27 October 2009

Open(ish) forum: Why are you where you are, churchwise?

by Dan Phillips

I'm trying to finish up my reading of Mark Driscoll's Death by Love, and hope to have a review up here Thursday. In the meanwhile....

We've had vigorous discussion about church ministry, church attendance, staying in churches, and leaving church. Now I want to ask our august readership this question:

Why do you attend the church you attend?

Before you launch, read these explanations and limitations:
  1. This is only for Christians whose church affiliation affirms the Biblical fundamentals of theology proper, Bibliology, and the Gospel. (That would exclude JWs, Roman Catholics, Hindus, Scientologists, Christian Scientists, Moslems, Mormons, Animists, Eastern/Greek Orthoborg, and anyone else I find I have to exclude as we go. But it would include pre/post/amill, pedos and credos, Arminians and Calvinists, dispies and CTers, charismatics and people who really do believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, and a thronging mass of others.)
  2. It is also only for Christians who are not sinning against God by refusing to be involved in a local church.
  3. [UPDATE] Please do not make disparaging remarks about identifiable ministries or pastors from your past.
  4. I want to know any or all of the following:
  • Why are you in the denomination you're in? or
  • Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church?
  • How did you find the church you attend?
  • What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
  • Why do you stay?
  • Under what circumstances would you leave?
Have at it.

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87 comments:

Zaphon said...

Dan:

When I got saved,I knew instinctively that I had to find a Bible teaching church. Like a newborn baby, I desired the spiritual feed of the Word, and I found it in a larger church, which is part of the Associated Gospel Church denom.

I've been to various places, but I've always come back "home" to this church. I go there b/c I know the Word is being taught in clarity and truth. I'm in Canada, and our pastor is from California. He is truly a gifted expositor.

I could wish that it was a little less "seeker sensitive" in someways.

Here's the thing: I don't agree with everything they believe. It's Arminianistic, at least most people there believe that Jesus died for everyone, and well, you know how that goes...but the point is, it's an otherwise evangelical church, where the Scriptures are upheld as the Word, there is a real commitment to make disciples, and there is a loving fellowship. Those elements, and especially the exposition of Scripture is a lucid and solid way, keeps me there.

It really is a family, not just a place to go on Sunday. I've grown up there too. I've made all my stupid mistakes there...and they still love me and let me use my gifts there!

So ...that 's why!

Frank Turk said...

When I got saved, I was just glad that God didn't hate me anymore -- that God's wrath had been passed over me. And I had a deep fear that I was the only one in the world who believed what I believed, even though I was convinced that (what little theology I had) was the truth.

I was fortunate, 2 years later, to meet a woman who brought me to her church -- a Southern baptist church. In Syracuse, NY. I think at the time there were like 5 SBC churches in upstate NY and the pastors in the convention sort of rotated as the lead guy.

Anyway, it was the pastor of an SBC church who taught me that a local church doesn't have to be a self-improvement society even if (when) the people in it are increasing in sanctification. And that that the only way for the good news to go out is through the sacrifice of those who are called by his name -- meaning that somehow, missionaries get sent.

So I became a Southern Baptist. I have been a Southern Baptist for 17 years. And if today there was a Southern Baptist church withgin a 30-minute drive of my house where I knew I wouldn't cause trouble for myself or the pastor, I'd join it. The SBC (at its best) is a beautiful expression of the historical baptist faith, and a powerful tool for the spread of the Gospel worldwide.

At it's worst, it's Ergun Caner.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

Peter said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
I'm in this denomination (although we don't like that word) because it's the Church I got involved in when I went to university. I do agree with the fundamental principles of the movement, but really the reason is because this is the Church I am in, not because of the demonination.

How did you find the church you attend?
It was recommended to me by a friend before I left for University, and was one of the Churches which a few students attended so it was easy to locate.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
I had criteria in mind when I was visiting Churches after I went to university. The foremost of these was that the Church preached the Bible.
There are many excellent Bible believing Churches in my city though, and I would have fitted into many of them happily. The main reason I am where I am is because when I visited the Church there was a clear sense of community and family in the Church. I immediately felt welcomed and wanted, and that is what drew me in.

Why do you stay?
I stay because I fundamentally agree with the Churches principles, I agree with the direction of the wider movement, and I still feel welcomed and part of the family.
Once I attached myself I was not going to leave without good reason.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
If I moved to a different City (which I may when I have to find a job next year), then I would obviously look for a new Church, and that may not be in the same denomination.
Other than that, it would have to be something really serious. I believe there are situations where leaving is the right response, but they are few and far between.

threegirldad said...

1. I attend what could be described as a "Founders Friendly" SBC church. I joined it primarily because of the men who lead it.

3. A concerned friend continued to invite me to come because I wasn't attending anywhere else at the time.

4. After an extended period of attendance, prayers, and many discussions with the pastor, I concluded that I was in sufficient sympathy with its beliefs and practices.

5. By all indications, the pastor and elders are Godly men who regularly humble themselves before the Lord. My pastor cares deeply about his flock. The preaching and teaching is meaty. The people have shown me and my family untold love, especially (but not only) in the last few months.

6. And open invitation to have Frank beat me up? Hmmm...no thanks.

Well, ok. I would leave only if "invited" to do so. When I joined, I understood well enough (thanks to my pastor) that I was doing something fundamentally different from a Christianized variant of joining a country club.

SandMan said...

I grew up in the Catholic Church, the son of a Catholic, the son of a Catholic. Our merciful God drew many of my dad's siblings (he has 14-- good Irish Catholics) out of that false faith, and used my uncle to draw my dad. My parents began attending a little (50 members) non-denom church and us kids came along (I was ten). All of us became true believers about the same time in separate Sunday School classes at that little church. That was 23 years ago; my parents still attend there. I selfishly went to a bigger Independent Baptist Church while in college. I was not "having my needs met," (i.e. wanted to meet girls and the little church had nothing to offer). Side note... met my wife at a coffee shop. After college, I became a Bible teacher at a mid-sized Christian school. They required attendance/membership at their parent church. That was ten years ago, and I still attend. (I was not teaching for 7 of those years, though I am back at it now). I never left the church. This church is the first place that I have been that uses an expository approach to teaching. It is the first place that believed and taught openly the doctrines of grace-- and where I came to understand and believe in these doctrines. It is the only church I have been in that practices church discipline. It is also non-denominational. Why do I prefer this? I guess that it has something to do with my Catholic roots and my distrust of centralized conventions that have little or no working knowledge of the congregations they seek to rule. (I am sure someone will hereafter extol the virtues of a convention/national governing body)...
I stay because the men in leadership have demonstrated their love for God, their committment to the Scriptures as the ONLY authority, their skill at expositing the Word, and their love for me and my family... pre-marital counseling, presiding over our wedding, visiting us at the birth of our two children, weeping with us at the two miscarriages, counseling, Bible studies, friendship, transparency, accessability and countless other reasons that nake it impossible for me not to love these men who guard my soul and the souls of my family.
I would only leave for one of two reasons. (1) If God relocated my family and I for another ministry. (2) If in the passage of time new leadership arises and leads the congregation wholly away from true faith in Christ without remedy after many pleadings for their return.

Was there a word limit on this assignment? Sorry for the length, gang.

Spud said...

I'm in an independent church. It's non-liturgical, and the main focus is an hour-long Bible teaching. As a friend who followed me here says, the other churches are all appetizer with no main course, and this one is mostly main course.

I was brought here originally by a college friend, and here I am nearly 50 and still here. I've shopped around, but nowhere else do I find the depth of Bible teaching that I find here. I stay because I can't leave that teaching, and I am surrounded by the ones I have come to love and serve and serve WITH.

I might leave some day, if it became clear that this church was sliding rapidly down the slope of apostasy and was not open to correction, but I sure don't see any signs of that happening.

lee n. field said...

1)EFCA. Kind of stumbled into it. Best of the local lot that we encountered, last time we moved and had to look, and I knew some of the people that were there then.

2)NA

3)Don't recall. It's a small city, we would have encountered it sooner or later just walking down the phonebook.

4)Intertia, and developed relationships.

5)That is the question, isn't it. What are the tripwires? Denial of the gospel, for sure (but how about Horton's Christless Christianity, where the gospel is obscured by all the other stuff we let obscure it.). If someone started getting "words from the Lord", and no one stomped on it. Others? I'm not walking on the say-so of some guy on the Internet.

JackW said...

•Why are you in the denomination you're in? or
•Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church?

I believe it to be where God wants me.

•How did you find the church you attend?

I saw a sign that displayed their website, so I checked it out. Masters Seminary Grad, plurality of Elders rule and the only expository preaching in the area that I’ve found.

•What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

They needed a guitar in the praise band. Actually, the privilege to serve and be feed. I took the pastor of the church I used to go to and the new pastor to lunch and introduced them to each other. Told them I wouldn’t move unless both were ok with it.

•Why do you stay?

Hey, I’m just a brick, He builds.

•Under what circumstances would you leave?

Hey, I’m just a brick, He builds.

Ian Matthews said...

# Why are you in the denomination you're in?

Of all the churches that fitted the biblical criteria in my town this was the one that a) was closest to my house (5 minutes walk), b) had the warmest welcome, c) the kids were happiest, d) I trusted the leadership.

It is an evangelical Church of England in an Evanglical Deanery in an Evangelical Diocese. We are very fortunate.

# How did you find the church you attend?

Visited all relevant churches, and already knew the pastor (since I was a teenager).

# What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

Good balance of preaching, sacraments, prayer and worship; plus it felt like a community - that people loved one another.

# Why do you stay?

For the reasons above.

# Under what circumstances would you leave?

Good question. I was going to say 'if sin was tolerated', but Paul didn't counsel that to the Corinthian church. I am not sure to be honest.

Weeks said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

Sheer coincidence, really. I grew up in Southern Baptist, Presbyterian and even at one point Pentecostal churches. My wife's faith is very young, plus she suffers from clinical emotional problems, so she needed a church with a strong bible study push, and a general congregation that tends to "get it" more than most, thus exhibit the love of Christ outwardly more than most churches we've visited. She needed to feel the rare but powerful church "family."

How did you find the church you attend?

Funny story, that. I'll keep it short, though. My wife had related to me that she was unable to study the Word because every time she opened her Bible she subconsciously expected to find the legalistic, condemnatory attitudes found in the church we were attending at the time. It was time to move. That evening, I found in our mail a flyer from the church we're visiting now, and on paper it was everything we'd been hoping to find.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

To use Driscoll's term, a reformissional attitude, together with a congregation that has committed itself fully to those goals. We were looking for a church that was both reformed and highly missional, and found it in First Hattiesburg

Why do you stay?

Because despite the hiccups we occasionally experience, it's exactly the church it claims to be on paper. Radical love for Jesus Christ and a commitment to making disciples of all mankind, right in our backyards. The pastor is humble, and tries very hard to put deep, difficult truths of the faith in ways a seeker with no background in a church can understand. The bible studies are varied in both topic and depth. There's something for both myself and my wife here.

Under what circumstances would you leave?

If at any point the church becomes a stumbling block to the growth in discipleship of my family, we'll leave. I am the head of my family, and thus responsible for their spiritual development. If their walk with Christ is under assault and there's something I can do to stop it, it's going to happen.

Bike Bubba said...

I'm where I am because I'm convinced of the sufficiency of the Scriptures, the accuracy of historic Baptist theology, and the need for the fellowship of the saints.

I would leave if the church departed from the sufficiency of the Scriptures and the preaching of the Gospel, and little else.

It also helps that fundamental Baptist churches aren't that common in rural Minnesota. :^) We're not Luterns, ya know.

Steven said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in? - I am a Southern Baptist because I believe that they have an excellent program for proclaiming the Gospel to the nations. I also agree with the BF&M 2000 as a confession of faith. And, as an added bonus, we have the most fun "fights"!

How did you find the church you attend? - I researched the confession of faith that my church has, spoke with many staff members including the preacher, listened to some of the preacher's sermons and visited Sunday school classes to ensure that the church as a whole taught and believed the Bible.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend? - The style of worship and the people in the church.

Why do you stay? - For the most part, the church has maintained its standards in preaching and teaching God's word.

Under what circumstances would you leave? - A failure to preach or teach in accordance with the scriptures. I do detect a post-modern mentality coming from the leader of the "contemporary" service. If it grows unchecked, I will have to find another church.

Daryl said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
How did you find the church you attend?

Those first two really go together for me. In high school I was attending a pentecostal church with my family. The youth group was dying fast and I had a lot of friends from a Mennonite church in the next town over.
I started attending youth events and gradually made the whole switch.
Interestingly, when I decided to leave entirely, I told the pentecostal youth pastor, a guy by the name of Randy Cox. He said to me "Daryl, if you leave now, you'll always be running from church to church." And God has used that over and over. As I've moved around (and eventually back home), whenever I became unhappy with a church, those words echoed in my ears. So until I really began to understand the local church, it's purpose and my place in it (thanks, in no small part, to Frank's posting on those issues) that held me in place.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
Firstly, the people, of all ages. They loved me, and still do, I noticed this particularly in the older folks who welcomed this mouthy teenager who wasn't raised Mennonite into their midst so willingly.
As I grew in my faith, while I could see issues (what church doesn't have those) and some minor theological errors (what church has none of those) but by then it was my family.

Why do you stay?
As above. I love these people. They are my family. We mourn together and celebrate together, and grow towards Christ together.
Since my early days there, I have come to understand the doctrines of grace. My church is Arminian, primarily, but the pastors, thank the Lord, are more and more leaning into the sovereignty of God. So that's all to the good.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
I don't know. Major apostasy, maybe. Major unaddressed sin in leadership, maybe. Although, to be honest, as long as I love these people, it's be kind of on me somewhat if there was major unaddressed sin. I mean, shouldn't I then address it?
I think they'd have to run me out.

As I said, they are my family, they are my wife's family, they are my kids family. We love them and are up to our eyebrows in the life of those people.
How could I leave?

Paul D said...

Good question – makes me think beyond Wednesday night.
Why are you in the denomination you're in? I was saved and grew in faith in SBC church. Everytime we’ve moved my family has visited a wide array of denominations, but we always land at SBC churches because of their efforts at local and international missions at a personal level – everyone is encouraged to be involved.
How did you find the church you attend? My wife and I had a rare breakfast date at a restaurant and a couple next to us overheard some of our conversation and invited us to their church. We figured if regular folks were willing to reach out to fellow breakfasteers that there must be something going on there.
What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend? I made a decision with my wife and family to attach ourselves to our church because they had a clear vision for global ministry, a structure that encouraged staff accountability, and growing faith among the congregation.
Why do you stay? hmmm. For brevity I’ll list the 2 most important reasons to me – 1) we made a commitment. 2) we are connected and being connected with fellow believers.
Under what circumstances would you leave? I am sometimes discouraged by the lack of teaching of the doctrines of grace, but so far I have found freedom for discussion of this issue. I would really consider leaving if there were a Sovereign Grace Ministries church plant in our city, but not sure I would. I would consider leaving if I were told to shut-up on the doctrines of grace – not sure I could. I would consider leaving if the “youth culture” programs consistently undermined my ability to lead my family in faith and worship together.

The Bible Christian said...

Frank that's funny I lived in Syracuse for half my life and now live 30 miles outside Syracuse small world

I attend a Christian Missionary Alliance Church... often connected with AW Tozer Paris Reinhead

I was supposedly saved 27 years ago because I prayed a prayer then I lived like the devil for the next 20 years, but the sovereignty of God got a hold of me and saved me on His power not on the power of that prayer.

So I went from a Catholic to a baptist to a Calvinist and how God got a hold of me was a sermon Phil Johnson was preaching in Romans and He called The Apostle Paul a Calvinist, if I could of come through that computer I would have rung his neck for saying that, but it was to late, the preaching I heard from John MacArthur all came to light and God by His sovereign grace used all these people to bring the truth of God's word to me.

Why do I attend the CMA, because I'm allowed to be a Calvinist and l teach Sunday School using the word of God and the Doctrine of grace and as a Elder here sometimes preach those same doctrines.

Dan but to give you a simple answer is to why I attend church. to glorify God and help edify the saints. and to be a servant for them and a slave to Christ.

Lenny

Scott said...

Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church?
When I moved to my present city, it was the closest church to my home. There were no denominational churches close.

How did you find the church you attend?
My roommate had been going there and since I didn't have a car, I had to go with him. But we both agreed it was a good church.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
The pastor preaches Christ every Sunday. They have a strong commitment to church planting.

Why do you stay?
Many times I have gone in on Sunday beaten down by the week and been greatly refreshed. Other times I've been rebuked and been all the better for it.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
If I got married and my spouse wasn't a part of the church or we didn't think that we could serve best there as a couple. Or if I moved away from my city. Other than I'm staying.

Jugulum said...

I'm in a non-denominational charismatic church. (I don't have strong denominational ties, but I've usually been part of Southern Baptist, Baptist General Convention, or Evangelical Free churches.)

When I moved to Austin, I was coming out of grad school where I attended a University Ministry service attached to a large SBC church. I visited three churches: Austin's EV Free church, one called Mosaic, and Hope Chapel (my current church). I tried the EV Free because of my good history in that denomination; I tried Mosaic and Hope Chapel because they were both recommended to me.

Why did I choose Hope?
1.) I liked the size of Hope Chapel and Mosaic--in the ~75 to ~300 range. (First EV Free is massive.)
2.) I liked the multi-generational aspect of Hope Chapel and EV Free. (Mosaic was mostly 20-somethings. In style, it's somewhat artsy-emerging. I wasn't there long enough to find out how much they might partake of the bad emergent stuff.) After being in a university ministry, I felt the need for less homogeneity.

Of the three churches, Hope Chapel had both. Other factors:

3.) It's a very welcoming, hospitable, gracious place.
4.) It's elder-led, and had three pastors who shared most of the preaching responsibility. Good teaching.
5.) It has a good small group ministry.
6.) It's somewhat charismatic. That was a mixed point. At the time, I wasn't charismatic, but that was by default. I considered it a good chance to really examine the issue. (Now, I'm somewhere between de facto cessationist and Piper/Grudem.)

I stay because:
1.) I've truly grown and been challenged here.
2.) It's home. I live 1000 miles away from my family, but Austin feels like home, in part because of my congregation.
3.) Our backgrounds are diverse, with a variety of maturity levels--and the interplay has a good iron-sharpening effect.
4.) I love our after-the-sermon prayer teams. I've participated on both ends, and have been blessed both in serving and in receiving.
5.) More generally: There are good opportunities to serve & love well. (Including in the teaching area, which I desire to grow in.)
6.) I was reluctant & resistant at first, but I love teaching in the children's ministry. I've discovered that 5th-graders are my niche--getting into more meaty stuff.
7.) I have a strong relationship with the senior pastor.


Also, I don't go as far as Frank does on this, but I do think you should have a really solid reason for ever leaving a church.

I would leave if I moved. I would possibly leave if (1) I got married and had kids, and (2) a loosey-goosey, Scripturally-unbound, undiscerning charismaticism grew. (But I would prefer to stay, and do a good job of teaching discernment to my kids. And hopefully, be used by God to lovingly restrain the unhealthy tendencies.) I don't think there's much chance of that happening, at least as long as our current senior pastor is here.

JDJ said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
I believe in baptism for believers. I believe that the Baptist denomination is historically honestly God-fearing, Christ-loving, submissive to God's sovereignty, and responsive to the commands and authority of Scripture.

How did you find the church you attend?
The internet. My wife googled "reformed church Fort Worth, TX"

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
We strive to give God the glory He deserves, and share union with Christ. The Word of God is preached without shame or apology, the Gospel is primary and the Scriptures are the final authority on all matters. The shared love of the brethren is evident and the two greatest commandments dictate our actions and are kept in order.

Why do you stay?
Because I have much to gain from my brothers and sisters, and I have much to offer them. Because the body keeps me accountable to my faith in Jesus and we keep each other pressing hard after the King. And, because I have not, as of yet, been called away from my church to minister elsewhere.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
If the elders were to say that Jesus isn't God, and that something other than the Gospel can save us.

Denita said...

Let me preface by saying, I don't love the church that I am at.
When I moved here 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to get back into going to church regularly. I wanted to put down roots here in general and had not wanted to where I lived previously.

One of the few people that I knew here suggested we try this new church together. We went, I liked it. I enjoyed the worship, I enjoyed listening to the pastor. The pastor is very good for unbelievers and new believers. He is biblical but doesn't go too deep.

Over the years, I have missed the going deeper. The church has grown dramatically and gotten more commercialized.

I would leave if I found a smaller, more intimate church community that studied the word of God.

As far as the denomination - I go to a non-denominational church and would like to continue to do so. I do not like how legalistic things seem to get within a denomination with church boards fighting over what is right for the denomination. I like things to stay between God and the local church board. I like knowing that the leaders of the church are seeking from God directly and not looking for approval or meeting requirements of a larger church board. I have known national church boards that do not take into account the local needs or the local people and only care that the financials add up. It does not sit well with me.

stratagem said...

•Why are you in the denomination you're in? or
•Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church
?

I am in an independent baptist church. Over the years (25) we have evolved from charismatic churches to non or even anti-charismatic. The reason is not as much Biblical as experiential to be honest with you, since there is a lot in the Bible that seems to suggest the charismatic gifts would continue; but from what we've seen, they're phoney as practiced today and their effect is inane.
I have also seen through many experiences that unless someone is called by God, they have no chance at all of seeing the Gospel as anything but a delusion or sign of naivete.
I know I am going to be savaged for using experience to shape my views, rather than Scripture alone. I will only offer the defense that I would not have let experience shape my views in a way that is clearly contrary to Scripture.

•How did you find the church you attend?
•What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend
?

Strong Biblical teaching, not charismatically or emotionally (mis)led, not into fads or prone to follow the latest thing in a mad rush to get membership up. In other words, we could serve without wondering if it was all being done to help the pastor's "legacy" or someone's "big idea" program. AND THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT: The Pastor actually cared about us, and was willing to spend time with us even though we are not "key people." Very different than some places we've been.

•Why do you stay?

Same as last question.

•Under what circumstances would you leave?

The reasons we chose it (see above) in the first place would have to change in a very major way before that would happen.

Euaggelion said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

I'm a member of a Southern Baptist Church. Of all the mainstream denominations, I find the SBC to be the most Biblical. Scripture points to credobaptism and the SBC is one of the few credobaptist organizations that is solidly grounded in scripture. While the SBC has many problems (as does most denominations), I find it to be Biblical for the most part.



How did you find the church you attend?

That's am interesting story. A co-worker of mine(now a close friend) witnessed to me at work and from that God worked salvation in me. When I was first saved I started going to a church close to home. After several years of growing in knowledge of scripture, it got to a point where I wasn't being fed at the church I was attending (not that they were heretical, just the sermons were shallow and topical). So, when I started looking for a new church I visited my co-worker's church. I also listened to a years worth sermons from their website. After much prayer I decided to move closer to that church (It was 25 miles away from where I was living at) and become a member.



What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

Two words...the preaching. It wasn't watered down. It wasn't just telling a nice story. It was "this is what God's Word says". It was expository. He wasn't afraid to dive into the text and pull out the meaning of text using the original language. And I left convicted of my sin a good portion of the time. Which is a good thing. And I left with a stronger knowledge of God and His Word.



Why do you stay?

Same thing...the preaching. Is it a perfect church? No. But I'm not a perfect person. Do I agree with everything they do? No. But, nothing they do or teach is heretical. Things like alter calls I'm not a fan of, but like I said that isn't heretical. If you are going to be in an SBC church there is going to be alter calls. You learn to live with it. But I stay because it is a wonderful "Body of Believers". I feel that God has called me to be a member there.



Under what circumstances would you leave?

I've said before if it ever becomes a "topical sermon" church I'd leave. I'm not so sure I would, because topical can be done right. But, I've had so many bad experiences with topical preachers I've got a "bad taste" in my mouth when it comes to topical sermons. If they ever become Emergent or "seeker-sensitive", then I'm definitely out the door. Ditto with any Joel Osteen/Creflo Dollar type of "prosperity gospel". Gone!!! Basically, if they stray away from the Bible I'm out of there.

donsands said...

Because the pastor preaches the Word manly. He is a shepherd after God's heart, who feed the sheep, cares for the sheep, and most of all worships our Lord in Spirit and truth.

I also attend this particular church, Bishop Cummins Reformed Episcopal, becasue they are Christ-centered. The time of worship on the Lord's day is a fullness of the Word, hymns, and fellowship; and it is Reformed.

I also attend because it is 7 minutes from my home, which is super nice. And my wife is very blessed by this church as well, which is very imperative.

Thanks for the good post.

David said...

- Why independent: Because there is no local SBC church that takes the Word and preaching seriously.

- How did you find the church you attend: They invited MacArthur to preach at a conference.

- What led you to attach: Elders who led and taught, and a senior pastor who studies and preaches.

- Why do you stay: I can never imagine leaving. Nor returning to the Arminian SBC.

- Under what circumstances would you leave: Departure of a combination of the following - the Word as central in the pulpit, godly elder leadership, over-focus on homeschooling, gasoline prices hitting $4.50 or higher, but maybe not. I'll just pay the higher gas price.

we4dun said...

I belong to a Southern Baptist church because it's the church I was attending when I got saved.

I first attended following a friend's invitation to their new Sunday school season. I had been invited several times before, but since I wasn't saved, it wasn't all that important to me and I felt uncomfortable being a "newby" entering into the middle of the term. I know better now, but what can I expect? I wasn't saved.

So, I attended regular worship services and Sunday school for several months. Through a long chain of events, the Lord graciously saved me. I'd love to share, but when I previewed what it would look like, it was a mile long.

I stay in my local church partly because God used it to save me. But mostly, I stay because the truth is proclaimed there. How fortunate am I that I was in a good church without even knowing the difference? Our Lord is indeed great beyond measure.

Being a new Christian, I have several times second guessed my choice to stay. I've learned that new Christians can be incredibly obnoxious, so I try very hard to keep my mouth shut, listen, read and resist the urge to jump churches because I don't like the altar call or some of the vocabulary that is used. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I try to take personal responsibility for what I am taught. So, I'm learning to "separate the meat from the bones". There's more meat than bones, so it's good.

I would really only leave if there was a failure to preach and teach the truth and our church started to look more like the world than a body of believers.

Thank you ALL for being such an incredible source of wisdom and knowledge. God bless you.

Jason Smathers said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
I am a Southern Baptist because I affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and find great value in the cooperative program.

How did you find the church you attend?
My first church found me, it was also Southern Baptist. God sent the preacher into my life and lead me to Christ. My current church was selected after visiting 4 Southern Baptist churches in my new area after moving. I also looked into other denominations but found none in my area with a doctrinal statement that was as close to my beliefs as the Baptist Faith and Message.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
Expositional preaching, a strong new members class with a focus on theological study, and a few people I could relate with. In that order.

Why do you stay?
The pastor remains faithful to the Word.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
The church is no longer faithful to the Word, God calls me to another geographical area, or God calls me to another church for another reason I cannot current foresee.

Joe Selness said...

I am a conservative Calvinist-type baptist-leaning reformed sort of person in a PC(USA) church. It is the church I grew up in after my parents moved us from a dying UMC church (the building of which eventually became home to Solomon's Porch) and it has been my home for 25+ years.
The reason I stay is because they are still faithful to Scripture and I value the community that is there. My pastor has taken a stand for Biblical faithfulness on many occasions from within the most liberal presbytery in the country.
I may be prompted to leave when the wave of liberal silliness within my denomination becomes too overbearing (I feel as though I may be the most conservative/reformed person in the whole denomination). I am currently part-time on the music staff leading worship in the contemporary service, and I may leave if I am called to a full time position elsewhere.

Kaffinator said...

Found it (Baptist) cause some friends of mine were part of it. I first heard the gospel there and was baptized there. I'm committed to it because that's what the Bible says to do.

I'll leave it when I die, the church dies, they send me out, or kick me out. End of list.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Perfect in Imperfection said...

• Why are you in the denomination you're in?

I attend a Brethren church. As a teenager and in my VERY early 20s, I attended a Pentecostal church. When I was 22, I attended a one-year Bible college affiliated with the Brethren church, while living with a Baptist young woman attending a Pentecostal Bible school. Those two things caused me to question a lot of the charismatic doctrines, namely speaking in tongues, and I found I had very little support from the church I was attending; they just wanted to argue about tongues coming from God and I just had to accept it.

At one point, my then-fiance (now husband) were fed up with it and went looking around for churches. I went looking for churches affiliated with the Bible school I attended, as it caused me to get back to basics and God used it to stretch me in many ways. The church we attend now welcomed us warmly, and even that first Sunday, we got spoken to from the Word and were challenged more than in the previous month of Sundays at the charismatic church.

• Why do you stay?

I stay because this is a family to us now. They have welcomed us warmly, asked us deep questions, wrestled with us over deep truths, encouraged and prayed for us, while letting us make mistakes and lovingly correcting us if needed.
The Word is preached... all of it. In our assembly, it is run by elders, not a main pastor; women cover their heads (a point I wrestled with, but was lovingly brought to a place of acceptance with it), etc.

• Under what circumstances would you leave?
I will quote a previous comment: If the leadership changes as such that the Word is not preached anymore.

I haven't conveyed even a little bit about how I feel about this church, but it's good enough; I gotta get to work!
PIP

Kim said...

Hi, I hope it's okay to comment, since I'm not a regular visitor here.

1. Why in denom? We are currently going to a Pres. church, but recently left a SBC. It is more in line with our Biblical understanding of salvation and we were Pres. when we were dating/ married for approx. 10 yrs.

2. How did we find? We know the pastor & assoc. pastor

3. What led us to attach? We are still not certain we will be attached to this congregation. We are still evaluating the sermons. The pastor seems reluctant to preach with authority.

4. Why stay? In addition to doctrine and sermons, we are also evaluating on what it offers our children and the music ministry.

5. Under what circumstances would you leave? The SBC church we recently left (after 9 yrs.) taught decisional theology. I didn't realize this was wrong until earlier this year. I saw what problems it was causing and had the potential to cause in my own family, so we left. It has been VERY hard, as there are so many people there we love.

Sometimes I think I'd like to return to the church we left and do "clean up" work with my kids, but then what do I do about others?

Tim Bushong said...

1. Why are you in the denomination you're in?

We joined the CREC last year (after almost 2 years of candidacy) for a huge variety of reasons, one of which was because it was the only group of Reformed churches that allowed for both credo and paedo positions in the eldership (which is what we have).

2. How did you find the church you attend?

We started the church with 8 other families after years of trying to “reform from within” at another church. We had many, many discussions with the elders there, and when we realized that we were at an impasse regarding some pretty foundational issues, we then asked to be released with their blessing, which they graciously did.

3. What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

Aside from the above, I would say that reason would lie in some of the distinctives to which we hold: the sufficiency of Scripture, Lordship of Christ, the centrality of expository preaching, a reverent worship service, emphasis on fathers leading their families biblically, use of historic creeds and confessions. I could go on, but that's a good summary.

4. Why do you stay?

I'm one of the pastors! No, seriously, John 17- love, truth, unity- we're committed to Christ and to one another in this work.

5. Under what circumstances would you leave?

The only thing I think would reasonably pry me away would be a call to plant another church.

chrish said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
Because the church I attend happens to be a part of the FEBC.

How did you find the church you attend?
It was the church my parents attended when we last lived in this city, some 14 years previous.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
Longish answer. When I was done with high school, all of my friends moved away from the church, and that left a gap in ages. I was the only person between 18-32 in the church. I had no reason to stay because I was so alone there. I went to a few other churches, but I couldn't manage to get away; I kept getting pulled back to CFC.
Through some providence (I believe), I suddenly found myself teaching Sunday School to youth, working with the youth group, running the sound board, playing in the worship team, and running the library - all within months.

Suddenly, I didn't think I could leave even if I wanted to. I was still alone, but I guess I was taking Paul's advice and using my singleness (a play on "alone") for ministry. Eventually, people my age visited and they stayed (they said) because I was so excited to see them.

Why do you stay?
Because I (perhaps arrogantly) believe that if I left, too many ministries would suffer. Not because I'm so awesome, but because God's given me talents unique to my peer group (there are more of us now), and I want to keep using them for Him.

Why would you leave?
This is hard for me because I've been thinking about leaving for non-theological reason. Grievous heresy and unrepentant sin on the part of the leadership would cause me to leave. But... Well, the age gap continues, and at some point I'd like to have children with my wife. With no children's ministry to speak of, I would want to go to a place that could feed my whole family.

A question for you, a plea for advice: is that legitimate? I love my church desperately, and want my family to grow in Christ. Given the current situation, the latter will not happen easily in my church.

DJP said...

NOTE: I just added a rule.

Please do not make disparaging remarks about identifiable ministries or pastors from your past.

David Kjos said...

• I’m in the denomination I’m in because my church happens to belong to that denomination.

• I found it by visiting every possible option in order of proximity to my home address,

• and began attending and eventually joined because it was the closest doctrinally-sound church in the area (but sadly, not in my own town),

• and stay because that continues to be the case.

• I would only leave if a church with very particular doctrinal positions (Calvinist, credobaptist, “really [does] believe in the sufficiency of Scripture”) was planted in my own community.

DJ said...

In my teen years I attended a charismatic church with my grandma. Once I went off to college I hopped around from church to church, missing more Sundays than I attended. I went with some friends one Sunday to a small S. Baptist church in the shadow of the campus.

Ultimately, I made this my church home for three reasons.

1. They served lunch for the college students after the service.

2. Ping Pong

3. The pastor took a genuine, sincere, and loving personal interest in me.

I soon began to notice that there was something different about this church. They taught all these new things that I had never heard before, like God's glory and sovereignty. They put a huge emphasis on God's word, His glory, and Holiness. They used big words like propitiation, justification, and sanctification. They didn't have any cool programs, or rock music, or any of the other things I thought I wanted. They had truth and love.

I have stayed at this church even after I have graduated because God has used, and still uses, the people of this church to draw me away from the world and closer to Him.

For me to leave this church would take something drastic. Even still, I don't think I would break ties with the people of the church.

Rabbit said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
Um – habit? We have attended EFCA churches (in CA and now NV) since the mid-90s.

How did you find the church you attend?
In our church search after moving to the area, we found it in the phone book. We attended a very seeker-friendly church (closer to home) for a while but were starving there; our first Sunday at this church was like being treated to a fine banquet.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
The senior pastor, who studies the text in the original languages, teaches line-by-line through Scripture, references other good Bible scholars, and whose love for Christ and His people is sincere and genuine. Scripture’s sufficiency and authority is upheld.

Why do you stay?
Solid teaching from the pulpit, dear friendships, our weeknight Bible study. It’s not perfect, nor are we, but the church is striving for Christ. And, our city has very slim pickin’s when it comes to doctrinally-sound churches. There are, literally, a very small handful.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
Certain things are non-negotiable (e.g. substitutionary atonement, sufficiency of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith in Christ). We are prayerfully watching an emerg***-looking trend in the younger group that has us concerned, and if our congregation starts heading down that road we will have to re-evaluate. Negotiables like music style are not reason to leave.

Kyle Mann said...

Youth pastor at my old (seek-sens) church got fired for a variety of things, including his adherence to 6-day creationism, male eldership, inerrancy of Scripture, etc. He helped start me on the path of reformed theology. I attended TMC, he meanwhile started a new church which I now attend and help minister at.

I would leave if called to plant or if leadership jumped off a theological cliff.

BaseDad said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
I go to a non-denom, this is the place that I wandered into before I knew what I wanted in a church.

How did you find the church you attend?
I drove by it every day on the way home from work. It was the first church I my family and I went to when we started "visiting" churches. Decided to change churches because the one (mega-church) we were going to was falling apart. ie- pastors leaving, pastors being forced to step down due to sin issues, etc.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
It was small, and it was the new pastor's first day. He has a ot of kids, and I have a lot of kids. We have a lot in common. Worship was what we were looking for too.

Why do you stay?
My wife and children love it there. Ever since we started going there (about 18 months ago) I have been working through the "cage stage". The pastor put up with me even though he has no interest in the doctrines of grace at all. I am starting to come out of it, mainly because I am the only elder. We put a lot of effort into making sure we demonstrate as much unity as possible to the attendees (we don't have members). I have wanted to leave for some time, but my wife claims that "this is the place where she grows spiritually". She is a lazy christian at best and since we started having this discussion she joined a women's small group and has even been asking me bibilical questions. There is a reformed baptist church in our town that I want to move our family to, but they won't return my emails, or phone calls. Maybe they have enough people over there? Can't really visit other churches due to the fact that I have so many responsibilities at this one.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
We will leave when my wife grows to the point where she sees that this church is not the place for us. (or we will stay if the pastor repents and his theology reforms) Until then, I will lead my family with home devotionals, pray, and continue to help my pastor take care or the people God sends to us.

Denis said...

I attend the church I was born into, if you will. I actually started attending before God saved me; I felt at the time that a church would help in the moral development of my soon to be born son.

So as to why I am where I am, church and denomination wise, it is because that is where God put me.

I was attracted to the church initially because 1) the Pastor was a very good communicator and 2) it was a big place and you could just hang in the back without anyone really noticing you much, if we're being honest here :) ... it is a very large church (at least by Canadian standards).

I stay because the church is my family, I am involved and love the people I serve and worship with. My church teaches truth ... though not always how I'd do it or according to certain theological distinctives I now more readily associate my beliefs with. That might be a good thing though :)

I think they'd have to kick my butt out for me to leave. I guess I could come up with certain theoretical situations that might cause me to leave, but nothing that seems realistic, at least with the current leadership.

CAUGHTNOTTAUGHT said...

I'm in the church of Scotland, because the church baptised me, and I was brought up according to the truths and duties of the Christian faith by the church, which is why, when I became a Christian, I joined the church. I now work as a youthworker for our local church.

The church I serve is my family: we're on mission together, and I don't really understand the thought that I would be leaving it. Why wouldn't we be staying together? God gave us to be in the church together, and I'm just glad he did.

Gregg said...

1. I am no longer in a "denomination" or even "non-denominational organization. I was "forced" out of the IFCA when I could not longer sign the doctrinal statement indicating that I "did not hold to a limited atonement" a few years back.

2. I "found" our current church in the phone book when we moved to our community and was looking for a church. We refused to visit for over a year, but found no place to attend so I thought I would give it a try.

3. The need that they had for some solid, doctrinal, "meaty" teaching led me to hang around and to see if they would be open to allowing me to teach (after a period of examination of my character and doctrine of course). They also had just called a man from southern CA that we thought my be the guy to further develop the body.

4. I stay because, 1) God has not led us out of here yet; 2) becasue this is the "best" of all other places in this community - so even though it has issues and needs, it is the closest representative of the body of Christ in the NT; 3) I have had the opportunity of making some major impact on this body by both teaching the Adult Bible Class for the past two years and filling the pulpit both morning and evening as opportunity permits.

4. We will leave when God makes clear where he would like us to plant a new church. I have a burning desire to plant a new work in a needy community. When God makes that clear, we will move out and onward.

Jim Pemberton said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

The denomination most closely agrees with my theology in general. My wife and I met in the church we attended which was paedobaptistic. She grew up in the church and I was a member there from a young age because we joined when my dad remarried. However, in my study of the Bible I arrived at the conclusion that credobaptism was the more Biblical system. I remained there as I saw the creep of liberalism come into the denomination and thought to provide clear teaching against liberal theology as long as I could reasonably stay. At some point, through prayer, God indicated to my wife and I independently that it was time to go. We compared notes that we were of the same mind and left for a denomination that we agreed with.


How did you find the church you attend?
What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

I’ll answer these together. My step-brother and his family were already members there. I knew a few people from work who attended there. Many people in our homeschool group were members. All accounts were that the teaching was biblical and the ministry of the congregation with regard to the Great Commission very active, focused, Biblical and creative. It was a good match. We thought to try visiting several churches, but after visiting the church once, never found the need to look around. So we committed ourselves to membership after a few weeks of attending. My wife was baptized by immersion and I already had been.


Why do you stay?

It’s a good church and we’re not church-hoppers. We’re committed to involvement in a body of believers and will stay until one of the following conditions occur (next question):


Under what circumstances would you leave?

A. The church falls from teaching the truth.
B. We move away from the area for any reason.
C. We are called to ministry in another church in the area. I’ve been approached as possibly stepping up as minister of worship by a couple of churches. If that happens, that would necessitate a transfer of membership.
D. God forbid one of us sins unrepentantly and are either subject to discipline or naturally leave. I would say this won’t happen, but we’re only one exercise of our limited will away from dire sin. Thank God for his grace and indwelling of the Holy Spirit!

John said...

Truthfuly, I started attending my church because the pastor was also a seminary professor. I wanted to hear a cool and knowledgable guy. I stayed because I was introduced to things like the doctrines of grace saturating every sermon. A church that was viewed as the body of Christ. Pastors that were really shepherds instead of little popes. Actually, in a word, it was the Biblical love and community I experienced (by Biblical I mean that doctrine has not been sacrificed for the sake of community). It would take a team of wild horses to separate me from my church family now. Or apostasy :-)

Johnny Dialectic said...

My wife and I were at a denominational church that was spiritually dead, though we didn't know why. We were young and didn't know much about denominations/theology. We moved and went "church shopping." The first church we visited had a pastor preaching an expository sermon from the Bible. We thought that was a pretty good idea (which tells you something about the previous church). And the people were so warm, we just never tried another church. That was 25 years ago. (Found the church through a Yellow Page ad).

It has remained biblically based and faithful and we would leave only if that was perverted beyond repair and Frank OK'd it.

Joshua said...

When I moved across country 11 years ago, I began a search for a church. My criteria were:

* Doctrinal purity and seriousness about the faith. I wasn't terribly picky, but knew that I did not want Wesleyan, Methodist, Episcopalian; no quirky "invented" denominations. Ideally Baptist
* Good programs for young children that go beyond babysitting. Teaching, memory verses, etc.

After visiting 3 that fit the bill, I found one that felt like home. It turns out that the senior pastor previously led the Baptist church in the town where I was born, and is fantastic. We've been there ever since.

Michael said...

"charismatics and people who really do believe in the sufficiency of Scripture"

Oh man, I love this site.

I attend a Baptist General Conference affiliated church in missionary land (otherwise known as New England). My Church is a 2+ year old church plant which started with about 50 people and is now around 200. My wife and I were part of the original 50 folks, and the "mother" church (now I sound like a JDub) was distant from our home and seemed somewhat inpenetrable socially.

I am in my denomination because I love John Piper and wanted to be like him. Well, that is true, but, that really isn't why I am in the BGC. Truth is, I don't know what separates the BGC from those "other baptists." But I can tell you this: Although my Pastor is young and inexperienced, he preaches the word. He is dedicated to expository preaching and has no apologies about it.

Doctrinally, we are a new church. I am a calvanist, so too is the Pastor, although he has yet to come out of the closet. It is a toss up about the congregation, I would guess a few of them are semi-palagian like the rest of the US. My Pastor has touched on the doctrines of grace in general ways, but he has yet to hit it hard. In time, I am sure the doctrinal distinctives will materialize.

The only circumstances that would give me reason to leave would be unscriptural essentials being condoned or preached (or a lack of the essentials), a refusal of church discipline, or if there was a call by Him elsewhere.

Larry Geiger said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in? LCMS. Led there by my wife. Presbyterian upbringing.

How did you find the church you attend? It was the only other church in town when we left the other one.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend? Unity of the brethren.

Why do you stay? Word and sacrament.

Under what circumstances would you leave? Don't know.

Dave .... said...

I've been in an independent church for over 20. After reading "Deep Church" I am acutely aware of the limitations of such. The swings and gyrations and fad following have been annoying over that time, but here is what it has going for it:

Convenience
It fit my family
Our closest friends were there
Good "programs" for me kids
Generally "evangelical"
Good Bible teaching

What would make me leave? I'm at that point ... almost. The kids are gone and their pets are dead (definitional of "empty nest"). It's Willow Creek friendly and emergent sypathizing. Some Sundays I can barely discern the Gospel for the flogging we received for dishonoring the poor (one recent Sunday). I get worship at another church that I visit. That SHOULD be telling, but hope is a funny thing.

I abase myself in my contrition ...

Derek Joseph said...

Great question, Dan - I think this will be edifying to all those involved. We are at the church we're at for the following reasons:

1) the preaching is (normally) expository and always crucicentric (cross-centered). and the church's statement of faith officially espouses God's sovereignty.

2) there is a heavy, heavy emphasis on missions to the 10/40 window that is reflected in the preaching and the budget.

3) we already had friends that went there, and didn't want to spread ourselves too thin in terms of fellowship, but rather deepen existing relationships

4) it's a baptistic church. frankly, i'm comfortable at presbyterian churches in terms of theology and worship; however, my wife and I are missionaries raising support, and we are baptists. a pca (or opc or whatever) church would not support us financially or 'send' us.

5) the church is led by a plurality of male elders, many of whom teach extremely well.

6) the church in my mind doesn't take stances on issues of secondary importance in church life (charismatic gifts, dispensationalism vs. covenant theology and eschatology, etc.) (and ps - you can be charismatic and still believe in sufficiency of Scripture. Don't tell me that you think that Piper doesn't.)

7) the church has demonstrated that it does discipline in a way that is extremely restorative and loving.

8) the church is reticent to enter into things like building programs. decisions like this are made with kingdom priorities in mind.

9) i dislike the worship style, but the lyrics are always good. now, i wouldn't mind music that I like - BUT - that's pretty much only going to happen in A29 churches. I like being in a church that has music neither my wife or I really like because it makes us focus on, you know, GOD, and enjoying/glorifying him.

10) our small group is a real, solid, biblical community. and so's my sunday school class. and the teaching at both is excellent.

In answer to some of your questions -
-I think the church is technically GARB - but that's not seen on any of the materials or website or what not. I frankly thing that Presby vs. Independent Church government is a matter of low importance - especially since in my experience, Baptistic associations function very similarly to the PCA.

-we stay at our church because the means of grace are readily available there and because of the emphasis on missions. I do wish we had the Lord's supper weekly (and on a minor note, I wish we used wine - I do struggle in my conscience a little bit with grape juice - probably like you would with a 'sprinkling' adult baptism)

-we would leave if the church's doctrine or practice or priorities changed in a way that seemed irreversible.

Rachael Starke said...

Our church and how we found it -

We've been members at our non-denominational (aka Island of Misfit Toys) church for almost 3 years. We've got Reformed Baptists, Reformed Charismatics, mainline Evangelicals, Presbys, Pharisees and regularly-attending unbelievers.

We'd been looking for a church where Christ was preached in all of scripture for a year before that. We'd been reluctant to try this one because 1. it's 30 minutes away from our house - prohibitive for deep involvement and bringing unsaved neighbors and 2. a couple of the people who recommended it to us were people we have some differences wtih (it was the "well,if they like it, how good can it really be??" attitude. Yeah. That was awful, and we've since repented. :)

Why we chose it and why we stay -

1. Rich, deep, Christ-centered preaching that's bearing fruit in the conregation's lives. Usually expository, although at the moment it's not. Our pastor preaches to the sins of our congregation, and does it wtih equal big doses of authority and love. Every single person in my family - from me and my husband, to our youngest 3.5 y.o. daughter who asks to stay with us in "big church", has responded to something it seems as if our Pastor has said to us. Because he does.

2. Spiritually alive congregation. I.e. Doctrinalists are convicted that they need to love Jesus more, not just know Him; Experientialists are being convicted that they need to know Jesus more, not just feel Him. At least every other week, I meet someone new from an AOG or Evanjellyfish or RC church or NO church who has found their way here and is like a kid on Christmas morning about the doctrines of grace (they don't even know the terminology, they just know they've just discovered a really big God). And lots of spontaneous repenting happens here - people say stuff they shouldn't or treat people sinfully, and then spontaneously and quickly repent and seek forgiveness, which is granted joyfully. It's incredible.

3.Our gifts are being used in places where there are big needs, and God is bearing fruit in us and in those we're serving.

When we'd leave-

If 1,2,and 3 all stopped, and my husband duked it out with the leadership until they asked us to move on.

Number 15 said...

1. Why? We attend an SBC church. It is not that we specifically chose to be in an SBC church, but the church happens to be SBC-affiliated. IOW, substance rather than label affiliation are what is important to us. I know saying that is more than a bit cliche and I suspect that it goes for most. However, as certain segments of the SBC are delving into some "weirdness" (contemplative mysticism, Calvinism (joking! I am newer Christian and suspect I may actually be a Calvinist myself...still learning) etc.), I don't feel I can safely say "Ima Southern Baptist" without someone assuming that I may also be into some of that weirdness and invite me to attend a men's retreat featuring mat-sitting and chanting.

2. How? Google. We had moved and didn't know another saved-soul in town, so I had to get a list of local churches from somewhere! And who really uses the yellow pages anymore (I mean besides for merely taking up space in a coat closet)? I tried the 9Marks site, but the only local church listed there had something on their website (don't recall the specifics right off) that lead me to believe that they may be a hyper-Calvinist congregation.

3. What lead to "joining"? We visited several churches in the area and liked the Senior Pastor the best because of what he preached on a consistent basis. While he has an easy-going demeanor, he preaches repentance and frequently says the hard things. We attend and hear the Word solidly preached every week. While there are some seeker-sensitive aspects or folks in the church, the messages are certainly not the type I heard when we attended another SBC church that had signed on completely with the "Seeker Sensitive Program" (and I have never seen "The Message" after a Bible quote on the overhead display at our present church). Also, while the Senior Pastor sometimes wears the dark half-rimmed glasses, they aren't fully dark-rimmed (ie nerd-chic) and I have never seen him in a bowling shirt-like top. We visited one church that seemingly had a solid statement of faith online, but I just couldn't get past that it seemed half of the men in attendance had spikey, highlighted hair and wore the dark-rimmed nerd-chic glasses and cool bowling shirts (right or wrong, that alone sets off my post-modern/emergent alarm)...well, that and the guy preaching pulled out a machette and a giant cows tongue during the message to make a point about seriously eliminating sin in one's life - but if he was really serious about my entertainment, plucking his own eye out right there on stage would have entertained me a lot more. I resisted the urge to tell him that afterwards. I digress...

4. Why stay? Because we committed to the church when we joined. I think church hopping akin to shopping for consumer goods is wrong. While we have not connected with folks there as much as I would like and despite some things I dislike and despite the fact that we could attend a church closer to our home which comprises a lot more folks we are more deeply connected with, we made a commitment.

5. Leaving? The church deviating from the Word would cause us to leave. Also, a geographic move would also cause us to find a new church home.

I hope I sufficiently complied with the updated rule as this took me some time to finish with all the interruptions hitting me today!

Tim Brown said...

My wife and I had been meeting in our home for nearly a year. We had made the rounds and quite frankly there was nothing in our area we could call home. But I knew that we needed fellowship and I needed good leadership. After a while, you start to really struggle.

The Lord had been working on me regarding the Doctrines of Grace. I found an article at Monergism written by Curt Daniel at Faith Bible Church, about 100 miles from here in Springfield Illinois. Well, from what I had read of his work, I suspected that he was someone I could trust. Too bad he was so far away! But at least I could ask him if there might be something closer that he knew about.

Curt suggested Sycamore Baptist in E. Moline. I checked into it and talked with the pastor. But Curt also suggested checking for other churches via Shepherd's fellowship and "Founder's Ministries" which I guess is operated by Tom Ascol.

I did a search there and found a second Reformed Baptist church -- Christ Bible Church in Germantown Hills, Il., which is 56 miles from here. The pastor there is Kerry Miller.

I spoke with Kerry via phone. I had spoken with the pastor at Sycamore and had to make a decision as to which one to try first. Well, road work was going on near Sycamore so we put off going there and went to Christ Bible Church.

Christ Bible church is very small. Around 20 people, I suppose. When we started there we met in the local community center which is very small. We have since moved to a 4500 or so square foot space (formerly a video store) in a strip mall in Germantown Hills. God is building this church. We have had a few people added to our numbers but not via church growth gimmicks, etc... These are people who are theologically minded, love the Word and are searching as we were. One couple I am aware of found the church via John Piper's ministry if I understand correctly.

It's a great church. The pastor has a "common" air about him and I appreciate that.

He teaches expositionally. We are going through the Gospel of John in Sunday School and in church we just finished James. On Wednesday nights we are going through "Dust To Glory" by Sproul. After that is one, we will be going through Reformed Theology by Sproul.

Kerry was formerly pastor of an E.Free church. He was kicked out for preaching on Calvinism. Of course, the current church is made primarily of those who left with him.

But from this I know that they will stand for the truth regardless. And after being there three months I have seen that he is willing to say the hard things, at least I've seen that.

I'm guessing they are Dispy but may not be. I'm dispy but not worried in any case. After what we've been through in our town, I'd rather drive 56 miles each way to meet with them than the two miles or so to go to the local Warren/Seeker messes.

Tobias said...

I came to the faith around ten years ago in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church. It was recommended to us by some neighbors whom God had placed in our lives for a season, them moved out of our lives. The expository preaching was consistently bibliocentric, exhorting us to growth, and engaging. My wife (who was saved around the same time as me) & I grew up in that church, learned to love the Lord there, and matured there. A few years ago, I was honored to be invited to be on the deacon's board.

In recent years it has gotten quite large (close to 1000 in attendance Sunday mornings) and more program oriented, due to the Pastor's love for reaching the lost, so when the assistant Pastor recently left to become Senior Pastor of a smaller church closer to our home. We visited him a few times and eventually followed him over there and have been very happy there for the past several months. It was a very difficult decision, but we felt that the smaller, more intimate setting of our new church home would be better for our 5 children (we had taken my oldest out of the children's Sunday school programs after 3rd grade due to the low quality of teaching). We are once again being fed with meaty doctrine, being stretched, & growing.

rebecca said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

Because my church is in that denomination.

How did you find the church you attend?

It was a couple of blocks from where we first lived when we moved here.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

The gospel was preached and the people took us under their wing when circumstances were difficult.

Why do you stay?

The gospel is still preached and I love the people.

Under what circumstances would you leave?

If the gospel weren't preached. I'm working on the rest of the answer to that question right now.

SermonFire said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church?

My church is a little of both. The building has the word Baptist on it but there are plenty of people with wesleyan/arminian/etc doctrines.

I do appreciate the history of the Baptist, but I don't have much affinity beyond that. Perhaps it's because I don't know the history or it's because of certain things certain people have said against the new reformation. (not naming names)

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

I'm in it because the Lord has led me to it. I live very very close to it, it has a pastoral training program, I've been able to actually put my skills to use unlike other churches where there is no mentoring programs for young men wanting to go into ministry.

I don't agree with some methodology and theology, but I'm willing to learn and disagree if need be.

The church also is closely tied with several excellent theologically conservative seminaries I'm interested in and will likely be attending for an Mdiv.

How did you find the church you attend?

Actually had a sit down meeting with the Small Group/Visitation and Prayer/Evangelism Pastor after we attended it one week. I would've passed the church over unless we had the meeting. Concern, Love, and Care from a pastor who is talking to someone he has never met before and is not a regular attender of his church was highly unusual. Just a fact jack.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

That they are actually interested in the spiritual development of their people and that they open to new ideas. I've recently suggested an idea that would've taken years to get approved at other churches I've been too, but here there is a different sense (that is even unfortunately missing in some reformed churches I've visited).

Passion for spiritual development, opportunities to serve (and you can suggest new ideas), genuine love would be another factor. Some sermons are great, some aren't, but that's life.

Why do you stay?

I stay because I've discovered the beauty of the local church. I've missed out on the theology of the church for much of my Christian life and I'm finally now getting it. Our church has plenty of things I could complain about, but so does your wife (assuming you have one).

Under what circumstances would you leave?

Doctrinal compromise. I believe that a church can recover (perhaps never reach the apex it once was at) if the main pastor has an affair, but my stance on doctrine is not something I will compromise.

Wide-spread corruption too, where it has infected the majority of the elders, deacons, and pastors. That would cause me to seriously consider whether or not to leave.

Isaac said...

- Why are you in the denomination you're in: I am not "in" one, though I have been attending an AMA church for more than a year. I haven't attended any catechesis or membership classes and I don't plan to.

- How did you find the church you attend: A friend and fellow Christian recommended it after I told him I was attending an AOG church and didn't like their their style or their content.

- What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend: At first, it was simple demographics; more young people. But after a couple Sundays of paying attention to the preaching, it was clear that it was a Bible-believing, church offering the one true Christ and the one true Gospel to those all within earshot. No guilt-slathered law-gospel-law sandwiches anywhere to be found.

- Why do you stay: For the reasons detailed in my previous answer. They preach the Gospel and they preach Christ. They DO NOT preach any of the "other Gospels" or the "other Christs" that we have been warned about and that are far too easy to find.

- Under what circumstances would you leave: Well, obviously if I moved to a different city but I don't think that is what you mean... A key escape circumstance I can think of is if their message of "salvation by grace through faith in Christ" changed to one of the more trendy "salvation by general contrition and doing social good" or "God/Jesus love you just as you are and they want you to accomplish all your life plans" type messages.

BrettR said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?
--I was born into the church I now attend and am a member (40 yrs and counting) Denomination: The Evangelical Church (I am not joking, that is what our denomination is called). It a Wesleyan/Holiness Arminian church that makes this reformed dude scratch my head a lot.
How did you find the church you attend?
Raised in this church.
What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
The answers "born into" and "raised in" no longer apply seeing that I am a member. I have family here, I was married in this church, the staff knows that I am one of those "Calvinists" and knows that I am not divisive nor will I hide what I believe on the doctrines of grace when I teach a class. They know that I think their view of sanctification is bunk (but I find very few who really believe in entire sanctification). And I have many friends with whom I have laughed and cried and agonized with over years of triumphs (few) and struggles (many).
Why do you stay?
In this community of 50-60k, I can honestly say that we have the best church in town. The staff is a cohesive unit, Christ is preached, and the coffee is good. The theology kills me sometimes, but I didn't chose my blood brothers and I guess I didn't chose my spiritual brothers either. I got what I got.
Under what circumstances would you leave?
Abandonment of the gospel, being kicked out because I would not submit to discipline, being "called" to another church, egalitarianism, churches lack of submission to denominational authority, or if I was a distraction to anyone in the church because of what I believe. I would rather leave than risk a split. I would not leave over bad coffee.

Penn Tomassetti said...
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Aric said...

It is great to read everyone’s story. Thank you to everyone for sharing. Let me add my story to the mix.

In my early thirties, I resigned my position as a high school math teacher and moved my wife and children to Virginia to attend law school. To keep this brief, let’s just say that before law school I was raised non-denom/Charismatic/Penecostal with a touch of Frank Viola thrown in for fun. During law school I was exposed to the doctrines of grace through Sovereign Grace Ministries, and well, to be honest, I hated going to church! Let’s say it was a struggle. So, I defaulted to the Frank Viola/non-church method and “did church at home.”

When it was time to move from Virginia, my wife found the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. The church we now attend was listed. She thought it sounded good: solid, family-centered, etc. I thought it sounded like a bunch of weird homeschoolers! (since I home-educate my kids, I was in denial :o). We went once. I loved the preaching, but not so much the worship. I fought. My wife prayed. God changed my heart. I opted for an environment that would provide steak each week for me and my family over the less-hearty options out there. So, we now attend an Ev Free church.

I stay because the teaching is invaluable, the family-integration is growing on me – and I want my children to be taught the truth, and the people are great. Yeah, a former Violaite is finding he needs/wants the church. Never would have typed that last sentence 7 years ago.

Anyway, after reading the “Turk on Church” series, I am evaluating leaving a church. I have no plans to leave where we are at. If the church stopped proclaiming Christ and teaching expositionally, I would most likely try to be involved in turning the ship around, so that they would ask me to leave.

DJP, Thanks for the open mic. You have brought to mind all the Lord has brought me thorough in the last 7 years. My heart rejoices anew at his graciousness!

MaximumFocus said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in? or
Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church?

Grew up in a "non-tradition"-traditioned Brethern assembly. This local body has since become marginalized owing to the fact that the Doctrines of Grace were taught and received contrary to the other "Brethern" assemblies in our town...we became independent!

How did you find the church you attend?

It was the chapel that I grew up in and when we moved our family back to that town - I initially avoided it due to the absence of Sunday School for our 3 small kids. The alternative - the "Community Church Fellowship/Church Plant" had Sunday School, but was theologically thin. So we sucked it up, taught the kids to sit still for at least 25 of the 40-45minute sermon and have been blessed ever since.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

The commitment to sound expository preaching and a band of believers who love the Lord Jesus and want to be obedient to Him. That and the distaste for seeker-church type church.

Why do you stay?

It ain't always pretty and the cracks show sometimes, but that's what comes with being in the body of Christ and seeking to be an encourager to our local body of believers.

Under what circumstances would you leave?

If the teaching became Emergent or program-oriented. If we commit to forsaking the authority of God's Word and the preaching/teaching and worship of Him. Or if we were run out cause they didn't like the way I led worship (use of Psalter, Hymns interspersed with Catechism questions and answers, etc).

~Mark said...

# Why are you in the denomination you're in? or
# Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church?
# How did you find the church you attend?
# What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?


~I was invited to church by a friend who was amazed that the church he'd found only passed the collection plate one time during service. I wanted to see this for my own eyes and it was there, within weeks, that God saved me. I stayed because I was offered good fellowship and strong teaching that was never afraid to ask "why" and then search for the answer, which is my personality.



# Why do you stay?
# Under what circumstances would you leave?

Actually, I did leave. I sensed for a long time that the Holy Spirit was just not present as Had been, and after several months a series of scandals erupted, and then the church began to be more concerned with the physical needs of people than proclaiming the Gospel. Then women started receiving the title of pastor, and Elders started leaving over these situations and more.

There were no more meaty sermons, and my complaints were finally rebuffed with "perhaps you'd be happier at a Reformed church somewhere".

I've been going to a church that is actually part of the same denomination, and while the similarities are there, I prayed very hard that God would put me where I could be of use and keep me from focusing on going somewhere just to GET for myself.

The first sermon I heard in that church on my very first visit pretty clearly identified this as a place where my presence could help them achieve a worthwhile goal: defeating the ethnic segregation in the congregation.

Not easy, but so far, very good.

~Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike the Bible Burgh Host said...

Hey, Dan! Your Bible Burgh buddy from Pittsburgh . . . this would make a GREAT interview! ;-)

We JUST joined a Baptist church in July . . . AND NOT because its Baptist. I am a non-denom guy at heart. BUT . . . we joined because the preacher is about the only expository, 45 minute sermon preacher in the whole area. A mid-30's "John MacArthur" if you ask me!

AND . . . after 150-160 years of existence, they are FINALLY instituting a Bbiblical Eldership!

It is under American Baptist but they have dropped out of the Nat'l. group, still affiliated with the state.

In the six years the preacher has been there, Sunday School has gone from about 15-20 to about 125-130. to me that stat is MUCH more important and "telling" than the membership number.

Since we have only been there three months, I think we probably ought to stay a little while! :-)

Pilgrim Mommy said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

I was raised in the Plymouth Brethren and house church setting. As an adult, I met with a group that grew out of the house church movement. Due to issues in the church, we stopped meeting and sat at home for seven years. Now, I'm a member of a small, independent, reformed Baptist church. I agree with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

How did you find the church you attend?

Due to a family crisis, I knew I needed to meet with a local church. I had no idea what reformed was at the time. Someone suggested that I read Spurgeon which led me to spurgeon. org. Given that Spurgeon was reformed Baptist, I tried to find a reformed Baptist church.

spurgeon.org --> farese.com --> my current church (5 minutes down the road)

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

I was drawn by the Christ-centered, scripturally sound preaching and the genuine love of the brothers and sisters.

Why do you stay?

To obey God by committing to a local church and because I need to be spiritually fed. Also, this church is my spiritual family.

Under what circumstances would you leave?

If I moved or died.

round.tuit said...

The church where our family are members is doctrinally sound, 3 miles from our home, has one of the most loving "spirits" of any church I have ever attended, opportunities to identify and exercise spiritual gifts are emphasized, is respected and has a 100+ year track record (I'll stop there). It is a member of the GARBC.

Barbara said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

Long story short, because the church I attend is part of that denomination. I joined a local body of believers, not a denomination per se.


How did you find the church you attend?

By the grace of God. A preacher’s kid myself, and then one of the "de-churched", I was converted just last year (long story) and found myself on the doorstep of a little country Baptist church, an infant starving for the milk of the word. As I drank, I grew, but I could never talk to my pastor about any of it at any length, and as the Scriptures opened up to me and I grew into the doctrines of Grace, I was desperate to be able to talk with someone of some maturity. At church I was starving and I was lonely. I remember begging my pastor for discipleship, and begging God for pastoral leadership and godly fellowship with women who knew God, loved Him, and sought to glorify Him. Hoping to have fellowship and be nourished maybe just once a month while staying at my old church and working/praying for a revival there, I did a web search for Reformed Baptist churches in my area, found one 40 miles away, emailed the pastor who put me in touch with little bitty Primitive Baptist church just down the road from me where the pastor (Elder) and a few of the members were coming full flower into the doctrines of Grace.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

Oh, my. From my 1st visit, Christ was exalted from A to Z. It was clear that they intended to do everything according to the commands of Christ in the Scripture and the church was being actively moved in that direction. I drank deeply, richly from that fountain. The differences between that and the teachings and fruits of the congregation I had been attending were stark. After about six weeks of prayer and wrestling with this, and apprising my pastor of my concerns, my old church was struck by lighting and burned to the ground. The following services and business meetings were just cold and empty and all about man. I went home from that meeting settled, done. I moved my membership the following Sunday and have not looked back.

Why do you stay?

For the same reasons I joined – and the fruits of that. It's a tiny congregation, but the growth in several people just over the past several months has been obvious. Right now in Sunday School we're in Boice's Expositional Commentary on the Epistles of John and hardly a Sunday goes by that somebody isn't bursting into tears from the sheer beauty of the truth in the text. Our leadership agrees with the 9Marks, so the Scripture is exposited in every message, in context with the rest of the counsel of God. There have been a number of services where the only thing keeping me from falling on my face in worship is the physical distance between the pews. We have a small core group that prays together weekly for the church and individual spiritual needs and for revival/awakening, for the hungering and thirsting after righteousness, to be broken, to die to self, to be renewed in Christ – and He’s answering these prayers. Even as we now face some battlegrounds in the church and bear one another up through them, seeking to be conformed to the image of the same Christ who washed Judas’ feet. I am with people who love to be washed in the water of the word and who have a passion for the lost. Individual evangelistic efforts are encouraged and supported and prayed for. It is a body that is growing not so much in number, but most certainly in Christ. Increasingly, we function the way a New Testament church is intended to function. There are battles against some old ingrained heretical traditions in the denomination, but they’re taken up case by case, with the Gospel and under the full armor of God.

Under what circumstances would you leave?

Theoretically, I guess the whole place could apostatize, or I could. But by the grace of God, I pray that we continue to grow in His grace until His return.

wlb said...

left our previous church (22 years ago) when it became apparent that while we might be able to sift through the garbage, our 6 yr old son might not be able to. While I may not agree with everything about our church (too much rock n' roll worship), the solid teaching of the Word, the church government, the loving discipline when needed, strong missions and a commitment to evangelism are all reasons we stay. Only heresy from the pulpit would cause us to consider leaving and that only after exhausting all efforts to bring change. We have a high view of the church and can't understand the concept of church hopping. I think there is too much of a consumer mentality these days "what's in it for me?"

Al said...

We are in a CREC church where I am one of two pastors…

We ended up here by good providence (is there any other kind?) when I and one other elder left our SBC church for various reasons, most of which Frank Turk would accept as legitimate reasons to leave a local body, and formed Providence Community Church (now Providence Church) in Pensacola, FL.

We began as a baptistic Church that allowed for paedobaptists (by conviction and actual baptism) to join as full members. We held to the 1689 LBCF with the large exception in the area of ordinances. This put us in an odd place denominationally. We were not Baptists (may God bless them) and we were not Presbyterian (again, blessings) and neither group wanted us for confessional reasons. We could have gone with a broader, looser group like FIRE, but we were really looking for more accountability and cover for us and our congregation.

We held a family conference and one of the speakers was Gregg Strawbridge, a minister in the CREC. He preached at our worship service and visited with our families. While with us he mentioned that we might find a home in the CREC.

We investigated and to make a long story short, we did find a home in the CREC and in the process of our investigation moved from a baptistic understanding of Scripture and Church life to a Covenantal one. We adopted the 1646 WCF as our confession about a year after petitioning for membership in the CREC and we have an exception to that confession too, allowing credobaptists (by conviction and practice) to join Providence.

We are pleased as rum punch to be there too…

Under what circumstances would we leave? I guess if Doug Wilson started to wear a pointy hat, that would do it. But he won’t

Al sends

Christian said...

My circumstance kind of starts with the last question as I just left my church of two and a half years. It was marketed as a non-denominational community church, but really had ties to Assemblies of God behind the curtains. It tended to be seeker sensitive with partnerships with Willow Creek and Saddleback, with lots of contemporary music and topical sermons. Casual dress was the norm, with people even wearing sports jerseys (including the pastors) at times.

We decided we had enough and left to find a church that was more traditional. We wanted expository preaching, hymns being sung, and a place that seemed more formal and reverent. So far, we started with an independent Baptist church because we saw their evangelistic efforts and heard some of their preaching on podcast. We knew the stigmas that are attributed to the Baptist churches, but we knew that they would, at least, take the Bible seriously on Sundays and throughout the week.

So, we've been there for only two weeks now, and we'll see where it goes.

--
Christian

Beyond Zaphon said...

1) Doctrine is biblical and worship is God-honoring

2) I web searched "Reformed Baptist, St. Louis" two or three clicks later found New Community Church.

3) Christ and God exalting teaching. Connected with brothers and sisters in Christ and experienced Christian love for one another.

4) My church is biblical and I am able to serve.

5) Elders strayed into error. I moved.

Chris Cookston said...

I'll give this a shot from my perspective as a pastor.

I am where I am for several reasons:

1. This church isn't KJVO or overly in love with KJV
2. This church has a plurality of elders
3. This church has a history of reformed or reformed leaning pastors and theology
4. This church practices believers baptism by immersion

Jerry said...

This is timely, since I celebrated my 20th anniversary at my church this past Sunday.

1. Southern Baptist - I was saved as a result of the ministry of a Southern Baptist church, and Southern Baptists underwrote my Seminary education.

2. God providentially directed both us and our church following my graduation from Seminary in may of 1989.

3. God's calling.

4. Death, or God's direction elsewhere.

Reforming Baptist said...

Because I'm the Pastor! :)

Wendy said...

1. I honestly have no idea if my church has a denomination or not. But that doesn't matter to me really.

2. A classmate invited me to the Thanksgiving concert many years ago. And I went for a few months then left because I wasn't saved (actually a practicing Pagan/Witch). Then went back exactly 3 years ago when I was 7 months pregnant because I wanted my son to be "raised in the church" and that was the only church I could think of (not that there weren't hundreds of others around). And got saved 2 weeks later, dedicated the baby 5 months later and baptized one year later.

3 & 4. Well, I originally stuck around because I had friends there and at that point (immediately after getting saved/having a baby), that was the most important thing. I was attending the singles group and the teaching was so personal and convicting down to the core. I had never seen a pastor so passionate and pleading with us to also be passionately obedient to God. A while later, I moved to a general fellowship group and began to grow even more under that pastor's teaching which was more like the main pastor's teaching without taking years to go through a book. I have seen myself go from milk, to baby food, to meat through my church's dedication to expositional teaching. And along the way, I've found new friends and sweet fellowship (mostly with seminary families. Even moved in with one family for a while, which was an absolutely incredible experience - not only to see a godly family at work day-in, day-out, but to have all that student's knowledge right there for the asking!) So I'm staying because of the expository-yet-not-dry teaching and the wonderful, non-clique-ish fellowship.

5. I wouldn't hesitate to leave....if I moved; if the church turned seeker-sensitive; if I felt that it was relying on gimmicks and flash to get people to come; and to borrow another's comment "if the elders jumped off a theological cliff". On the other hand, I would bring up the issue in prayer if my fellowship group ever disbanded and if Clayton Erb ever left (just kidding, but that would be a sad day).

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...

> "Why are you in the denomination you're in?"

Evangelical and credobaptist.

> How did you find the church you attend?

1. By the sovereign plan of God.

2. It has a large Korean-language ministry and mixed language services, and several people recommended the church to my wife, when we were both non-churchgoing non-believers.

> What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

Coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour and being baptized there, thanks to the Holy Spirit working through biblical preaching.

> Why do you stay?

1. Because we have been blessed with God-fearing elders who by the grace of God have carefully steered their 40-year old church plant as it has turned into a centre for Christian teaching, worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, evangelism, and missions.

2. As a corollary of 1, strong biblical preaching week after week, combining exegesis and convicting application.

> Under what circumstances would you leave?

God willing, only if we moved out of the metropolitan area. And even in the latter case, I would probably continue to associate myself with the church family in some capacity.

Christopher said...

At a large PCA in CS, CO.

My wife and I don't like large, or overly regulated services, but it was about four blocks away when we first moved to town. We tried the other smaller PCA's in town, but it didn't feel right to drive past the close one each time we went to church.

We stayed for the following:

1) Expositional Preaching
2) Excellent Small Groups

We prefer Presbyterian church government because it seems to align best to what we see in the NT. Elders (both teaching [pastors] and ruling [laymen]) give direction and shepherd. I just don't see the NT church functioning as a democracy, so I prefer the more republic type structure. Likewise, I like having a central accountability structure, like Paul going back to Jerusalem to make sure he's got his facts straight. I certainly don't like the Catholic's Papa structure, where is that in the NT?

I would have to pull my family out if the church ever abandoned the clear command in Scripture concerning the role of women in the church. Since the only way to do this is to reject a Grammatical/Historical hermaneutic, and that doesn't happen quickly, there could be a long period of warning signs preceding this kind of move.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Why are you in an independent church?

Because our church happens to be independent ;-)
(Our church was originally a Reformed church-plant, but is not affiliated. The pastor is “on loan” from the PCA, and the congregation is somewhat of a mixed bag, theologically.)


How did you find the church you attend?

We visited many churches, as well as researching them ahead of time on the internet, when possible. Our church is actually further away (geographically) than we had intended to look, but by happy “accident” we decided to visit it because we were invited to my sister’s (nearby) for lunch.


What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

1. Our pastor preaches right out of the Bible. Every. Single. Sunday.
He’s usually an expository preacher (going through Luke right now) but occasionally varies that by preaching on a relevant topic, such as baptism if someone is being baptized.
We had no idea how starved for meat we had become, and his Biblical preaching as well as the Biblical teaching of the elders in Sunday School fell like rain on parched ground.

2. The church really is a family. And – hallelujah – our kids were welcomed and treated like they belong right there in church. I blogged about it. (Shameless plug.) Most of the activities are for all ages, the monthly pot-luck and game night being a big hit with my boys :0)

3. Everyone participates. The pastor and a p/t janitor and p/t bookkeeper are the only paid staff. This is a church that worships, works, and socializes together as participators, not spectators.

4. They’re friendly. We were invited to people’s homes for lunch. And that didn’t “wear off” after we’d been coming awhile. And, even though we’d only been coming a little while, when I had minor surgery they brought us meals.

5. There’s time to socialize together and help each other because the church isn’t program-driven. The bulleting isn’t full of committee meetings and activities all week long. People actually have time to invite us over, or come to our house for a meal or just to “hang out”.


Why do we stay?

See above.


Under what circumstances would we leave?

Hmmmm… if the church stopped being a church?

I suppose if gas prices and geography made it prohibitive for us to participate with the church body, then we would consider looking for another church, closer to home…

witness said...

1. Why are you in the denomination you're in?

The denomination does not matter to me, only faithfulness to the Word of God. The denomination of the body my family has joined are the most faithful in the area. They love Christ.

2. How did you find the church you attend?

I found this church after comparing and checking on all the churches in our area.

3. What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

Now there’s a long story. I was pastor of a small country EFCA church and everyone eventually left and we could not afford to keep the doors open on our own. The church called me to pastor the flock five years ago and one by one they decided they did not really want to hear the Word of God preached verse by verse. The bleeding really started when I began the book of Romans. I don’t think I made it past chapter 1 verse 18. After that my family not only wanted, but needed to be part of a body where Christ was exalted and people weren’t just looking for their ears to be tickled.

4. Why do you stay?

Our church is our family.

5. Under what circumstances would you leave?

You don’t leave family.

KRG said...

I have generally gravitated toward non-denominational churches because a) I was raised in that tradition/lack thereof b)I think it makes it easier to teach what the the bible teaches them rather than feel bound to a denominational statement

I found my current church through a guy who I was meeting up with for accountability in college

I started going because I was in college and needed some older men to pattern my life after. At that point most of my Christian interactions were peer to peer. This church offered that based on solid teaching from the pulpit.

I stayed because they became my family.

I have attended 4 churches, and left three, the first two because I moved/my situation changed and distance kept me from becoming involved, the third because I was lazy and it was too easy for me to escape accountability. That said, other than moving away or being called for a church plant or something like that, the only way I foresee leaving this church is if the majority of the leadership became entangled in some sin or go doctrinally crazy.

gringa said...

Our church is independent, teaches the doctrines of grace, baptizes believers, is dispensational, and gospel-centered.

My husband and I are members of our church, having learned of it through reading articles on the internet that the pastor writes about issues critical to the church.

We went to our first service there about two and a half years ago, and were so amazed at the solid expository preaching that honored the gospel and the sufficiency of Scripture.

We have learned so much, mostly that we have so much to learn!

We love that the elders really believe that the Bible will equip us, and that they teach the Bible instead of books. Our children are taught the Bible stories, theology, and how to memorize and apply Scripture.

We love that the teaching has produced so many people who go out and evangelize on the streets.

We are constantly blessed by God through this church. It is a great honor to partner with our bretheren there for the sake of the gospel.

I suppose the only way we would leave is if we were shown the door.

Paula said...

Why are you in the denomination you're in?

Not really a denomination person, but we've been in the GARBC for a year and have found it a good fit with our theological leanings. Bonus points for their avoidance of trendiness and ecumenicalism.

How did you find the church you attend?

We had been attending a mega-church since our oldest ds was born (17 years). In the last two years we were there, the usual seeker sensitive-ness was ramping up (Beatles impersonators, fog machines, different services for every demographic, etc.), with a side of emergent in the youth group. It got to the point where we wouldn't allow our kids to go to any youth events where there would be teaching. Bowling or the amusement parks were OK - Sunday school was out. Unfortunately, we found that in a mega-church, trying to affect change is kind of like spitting in the wind. Well, way worse.

Changing churches when your kids are 15 and 17 is risky business. Our kids agreed that we needed to leave, but being homeschooled, most of their friends were at church - this wasn't going to be easy. We prayed for a miracle.

I started researching churches. I looked at websites and ads in the newspaper. 90% could be ruled out by a peek at the website - either doctrinal issues or, the dreaded, "Loving God - Loving People" which to me has come to be the secret code word for "seeker sensitive". Anything with a sex series, Porn Sunday, or "The Office" sermon series was also eliminated.

Out of hundreds of churches in our area, that left us....like....one. I found a website that said its youth ministry "teaches the Bible aggressively, verse by verse." It was music to my ears!

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?

The first week I visited, I cried when I heard expository preaching. It was the most beautiful thing to hear the Word preached so clearly and authoritatively! The organ music and karaoke soundtracks, not so much : ) Our younger son jumped right in - thrilled to finally be allowed to go to Sunday school and be part of a youth group. Our 17-year-old was NOT going to make friends there, not going to get involved, going to put in his time until he graduates and then move on. Fast forward one year and now 18-year-old son is a leader in the youth group, went on the summer mission trip and counts the kids in the youth group among his closest friends. We are attached because God led us there and attached us with solid teaching for our entire family and a wonderful youth group that has helped our kids make the transition.


Why do you stay?

We have a pastor who is wise and carefully handles the Word and shepherds the flock. There is so much at this church of 500 that is Biblical that was missing at the mega-church, especially ecclesiologically (is that a word?)

Under what circumstances would you leave?

We're not members yet, so we don't have a say in decision-making. I expect that to change in the near future. If so, I suppose we would leave if we ended up in the same situation that we left previously, with many tears and much mourning (I'll spare y'all the whole wretched story - oversharing!).

wprice12 said...

Why am I in the denomination I am in?
Because when I was saved by God's grace and choosing, I looked for a biblical sound church that taught the truths of the Bible. I searched and found Mills Road Baptist Church, and found that this church was a good church home.

How did you find the church you attend?
I looked for churches that not only taught reformed theology, but lived in the truths thereof. I looked through means of the web and found Mills Road.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
Biblical expositional and exegetical teaching, good fellowship, a heart for truth, and sound doctrine. Great coffee on Sunday morning also helped.:D

Why do you stay?
Because truth will keep you drawn to where it is. I stay because the word is incredible and sound, the worship of God is sincere, and the saints are living this valuable way through all they do. The leadership is biblical sound and the doctrine is as well.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
If I move to another city, or the church ceases teaching truth. No other reasons.

Charles Sebold said...

Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church? Because my church isn't part of a denomination, to be honest. If I had to start over again and my current church didn't exist, I'd probably seek out a Southern Baptist Church if possible.

How did you find the church you attend? Google. Interestingly enough, I missed a church or two which would have been a better fit doctrinally at the time, and were closer... and I think the Lord must have sovereignty even over Google. I'm glad we tried this church. We were going to shop around a bunch of churches within sixty miles of our house, and after we visited this one (the first), decided that there was no reason to move on if this one was acceptable.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend? Doctrines of grace, plurality of elders, baptistic theology, and (to be honest) a leaning more toward cessationism than toward charismaticism. (Although that lean adjusts its angle every so often.) It basically fulfilled the requirements, and we felt it would be wrong to keep shopping.

Why do you stay? We stay because this is our family, we are part of this church. Church is a commitment, almost on the level of adoption or marriage with us. I find that most of the things that may irk me from time to time are signs of my own need for further sanctification.

Under what circumstances would you leave? If we couldn't stay without dividing the church, and that dividing factor wasn't actually the Gospel itself, then we'd have to leave. I suppose if we found that we had to move away, that would count too. But we actually moved just to be closer to the church. And, I think that if it ever got to the point where I couldn't possibly protect my family or help them grow in Christ as part of that church, I'd consider moving, but not before some attempts to repair the damage.

Brian said...

>Why are you in the denomination you're in?
Southern Baptist because the BF&M is consistent with God's Word.

>How did you find the church you attend?
They asked me to lead worship there.

>What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
I am a teacher by the grace of God and He puts me in places where I can grow and He gets glory.

>Why do you stay?
There is still a great need for spiritual "meat".

>Under what circumstances would you leave?
Unbiblical leadership, God's call, or my own epic fail (Lord, save me!).

christianlady said...

Left a "non-denominational" self titled "Bible church" that also is now into (and wasn't when we started) spiritual formation. We left because we found it to be more and more involved in this stuff, it's not biblical, and all efforts to change it or confront it has done nothing. We are attending a Baptist church with reformation leanings....maybe Calvinist pastors. We're attending but not yet members because we're testing the waters to see what it's all about. We had attended another non-denominational church for a short time after leaving the old church, but it was in embryonic stages of the old church. We could see how it could go one way or the other, and didn't want to take a chance.

We attend the church we're attending (and have for about a year) because they are a verse by verse church. The pastor preaches from the bible each week, not over themes. He uses scripture to back up scripture. I am not as interested in how many points he is on the Calvin thing as I am in his view of scripture...though I am a novice on this Calvin/Arminian thing. This church does mention the negatives of other churches sometimes, but doesn't focus on attacking others. Rather, it focuses on scritpure and on Christ. I have also seen service for others in the church. Sure, there is a missions program, but there's the "serve the body" first mentality...at least it's how I see it. It's not a selfish thing, but a "take care of our brothers and sisters" and also follow the great commission. Preaching is intentional in terms of teaching the body from little children to adults. Not much entertainment, mostly preaching, worship, service...

Jon from Bucksport said...

Coming to this a little late but this is when I am catching up!
Why are you in the denomination you're in? or
Why are you in an independent (i.e. non-denominational) church?
-I grew up in independent baptist fundamentalism.
How did you find the church you attend?

-When we moved I solicited several pastors I know of in the general area and God used them to lead us to this church. The big thing is this: when we moved, locating a church was priority 1 and then we started looking for houses and jobs.

What specifically led you to attach yourself to the church you attend?
-After meeting the pastor and talking with him we were convinced that this church was where God wanted us to minister even though there were some "rough edges" here that we would prefer not to be scraping against!

Why do you stay?
-We stay because our ministry is ongoing and we cannot leave until the Great Shepherd leads us away.

Under what circumstances would you leave?
-First, let me say this is an excellent question and one I think everyone should really hash out early on. Write it down and follow your own advice. I will not leave because my feelings are hurt or my felt needs are not being met. 1) Moving away (the obvious answer) 2) Doctrinal deviation: in our church the danger is that if the pastor leaves the church may shift toward hyper-fundamentalism and try to find a new pastor to preach to the choir on those topics. 3) Clear leading from God to another place of ministry. (The word "clear" meaning the opposite of "feelings, sense satisfaction"!)