became the new Awana commander and my husband became the new Youth leader. We were so grateful for the "core" of folks that remained faithful to their duties in the church and were so supportive of us as we took on new responsibilities.
How did I know we weren't there for the long haul, you might ask? I can't describe it. I just knew. God had orchestrated our move and timed things perfectly so we'd be in the right place at the right time...and just as we'd felt the gentle "nudge" to move there originally, as the Awana year was wrapping up, we felt the "not-so-gentle" nudge that we were to head back to our old church.
Let me explain. Many church pastors today "teach" instead of "preach" from the pulpit. Nothing wrong with teaching...in fact, I LOVE teaching. But in addition to teaching, you have to have honest-to-goodness-old-fashioned-hellfire-and-brimstone preaching to go alongside the teaching. No sense in teaching a bunch of lost folks if they never receive Jesus, is there? You can't preach "feel-good" messages all the time, or folks won't understand their need for salvation and a Savior. I mean...personally, I think Joel Osteen is making the world a better place to go to hell from. You think that's ugly? Well, yes. I suppose it is. But I don't agree with his doctrine and it's my blog and I have the right to say that. :)
My husband is a wise and discerning man. He preaches with conviction, and might even raise his voice a time or two. Many of the folks from our SBC church told us that they had heard a lot of teaching from behind their pulpit, but that after hearing my husband, it was the first time they had been "preached to" in many, many years. They loved it. They wanted more of it...we wanted to give them more of it. But it wasn't happening.
For whatever reason, the door to preaching at our church, as well as any of the other SBC churches my husband had submitted his resume to, was closed. There were no offers. The only offers to preach we were receiving were back in the IFB -- and they were weary of the fact that we were serving in an SBC church. So we had a choice to make. The answer was obvious, but it didn't make it any easier.
I still don't understand why so many churches today won't hold up the Bible as the infallible Word of God. There are people all over our nation that are HUNGRY for what God has to say, but have no one willing to stand up and say the hard things. We want to sugar-coat the truth and make God's Word easier to swallow so people will keep "paying their tithes" and we can keep the church doors open. Our experiences at the SBC church opened our eyes to what is happening all across America...not just in the SBC, but in every denomination.
I've never been a pastor's wife...I don't know the day to day pressures that a pastor faces, but I know they must be great. I appreciate men who are willing to stand up and preach the Word of God from the pulpit with conviction and are still seeing souls saved for Jesus. I applaud the men of faith who believe that you don't have to have a congregation of thousands to be "successful".
So we're heading back to our old church this weekend. Excited, renewed, filled with hope.
Jeremiah 6:16: "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. "