The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

The Lord’s richest blessings to you, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a CliffsNotes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!

What is your take on having a “life verse” or favorite verse? People ask this frequently and I can never tell them one specific verse as there have been many verses through many situations that have been special to me.

I think you’ve hit on an important part of the answer. Life is constantly changing, and the Word addresses all of those various needs and situations. Who could banner or cling to only one verse in the midst of all of that, and why would anyone want to? I’ve answered this a bit further -with Scripture- in my article…

My “Life Verse”

Hi! I’m looking for sound doctrine Spanish women teachers.

It’s always encouraging to hear from women who want to make sure they’re consuming sound doctrine! Don’t limit yourself to women teachers, though, especially when the language barrier is probably already severely limiting your choices. There are far more doctrinally sound male pastors and teachers out there than female, with far more resources.

From my article: The Mailbag: Potpourri (Christian romance novelist, home schooling sons, Spanish resources…)

I would check Grace to YouLigonier, and HeartCry Missionary Society (Paul Washer). I know they all have books and resources (sermons, articles, etc.) in Spanish, and if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on the site, you can contact them directly, and they can point you in the right direction.

My husband and I have gone to a “contemporary” Christian church for 12 years. The music isn’t our preference but we’ve overlooked it because the teaching was solid; however, after recently learning the truth about Bethel, Hillsong and Elevation, we’ve discovered other false teaching with the use of IF: Gathering for women and Orange curriculum for children/youth. We plan to talk with the lead and administrative pastors who are also elders very soon. Should we stay to see what happens or do we have the freedom to leave now? Thank you.

I’m so sorry the leadership of your church is doing this.

You should stay until you’ve talked with the pastors and elders. If they clutch their pearls, gasping, “Oh dear, we had no idea these were false teachers! Please give us more information so we can eradicate false doctrine from our church!” well, praise God, stay, and help them.

But in my experience, when false doctrine and false teachers have infiltrated a church to this extent, the leadership of the church are either so biblically ignorant and lazy that they don’t know what constitutes false doctrine, or they simply don’t care that they’re feeding poison to their congregation, and they will dig in their heels and try to make you the bad guy for confronting them. They care more about scratching the itching ears of the people who fill the pews with what’s easy and popular than they do about pleasing God. They’re committing pastoral malpractice by shirking their Titus 1:9 mandate. And all of this disqualifies them from the office of pastor / elder, no matter how solid the teaching seems (don’t think that their theology and teaching isn’t affected by this). I do not envy them the day that they will stand before God and answer to Him for their shoddy shepherding.

If you find this to be the case when you talk to your pastors and elders, feel free to leave and find a doctrinally sound church. You’ve done all you can and all God requires of you.

Here are a few resources that may help you and others in similar situations:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

The Mailbag: When is it OK to leave a church that’s begun embracing false doctrine?

The Mailbag: How to Leave a Church

Searching for a new church?

My husband is Catholic and comes from a deeply Catholic family tradition. I have recently started attending a Bible-teaching church on my own. Outwardly, he approves. I prayed over this subject yet still wrestle with it and wonder if I am being disobedient. I would appreciate wisdom on this.

I know this is a really difficult situation. May the Lord comfort you and give you wisdom. Sadly, situations like this – in which the husband is either unsaved and / or wants to go to a heretical or unbiblical “church” and the wife craves a doctrinally sound church – are not uncommon. Here are a couple of cases I’ve addressed in the past:

The Mailbag: A Lost Husband, a Saved Wife, and an Apostate Church

The Mailbag: My husband wants to stay at an unbiblical church.

No, you are not being disobedient, either to your husband (especially since he says he approves) or to God.

What are your other options? The only two I can think of in your situation would be going to Catholic services with your husband or not going to church at all. Both of those would be wrong.

God is quite clear all over Scripture that He doesn’t want His people anywhere near false doctrine or false teachers, and that’s what Catholicism is. It’s an anti-biblical, non-Christian religion. It is one of the accursed “another gospels” of Galatians 1:6-9. You no more belong at a Catholic service than at an altar of Baal or in the temple of Artemis.

Yet God commands you (and all Believers) not to forsake assembling with the local church.

So you can’t go to services with your husband. You can’t not go to church at all. Your only other option is to do what you’re doing – find a doctrinally sound church and go without him. What other choice do you have?

Here are some additional resources that may help:

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

Roman Catholicism: Mass Confusion at A Word Fitly Spoken

Truth and Love – with Mike Gendron at A Word Fitly Spoken

I do appreciate your post. One question – in hearing God speak. I have heard God speak to me. I have felt prompted and convicted. From what I am seeing on your website, it seems as if you are saying that is unbiblical. Can you please clarify and provide scripture for that? Also, just recently when reading the Christmas story, I noted that Joseph was warned in a dream. Trying to reconcile with what you are saying.

That’s a great question, and it sounds like God is growing you in discernment and the knowledge of His written Word. That’s wonderful!

First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about “hearing God speak”. When I use that terminology, I’m talking about things like, “I audibly heard God speak to me and tell me to buy the red car instead of the blue one,” or “God spoke to me in a dream and told me I’m going to marry a guy named Todd.”. Direct, specific, extra-biblical revelation. God doesn’t do that today.

I’m not talking about things like, “I was praying and suddenly felt convicted over the lie I told yesterday, so I repented,” or “I keep seeing or hearing, in various places, this particular Bible verse about trusting God, and it has really made me think about my lack of trust in God. So now I’m praying and studying Bible passages about trusting God more.”. God does do that today. Those are just a couple of ways the Holy Spirit guides us. That type of thing is not what I mean when I say that “hearing God speak” is unbiblical. We need to be careful that we’re not conflating the biblical with the unbiblical.

You say you’ve heard God speak to you. Was it the first way I mentioned, direct, specific, even audible extra-biblical revelation? If so, how do you know – as a matter of objective fact – that it was God? Think of it this way – if you had to prove in a court of law that it actually was God speaking to you, what evidence would you offer?

Because I’ve never encountered someone who said God spoke to her in that way who had anything to offer up as “proof” that it was God other than her subjective feelings or opinion, or the purported intensity of the experience. In other words, just because you believe something to be true doesn’t mean it is, and just because you had a really intense experience doesn’t mean your interpretation of said experience is correct, especially when those things contradict Scripture, which extra-biblical revelation does.

God Himself tells us that His written Word is sufficient for everything we need. Extra-biblical revelation undermines the biblical doctrine of Scripture’s sufficiency. Here are some resources that help explain:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

That’s Enough! The Sufficiency of Scripture at A Word Fitly Spoken

Isn’t the Gospel enough? (The Sufficiency of Scripture) at A Word Fitly Spoken

How Does the Holy Spirit Lead Us? at A Word Fitly Spoken

Do you have a list of the biblically solid women writers you would recommend? I’m compiling a list of resources for our women’s event table. I have some…but I thought you might have some I hadn’t thought about.

Yep! See that blue menu bar at the top of this page? Click on “Recommended Bible Teachers“.

I’m so glad you want to provide doctrinally sound resources for your ladies! (As I mentioned above, I strongly recommend that women not limit themselves to women authors and teachers. There are far more doctrinally sound male authors and teachers out there with far more resources available. Your event table might be a great place to introduce your ladies to some of them!)

I thought this might be a common question, so maybe you can point me to something you have already written on this topic…

You came to the right Mailbag. :0)

I was given [a heretical] book from a well meaning, but undiscerning family member. Do you recommend throwing it directly into the trash

That is definitely one option (especially since you mentioned you’ve discussed these problematic doctrinal issues with her before). I’ve discussed several methods of disposing of heretical books in this article:

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Soul Ties, SBC Communion, Women in children’s ministry, Heretical book disposal)

(I know the book you were given wasn’t a false teacher’s study Bible, but I’m going to throw in an article that deals with disposing of those, too, for other readers: The Mailbag: Asked and Answered (July 5, 2021).)

[Or do you recommend] offering to read through it together with the family member so we can discuss the problems in it, maybe reading through it on my own and then discussing the key problems? My husband and I have addressed this topic with the family member before, but I guess it didn’t stick. They attend a church that loves Bethel music and they have shared sermons with us that are borderline Word of Faith stuff, which is when we have addressed the issue with them before.

If she is willing to sit down with you and discuss it – calmly, rationally, Bibles on the table – then please do take the time to do that. (Wouldn’t it be amazing if God used you as He brings her out of darkness and into His marvelous light!) If things start out well but then seem to be getting a little heated, you can always say, something like, “Why don’t we take a break from this for now and pick it up another time? How about some ice cream?”. Or, if she shuts down the conversation: “We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to, but if you ever have any questions or decide you’d like to talk about it, my door is always open.”.

Here are some resources I hope will help:

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones at A Word Fitly Spoken

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? (this is obviously about dealing with church leadership, but many of the principles remain the same when dealing with friends)

Can you provide insight on what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is which will not be forgiven? In Mathew 12.

Can do!

The Mailbag: What Is the Unpardonable Sin?

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.


The Mailbag: How to Leave a Church


What is the biblical way to leave a church?

This is a great question that I’ve received from several readers. There are a lot of different circumstances that might cause someone to leave her church, and there are right ways and wrong ways to leave. I’ve been so grateful to hear from women who want to handle things biblically.

First, a couple of words of counsel that generally apply to nearly all situations when you’re considering leaving a church:

•In most circumstances, even bad ones, I would counsel against “ghosting” your church – simply disappearing with no explanation or goodbyes to anyone. When you’re preparing to leave, as appropriate to your particular situation, tell your pastor how much he has meant to you. Say a special goodbye to dear friends. Speak words of encouragement to your leaders and teachers. Search your heart for anyone you may have sinned against, repent, and apologize. Leave graciously.

•If you’re married, you and your husband will need to talk and pray together about whether or not to leave and how to do so. Be sure to remember that your husband is responsible for making the final decision and you are responsible for submitting to him.

Let’s talk about some of the more specific reasons you might have to leave a church, and what it would look like to leave well in each situation.


If you’re a faithful member in good standing and you die unexpectedly, you’re off the hook. It’s OK to “ghost” your church. :0)

If you’re a faithful member in good standing and have a terminal illness, use some of your remaining time (if you’re able) to make a gracious exit. Take some time for special goodbyes. Discuss your funeral service and details with your pastor if applicable. Consider leaving a gift to your church in your will.

Moving or Temporarily Relocating

If you’re moving too far away to continue attending your church, let your pastor and those you’re close to at church know.

Do you know your new address and/or e-mail address? Provide it to the church office if you’d like them to keep sending you the church newsletter and any other mailings, and let them know if it’s OK to give that information out to other church members who would like to stay in touch. Make sure you have correct phone numbers and e-mail addresses for church friends you want to stay in contact with. If you’re not yet connected to a church in your new hometown, ask your pastor if he can suggest a good church in the area.

For those who are temporarily relocating (for example, college students or military families) and want to keep your membership in your home church, yet be active members of a church in your new location, find out if your new church has any sort of dual membership option (sometimes called “watchcare”). This allows you to maintain your membership in your home church while giving you membership benefits (voting, teaching, communion, or whatever your new church’s policies are) in your new church.

Switching from a good church to a church that’s a better fit for your family

Maybe the church you’ve been attending is a good one, but you’ve recently become more Reformed in your soteriology and you’d like to join another church in town that you more closely align with, theologically. Perhaps there’s a nearby church that has started offering programs and accommodations your disabled child could benefit from that your current church isn’t equipped to offer. Maybe, though doctrinally sound, your current church has switched to a genre of music that, even after giving it a good faith effort, still grates on you to the point of distracting you from worship, but another local church has music you’re more in harmony with.

None of these are reasons you absolutely have to leave a church. In fact, if your church is teaching sound doctrine, and the reason you’re considering leaving is a matter of preference or convenience, I would encourage you to try to work things out and stay at your current church if at all possible. It might be that God would have you start programs and accommodations for the disabled at your current church, or that He will begin to use the new music style in your life in some way. At the very least, when it comes to non-doctrinal issues like these, give it plenty of time, prayer, and serious thought before you leave.

Talk to your pastor (or appropriate elder) when you start thinking about leaving. This should not be an “If you don’t change X,Y, and Z, we’re outta here!” type of conversation. Be kind. Express your concerns or needs lovingly and biblically. Find out if there’s any information you need to know that would affect your thoughts about leaving. For example, maybe the pastor has also started becoming more Reformed and needs you to stay and support him as he begins transitioning the church in that direction. Maybe a lot of other church members have expressed discomfort with the new direction the worship music has taken and the leadership is considering changes that would make it easier for you to stay. You never know until you discuss it with your pastor.

If you come to the decision that you really need to move to another church, talk with your pastor again and let him know your decision. Take care of all of your church responsibilities before leaving: if you’re teaching a class with a definite end date, finish it. If you’re teaching a permanent class, let whoever is in charge of securing teachers know when you’ll be leaving so a new teacher can be found. Wrap up any projects or turn them over to the appropriate person. Resign any positions you hold. Don’t leave your brothers and sisters in the lurch.

When you say your goodbyes, it’s not necessary to disclose to everyone every detail of your reasons for leaving, but, if possible, try to stop any gossip before it starts by making sure people understand you’re not leaving because of someone else’s sin, unresolved conflict, false teaching, etc.

Leaving due to sin or false doctrine

The chairman of deacons is having an affair and nothing has been done about it. Your pastor just finished Bill Johnson’s book and is starting to teach New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine. Women have been preaching from time to time on Sunday mornings.

The most crucial time not to simply disappear from your church is when there’s sin or false doctrine in the camp. Jesus and the Apostles did not handle sin and false doctrine by avoiding it or ignoring it. They loved the people committing the sin and teaching the false doctrine enough to confront them – sometimes harshly, if needed – so that they might repent and be reconciled to Christ. We don’t run. We reconcile.

Just as God placed Esther in exactly the right position at the right time to help rescue His people, it could be that God has placed you in your church and given you a biblical understanding of the situation for such a time as this.

In cases of both sin and false doctrine, you should usually* follow the steps for church discipline outlined in Matthew 18:15-20:

1. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (15)

2. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (16)

3. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. (17a)

4. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (17b)

(*If you have knowledge that someone is imminently about to commit sin, especially if that sin will victimize someone else, and time is of the essence, gather the appropriate leaders and/or church members and intervene immediately. If a crime has been committed, alert law enforcement.)

In my article, The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?, I’ve outlined some steps to take when approaching your pastor or lay leaders about using materials authored by false teachers. Most of this information can be adapted for dealing with issues of sin and church discipline as well.

If the sin or false teaching issue is resolved biblically, praise God, forgive, do whatever you’re able to do to be at peace with all involved, and stay at your church if at all possible.

If you have done everything you’re able to do to help bring about a biblical resolution to the situation and the sin or false doctrine is being allowed to continue, it’s probably time to leave and find a spiritually healthy church. Talk to your pastor or elders, and let them know you’ve decided to leave and why.

Attempt to leave as graciously as possible, taking care of your teaching/serving responsibilities, saying goodbye, making arrangements to stay in touch with friends, etc.

You will need to prayerfully consider the biblically appropriate way to explain to fellow church members and leadership why you’re leaving. Don’t slander people, make an unnecessary scene, or disclose inflammatory details indiscriminately on your way out, including on social media. However, it may be a situation in which those left behind need to know what’s going on so they can make an informed decision about how to address the situation or whether to stay or leave themselves. It may be appropriate to write out a calm, objective, scripturally annotated letter explaining your reasons for leaving, and mail or hand deliver copies of it to the appropriate people. You might need to talk to the denominational leadership board or organization that oversees your church. There are so many different possible scenarios it would be impossible for me to make a blanket statement as to what would or would not be biblically wise and appropriate in every single situation.


No matter your reasons for leaving your current church, your search for a new church to join with needs to begin as soon as you’ve made the decision to leave. If you need some help, ask your pastor or trusted Christian friends for suggestions of good churches, or explore the Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page. Whatever you do, don’t succumb to the sin of staying out of church, because for the Christian, Church is Not Optional. And that’s Non-Negotiable.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.