First on our list is a church from a small conservative denomination. Their denomination website says they have thirty-three churches in North America, eleven of which are within driving distance from our house.
The closest one is five miles away. In contrast, they have five more international locations.
A Bad Reputation
I’ve never met anyone who currently goes to one of this denomination’s churches. In the past few years, however, I’ve met several people who used to go there. Their stories are similar and worrisome.
They left this church bruised and bloodied, rejected by the people they used to worship with. Sometimes they’re spurned by their family and friends who continue to go to these churches.
Although there are two sides to every story, their accounts of what happened breaks my heart. That’s because their perspective of what caused their separation seems to be over trivial matters.
Every church has people who think poorly of it. As long as we’re frail humans with a nature to sin, this will occur. Sometimes the reasons for these low opinions are justified and other times they’re self-inflicted.
However, to only meet people who harbor hurts from this denomination is troublesome. It has a bad reputation.
A Negative Mindset
I want to visit one of these churches to learn more about them. But because of their bad reputation, I already know too much and couldn’t go with an open mind. I would look for the negative, hunting for areas to criticize so I can justify the depths of my friends’ pain.
Surely, I would find the validation I seek. I fear I wouldn’t have eyes to see the good in their practices, truly worship God with them, or celebrate meaningful community while I was there.
Until I can properly adjust my perspective, I need to hold off visiting them. Unfortunately, after a couple of years of trying, I’m no closer to being successful. For this reason, their church keeps moving down my list as we visit other congregations.
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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.