Saturday, May 27, 2017

When it's time to leave a good church

Many of us agree that it is very hard to find a "good" church.  It's even more difficult for a military family that moves every few years.  Sometimes though, you do find a good church without having to search around for months.  You settle in, participate in the ministries, sit under Christ-centered preaching, and look forward to regular worship with the saints.  But then time passes quickly, military orders are issued to move you and your family, and you find yourself having to leave a good church.

When we moved to Tennessee we initially planned to make this our home by retiring at the end of this tour of duty.  Plans change and God showed us that He providentially had a different direction for our family.  We sold our budding homestead, the chickens, goats, and finally the beehives we spent years building up.  The saddest point wasn't the letting go of that part of our plans but the realization that we would have to leave our current church family.

Cornerstone Community Church in Drummonds embraced us before we even moved to Tennessee.  I came here a second time before we officially moved, without my family, to look for a home and visited the church after finding them online and communicating with the Pastor through email.  Within the first few days of moving here, the church had already setup meals for us.  Mind you, they had never met my family and only spent a few hours with me on a single Sunday.  Not long after getting settled in, they even planned a surprise baby shower for my wife.  They wholeheartedly showed us what the "one another" principles of the New Testament church really looked like. 

But their devotion to being the local church did not stop there.  Pastor Jody was wrapping up a second evangelism training in the small groups of the church and was very receptive to ideas of evangelistic outreach.  We planned the church's first outreach at the local Munford Celebrate festival and continued to do so each year following.  We also planned for a float in the local Christmas parade where we handed out hundred of tracts along the parade route.  

When I wanted to setup an abortion clinic outreach Pastor Jody reviewed the material I used and my ideas.  After carefully considering what I had planned he not only supported and participated (when possible) but he weekly promoted it during the church announcements.  I found myself joined by several church members during these outreaches.

The following year I asked for assistance in setting up a community garden as a part of another church's outreach in Memphis.  Take note, it was another church's outreach and it was over an hour away from our church.  Several members of the church came out to help and were not concerned at all about whether anyone of those we reached would ever darken the doorways of our church gathering.  Their primary concern was that the Gospel was preached and that they were blessed enough to partner with another Christ-centered church to reach out to others.

As a family-integrated church Cornerstone welcomed children into the worship service.  No one batted an eye when a baby cried, kids shuffled in their seats, or when a parent had to take their child out for disciplining.  Some preachers have problems preaching over the sound of children, while others consider it a reminder of Psalm 127 and joyfully accept it as a blessing.

Pastor Jody dedicates himself to the Word.  Every Sunday the message he brought was evidence to to his sincere study and devotion to expository preaching.  He would spend time giving the full context of each passage and the importance of the original biblical languages.  I was blessed to have several conversations with him during afternoon small group studies over his messages.

I have personally known fellow Christians who hop around churches whenever the wind changes and for no biblical reasoning whatsoever.  Someone said something that hurt their feelings, someone didn't say hello to them one morning, the Pastor didn't preach a passage EXACTLY the way they wanted, and the nitpicking list goes on.  Excuses like these are all too common and evidence of a lack of devotion to the local church.

When it's time to leave a good church because you are being transferred out of the area by the military it is never easy.  I thank God that he brought us to Cornerstone Community Church in Drummonds, TN.  We are thankful that God gave us a devoted and loving Pastor like Jody Duncan with a supporting wife like Michelle and a family that models family devotions/worship daily.

If you are ever in the area, just drive past those larger churches and find yourself on a few backroads until you come to little church building on a corner lot.  When you step into its doors you'll know what I mean when I say it's hard to leave a good church.

Thank you Pastor Jody, Michelle, and everyone at Cornerstone for making us a part of your local family.  May God continue to use you for His glory.

Serving the Savior,
Adam