Why do you attend church services?
To find hope? Find a place to belong? To find God?
A Pew Research survey reveals the following as the main reasons Americans attend church regularly:
- To become closer to God (81%)
- To become a better person (68%)
- For comfort in times of trouble or sorrow (66%)
- To be part of a faith community (57%)
These reasons are significant and valid. And they might even be your reasons if you’re part of the 28% of Americans still attending worship services after the pandemic!
But let me ask you a question. Are you getting what you want in your current church or religion?
Experiencing a conflict in their faith
As one of the writers for Stories of Faith, a program that shares how God’s words transform the lives of individuals looking for God, I’ve sifted through countless stories of people who felt empty and conflicted with their former religion.
Stories like that of Marda, a former baptist,
Or Maricar Crisostomo, a former devout Catholic
There was even a former pastor of the Pentecostal church, who admitted, “We were not preaching the gospel and living by it.”
Even Brother Donald, who has been a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ now for over 21 years, remembers the struggles while casually attending the Anglican church.
“My frustrations with other churches— It didn’t make a concerted effort to address the needs of each generation of members. Everybody was administered in exactly the same way, regardless of age bracket.”
Turning frustrations into a search for God’s truth
Despite having grown up in their former religions, the individuals I mentioned did an uncomfortable and scary thing…they searched. They opened themselves up to other churches and accepted invitations to Bible studies to different religions.
To make a long story short, they discovered the Church Of Christ and found MORE than what they were looking for.
(“Like what?” you might be asking.)
Aside from finding hope, inspiration, and belonging, they learned the right Church unlocks a truth that not everyone knows to search for — the correct way to worship God.
“You know, I’m one of these people that if you show me something, and you can prove it to me, I don’t resist. Everything that I was listening [to] was from the Bible, it was truth. The minister could explain it. And I was trying to apply what I was learning every time I had a Bible study lesson.” – Marda Debnam, former Baptist
“In other churches I couldn’t feel if the spirit of God was there…in the Church Of Christ, everything makes sense. It’s like this is what I need to hear, this is what God wants people to hear.” – Maricar Crisostomo, former Catholic
All these years of wanting to get closer to God, they didn’t realize there was a right way to do it.
“When I started studying the Bible in the Church Of Christ, it really shocked my system, and I said to myself, “I was doing all [of] these things the wrong way, worshiping God, praying to God.” Because in the Bible, the Bible said, “Do not worship idols.” And as you can see in the Catholic Church, they have all these statues scattered in the church.” – Peter Kaisara, former Catholic
Yes, this is a truth that isn’t talked about as much. Especially nowadays when people are looking out for themselves first. People are quick to list out what they want in a Church first. But they don’t always consider what God wants in a servant—which counts the most.
So let me ask you this: Does the way you worship God through your current religion or church bring happiness to God? If you’re not 100% sure your answer is yes, then maybe it’s time to take a deeper look.
Recognizing the red flags
The journey of the individuals featured in Stories of Faith always takes a different path. But over the years, we’ve seen similarities regarding their turning point. Signs that made them reflect on the path they were on. Red flags they wished they had noticed earlier in their lives.
And once they saw it, they couldn’t unsee it anymore. They knew it was time to make a move.
“A part of me felt that I had been cheated out of a lot of good years in my life because I did not know the truth. But I was just very thankful that at least I was still young enough to learn the truth and just change my life.” – Marda Debnam.
It’s not too late for you, either. You just have to recognize the signs.
Four signs it’s time to leave your church
- When your church practices rituals that are not in the Bible. Some church practices are doing it all wrong. Christmas, Trinity, confession, tithing…what some people think is right is not actually what should be practiced.
- When the pastor doesn’t use the Bible during the sermon. It is through worship service that we can learn about God’s instructions…so if the pastor isn’t preaching what’s in the Bible…what is he preaching?
- When they’re encouraging you to worship God any way you want. Sorry to break it to you, but not all preachers teach the truth. False preachers actually pull you further away from God.
- When they’re constantly changing doctrines to stay “woke.” Maybe your church keeps “updating” practices and beliefs to stay updated with the changing culture. But you know God’s words do not change—so why is your church constantly changing their teachings?
Are any of these familiar to you? Maybe you’ve tried to ignore them for a while now, committing yourself to pray and search for God even more. But yet, these signs continue to become even more glaring. Like flags waving furiously to get your attention!
If so, it’s time for you to do what these individuals did not too long ago. They went looking for God. Their search brought them to listen to a Bible study in the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ).
“And by going through the Bible studies, you get to learn the things that were wrong in my previous religions like, you know, why the Catholic church uses the big cross in the front and statues of different apostles around the church, Mother Mary…” – Martin Castillo, attended different churches
Ready to try something new
Even after all these years of working on these stories, I’m still left in awe when I hear their stories! The courage it takes to let go of beliefs—however wrong or how much they go against what the Bible says—after years of holding on to them. And the rewarding experience of discovering what life feels like to have God on your side.
I think Todd Brown, a former Anglican and 7th Day Adventist, sums up this next step perfectly,
So what about you? Will you just continue to see the signs and ignore them? Or will you take the next step in your journey? We’ll be here when you’re ready.