In response to the article I wrote Monday, a reader from Australia commented that the only churches near her were five Hillsong churches. My heart broke for her, causing me to pray that the Lord will open up something that allows her to enjoy fellowship opportunities and to serve the body of Christ. I ask each of you to join me in praying for her.
As I read her comment, my mind went back to 2014. John and I had just left a church after 12 years of membership there. We had established several wonderful friendships there, receiving tremendous support from them two years earlier when John had cancer. We loved serving on the Missions Committee! Yet the doctrinal compromises they made (and the reasons behind those compromises) got to be too much. Especially for me. We left.
We didn’t know if we could find another church, quite honestly. I took the position that I’d rather do without church than to settle for poor teaching and compromised leadership. Thankfully, I married a good spiritual leader who would have returned to that church if we couldn’t find anything better.
By God’s grace, we did find our current church. It turned out to be the church I’d always dreamed of! For us, it’s been a storybook ending.
But many Christians don’t have storybook endings. Fewer and fewer churches offer solid Biblical teaching, preferring to appeal to the world. Just yesterday, a friend told us about a church in our area that bases sermons on popular movies rather than expositing Scripture. And the town John and I live in has dozens of churches that preach everything but the Gospel.
Most present-day Reformed pastors would tell someone like my reader to find some church — even if she has to drive a distance — to attend. If she can’t find one that preaches soundly, she could augment its preaching with online sermons. But she needs to be part of a local body.
They would remind her of the First Century church in Corinth. I don’t think you could possibly find a church more messed up than Corinth! Between faulty views on key theological points, sexual immorality, idolatry and flagrant abuse of spiritual gifts, that church offered very little opportunity for healthy Christian growth.
Yet no other churches existed in Corinth. As terrible as that church was, 1 Corinthians 12 teaches that they still needed each other. Instead of telling the more mature believers to abandon the church and do the best they could, Paul insisted on their need for each other. He showed them how to correct their many errors.
Does all that I’ve written mean that my reader should join a Hillsong church? Absolutely not! Hillsong preaches a false gospel, and consequently must not be considered a viable option. But my reader does need to find a church that preaches the Gospel with at least a minimal degree of fidelity to Scripture. It may require extra driving (our current church is much more difficult to get to than the old church was), but the sacrifice would be worth it.
Before closing, I must remind myself that I don’t know all the factors involved in my reader’s situation. That being the case, my counsel in this article may or may not apply to her specific circumstances. If she absolutely has no options, I must weep with her.
But let’s pray that the Lord will provide a church where she can both receive spiritual nourishment and use her gifts to serve a local body of believers. May she glorify Christ in her service for Him.
6 thoughts on “What If There Is No Good Church Near You?”
That would be a difficult predicament. I have a Twitter friend who is in the same situation in Canada. Two Sunday’s ago I sent her a link for the Livestream at Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA, which is John MacArthur’s church…where I now attend. She livestreamed the entire service on her TV and absolutely loved it. Not sure if the timing would work out for Australians, but it starts at 10:30am Pacific Time, Sunday…which would be Monday in Australia? Until they find a good church there they might consider this option, and invite others to watch with them.
Here is the website link from which the services can be live-streamed: https://www.gracechurch.org/
Incidentally, We left our last church and the one before that because of doctrinal problems and more. I set out to find a new church for us to attend, visiting quite a few. There were some possibilities, and I had made a long list of things to sit down and ask any pastor who’s church I was seriously considering. My 17 year old son was making the rounds with me. After a few months I asked my son what he liked best so far. He said, “Honestly, I like MacArthur best.” We had been listening to MacArthur sermons on the way to school in the morning. It’s quite far from where we live, but I’d really wanted to go there sometime, so we did. It was surreal for me the first time we went. The worship music is so beautiful and rich with meaning–Pure worship. And unlike any other pastor I’d sat under, MacArthur steps up to the pulpit and says, “Turn with me to___(the text for the day), and starts right in, exegeting the Word. This sends the message that he knows that nothing he says apart from God’s Word is as valuable at the Word. He wastes no time. Everything he says is significant, so I take notes like mad throughout the entire sermon. I absolutely LOVE this. Everything is tastefully done and worshipful. There is true fellowship there. We never visited another church after that day. It is home now, after a year of attending there.
It takes 41-45 minutes to drive there but it’s worth it. Phil Johnson (the executive director of gty.org (MacArthur’s right-hand man) is in Australia now for a conference. Maybe it would be good to look up that conference and find out who’s there and what churches there are participating.
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Thank for this information.
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Thanks for this information. I searched for the conference, it’s in Sydney and I live in Melbourne. But I did find something called the Australian Fellowship of Bible Believing Churches and contacted them regarding finding a church near me. Hopefully I can find one. I have watched a lot of John MacArthur’s sermons in the past and found them very helpful. The live stream would be on here at about 3am Monday my time but that’s OK, there are plenty of online resources I can watch/read and most importantly I do need to study the Bible myself which I tend to neglect unfortunately.
If you live in Orange County there is a very good one. If it will save you time. Compass Bible chutvh in Aliso Viejo. Not sure which direction you are coming from. They are the Grace Community recommend church for that area.
Thank you so much for this article, I really appreciate it.
Please see the comment that Susan Stribich left on this article, Luisa. I pray you’ll get some good leads from her.