Should I find an autonomous church not practicing spiritual formation?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Automatic Transcript Generated:

Speaker 1

There it is. All right, so Jean is asking, should I find an autonomous church not practicing spiritual formation? Ours is subtle. I have found that our nursery director has a degree to be a director of spiritual formation.

Speaker 2

So here we have Gene in a very similar situation as another person joining us live asked the Gospel of John where she is feeling like there is false doctrines and someone within the church who could be potentially a spiritual threat. Right. I mean, not like they’re intending to be. I think often people always have good intentions or trying to do what they believe is right, but maybe they have doctrines that you disagree with that you have very serious concerns about, and sometimes your concerns could be quite valid. So what do you do in that situation? And there’s kind of two paths that I see. So one is, do you leave that church and you go elsewhere? Or do you stay in it and try to reform it? Do you try to be a source of a Counter Reformation, a Counter Revival, but hopefully one that actually is true and authentic as opposed to doing what we’ve just cautioned against, which is actually quenching the fire. You don’t want to go against this Holy Spirit. And history shows us time and time again and the Bible shows us time and time again where people often end up on the wrong side.

Speaker 2

They think they’re on God’s side, but they end up actually being against God and God’s people. So we must always be careful to make sure we definitely know whose side we’re on. And again, I’m not saying that having concerns about spiritual formation puts you on the wrong side. I mean, there are things in there that trouble me with regard to spiritual formation. I think there’s a couple of things where you break it down. Okay, maybe that’s true, but then there’s other aspects that bring in, again, some not so good concepts. So how do you deal with it, though? So do you leave your church? First, you need to assess, I think, just how bad your church is. Is it so steeped in spiritualism and false doctrines that just you being there, you’re going to be at risk of being corrupted and dragged down? In that sense, I think then, the call of Revelation 18 to come out of Babylon would apply. And in Revelation 18 says, starting at verse one after these things, I saw another angel coming down from heaven having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice saying, babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is becoming a dwelling place.

Speaker 2

And by the way, I believe Babylon is referring to fallen Christianity. So these people who think they’re Christians, but their doctrines actually are corrupted, and this angel is saying that they’re fallen. They’re fallen and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit and a cage for every unclean and hateful bird, for all the nations have drunk of the wine, of the wrath of fornication, and kings in the earth have committed fornications. And basically everybody’s going crazy, everybody’s cheating on God. And this woman is sort of at the center of it. And call all this confusion Babylon. We’re called out of that. God wants our eyes to be open. God wants us to be in a place where we are going to be exposed to truth and helping others come out of Babylon. But what do you do if your church, let’s say maybe it doesn’t seem to be Babylon, but you got Babylon sort of infiltrating your church, you got elements of confusion, elements that sort of people might have not perfect doctrine. And guess what? You’re probably going to have that in every single church. So if we’re going to look for the perfect church with all the perfect people, we’re never going to find it.

Speaker 2

So what do we do then when we find some people who aren’t perfect, who have some imperfect doctrines? How do we deal with it? This is where I think Paul has lots of good advice. For example, one, Timothy 412, he says, let no one despise you, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. So if you boil it all down, he’s saying, be the example, be the truth, be that ideal Christian, embody it, live it, don’t just tell show, don’t tell. Paul’s saying, be that positive influence, then that’s going to be a powerful purifying force through you in the church. And then this is now, John. Jesus says chapter 30, verse 20. He says, Most assuredly I say to you, he who receives me, whoever I send sorry. Most assuredly I say to you, he who receives whomever I send, receives me. And he who receives me receives him who sent me. So if you are really, truly sent by God and they reject you, then they’rejecting God and you’re giving them opportunity to reject God. You don’t have to reject them and leave.

Speaker 2

Give them that choice. Help them be confronted with Jesus in purity, jesus in truth that they may decide how to go forward. And Jesus says, a new commandment I give to you, this is John 1334, a new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I’ve loved you. Verse 35 he says, by this all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. So Jesus is not saying that they’re going to know you’re my disciples if you have perfect doctrine. He says the number one calling card is going to be how well you love other people. And this is where I see people defending the truth go astray and err so often because they come in with hard hitting truths and they’re hitting hard with them rather than prothing it with love. And Paul warns us in one Corinthians 13, starting at verse one, he says, though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I’ve become a sounding brass. And he says, although I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and on all knowledge, and you could add, and I have perfect doctrine.

Speaker 2

He says, but even if I have all these things, but if I don’t have love, I am nothing. So love is so critical. And this is where I think for, let’s say, the conservatives, we have to really make sure that we have the proper heart, a humble heart, one that is teaching the truth in love so that it will be received almost like having a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. If we mix our truth with hate, with anger, with fear, with whatever negative energies, it’s going to cause people to naturally reject it. And unfortunately, they’ll reject the truth alongside your again, I’m not I don’t know you personally, Gene, I don’t know you. I just have seen so many other people having messed up in this way and thus hurt their cause, and they hurt God’s cause of truth by not living the love that will really give the power to the gospel. So just emphasizing don’t ever lose that.

Speaker 1

I want to add to that, too, that every single person is on a spiritual journey, on a spiritual walk, and nobody has the whole truth and nothing but the truth in fullness, in how they live. We’re all broken, we’re all affected by sin. And what somebody is feeling called to do, they may be called to do something, and it has truth in it. They might be called to do the truthful thing that they’re called to do, but it’s got some things around it that maybe aren’t quite truth and aren’t quite right. But to thwart them in doing what is good can be very problematic for their walk, for their beliefs, for the purpose God has called them to. And so how we help people, how we help lead and guide them, is very important that we do it in a very loving way so that we’re not just tearing them down, but helping them come to a clearer understanding and be even more effective in doing the work God has called them to do.

Speaker 2

Amen. Yeah. What is it about spiritual formation that’s so appealing? What elements are there that people are drawn to? And is there a better substitute? How is the truth better? Don’t just say you’re doing it wrong. And here you got to go with this lesser, worse thing. Show how the truth is better, how God offers a better life. And rather than trying to yourself, rely on your strength, then you be God. Well, let God dwell in you and enjoy how God is the provider. And I don’t know, there’s just however the spirit leads you. But yeah, that’s our caution there, and we hope that you find this beneficial. And Tina, do you have any thoughts that you’d like to add to this?

Speaker 3

Yeah, actually, I really appreciate how you shared that. And I was thinking I can’t help but think about when I was first coming into a new church and I had a doctrine that somebody had taught me and it wasn’t quite right, and it was just because that was what I was taught and I didn’t know better. And so when I came into this new church circle, I was in a Bible study and I brought up this doctrine that I’d been taught and they were like, that’s heresy. And at first I was kind of like, what? But thank goodness somebody pulled me aside and lovingly shared, this isn’t right. They weren’t mean to me. They prayed for me, they showed me kindness. They weren’t totally just like, oh, got to get away from her. I was shown in the scripture what the truth was, and I was like, oh, okay. And it was just a much better approach. And so there are people, I’m sure so many people out there that are genuinely thinking that they’re following Christ. And like Wendy’s saying, we are on a journey here, and sometimes we just need a little help along the way from our brothers and sisters.

Speaker 3

I think the Bible is so clear on how we are to do this. When you look in the book of Matthew, chapter 18, I think this is the best guidelines because I feel like this never happens in church and it needs to, which is if you have a problem with someone, jesus tells us how to handle it. In the Book of Matthew, chapter 18, starting with verse 15. He’s like, if a brother has a trespass against you, if something’s wrong between you and your brother in church, go to them one on one and talk to them about it and see if they don’t go. Oh, okay, I’m sorry. Or, let’s work on this, and let’s seek out truth together. And let’s seek the Lord together. If they’re not willing to, then bring somebody else into it, somebody like a pastor, somebody who has their spiritual best interest in mind. And then if this person is not willing to address it or come to reason with Scripture, then get the church involved as a church decide, is this something we want in our church? But I think so many people don’t want to have any sort of conflict or face any kind of have any problem with anybody.

Speaker 3

They’d rather just leave the church. And I don’t think that’s a good solution because then people stay there who are keeping their error and they never get taught otherwise, and the error just continues. And then this person never learns how to have good conflict resolution and good social skills. And it’s really important for us to develop as christians to be able to lovingly and in a Christlike way have a conversation that’s maybe difficult with somebody because that’s what Christ would do. And Jesus, when he met the woman at the well in John chapter, like he was kind, he was loving, he approached her but then he’s like go call your husband. Eventually he got to the issue and he did it in a loving way. But once he got to the core issue it was then the Holy Spirit working in her heart that she was able to come to Christ and really convert. And I think we often in the church don’t do that like you guys are saying we don’t have that love, that we need to approach people about a difference. And it happens. We don’t always agree on everything, but we need to be able to love each other enough to have a conversation about it and in some cases, agree to disagree.

Speaker 3

Or in some cases be like, hey, we lovingly are. Saying we are not going to allow this in our church anymore, but we need to do it again in a way on the basis of love that we are looking out for the spiritual best interests of each and every person around us.

Speaker 1

To that I want to add to that, I think what I have seen happen a lot of times is somebody will pick a term and we’ll use spiritual formation as the example here. But it could be anything, it could be any concept. What will happen a lot of times is because somebody’s using a particular word that’s got a particular definition or set of things associated to it, there will be a tendency to just want to hop on this bandwagon of anything that tears all of that down. And it’s oftentimes coming from people who aren’t really well educated in what that is about. And again, I’m not trying to defend spiritual formation here at all. I’m just using this as a general principle. If instead of just like tearing the whole thing down, when you’re working with somebody, if you take an approach instead of validating what they’re doing right and then pointing out areas of specific areas of concern like doctrinal issues and not in an accusatory way but in an informative way, in a way that’s like this is coming. My understanding of this is that it’s tied to this particular doctrinal belief and scripture is contrary to that in this way.

Speaker 1

And there’s this other belief that’s more in line with doctrine and with God’s character and help them to understand that difference instead of just telling them they’re wrong. Because if you just go to telling them they’re wrong and they’re doing evil, it’s just going to be this battle of the will and the ego and nobody’s going to feel good about it in the end. But if you can help them become enlightened to the truth and to understanding what the kind of core issue is here and why that’s an issue and what the better way is and you do it in a way that is safe for them psychologically, emotionally, relationally, that sort of thing, they’re going to be far more receptive and you’re probably going to see a much bigger shift in them much more quickly than if you go head to head with them. So it’s just a different way of approaching things and taking more of the responsibility on yourself to address that than just kind of tearing down people.

Speaker 3

No, for sure. I was in a Bible study and they were talking about when we have to talk to somebody about if they’re an error in some way, that’s a good way to approach it. They call it the sandwich approach, which is kind of like what you just mentioned is that you first start with I appreciate this wonderful thing about you. I appreciate how you’re trying to lead at the church and you want to bring prayer into the church. That’s great. And then in the middle of your sandwich is the meat of the concern. But I am concerned this spiritual formation because it have these things that don’t appear to be aligned with Scripture and this is what I’m understanding. And then sandwich it again with but I don’t think that you’re trying to do anything wrong. I know that you love God and you want to serve Him. I just want to present you with this concern. So it’s kind of sandwiching that issue in the middle with two cushions of love and kind words. And that tends to be something a little bit more palatable to most people just because they see that you care.

Speaker 3

And that’s really the key here’s.

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In His Service
BibleAsk Team

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