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.