When Brookville Baptist Church completed the 40 Days of Purpose campaign, John and I returned to Adult Sunday School cautiously, wondering if the Bible Study groups and Sunday School classes would start using more of Rick Warren’s curricula. To our great relief, no such thing happened. We praised the Lord that we saw no noticeable effect of the program.
At least not in the church itself.
I noticed myself becoming more distrustful of the pastors and elders. I began praying for them to develop better discernment in regard to doctrine. They had fallen for Rick Warren enough to bring the entire church though the PDL campaign, so I feared future theological compromises. While I realize that Christians should always assess their leaders against Scripture (indeed, I implore the readers of this blog to evaluate everything I write by testing it against God’s Word), the skepticism I felt toward the leaders at Brookville went beyond being a good Berean.
Yet, my doubts about their discernment didn’t give me a desire to change churches. I felt wary, but I also believed it was a better church than anything else in our immediate area. John agreed that we probably couldn’t find anything more faithful to Scripture. Additionally, he took encouragement from the fact that, because he taught Adult Sunday School two months out of the year, he could be a positive influence.
In the next few years, John and I noticed changes here and there. Less hymns. An entertainment quality to the Praise Group. Topical sermons replacing verse-by-verse exposition. The pastors no longer standing behind the pulpit when they preached. We told ourselves that all these were minor changes, and admonished each other against being legalistic or judgmental.
I particularly struggled with the content of the music, having recently acquired an appreciation for hymns. I saw that contemporary praise music, despite being fun to sing, typically focused on Christians rather than on the Lord. And even those praise songs that actually tried to focus on Jesus lacked the rich theology that I’d found in hymns. Occasionally, the Praise Group included hymns or songs with strong Biblical content, but increasingly I found the singing portion of the services something to endure rather than a vehicle for worship.
As my struggle with the music progressed, I learned to pray for the Praise Group to gain discernment in selecting songs. But I especially disciplined myself to daily confess my judgmental attitude. Over time, I accepted the music as best I could. John quietly adjusted the lyrics he sang whenever a song expressed unbiblical ideas, and I refrained from singing certain songs altogether.
For better or for worse, Brookville was our church family and we decided to persevere through the problems and praise God for the Biblical elements that, by God’s grace, still remained. Many people there genuinely loved the Lord and served Him as best they could. Yes, the 40 Days of Purpose had caused spiritual erosion, but we believed love compelled us to overlook the church’s flaws and celebrate its strengths. Little did we know how profoundly they would love us during the roughest storm in our marriage.