We got up Sunday morning, the 16th, and had to make a decision about where we wanted to go to church. After doing some research on Vision Forum's list of churches, we chose a church that was listed on there. We chose poorly.... It was the strangest thing I've ever been a part of, and I felt worse when I left church than I did when I got there! Actually, I had felt pretty good before entering. I can't really explain it, but I just didn't have a good feeling about it for even two or three days afterwards. Everything was so scripted. In fact, we were given a bulletin when we walked in that laid out everything that was taking place - almost word for word, and I could have taken that home and read it and experienced the whole church service. Except for the pastor's sermon - which I totally didn't get. I never knew what passage he was preaching/speaking from. I may as well have been listening to the State of the Union Address. I may have. Not sure. Well, I do know it wasn't George Bush, so I guess I wasn't. Anyway.....I don't blame Vision Forum. I'm sure it's not possible for them to find out every single detail of every church listed on there. (NOTE: IT IS NOW MARCH 22, 2010, AND AS I AM GOING BACK AND READING THIS, I REALIZE HOW FOOLISH SOME OF THE ABOVE STATEMENTS ARE. I WILL BE BLOGGING SOON ABOUT HOW GOD HAS CHANGED MY HEART ON THIS.)
We were listening to talk radio the other day on our way home, and I don't know who we were listening to, but he made a good point. He had been a Methodist but had converted to Catholicism. One of his reasons was that whether you go to a Catholic church on the West Coast, the East Coast, up North, down South or even another country, you are pretty much going to experience the same service no matter where you go. I would never convert to Catholicism as there is just way too much I disagree with, but I do have to say that I appreciate that quality. I guess we're pretty much what you call Reformed Baptist in doctrine, but even when you visit a church that says they believe in that manner, you have no idea what is awaiting you when you walk through the door into the sanctuary - whether it's a church down the road or across the country.
I believe that the tons of Bible versions have contributed to this. Years ago, before making different Bible versions became such a tremendous money-making project, it just wasn't that way. If you were Baptist, you could visit almost any Baptist church around, and you would have basically the same type of service. With all the new versions, it's too easy to find the particular one that fits your beliefs and then build your church around that philosophy.
We were still in Texas this past Sunday, Easter Sunday, and thankfully we visited another church that was much better. In fact, Brad and I kept exchanging glances during the pastor's sermon. He seemed to be preaching on everything we've been studying this past year. After the sermon, I told Brad that he and this pastor were definitely kindred spirits!
We know so many people who are looking for a church home right now. They've been to church after church and have experienced exactly what we did. Fellowshipping with like-minded believers is so important for the Christian. In fact, we're commanded to assemble together - it's for our good, and it's our opportunity to set aside everything else and worship our Creator! Even though it may be difficult to find a place to worship in this day and time, I pray they will continue to search. As we discovered, there are definitely still some good ones out there, and it's too important to miss!
I know I started with one Sunday and jumped to the next, leaving out an entire week of sight seeing and fun. I'll start filling in those blanks next time!