Even though I just blogged about our dilemma on whether or not to stay in our church, yesterday, here I am to report that we have indeed left Coram Deo. I wanted to write a better post regarding our dilemma even though I knew we were leaving. I didn't want to publicly divulge our decision prior to letting the elders know -I didn't think that would be very considerate.
Anyway, yesterday I sent them a letter with my decision. Subsequently, my wife sent out a letter from both of us to some friends and family who might be interested. It was her words, not mine, but I essentially agreed with them.
It is funny, though. A few weeks ago I blogged about being fickle and sticking it out, yet I knew that we were getting burnt out and concerned about things. I guess that makes us "fickle" too? I really had high hopes, and maybe that is part of the problem. In some ways I had a picture of what I hoped the church would become, and it wasn't like that. I tried to consider each new piece of data and emphasis as it came down to me, and I tried to focus on the good, but ultimately I realized that the church was just... not for us. Yes, if there was only one church in town things would be different, but it isn't like that. Does that mean we are "church-shoppers?" Maybe it does. I'm not sure. I just know that my heart (our heart) for a church and for service and ministry put us at odds with Coram Deo, and though I felt it was necessary for us to leave, it still really, really stinks.
Whether our reasons were good or bad, it is on one hand relieving but on the other hand very sad. I just pray our decision proves to be fruitful for our ability to serve and minister the gospel to people who need it.
And you know... I really do hope we were wrong about Coram Deo. I know that no church is perfect, and I don't want to heap any kind of sinful idealism upon the church. I really hope it does flourish and turn into a church which lifts up Jesus and builds people up in Him. I would love if, one day, we come to wish we had stayed. Lord willing, maybe that will happen.
And just in case any Coram Deo folks read this and think, "Oh, he left because of his wife." No, that isn't really true. She had something to do with it, and she has definitely had grievances. And I have agreed with pretty much all of them. She is in the process of coming out of a spiritual pit that she has, in many ways, been in for a while, and leaving Coram Deo was a decision made partially in light of that fact.
Things I've learned (some of these I may have already noted in past entries):
1. Church is really so much more than having the "right doctrine." And no church has it that "right." Coram Deo believed in right things, but there were some imbalances that I definitely detected. I know already that some folks who know us and who know Coram Deo will be like, "Hey, but will you really be able to take the lack of right doctrine in other area churches?" Two or three years ago I would have said, "No way." Today, I say that having "right doctrine" might just mean that you worship doctrine. In such a case, I would prefer being in a theologically less sophisticated church that freely proclaims the Gospel and lifts up Jesus to people. So, am I accusing Coram Deo of that? No -I'm not saying anything about that. I'm just saying I think I was naive to assume that having the "right doctrine" makes a church have the right heart. Don't get me wrong... if a church denies something like justification by grace through faith, I don't care how good their "heart" seems -they aren't even Christian, as far as I am concerned. So, within certain limits, it seems that there ought to be a balance between the two... or better, not a balance but both. It just unfortunately seems that often times balancing the two is necessary.
I'll add more to this later... I need to work.