I have always been one to believe that, as the church is depicted as the body of Christ, then your local church is your family – brothers and sisters in Christ.
Recently, my husband and I made the difficult decision to switch churches. We were attending a reformed PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church, but through studies on our own of the 7 Ecumenical Councils, which were held between 325 AD to 787 AD, as well as a study of what the Reformation (which started in 1517 when Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Catholic church), we came to the conclusion that the Reformation was not as good as we had thought.
Let me be clear: my husband came to this conclusion before I did. I was reading articles and watching YouTube videos on subjects he would bring up, and he still is further along on the path we’ve chosen than I am, but I am not only submissively following him (as good wives are Biblically called to do), I am actually finding I agree with what I’m learning.
The hard part about this, however, is that we love our church family. As you would probably find anywhere, we had minor complaints… But we would have stayed 50 years at that church with the complaints we had. Those are not even worthy to be discussed and had absolutely zero factor in our decision to leave.
The struggle is that people so identify with their way of thinking (“reformed thinking”), and it was once a way we too thought, that when we reject it, people we thought were our friends take it personally that we’re calling them out on holding to a wrong or bad belief. That is not at all what we are saying, and we tried to back away quietly.
Then Tim called the pastor, just to do him the courtesy of telling him we are leaving, and why. We have had families leave the church before, families we have remained friends with, but the church cast them in a such a light that made it look as though they took the easy way out and should have stayed to work through their issues. We wanted to be clear that it was no grievance that made us leave, but a change in theology.
As you may expect (but we didn’t), it didn’t go well. The friends we have reached out to have mostly been encouraging – encouraging us to get involved at our new church and to stay in touch with them. But there have been a few who say we are sinning (by bucking the authority of the church which says we are wrong in our change of theology) and we need to repent and come back.
But the church we are now attending is so glorifying to Christ. Not only is it extremely similar, from what we can tell, to the churches that Paul planted in his journies and all those early churches, but it is completely centered on the Incarnation of Christ. The songs are straight out of Scripture, the prayers are focused on drawing us closer to God, and the teaching is deeply theological, yet presented in an easy to understand 15 minute homilee in the middle of all the singing and praying. Our bodies are involved, in what we see and hear and smell, all of which is misunderstood by the reformed tradition, but clearly commanded by Scripture as a right way of worship, which the councils supported.
One more sad thing about leaving, I have been saying that if this theological change doesn’t pan out, we can always return to our old church. Swallow our pride and I’m sure they’d welcome us back (which I still think would be true). But in leaving, things were uncovered that completely changes my viewpoint of the leadership. While we weren’t enemies by any means, we weren’t exactly friends, but now I wonder how truly friendly we were being treated, or if it was all for furthering some nefarious end.
We continue to pray for our brothers and sisters at that old church, and even the pastors and elders and deacons there. But we have found something that is true, right, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. All thoughts I’ve had of returning there are gone. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Thank you if you’ve read this far. I just wanted to get some thoughts out of my head, and I don’t even plan to share this. If you happen to come across it and take an interest in anything, I would love to chat about it. I am by far not an expert. I will become a catecumen around Lent, and even then won’t be an expert. But I do have my personal experience, and those kind of testimonies have always resonated with me.