If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.
A Brief Word from Michelle:
I’m frequently asked by readers what to do if, despite their best efforts, they can’t find a doctrinally sound church within reasonable driving distance from home. One of my suggestions has been to look into church planting. When Laura told me about her experience, I knew it was a perfect fit to that question, so I asked to share her story here on the blog, and she graciously agreed.
Planting a Biblically Sound Church:
A Story of God’s Faithfulness
by Laura Moses
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Luke 12:37
This is our story of the painful decision to leave a church and the joy of planting a new one. In the last few years, the Lord Jesus has been gracious to teach us the depths of His Word through the faithful preaching of many of these men we regard highly as doctrinally sound. The more we learned the more we desired to be fed this way in our own local church. Over time, we had watched our church slowly begin to allow wider doctrinal stances. Further, we were concerned that authors and Bible teachers with questionable theology were not being vetted properly. (Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa Terkeurst, etc.) One of the many resources we used to discern for ourselves truth from error, in comparison to Scripture, were the source links Michelle provided that enabled us to hear what was being taught directly from the mouths of these teachers.
We would caution anyone not to leave a church too quickly. Stay and do the work involved by having discussions with leadership to effect change, if the Lord may be gracious to honor that, and PRAY! Pray for wisdom, pray for humility, pray for discernment, pray for truth to be spoken and heard by all those involved in the hard conversations.
Initially, my husband and I met with a few of the pastors and elders of our church and expressed our concerns and also our desire for deeper and more defined teaching. Unfortunately, they did not share these concerns and affirmed they would continue a lighter teaching to meet the needs of the unsaved and newer Christians. The elder board saw no issue with teachers we asked them to reconsider using because what they taught fit within the wide doctrinal positions of the church. After many months and many hard meetings it became evident that we were not going to agree on the direction the church was headed and the model of leadership they chose to use. There is value to walking away quietly rather than to continue and cause conflict and friction.
This was a heartbreaking decision as my husband was an elder and we had been a part of this church family for more than 20 years. We have many dear friends that still make this their church home. However, we felt the decision to leave was necessary for our family’s spiritual growth. As we began to search for another church we looked very intentionally for a church with a well-defined statement of faith. We realized that many of our concerns could be traced back to a limited doctrinal statement which allowed even opposing doctrines to be taught from the pulpit and in the classrooms. This makes it almost impossible to teach clearly and precisely on any given doctrine, and results in disunity among the elders who are able to have differing positions.
In many churches, the Gospel may be clearly proclaimed, but the doctrines that support it are handled without clarity. These secondary doctrines are of utmost importance, not to salvation but to lift a congregation to a high view of God and His Word. They gird the firm foundation of the Gospel, affirm the authority and sufficiency of the whole body of Scripture, and give the most glory to God who has revealed them to us.
After searching for many months, we did eventually find, through The Master’s Seminary church search and Grace Advance, a church 45 minutes away. Along with two other couples who had also left our former church for similar reasons, we began attending, albeit with hesitancy, as we had always served regularly at our church and had no idea how that would be possible at this new church because of the distance. Our main goal at this point was to be fed “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and the Lord provided this for us. We were able to observe a Biblical model of Christ’s plan for the church. They held to a specific doctrinal statement (almost identical to the statement of Grace Community Church), carefully vetted those applying for membership for many months before welcoming them into membership, and required Believer’s baptism. This church applied church discipline in a way that was soberly administered. We also saw the congregation joyfully praise the Lord together when the brother was restored to fellowship. The Lord graciously gave us a year there to be taught. After several months, we became members, as we knew that we needed the protection of the men in leadership for however long the Lord would have us there. Even membership class, (12 weeks long!) was a blessing as we were taught from Scripture the doctrines of our faith and the responsibilities of membership.