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Old 06-11-2017, 09:18 PM   #1
Kevin
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Default What should I be looking for in a church?

I just wanna tell you all of you here. I have made my way out, but the fear I'm the only one of the family members have left this group. I thank God for relieving the truth to me for more over 4 years of reservations. Now, I'm constantly getting out for good and be joined with orthodox and evangelical Christians. I couldn't agree more the blatant contradictions of LSM's teachings. I felt bad for those people like John So, Titus Chu, John Ingalls, reading their stories that have treated wrongly. I made a thorough investigation to decide when is the right time to leave the Local Church movement. I used to defend the local church theology against critics for years. What turned out has changed the course of my life. First start, I have had encountered this website a long time ago, but my local church elders have told us not to read poisions posted on the Internet. But it isn't a poison it's an inoculation!

Everything they told me were plain lies. Teachings were contradictory when you compare scripture with scripture. And the hidden history really got hooked my attention. It was too horrible and hardly to describe. I do affirm some of things that LSM hold to. But as I went beyond the empty tombs, the fox has revealed its tails. I made my decision to leave because it's difficult to grow my relationship with Jesus when all I just heard from them is bashing Christians in Christianity and claiming that God is on our side. There so many things I have had enough with them.

What drove me away were their theological views and their attitude towards other Christians.

I'm strongly convicted to look in a more Bible-based, Christ-honoring direction and can do that in a loving manner, then staying would seem to be the better course of action. I don't know exactly because no church is perfect. I wanna sure to pray about a group I'm considering, to be sure I'm following the Lord's leading as I search. Maybe I could begin my search online, to see all of my options. And especially I wanna sure to read a church's doctrinal statement or statement of belief to find out about their stance on important issues. If from this initial research a church seems to be good and solid, then I visit that church.

I would like to ask if these teachers like John Piper and James White are biblical sound teachers and recommendable to my Christian walk. Please help me because I don't know exactly where to go to start my Christian walk.

PS. English is not my first language. I'm having difficulty to outline what should I say.
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Old 06-11-2017, 11:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

Welcome to the forum, Kevin, I went through a very similar situation as you as I discovered the truths of the so-called rebellions in the late eighties. I am currently in my late twenties, and I am also in a similar situation as you as I am in a process of re-building my entire life from scratch. To your question, I think John Piper is very solid but I donít know much about James White. John Piper belongs to the sector of Christianity known as reformed Christianity which has its lineage that includes John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and others. One of my friends is part of the Presbyterian Church of America and I went to his church for about a year and then had to move away for work. In general I have very good impression of the reformed Christians, because they are very focused on study of the Bible and put much attention on living biblically. The downside to them is that many of them believe in cessationism which is the beliefs that spiritual gifts such as prophecy and speaking in tongue have ceased since the apostolic age, which I think is unbiblical. However, one of the good things about them is that they have clear rules and guidelines for everything in the church (sometimes to a fault because it can make their Sunday worship look robotic). That sounds very restrictive, but actually what that means is the church leadership acts with much accountability and therefore would prevent the gross abuse of power as we saw in the LC. Also, in their guidelines they even say you donít have to agree with everything they say to remain a member in the church. They allow some freedom of discussion of scripture so even when I was there and the pastor knew I disagree with him on something, he still treated me just like anybody else. It is a very healthy system of checks and balance of church governance and I think you should check them out. It is a breath of fresh air compared to the soft dictatorship in LC. However, the reform church does not allow free-for-all prophesying in corporate worship and on Sunday it is the pastor preaching, but they have home gathering as well which affords members freedom to share their spiritual experience, so to me the good far outweighs the bad.

Aside from John Piper, other people in the reformed churches I would recommend are Paul Washer and R.C. Sproul. If you are looking to non-reformed but still solid preachers, I would recommend Leonard Ravenhill and Martyn Lloyd Jones. Both Ravenhill and Jones are deceased, but if you listen to their tape, both of them spoke with much anointing and conviction which I have rarely heard from any preacher. Also check out E.M Bounds books on prayer.
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Old 06-11-2017, 11:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

No church is perfect. One of the first community churches I visited had a very faithful and compassionate pastor, and I received much counsel from him. However later on he moved away and the interim pastor was not nearly as good. That is why I recommend you to at least check out the reformed church, because in many churches the atmosphere is heavily influenced by the personal charisma and faithfulness of the pastor, and as soon as the pastor moves away, the church would often deteriorate and lose membership. The reformed Presbyterians (especially the Presbyterian Church of America and other conservative Presbyterian branches such as OPC) put much effort into building healthy relations among their local branches to support each other while preventing abuse of power by higher ups.

There are also many Pentecostal based churches that may be good, but my impression is that many of them focus too much on spiritual gift, which often just means they resort to fake emotions and subjective feelings. The reformed churches, given all of its flaws, still remain solid option in my opinion.

To clarify, I am not talking about the mainline Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). Donít go to that. They open allow practicing homosexuals to be in the church and to serve in the church. Look at the conservative wings of the Presbyterian churches.
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
What drove me away were their theological views and their attitude towards other Christians.

I'm strongly convicted to look in a more Bible-based, Christ-honoring direction and can do that in a loving manner, then staying would seem to be the better course of action. I don't know exactly because no church is perfect..
The LC has a terrible attitude toward other Christians. I can still hear WL saying, "Too poor". Contrast to his disciples promoting his "rich ministry". Such an attitude of condemnation of others and self-satisfaction really marred this ministry and the group affiliated with it.

(WL did repent at the end, on the matter of "receiving others", but it didn't make much of a change that I could see)

And the main problem with their theological views, in my opinion, isn't that they were laced with ignorance. On this side of the mortal veil we're all ignorant. It's that ignorance was foisted on us like it was objective reality. Listen to any message given by WL and you would hear, "We all must see that. . ." and "You must say. . ." repeatedly. No choice was given. Bad theology, or at least highly subjective and speculative theology, was placed in front of us and we were forced to eat.

Look at any HWMR - "we must" and "we need to" and "we have to" is attached to ideosyncratic fluff. Not all of it, of course; some is sound. But there's enough subjective nonsense to fill several rooms.

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Originally Posted by jcyrb View Post
Look at the conservative wings of the Presbyterian churches.
I agree with jcyrb. Go somewhere safe. Don't worry about boring. Go somewhere conservative, and relatively safe. Where abuse is less likely. Ultimately you are responsible for your journey. But you want to conduct your journey in a place where people are not pressuring you to conform to unbiblical standards, like in the LC.
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Old 06-12-2017, 01:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

I have much interested with the conservative Reformed churches. I do aware the mainline Presbyterian Church that allows homosexuality. I'm really upset with the LC elders and co-workers here for allowing a millionaire brother who had annullement to force a young sister to marry him in her twenties. It's because of money matters and wanting to have a fancy meeting hall! They kicked out a co-worker just for accepting him in our region. There are lot of things have gone beyond the lines. And I fear that I know what the implications are, if I announce to leave publicly, I would be labeled as an opposer. I would lose my relationship with my relatives and my grandma who supported me for college. Please pray for me.
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Old 06-12-2017, 01:46 AM   #6
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

My mom got stumbled for calling her "junk" by an elder for not doing her job well as a bookroom in charge. My step dad also got stumbled about one elder that he was falsely accused about few things because of that elder's jealously and envy. Those elders never reconciled to my parents. They just don't mind at all. They all care for those saints who shows loyalty to them.
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Old 06-12-2017, 01:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

I'm starting reading the ESV Bible. I'm wanting to order two books called Desiring God and The Pleasures of God by John Piper. But it's kinda expensive to afford it. Can somebody would be so kind order me those books. Anyways, I always follow his website 'desiringgod.org'
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Old 06-12-2017, 03:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

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Those elders never reconciled to my parents. They just don't mind at all. They all care for those saints who shows loyalty to them.
Kevin, in Chinese culture, apologizing is to lose face. But the problem isn't Chinese culture, but that Witness Lee taught that it didn't exist in the LC. So it began to increasingly dominate LC affairs, but nobody could address it.

So the only "oneness" in the LC was maintained by abject servility to leaders. I bet those elders had the same problems that your parents had with them. It is an entirely human system of 'guanxi networks', of reciprocal obligations. Violate this network, and you will not be forgiven.
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Old 06-12-2017, 03:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

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. I would lose my relationship with my relatives and my grandma who supported me for college.
Guanxi networks. Once you see them for what they are, they lose their power over you.
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Old 06-12-2017, 04:06 AM   #10
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

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Guanxi networks. Once you see them for what they are, they lose their power over you.
I hate that guanxi stuff, so annoying. Now that you mention it, yeah the church was rife with it - "oh, your new one wants to get a job in this company? Brother so and so is the CEO, we can have morning revival together with him tomorrow to discuss getting him a position there to help shepherd him..."

Some of it seemed just plain immoral to me, like I shouldn't have anything to do with certain things and am totally unqualified but I'm 'in' because I'm in the church. But my Chinese ex wife felt it was perfectly acceptable and just the way things work.
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

I see a lot of advice concerning this writer or that preacher/writer. But unless you happen to live in the right place, you are going to get some common preacher who probably went to one of a number of different seminaries or Bible schools. And they are going to be reading and picking from many sources, both recent and past (even long past). If they are not, I would always be wary that you are headed into another closed system.

The point is to get connected with other Christians. To hear the word proclaimed regularly. To join in corporate worship. That is generally easier when you do it with people you get to know at least a little. People that you see fairly regularly. So whether you "become a member" or just attend regularly, you are joining along with them on the Christian journey.

Despite things you have seen from me in other threads, I would steer you toward more evangelical churches. Reformed, Baptist, Bible churches, so many of the more recent (and loose) affiliations. Too many to know them all or name them. But good options. And if your leaning is toward the other end of the spectrum, I would not dissuade you as long as you are preparing to join in the liturgy as reminding you week after week of the truth of Jesus and of our part in his continued life on earth. I do not think that the RCC is unchristian, but it is also difficult to suggest that as an option.

You should be looking for a church that is there for your growth and for the propagation of the Gospel, whether in missionary ways or other acts of service in your community. Take note of their stance toward others who are not of their flock. And if you see anything that you think is truly of serious error, you might want to reconsider. But I will not lead you as to what kinds of things those might be. I hope that if it is important that it will be clear to you. Otherwise, I pray for your ability to practice generality.
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Old 06-12-2017, 03:01 PM   #12
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

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I would steer you toward more evangelical churches. generality.
I'm trying to check up with Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF). CCF is conservative Evangelical but does not identify itself as either Reformed nor Arminian to avoid unnecessary identification with a myriad of traditions and practices from mainline protestant denominations. CCF is Trinitarian; believes in the full inspiration, inerrancy, and supreme authority of the 66 books that comprise the Holy Scriptures; and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, based on His divinity and humanity and His finished work on the cross. Beats me with this one. I haven't yet made my full decision because I have just recently out the LC, wondering where to start my life.

I sent an email to Got Questions Ministries about this Evangelical church.

Quote:
Question 530918: Is Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF) biblically a solid church? This is their official website. http://www.ccf.org.ph/

Answered by: Steve

Answer:
CCF is a biblically sound church. I have never had the opportunity to attend their services but have seen their television show. I did look at the website and read their core values and found nothing wrong with their ministry. They believe Jesus is the Son of God, was born of a virgin, died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later and is alive today.

I can find nothing wrong with any of their teachings on television or on their website.
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Old 06-12-2017, 04:39 PM   #13
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Default Re: What should I be looking for in a church?

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I'm trying to check up with Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF). CCF is conservative Evangelical but does not identify itself as either Reformed nor Arminian to avoid unnecessary identification with a myriad of traditions and practices from mainline protestant denominations. CCF is Trinitarian; believes in the full inspiration, inerrancy, and supreme authority of the 66 books that comprise the Holy Scriptures; and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, based on His divinity and humanity and His finished work on the cross. Beats me with this one. I haven't yet made my full decision because I have just recently out the LC, wondering where to start my life.

I sent an email to Got Questions Ministries about this Evangelical church.
Sounds pretty much like a Bible church other than the fact that most (all?) of them are probably Calvinist. But they don't agree on everything. The only absolutely similar thing is the name. So it doesn't mean much.

As for the kind of doctrinal statement that you semi-quoted, it seem typical. And while everywhere that I have been since the LRC holds to the same general statements, I sort of wish they would make their doctrinal statement a little less dogmatic. Mostly about the whole "inerrancy" thing. Not because I think there are errors in the Bible, but because "inerrancy" so often doesn't really mean that. More like it means "we believe that the Bible ó all 66 books ó support our positions on all the other things we believe that are not stated in this short document. And it means that every bit of inspiration that I receive out of 5 words in a row is inspired by God. And it means that my interpretation of unclear passages is the correct one, supported by the "inerrant" Bible.

Almost nothing that needs that kind of inerrancy is that important for your Christian life. Seems more like a trump card for a doctrinal debate than what the Bible said about itself ó profitable for teaching, reproof, and instruction in righteousness.
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