Stephen Sanders

Audio/Video Editor at Salem Web Network

3 Ways to Survive a Bad Church Situation

 

Unless you are still in the same church you were raised in as a child, chances are you’ve had a bad church situation. At least that’s what I’m finding in my conversations with people these days. I swear it seems every Christian I know has, at some point in time, left a church for one reason or another.

There are many obvious reasons why people leave a church. Maybe someone in leadership got caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing. Or perhaps, after studying your Bible, you discovered that the teaching you were exposing you and your family to wasn’t scriptural. Whatever the case, leaving a church isn’t an easy thing to do. It sometimes results in losing touch with friends that you’ve served with for years. It means uprooting you and your loved ones and trying to find a new place to worship.

This has been my life for the past two years now. Since leaving our church home of nine years, we’ve regularly attended five different churches from four totally different denominations. The amount of lessons I’ve learned during this time cannot possibly be contained in a simple blog post. But I do want to summarize a few key things that helped us survive this time and, ultimately, led us to finding a new and healthy church home.

1. Remove the Term “Church-Hopper” From Your Vocabulary
I don’t know what pastor originally came up with this evil word, but if you are going to survive your bad church situation, you need to treat it as if it never existed. When church leaders begin tossing this word around, it’s basically a way to guilt people to keep coming to their church. It is an unedifying and cruel thing to call someone not only because it’s selfish, but because you don’t know the details of their situation.

There were many times in our transition where my wife and I felt like we were disobedient Christians because we hadn’t yet found the church for us. I can’t help but imagine that this is a point where many people give up on church altogether.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Things Up
Many of us have been taught that the denomination we were raised in is “the best one.” While there are a variety of very good denominations, unfortunately there are also some very bad ones. I cannot stress how helpful it was for us to attend a variety of churches.

Not only did we get a clearer perspective of what we were looking for, but we also developed conclusions about what we knew we did not believe to be biblical. And in a day in age where every church claims to be a “bible-teaching and believing church,” you need to know what “biblical” means. This brings me to the third point…

3. Take Bible Study Very Seriously
Now, I don’t mean you need to ramp up your Bible reading by finding the right bible Study Reading Plan for you… although that is a good thing to do. Anyone can read the Bible everyday if they put their mind to it, but it takes a unique person to actually seek God on how to live out what they are reading.

For several years, the Bible came secondary to the teachings of my church. I read my Bible fairly regularly, but sticking to the theology of my church was a bigger priority than applying what I read in the Bible. It wasn’t until I got serious about the Bible that I was able to discover what it truly meant to be a part of a church body.

In my next few posts, I plan to go more in-depth with these three points. In the meantime, if you have any survival tips please share them with me at any of the links below. I look forward to hearing your stories.

www.twitter.com/faithanddenial
www.facebook.com/athinlinebetweenfaithanddenial

In this video, Lecrae shares his inspiration for writing his hit "Nuthin'" from his number one album "Anomaly." 

You can also find his appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon here at the 7:10 minute mark.

Sin Has a Big “But”

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is a familiar verse, isn’t it?

You’ve probably seen this one on a t-shirt or bumper sticker more than once. Usually, the emphasis of this verse is placed on the “the wages of sin is death” part. I guess because we think that part sounds really cool.

The problem is that “the wages of sin is death” isn’t the preeminent part of this verse. There’s a really big “but” here that we cannot ignore. Let’s take a moment to talk about this big “but.”

Now, sin is no laughing matter. There is a reason why Jesus came and died a gruesome death for our sins, and it’s not because sin is funny or something to be taken lightly. The Son of God died, and he did it so that sin could have a big “but…”

The big “but” in Romans 6:23 takes place after the whole “For the wages of sin is death” part:

“but, the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That’s a really big “but!"

Does the world around us need to know that they’re sin is leading them to death? ABSOLUTELY. But don’t forget that big “but.” Jesus is the remedy.

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Our Selfish Prayers

1 John 5:13-14 (NLT)
I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will.

Every year, I ask God for 2 ridiculous things: that the Cubs win the World Series and that the Bengals win the Super Bowl.

I’m halfway kidding when I ask Him for these things, of course. Not only do I feel selfish asking for my favorite sports teams to succeed, but these two teams always seem have the odds stacked up against them. And from my point of view, it sure seems like God’s two favorite teams are the Cards and the Steelers. But I digress…

These two verses in 1 John 5 appear at the conclusion of the Book of 1 John, which is a letter written to assure us of our salvation in Jesus Christ. It’s in this letter where we find popular passages like:

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” - 1 John 1:7 (NIV)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” - 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” - 1 John 3:16 (NIV)


Should you take the time to read the Book of 1 John (which won’t take you too long because it’s only 5 chapters in length,) you’ll find very little about the art of prayer. What you will find, however, is a whole lot about our salvation in Jesus and His command to love others.

So, the question isn’t whether or not God hears or answers the prayers of our hearts today. It’s “have you committed your life to Jesus?” “Do you live a life focused on others or on your own needs?” Be concerned with these things, and freely trust God with all of your prayers.

He loves all of your prayers, and you can trust in his sufficiency.

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About Stephen Sanders

Stephen Sanders is the Audio/Video Editor at Salem Web Network, a husband and a daddy. He's a proud native of eastern Kentucky, a musician and lover of music, coffee and sports. www.twitter.com/1stephensanders

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