January 29, 2009

Changing/Growing Your Faith

Newsweek had an interesting story about people changing their declared religions:

A surprising number of Americans are switching from one religion to another. A 2007 survey done by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 44 percent of Americans profess a different religious affiliation from the one they were raised in. Excluding shifts between Protestant denominations, the number—28 percent—is still remarkably high.

If they had asked me, I would have been included in that 44 percent, as would my wife Brenda. I grew up Southern Baptist, converted to Catholicism, and until very recently belonged to an independent charismatic affirming church. Brenda grew up a Seventh-Day Adventist, moved to a MCC church, and helped found the charismatic church we recently left.

Each move for us was a difficult choice, none more so than the most recent one. Brenda and I wrestled with it for about a year before deciding that leaving Believers Covenant Fellowship was the Lord's will for us at this time. I first met Jesus in a Baptist church, married my late wife Bette in the Catholic Church, and grew to have a very personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit at BCF.

It was at BCF that Brenda became an ordained minister long before I met her, and I had started on that track myself. Over time, however, we felt the Lord leading us in a different direction than our church was heading, a situation which invariably causes tension, especially when those involved are part of leadership. Just last week, we reached what we believe is a spirit-led decision to move on to a new season in ministry apart from our former home church.

When people work closely together to lead a ministry, even a relatively small one like BCF, there is a level of trust and emotional and spiritual intimacy that develops among leaders over time. When paths diverge, however, that relationship is inevitably damaged, sometimes permanently. We pray that ours with Apostle Dale Jarrett, a man we both deeply love, and others at BCF can be put back together after the pain of our separation begins to heal.

We left the church body not because we weren’t interested in ministry anymore, but instead so we might freely pursue the more evangelistic direction Brenda and I have both strongly felt God moving us into. Ultimately, it was more important for us to take direction from our Heavenly Father than our Pastor.

The safe thing would have been for us to stay tucked in under the umbrella of BCF and focus our energy within the walls of that building. The funny thing is, though, that God is not really into us being safe. Rather, he wants us to work without a net in the natural so HE can protect us, so we can acknowledge we can’t succeed with our own strength.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul wrote “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Brenda and I will continue to have a strong focus on ministering to the GLBT community, trying in our small way to introduce Christ to those who have never known of Him or only know Him as a judgmental, hateful God. That is not the true Jesus, my friends.

In 1 John 4:16, we learn “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

1 comment:

  1. Ultimately, it was more important for us to take direction from our Heavenly Father than our Pastor.

    Isn't that the truth. And if more people lived the actions of who their church teachings were based on, life would be much different.