We have left our church.
What to say. What not to say. Who is glorified?
My blog has marked all of the profound seasons in my life, since I began writing it, so I knew I could not skirt this issue and pretend it is not happening. Besides, I want to look back and remember where God held me in place, lifted my chin, and led the way.
My desire is to have an opportunity to share the truths that God has been gracious to reveal to me throughout this entire process while at the same time, bring Him honor and glory and not create division.
We live in a fairly small community and there are those who read my blog who know the parties involved. The short version of our church background, here in Virginia, goes like this:
We were members of a moderately-sized Baptist church for the first five years that we lived here. In 2005, we made the difficult decision to leave that church because we longed for solid biblical teaching. There were leadership issues as well and there was a small exodus of families during that year and the years following. Some of those families ended up forming GFC and after spending a couple of months looking for a church home, we visited there.
Our immediate reaction was warmth and love! We knew everyone there and what a sweet feeling to have fellowship again with people we knew. The preaching was expository and the entire worship service was God-centered. From that day forward, we never left and made a decision to join rather quickly.
I do not have a single regret about our days with this church or the relationships that formed as a result. God certainly purposed and used this time in so many ways and I am grateful.
My struggle today is, now what? There is this burning desire to address misconceptions. Because so many families left before us, I am well aware of what may or may not be said. How will these families know what to ask?
Because I never did. Now, with the circle complete and the blessed gift of hindsight, I can lay awake at night and wonder how different things might have been if I had just asked.
There has been a tremendous struggle with what to share or not. In an attempt to address a couple of things to those folks who live here and know us, I will share this much about our personal decision:
-We did not leave this church over a decision to follow a Family-Integrated model.
-Our elder and Sunday School teacher, Brian, has been a solid source of biblical teaching to us. He has been an example of humility, shown constant and unwavering support for our pastor, and been tireless in his efforts to bring glory to God through this little body at Grace. In a nutshell ... integrity defined.
-We are grieving. Sad beyond words. Tears now, as I write this. Oh, and our kids.
Have mercy, our kids are hurting so much right now. They never saw this coming and it has ripped their hearts in two. Our world is pretty small and because our family is not close by we count the church even closer. The girls live and breathe for Sunday mornings full of familiar faces and warm hugs. Sweet toddling babies who recognize their faces and stretch their arms up to be held by my big girls. Songs, prayer, hearing His word be preached ... church and family were one.
God has spared them from much aversion in their short life, evidenced by how hard this has hit them. For that I am truly grateful, but at the same time really sad that their first heartbreak comes from the source where we should be able to find solace.
-So, you will understand why I don't really want to talk about this out and about. If you see me at Target, please don't bring this up in a casual way. There is nothing casual about division in the church. I know it makes for great conversation, because I was privy to many when we left our previous church. I will always be willing to discuss the biblical reasons for our leaving with anyone who chooses to ask.
-There has been a breech of trust that cannot be repaired. My heart is burdened for those who may still be unclear for the direction of the church. I am so sorry for the misconception, that we were healthy, and had the ability to care for more in the flock.
-Lastly, I carry such remorse for my lack of diligence in seeking truth. I have been a coward. Too afraid to carry out the commands of scripture in speaking truth and dealing with the consequences that follow. Man's approval has meant more than God's.
"Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."
2 Corinthians 4: 1-12