Now What? Finding a Church Home

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Santos

Puritan Board Freshman
Greetings from south Texas!
So here's my story. I was raised in a "pentecostal church" my whole life (off and on). My grandfather was a "pastor/evangelist" and my father a perpetual "back slider". I was sinner in cheif (virtually homeless meth addict) when God plucked me from the fire almost 11 years ago by His Grace and Mercy.
My wife and I were married shortly after that. In that time we have grown in God's grace first attending a Calvary Chapel and then a couple of baptist churches, one of which we are currently and technically still members (however we no longer attend this church.)
As I watched the church use program after program as a means to attract new members and I studied scripture on my own I realized something was profoundly wrong. So I started reading around on line and found Mark Dever's book '9 Marks of a Healthy Church'. Well when I got to the part about 'Biblical Conversion' I was at first repulsed at the mention of God's Sovereignty in election. So I prayed /read prayed/read, agonized for about a year and a half and finally came to surrender to the truth of God's Sovereignty found in Scripture and I have repented of my resistance. Here come's the now what:
-Though now thoroughly reformed in my soteriology I am still baptist leaning.
-There is not a Biblicaly sound church in my town. Or the next town over. Or the town beyond that.
-In rural south Texas reformed churches are far and few.
-The nearest reformed leaning church is 25 miles from my town.
-The nearest reformed church is 40 miles from my town.
How far is too far? Is it biblical to leave your own community to worship with a biblical body? Am I abandoning my community if I do so?
If anyone could help please feel free.....
 
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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
The Reformed (or those reforming) are often in the plight of having to travel to a good church.

My wife and I travel an hour and twenty minutes to go to the best church closest to us. We pass 180 churches in our city alone (including a PCA church, and one an OPC church), (and then travel past 8-9 other rural cities) to get to church on the Lord's Day. (The churches around our area are all men and women tag team pastors, parades and puppet shows; its disgusting).

40 miles is a cake walk over our 90 miles. Go to the best church you can, as much as you can.
Pack a lunch, do whatever you have to do to go.

The Scottish covenanters traveled 20 miles in winter, in the snow, to meet in the woods. We have it easy in our padded - heated cars, AC and such.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
My wife and I often talk about moving from our hometown, but the fact that we do have a good church here to be members of is the primary reason, along with both sets of parents living here, that we can't move away.

In light of eternity, 40 miles doesn't seem so big. Whether it be commuting, or moving, I think you would do well to make attending a solid church a priority.
 

Santos

Puritan Board Freshman
I appreciate each of your remarks. But what of the folks in my town? What obligation am I under to them?
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I appreciate each of your remarks. But what of the folks in my town? What obligation am I under to them?
I don't know that you are under special obligations to them. Why do you think you are?

You could always try to take them with you. :)
 

Cedarbay

Puritan Board Freshman
My husband and I are unsettled about church attendance, too, Santos. We visit as non-communicant members of our local LCMS. While the sermons are typically strong Law/Gospel, the liturgy and church environment is reminiscent of Roman Catholicism with weekly Communion, a large visible crucifix, etc. We have gotten to know many there and were recently blessed by pastoral visits, prayers and meals brought to us during an acute medical need.

When we visited a RCUS church recently we enjoyed the sermon, songs, although not Psalmody and friendly people. My tuned in ears also heard one of the elders say they were not strict sabbatarians and several of the guys could not wait to get home and watch football. I will follow up with the pastor on these.

So, we wonder about sticking with a known in the LCMS or traveling an hour to an unknown and having to figure out what's what every week. OTOH, the RCUS is solid in it's constitution and this particular church may just be lax in some areas. My mind spins with this stuff sometimes.

Having no church membership is very concerning to us and yet it seems as important a commitment as marriage and one not to be taken lightly.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
There are many excellent advantages to attending a church in your own town, especially if you believe (as I do) that church life should include more than showing up for Sunday services. So I understand your dilemma. But ultimately, I suspect you will be frustrated if you are in a church that fails to lean in the direction of a "9 Marks" or other Reformed-friendly mindset. However important it may be to worship in your hometown, it is probably more important to worship in a church where you can have a positive attitude.

-The nearest reformed leaning church is 25 miles from my town.

Sometimes Reformed-leaning is enough, depending on what that means and who you are. Eleven years ago, in order to avoid driving an hour or more, my wife and I chose a church we'd describe as "Reformed-leaning" and it has continued to lean further and further that way since we've been here.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
There are many excellent advantages to attending a church in your own town, especially if you believe (as I do) that church life should include more than showing up for Sunday services.

Exactly what does one expect one to do other than "showing up for Sunday service" entail. I ask because this is a personal pet peeve of mine in that if one just does the once a week thing, as commanded, one gets the impression one is really not involved in the local congregation. I say this in that I have many many Christian and non Christian neighbors who take up a ton of time the other 6 days a week, and Sundays, to not be looked at as some kind of part time not serious Christian. "Church life" involves so much more than my favorite time of the week when I get to gather with my particular brothers and sisters on Sunday morning. I apologize if I am sounding harsh but I feel very strongly about such. :)
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Exactly what does one expect one to do other than "showing up for Sunday service" entail. I ask because this is a personal pet peeve of mine in that if one just does the once a week thing, as commanded, one gets the impression one is really not involved in the local congregation. I say this in that I have many many Christian and non Christian neighbors who take up a ton of time the other 6 days a week, and Sundays, to not be looked at as some kind of part time not serious Christian. "Church life" involves so much more than my favorite time of the week when I get to gather with my particular brothers and sisters on Sunday morning. I apologize if I am sounding harsh but I feel very strongly about such. :)

Yes, I think we're aware of your views on this subject. But maybe we shouldn't derail Santos' thread to discuss it here. I'll be happy to give a few thoughts if you want to discuss it on some other thread.
 

Santos

Puritan Board Freshman
Jack and Earl- You have both touched on exactly what I mean. How are we to be a part of a church body that we need to drive 25-40 miles one way to fellowship/break bread/worship with on and beyond Sunday?
 

Santos

Puritan Board Freshman
My husband and I are unsettled about church attendance, too, Santos. We visit as non-communicant members of our local LCMS. While the sermons are typically strong Law/Gospel, the liturgy and church environment is reminiscent of Roman Catholicism with weekly Communion, a large visible crucifix, etc. We have gotten to know many there and were recently blessed by pastoral visits, prayers and meals brought to us during an acute medical need.

When we visited a RCUS church recently we enjoyed the sermon, songs, although not Psalmody and friendly people. My tuned in ears also heard one of the elders say they were not strict sabbatarians and several of the guys could not wait to get home and watch football. I will follow up with the pastor on these.

So, we wonder about sticking with a known in the LCMS or traveling an hour to an unknown and having to figure out what's what every week. OTOH, the RCUS is solid in it's constitution and this particular church may just be lax in some areas. My mind spins with this stuff sometimes.

Having no church membership is very concerning to us and yet it seems as important a commitment as marriage and one not to be taken lightly.
Cedarbay-Thank you for taking the time to share this. We do actually have an LCMS in our town but I have been a little hesitant to try it out for the reasons that you have stated. (RC tendencies)
 

Inactiver user19912

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi, Santos. I'm in Beeville, near where you are. I'm currently a PCA TE without call in the South Texas Presbytery (I was the pastor of the PCA church here but they decided to leave the PCA).

I know the pastor of the PCA church in Corpus very well. He is a sound Confessional elder who inherited a Reformed-leaning church (Southside in Corpus is what I would consider a standard PCA church). The elders are good men who are seeking to remain faithful to their vows. They were very helpful to me while I was trying to salvage the work with the former PCA church here. They still remain my close friends and I consider them co-laborers in the work of Gospel ministry.

I'd love to talk with you more about your options. I'm currently hosting a "Bible study on steroids" at my house in Beeville on Lord's Day mornings with a couple of other families, around 15 or so people, in total. We sing Psalms a cappella, we pray, I teach a lesson. Folks usually stay for lunch and fellowship afterwards and you'd be well-received if you chose to make the trip to town.

Feel free to shoot me a message whenever you can and we can chat, no pressure at all either way.

Blessings,
George Lacy
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Jack and Earl- You have both touched on exactly what I mean. How are we to be a part of a church body that we need to drive 25-40 miles one way to fellowship/break bread/worship with on and beyond Sunday?

This is exactly why I posted what I did. I drive a short 30 minutes to a solid church and would travel much further if need be. Do not think I am derailing this thread, but once one recognizes what is expected of a particular lay person in a particular local congregation one will realize that Sunday service is a service of the officers to the laity and not the other way around.

Short story to illustrate my point. Back many years ago I had a friend who is a surgeon and he was a member of my then local congregation. We were speaking of our church and how much I looked forward to joining back then. He told me "Get ready for all they will ask of you to do". Now he was a surgeon and a very busy man but the church kept on asking him to do stuff that he simply did not have time to do. BTW this can also apply to mothers and fathers with children who are working at home or the local 7-11. Our Lord gave us what is our duty and it is not working like our Elders who job is running our churches like the jobs of mothers, fathers, surgeons and shoe makers.

The moral of the story do not feel bad if you "only" attend the service on Sundays. For Our Lord gave this for us the laity to be served for He is kind and wonderful and I appreciate our Pastors who are willing to feed the sheep.
 

Cedarbay

Puritan Board Freshman
Earl, do you at least bring donuts once a month for after church fellowship? This was an important work when I was Roman Catholic.;)
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am a member of a church 20 miles away. In the Dallas traffic, that makes it difficult to participate other than on weekends even contraflow to suburban rush hour traffic. There are real benefits to living close to your church/going to church close to where you live.

I'm not sure how you found the church in which you are interested. If NineMarks, that can be hit-or-miss (and I( recall that they properly include a disclaimer. Farasee is generally a safer bet.

Were I you, I'd at least check out the PCA in Corpus - a position I would have taken even without the testimonial upthread. A mainstream PCA probably won't have an issue with a Baptist in membership as long as they aren't stirring up trouble over the issue.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Earl, do you at least bring donuts once a month for after church fellowship? This was an important work when I was Roman Catholic.;)

I bring my fanny on Sundays which has been shaped by many donuts. :)
 
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Cedarbay

Puritan Board Freshman
Cedarbay-Thank you for taking the time to share this. We do actually have an LCMS in our town but I have been a little hesitant to try it out for the reasons that you have stated. (RC tendencies)
I think you are wise to be hesitant. Looks like a couple of options have been posted. Praise God for His hand on you through the years.
 

Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
We travel some 15 miles (20 minutes, without weather or a wreck) twice each Lord's Day. Some travel 1 hour. I would travel an hour or more, if required. Our congregation is spread over 60-70 miles. It is the church with the closest relationships I've ever had. We call each other regularly. We have men's and women's studies. We do things at each others houses on weekends. I find that there isn't a lot of time during the week for regular meeting, so, for us, this isn't an issue....
 

Santos

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi, Santos. I'm in Beeville, near where you are. I'm currently a PCA TE without call in the South Texas Presbytery (I was the pastor of the PCA church here but they decided to leave the PCA).

I know the pastor of the PCA church in Corpus very well. He is a sound Confessional elder who inherited a Reformed-leaning church (Southside in Corpus is what I would consider a standard PCA church). The elders are good men who are seeking to remain faithful to their vows. They were very helpful to me while I was trying to salvage the work with the former PCA church here. They still remain my close friends and I consider them co-laborers in the work of Gospel ministry.

I'd love to talk with you more about your options. I'm currently hosting a "Bible study on steroids" at my house in Beeville on Lord's Day mornings with a couple of other families, around 15 or so people, in total. We sing Psalms a cappella, we pray, I teach a lesson. Folks usually stay for lunch and fellowship afterwards and you'd be well-received if you chose to make the trip to town.

Feel free to shoot me a message whenever you can and we can chat, no pressure at all either way.

Blessings,
George Lacy
George-We have actually visited Southside several times. As a matter of fact we were just there last Sunday. Rob seems like a great guy who loves God's Word. As a matter of fact everyone at that church are very welcoming.
I am pretty sure that I came across your former church online when I started searching for a reformed church in the area. Have you considered planting a church in Rockport? :)
I'm encouraged to see that there are other reformed folks in the Coastal Bend. And I really would like to chat when I have a little more time. On top of all this church searching and all my town was hit by a cat 4 hurricane so when I'm not at work I am working on my home. Please feel free to message when you can so we can continue this conversation about my options.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree with Earl. Our principal duty is to proper worship on the Lord's Day, not in going to church with our immediate neighbors, however nice that would be. The local church is not supposed to be the Buenavista Social Club: it is the solemn assembly of God's people in His day to worship. If you must travel far to attend, be glad that God has placed you in a time period when cars are commonplace, and that you have options beyond the nearest papist house of idolatry. And don't let anyone abuse your conscience by trying to guilt-trip you into attending extra-Sunday activities with other church members. This is something that tries to creep often into our assembly, and sometimes I feel I'm the only one squashing it.
BTW, we drive 45min to an hour to get to our church.
 

beloved7

Puritan Board Freshman
It's perfectly sound to be a reformed baptist, that's what I am and it makes perfect scriptural sense in my humble opinion (I have nothing but love for my preysberian brothers and sisters). Check out the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

Having said that, I think it's perfectly reasonable, even expexted, to travel 30-50 miles if needed to go to the right church. I happen to belong to a community church with a mix of reformed/ arminian, but my pastor is reformed and our congregations history is reformed. I'm obviously big on community but truth be told, I'm blessed with that convienance. Do what you need to do brother.
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
Lots of good replies here already, some of which I agree with completely.

Santos, I understand the conflict between joining a better church and being a part of your own home community, my family travels 40 miles each way passing several towns and many churches. To say it concisely, the obligation to join a true, pure church greatly outweighs any obligation to worship alongside persons who happen to live within your own geographic area. In Article 28 of the Belgic Confession, the Reformed confess that "everyone is bound to join himself to the true church". Article 29 articulates that we can discern what is the true church by looking for three marks: The pure preaching of the gospel, pure administration of the sacraments and the practice of church discipline.
Brother, find a church with these three marks and join it, submit to its instruction and discipline, "bending [your] neck under the yoke of Jesus Christ" and you shall never regret it.

"Is it biblical to leave your own community to worship with a biblical body?"
Yes, it is your Christian duty.

"Am I abandoning my community if I do so?"
No, on the contrary, what good does it do your neighbour for you to be joined to a false church? If you have a friend or acquaintance who becomes interested in spiritual things, to where will you invite him on Sunday? Surely not the church which you already have implied is unsound.
 
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