...holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away. 2 Timothy3:5
Scripture enjoins us to Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another~and all the more as you see the Day approaching & it always distresses me when I find myself without a body of believers to worship with.
Unfortunately not all bodies of believers are the same & some we are expressly warned to stay away from because they may have the outward form but they do not have the spirit of God. That is an ugly & unpalatable truth but some churches have had their itching ears tickled for so long they no longer feel even a squirm of alarm at what is preached from the pulpit. As one of our children commented angrily after yet another unsuccesful church visit, "I get fed better just staying home & talking with my family!"
I don't think we are particularly hard to please. We aren't after a fancy building, prosperity preaching, a WOW! worship team, overhead projectors & carpet on the floor. None of us care how many hues & shades people's skin colour comes in, or who they were before they came to Christ. We do require evidence that the word of God is preached accurately & that the Spirit of God is moving amongst His people. It sounds like an easy ask but we have not found it so. We have been in churches that are outwardly rich & seem to have had blessing after blessing heaped up, pressed down & overflowing but dead at the heart. We have been in churches that have so watered down the gospel it is almost unrecognizable, or worse, so weakened the people of God they are easy prey for wolves. We have been in curches that cling to their traditions like drowning men, afraid that if they let go there will be nothing of God to sustain them. We have been in Happy~Clappy churches that forget Christ was a man of sorrows & aquainted with grief. Much as I admire Lewis I think he was wrong to encourage people to simply attend their nearest local church because not all churches are the same ~ & that is as true of the Alglican tradition of which Lewis was a part, as it is of the wider body of believers.
I have had to think long & hard about certain things. Do I believe God abandons people or churches? Well, actually...No. But there are people & churches He cannot work with because they are dulled to the things of the Spirit. Without a clear directive from the Lord that is not a church for a believer who wants to continue to grow in the Lord. It may be a place, if the Lord so calls you, for a believer to minister but I actually think that is quite rare because it is iron that sharpens iron, otherwise the edge grows dull & gifts languish unused. I think the heart of God is grieved beyond measure when His people shut Him out.
At different times I have worshiped in just about every convievable mainstream denomination ~ & then some. My allegiance is not to denomination but to Christ. So having mentored & discipled Dino for over 12 months I knew we needed to find him a church because people are like sponges. They soak up the things of God but unless you also wring them out they just get waterlogged & rancid. He needed an opportunity to minister as well as to be ministered to ~ & my heart quailed! I hate church hunting. I hate fronting a crowd of strangers. I hate fumbling through an unfamiliar service. I hate like poison the necessary process of discernment ~ & I knew I was along for the ride because Dino does not drive yet.
I was happy enough to go wherever Dino felt led so long as the fundamental critea were met & I must say the Lord is full of surprises because Dino chose a Charismatic church. I was leery. Dearest has a thing about the charismatic churches & I didn't want an inhouse war erupting. Having been dragged along Dearest is actually really happy because nothing is over the top but there is a great emphasis on hearing from God, knowing your scriptures & following the Spirit. So far so good. Even Star is happy.