Question: Dear Mr. Luginbill, Because of the hypocrisy in churches we haven't attended much in a long time. It's hard to attend a church when everyone is not on the same note (especially with things like Christmas and Easter). Can you give me a comment on what you think we should do? Just wanted to say thanks and I know God is leading you. Our prayers are with your ministry. Love in Christ,
Response: I appreciate your encouragement and support - it means a lot. And I can think of no more encouraging words than when I hear that someone has been enabled to walk a little closer to God because of these studies.
Your question is a delicate one, to say the least, and I always feel that I have to give an unsatisfactory answer. My determination to put the information found at Ichthys into some readable form and make it as widely available to people as possible stems in no small part from a desire to give a helpful answer to this very question. That is, I may not be able to point the way to a particular church, but "here is something that may help". Coming together with other Christians to learn God's Word in a place where God's Word is being pursued as the top priority (with proper preparation, insight and depth on the part of the teacher) is, of course, the ideal. I have a couple of good friend who are in fact doing this as pastors, and am happy to recommend them to people in their vicinity. And there are a few other Bible teachers scattered around out there about whom I know enough to make a positive recommendation. It is also true that most men who actually try and teach the Bible (rather than fill 15-30 minutes with stories and superficialities) do so "off the radar screen" for the simple reason that this is not what most people want. The deficiency of supply in this type of Bible teaching is, in general, due to a deficiency in demand. Not that there aren't good Christians out there just like you who are really trying to grow in the Word - it's just that in many cases there aren't enough who are serious enough in the same area to come together in a practical way. This is a gap that I am attempting to do my part to fill with this on-line ministry.
So, I guess, my answer to you is that by seeking out the truth of God's Word (as you are obviously doing), you are in fact doing what God has called us all to do: that is, to grow spiritually through His Word (an absolute prerequisite to effectively "helping others do the same" through the employment of your own spiritual gifts). It would be wonderful if this could always be done in the presence and fellowship of other like-minded believers, listening to teaching directly, and employing our gifts in common fellowship toward a pure and honorable end. In the past, many have reasoned that we should set aside our strong feelings and work within traditional organizations. But that type of thinking is very much new wine in old bottles, and those who've gotten accustomed to the old usually have little use for the new. The end result is often conflict without positive results.
May God grant the day when all your hopes will be fulfilled on this issue. Until then, I encourage you to do what you have been doing all along: hold fast to your standards and your principles, and don't sell them short for a mess of pottage.
You may also find the following links helpful:
Mega-Churches, Emergent Christianity, Spirituality and Materialism.
Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality.
The Local Church and Personal Ministry IV
The Local Church and Personal Ministry III
The Local Church and Personal Ministry II
The Local Church and Personal Ministry I
The Situation of the Church Visible on the Eve of the Tribulation
Is Church Membership an Issue in Salvation?
Keep the faith. Yours in Christ,