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Featured Searching for the right church

Discussion in 'Christian Advice' started by A Gerbil, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. A Gerbil

    A Gerbil New Member

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    I got baptised over three years ago in a church which was adequate, but I stopped attending for personal reasons. I have investigated, and in some cases visited, numerous churches since then - Methodist, Church of Scotland, Anglican, Quakers, three independent churches*, Russian Orthodox, Baptist, Unitarian, The Salvation Army, Gospel Church and even the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses - yet I have not found a single one in which I felt wholly comfortable.

    It may be that I am overly fussy, and it's certainly true that in every single congregation I met some lovely, genuine people and often enjoyed the services. I am sure people reading this forum belong to some of those churches, so I will not single any of them out for particular criticism. It amazes me just how diverse the Christian faith is!

    I have felt my faith wax and wane over the last two years, and even even chatted with a Jew (online) and a few Muslims, as well as attending a Buddhist temple, however I am utterly convinced that Jesus is the Son of God and that He was God in human form. It struck me, incidentally, how incredibly similar Islam and Judaism are, and it was suggested to me by followers of the other two Abrahamic religions that Christians are polytheistic (because of the Trinity) and guilty of idolatry.

    What was it I didn't like about the churches I attended?

    - Many were overtly political. I believe that politics has no place in church at all. Whilst society is becoming ever more fractured along political lines - especially here in Scotland where there is the question of independence, EU membership, government austerity, etc - I don't want to hear this in church when I go to worship. Of course help the needy, have food banks, but I don't believe a sermon should ever be used to promote one's political views.

    - One of the churches was genuinely polytheistic it would seem, and one no longer seems to be a Christian faith. So that I do not offend anybody, I will not elaborate upon this but will suggest that if you research all of the churches I have mentioned you will see this for yourself.

    - One of the churches preached the 'Prosperity Gospel' and requested money at every opportunity, claiming that to reap a (financial) harvest one first needs to sow.

    - Some of the churches have dispensed with Christian teachings in order to conform to modern standards.

    - Some I just felt didn't appeal to my style of worship - sometimes it was too loud and modern, sometimes it was very antiquated with medieval chanting, incense or a bit bizarre.

    There are literally thousands of denominations, so there must be one for me. My beliefs are actually very simple:

    1) I believe in God the Father who was personified on this earth as Jesus Christ, His Son. I cannot say I am one hundred percent convinced of the third being, the Holy Spirit, and therefore I am genuinely unsure whether I am Binitarian or Tinitarian. That may exclude me from a number of churches - though I am prepared to be convinced.

    2) I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God but that much of it is metaphorical, though obviously much of it is literal.

    3) I believe in the teachings of Christ abrogates any conflicting teachings from the Old Testament - which I'd argue should be the case with anybody who calls themselves a Christian.

    4) I believe that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself to atone for the sins of man, and that we are all sinners.

    5) I believe that ultimately God is merciful, as shown by the fact He was willing to sacrifice His son (and in effect Himself) for us.

    6) I believe that God does not want Christians to pursue money, status and power. I believe that God demonstrated that the ego is the cause of much sin, and that we are to be humble and to serve Him and one another. For example, Jesus was born in a stable, the 'son' of a carpenter, washed His disciples' feet - including Judas' - and suffered an agonising and humiliating death.

    Like all people I am flawed and still learning. However I cannot just accept what I am told. Mathew 7:7.

    To anybody still reading, thank you and may God bless you!
     
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  2. Gracia Singh

    Gracia Singh Newbie Supporter

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    Have you ever attended a Catholic Church?
     
  3. maintenance man

    maintenance man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Welcome to CF!

    You've been on quite a journey. I agree with much of what you say in your post; however, on the surface you seem to be over thinking your search for a church.

    I don't believe there is a church where you will feel "wholly" comfortable.

    Finding a church is a matter of the heart not a process of the mind.

    Any church that sincerely worships our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is worthy of attending.

    I'm praying you find a church family to join soon.
     
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  4. A Gerbil

    A Gerbil New Member

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    Hi Gracia!

    Thank you for replying. No, the honest answer is I have not. I am ashamed to admit that some of that is down to the sectarian nature of the city in which I live and my protestant background. However, I obviously would not let anything stand in the way of me joining 'the true church', were I to accept that is the case.

    I suppose my problem with the Catholic church stem partly from historic acts done in its name - e.g. the treatment of the Cathars, and partly due to the fact that I believe it is unnecessary to have a mediator between myself and God, therefore there is no need for confession. Despite having friends in the Orange Order, I don't particularly dislike the Catholic Church however.
     
  5. Gracia Singh

    Gracia Singh Newbie Supporter

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    Maybe try Mass? Just saying. I mean, if you didn't mind attending a Russian Orthodox Church, maybe attend Mass at least once? Just to see?

    I hear you, it's a journey. A lot of us are on it.
     
  6. A Gerbil

    A Gerbil New Member

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    Thank you very much for your reply. Yes, I agree with you to an extent, but then I also feel I need to be comfortable in church in order that I can worship God with all my heart. I am continuing my search, and if that fails I might seek others in a similar position to myself in a bid to worship together - Matthew 18:20.
     
  7. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Hello, A Gerbil.

    I agree that your own statement of belief is not unreasonable, from a Christian point of view, and that your assessment of many of today's churches rings true. However, I find it hard to believe that there is none for you. Maybe, however, it depends a lot on where we all live. If that is the case with you and there are almost no other ones left to check out, I have to ask you to help us out with this--

    Which of all of those visited came the closest to being what you had hoped for (???)
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  8. maintenance man

    maintenance man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Home churches are growing in popularity. It may be a good solution for you. Have you read Francis Chan's book, "Letters to the Church"? Great read!
     
  9. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    From your story it appears you have an open mind ... and rather than relying on others opinions choose to check things out for yourself and forming your own opinion(s) ... that is a good thing.

    In doing so, you may not have found the church for you ... but even so, during your process you will become more familiar with other teachings (even if you disagree with them). It broadens your scope of understanding about others beliefs.

    Regardless where one attends church ... all church teachings are to be measured with the Word of God .... rather than what they are "told". God word is the only authority.

    Consider visiting a SDA (seventh day adventist) church.

    Possibly ... not saying so ... maybe church isn't for you at all ... perhaps your own intensive dedicated study is in order. Going to church doesn't save people .... Jesus does.

    Might search out and see if there are any home bible studies going on in your area.

    Many people in my area are doing this ... not stuck in any church theology of any kind ... just get together and study his word.

    May the Lord lead you as you continue your search. Amen
     
  10. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Great to hear your journey to faith so far.

    Forgive me if I misunderstand, but you have been baptized and believe, but have you been born again? The promise is that the third person of the trinity wants to take up residence in us and if we fully want Him to take control. Frankly many are afraid of this but as God is all loving and a God of order it is not a matter to shy away from or be afraid of.

    As you are struggling to understand where you fit is not surprising given that the third person of the trinity has been given to all who receive Him as the One who will guide us into all truth. You will hear a voice behind you saying "this is the way, walk Ye in it... My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me and none shall pluck them out of My hand.

    Maybe you have been born again but not appreciated the truth of Christ in us the hope of Glory Col 1:27. Just imagine Jesus Himself inside your very being guiding you as a friend.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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  11. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    ? Who will you listen to then ? How will you test anything/ everything to know the truth if you ever hear it ?

    The following is problematic..... (I think the reasons for thinking those things may/ will cause many problems in the future) ....
     
  12. A Gerbil

    A Gerbil New Member

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    Thanks for your reply. There were aspects of many of them that resonated with me, for example I enjoyed the quiet contemplation of the Quaker services. Conversely, I enjoyed the traditional hymns of the Methodist and Baptist churches. I liked my old church as the pastors were laymen and shared their duties and there was a different, and usually very interesting perspective, each week.

    Somebody has suggested the Seventh Day Adventists and I haven't explored that, so I don't have to compromise...yet!

    I haven't, but I will take a look. Thanks.

    You know somebody mentioned the Seventh Day Adventists a while back - though it was regarding their diet which apparently results in them having a longer that average lifespan! I dismissed them because I recall Jesus saying that his followers should meet on the first day of the week. But one of the ten commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy, after all. I will do a bit of research. Thanks.

    I have been baptised, and I believed that that was a symbolic rebirth in that I had my sins washed away and affirmed my belief in Jesus. I would like to believe that imbued me with the Holy Spirit, and maybe all this searching is by design, for some unknown reason? I did state above that I am not fully convinced by the notion that the Holy Spirit is a 'person', rather just the spirit of God. Thank you for your reply.

    The Bible, plus prayer and 'instinct' (divine guidance?)? I am a genuine seeker, and as per Matthew 7:7 I believe I will find my answers. Thanks for your reply.
     
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  13. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Yes, I can appreciate all of those impressions. Unfortunately, it isn't helping me find any slant on the subject that would make one or another denomination have any sort of edge on the others.

    Don't.

    You have already sampled the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, you said. That's enough.
     
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  14. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    Can you still fellowship with "my old church" laymen with interesting perspective each week ?
    Why would looking into the Seventh Day have anything to do with "have to" compromise ?
    Many groups require compromise I think. For better or for worse, good or bad.
     
  15. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    A Gerbil,

    Is the United Reformed Church or some branch of the Congregationalists a possibility?
     
  16. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    From John 16:
    12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

    You sound quite uncertain about the Holy Spirit and seem to struggle to be sure about what is His appointing for you. I would again question whether you have been born again of the Spirit, because when He is resident within He is not silent. Our faith is first a personal relationship with Him, our ways of institutionally expressing that are a poor second. We have to dig deep, make Him our first priority, foster a daily walk in His specific purpose. Else is religion.
     
  17. A Gerbil

    A Gerbil New Member

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    With the larger, state churches (Church of Scotland, Church of England) I think they're inclined to modify their policies in order to fit in with the current political climate, e.g. gay bishops. That in itself has caused a rift and helps to weaken the church. I also feel that salaried clergymen is not necessarily a good thing, I often wonder how many of them have a crisis of faith and continue in their occupation because it is their livelihood.

    I have to say that I found all those I encountered to be thoroughly nice people. I didn't find the Book of Mormon at all inspiring and ultimately concluded that Joseph Smith was either a conman or delusional, and some of the customs - such as magic underwear, and the marrying of one's dead ancestors didn't resonate with me. But I will reiterate my sentiments concerning the Mormons I met, they would make great neighbours, and I'd be interested to see what the crime rate is in Utah.

    Likewise, the Jehovah's Witnesses didn't inspire me, either. However again, they are nice people and really live their religion - they have been persecuted too, currently banned in Russia, they were put in concentration camps by the Nazis. I just couldn't find much evidence to support their deviations from mainstream Christianity, didn't like how the community is so insular and how much power the Elders appear to have.

    I have already began investigating the Seventh Day Adventists. So far, so good...
     
  18. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    There are nice people in most churches, but I just cannot recommend any church that borders upon a cult because its beliefs are so far out of the Christian norm. It's not because of any mind-control concerns or that sort of thing. From all of these exchanges, I am getting the impression that you are inclined towards a non-liturgical, almost Baptist-like church, but one that is not as legalistic as many of those are. A non-denominational chapel or church might work, but I'm sorry to say I feel stumped. I do wish you the best and hope you have success soon.
     
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  19. A Gerbil

    A Gerbil New Member

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    Aye, I am uncertain about the Holy Spirit. Is it God's will or another 'person'? I'm not utterly convinced of either. One of the churches I attended told me I hadn't been imbued with the Holy Spirit because I didn't speak in tongues. However when I heard people at the church 'speaking in tongues' it just sounded like gibberish, and not genuine languages, apparently that's to so demons can't interpret what is being said?!

    I believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I have been baptised to affirm my faith in both, would I really be denied the Holy Spirit? I don't think so. The Bible implies that there's work involved in finding the truth. How many people just attend the church in which they were raised?

    30+ Uplifting Bible Verses About Seeking God - Scriptures for the Soul

    I left that church because of personal reasons. Essentially I was introduced to the church by a lady I was seeing, and then things went awry. I continued to attend regardless, but it became too much to bear and I needed to move on. However the church was a good fit:

    - lay preachers
    - totally autonomous and self-funded
    - good fellowship
    - I agreed with almost all of the doctrine, at least I didn't disagree particularly with anything
    - no speaking in tongues, divine healing or appeals for money in return for promises of financial reward.


    I will have a look, though the Seventh Day Adventists are next on my list. Thanks.
     
  20. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    fwiw - that seems much better than most people ever report about where they are going, even if they were members for all their life/ decades ......

    Pray daily, perhaps God will accomplish continued frequent or regular prayer and service and fellowship with some of the men there ?
     
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