Friday, December 9, 2011

Tne New Exodus - 2006 article reprint by popular demand

The New Exodus

As trends take a hold of churches, attracting the lukewarm uncommitted professing Christians, the real believers are fleeing and being pushed out by the scores. Here’s how it might go. Let’s start with an imaginary couple, John and Jane.

John and Jane Logan are both born-again believers. They love the Lord. They love each other. They love their two children. They love people and are gracious and hospitable. They study their Bibles together and are both very discerning since John was saved out of Catholicism and Jane was rescued from a cult. They don’t want to be led astray again.

When John’s company transferred him to another state, they had to find a new place to fellowship. A thriving Methodist church was the closest church to home so they decided to go there. However, the co-pastor turned out to be a lesbian and when they asked the senior pastor about it, he told them they were intolerant, and they were asked to leave.

They found a conservative church a little further away where the homosexual agenda never entered in. They were making friends and their children loved the Sunday School, but then the church brought in the Alpha Course and didn’t appreciate the Logans handing them a packet of information about it. The Logans overlooked that, but then the pastor wanted the men to go with him to the prayer breakfasts with all the other area churches, including the one they just left. John stayed home. The pastor’s teaching went downhill and he started proclaiming that God is through with Israel and the church has replaced her. He would ridicule those who read the book of Daniel or Revelation saying that it can’t be understood anyway and it is just allegory about the Christian life and not to be taken literally. When the pastor started promoting ecumenism with Catholicism and looked at John like he was crazy when he objected, they made the decision to leave.

These committed believers fled to the other side of town to a contemporary non-denominational church. The Logans, now a little more cautious, began making friends and entertaining them in their home. Then one day the pastor announced they are going to go through Rick Warren’s "40-Days of Purpose" and these believers expressed their displeasure. The pastor was not convinced by any of John’s objections and refused to read the packet of information John handed him about Rick Warren – calling it gossip. The Logans felt as though there was no place else to go and stayed on until the church grew so big and the sermons became so watered down that they started hunting for a place that shared their zeal for the Lord.

Another church down the street from that one seemed to be more on fire for the Lord so they tried there. They had a very good worship team. Jane was thrilled to be able to worship the Lord again since the last two churches had such dry and unfeeling music, it put her to sleep. But now she could really get into the worship, lifting up her hands in praise and getting so caught up in her adoration of Jesus. She prayed in her heart, "Oh Lord, please let this place be one that is true to Your Word." It didn’t take long for the Logans to pick up certain phrases the pastor used that put their antennae up. He would say things like, "plant a seed for your need," or "we’re the head and not the tail." But Jane was so happy with the worship time that she pleaded with John to let it go. John complied since Jane was finally happy with a church and was getting close to the women there. One Sunday a guest speaker was introduced. The pastor introduced him as an apostle and a prophet. The guest told the congregation that their pastor was their prophet and he told the congregation to "obey the prophet and live" or they would not be right with the Lord. He told them the pastor was their covering and that he would prophesy over their lives. From that time on the pastor became much more controlling and the joy in the worship music began to fade and was replaced with songs about taking dominion and stepping on the devil. When they expressed their concerns to the pastor, he responded, "If you don’t like it, leave. But you will be out of God’s will until you repent and submit." So they left and their friends from the church avoided their calls.

The Logans finally found a thriving Calvary Chapel in the next town over. They would just have to commute to find a church that put the Bible front-and-center. The pastor taught verse-by-verse and the worship team was musically very talented. The only problem is that some of the song selections were not biblical. Good songs were mixed in with bad ones that addressed  the Holy Spirit to come in more power and the Jesus songs took a back seat. The female vocalist couldn’t be followed because she sang in five octaves and held her high notes for 30 seconds or more. The songs were more about us and less about Him. The Logans spoke kindly to the worship leader about some of the song selections that came from the Vineyard songbook and he didn’t take kindly to being informed. He accused them of being "church hoppers" and judgmental and not filled with the spirit. Though they sought to use their gifts to help out teaching in Children’s Church and the Youth Group, they were never allowed to. Though very grounded in the Word they were looked at suspiciously and not allowed to be in any sort of leadership function but could only help out caring for infants or handing out bulletins.

They met another couple at Calvary Chapel, the Bakers, who shared their concerns and decided to come together with their two families every Saturday night and study the word together. Jane brushed up on her guitar skills and sang her favorite worship songs and John and Bob brought the teaching. Betty cooked and taught the smaller children their Bible lessons. Both families still went to their church on Sundays, but they got so much more out of their little home fellowship and it was beginning to grow with other like-minded outcasts from local churches.

This testimony can be heard from born-again believers all over the world. They are beginning to feel like outcasts from their churches, even though the Bible gives us the imperative: "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

The Day of the Lord is certainly approaching. The biggest sign is the rise of the church of the Laodiceans to whom Jesus said, "because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:16).

The virgins with the oil in their lamps certainly don’t want to assemble with the ones targeted for that destiny. But they have a dilemma – where are the others who are not marked out for this condemnation? They are being forced out of the churches by the droves. And all the marketing ideas that man can create in his efforts to fill the pews won’t bring them back.