Short version: I don’t like to eat goat food.
Look, if you are still there and are fighting for the truth then I’m fine with that. But staying and not fighting isn’t an option. I gave up after 15 years. It was a tough decision, because there were some authentic believers there and we left a lot of friends. We were very active there: Teaching Sunday School, doing mission trips, committees, three laity Sunday sermons, etc. But enough was enough. Here is a list of the things that drove me away, not in priority order.
- The long-time youth director raved about liking Joel Osteen.
- The youth program had too much entertainment and not enough meat.
- Female pastors: It was fitting that the last service we attended had a female pastor completely missing the great messages in the Acts 16 passage about the conversion of Lydia. She didn’t say a word about “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul,” but of course she turned it into some feminist nonsense.
- Infant baptism / assembly line baptism & confirmation — they just didn’t take it seriously enough.
- Not Reformed — this wasn’t a show stopper, but my long-time drift away from Methodist soteriology* didn’t help.
- Communion was too casual — “If you love Jesus, you can come up.” Uh, who in church would be on record not liking Jesus? Why not read the applicable Bible verses about it?
- Too much nepotism — to pay people above-market wages they would often hire spouses.
- A long-term member asked if the New Testament even mentioned homosexuality and wasn’t even sure that out-of-wedlock sex was a sin. As one person put it so well, churches like this starve the sheep and feed the goats, while good churches feed the sheep and chase away the goats. Not that they tell the goats they can’t attend, just that real Bible-based preaching will necessarily make them uncomfortable.
- In a Sunday School class on homosexuality, no one asked, “What does the Bible say?” even though I offered countless resources addressing it.
- Another female pastor refused to offer evangelism training to a mission trip team, despite multiple requests and a requirement by the Missions Committee.
- They would often knowingly send non-believers on mission trips.
- When they were doing a faddish “let’s go serve the community instead of having worship!” Sunday, I suggested that they should at least pass out a one-page document to those they serve noting some basic information on the Gospel, Christianity and apologetics plus an invitation to learn more. It was completely ignored. They were too busy making themselves look and feel good.
- The U.S. leadership is anti-Bible, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, open borders, etc. and the local churches fund them. I didn’t realize this when we first went there. I was fairly knew to the faith and still thought that most churches were pretty similar, and we just happened to start in the most conservative, Bible-believing Sunday School class in the church.
- Our Senior Pastor was unable to become Bishop even in a conservative conference like Texas. Why? Because he agreed with the Bible and the Methodist Book of Discipline on homosexuality. And leaders literally hated him for it.
- U.S. Methodists will probably split in next 10 years due to rebellion and lack of church discipline.
- Speaking of no church discipline, they let a known false teacher — a retired UMC pastor — teach Sunday School and other classes. The Senior Pastor literally called him a wolf in sheep’s clothing but it was too politically incorrect to kick him out. I really should have left right then. I went to one of his classes and outed him for not believing in the divinity of Jesus and the rest of the class — mostly goats, obviously** — took his side!
- Very little discipline in adding members. Basically, if you could fog a mirror you were in.
- No apparent church discipline for adulterers, etc. One guy was accused of adultery by his wife. He was a long-time member, youth leader and even on the Staff-Parish relations committee (arguably the most important one in the church), yet when he eventually talked to one of the female pastors, all she sad was, “I heard about that.” Huh?! Either the guy was guilty and needed to be disciplined, or he was innocent and needed to be heard out. But the pastors took a ridiculous “none of my business” approach. The couple ended up divorcing, but the church never stepped in and told them they didn’t have biblical grounds. What a farce.
- The contemporary service would sprinkle in riffs from rock songs and the Peanuts theme. Why?! And they had a few too many “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. Though I do give the last music leader credit for being more authentic.
- The Senior Pastor knew the truth about homosexual behavior being sinful and had written and spoken about it outside the church. But he didn’t think his church was “ready” for it. Hey, champ, aren’t you the one who is supposed to get them ready?
- I very gently coached an Associate Pastor to have more Bible and less of his own stories in his sermons, thinking that he just needed to grow a bit. But he said that was by design! I think that might have been the last straw. This guy actually knew the truth and had sound theology, but was catering to the goats.
- They bring in someone who plays Santa every year. Why would any organization bring in the competition and pretend they are on the same side?! It is Satanic.
If you are asking, “Why didn’t you leave earlier?,” all I can say is that I’ve asked myself the same question many times.
I am really happy that we came across the Acts 29 Network of churches. Every one we have been to has been outstanding. Ironically, they don’t have the bureaucracy and infrastructure of the Methodists, yet they are much more consistent in theology and practice. It is probably because they are led by Christians devoutly seeking to do church God’s way rather than a bunch of Leftist politics-disguised-as-religion wolves!
*The doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ. Interestingly, WordPress didn’t recognize it as a word!
**One of the main goats was a wicked lady who later chided me for wearing jeans to service once (I had a nice shirt on, but wore jeans because our Sunday School class was cooking gumbo after church for a fundraiser). When she was in the wolf’s class she had no issues with people spouting heresies about Jesus not being God, the Bible having lots of errors and there being many paths to Heaven besides Jesus. But there is apparently at least one thing she is certain about: You shouldn’t wear jeans to church! But she was pro-abortion — especially when the unborn might be poor or unwanted — so I suppose she had her priorities in order, eh? (I gave her a gracious way out by pointing out the gumbo situation and she immediately backtracked. And I chuckled when a visitor sat next to me and was wearing jeans. Hopefully my fashion faux pas made him feel more comfortable amidst the suits and Dockers).