I am a pastor here in Virginia who is pastoring a Revitalization effort in a 116 year old church. (don’t mind sharing this story, just want the name unanimous). Many stories could be shared with you all, many battle wounds, and many heart wrenching moments as well. I share in the burden with you all to speak against (lovingly) the IFB movement that is causing so many to be pulled AWAY from the Gospel rather than to it.
*Sarcasm inserting at moments in this story*
Last summer, as I was preaching expositorily through the book of Ephesus (you know….True expository series…. forming my doctrine around what is found in pulling apart Scripture rather than claiming to be an expository preacher but bring my doctrines and fit in a verse… you know all that….) We happened to be in Ephesus 2, (Christ tearing down the wall through His Flesh…) right as the riots were going on in America as well as it being July 5th. Immediately you know what is expected on the FOURTH OF JULY week in church…. Sing doctrinally accurate songs? well yeah… as long as its about AMERICA! I should wear a tie? an AMERICAN TIE. Lastly, the FLAG better be front in center of the platform! Haymen. Well I failed in the tie wearing (no tie at all) but most importantly we did not move the American flag into our gymnasium (we were worshipping in gym due to COVID). After pouring my heart in prayer and highlighting the Gospel that morning, we had visitors who came up to pray after who were moved by the grace of God in Ephesians 2. I also spoke about the importance of the Gospel impacting our church so that we are not only white but we look like our community. We need to GO out rather than waiting for people to COME. Just spoke my heart around what living the Gospel really looked like. Some people came up to me to encourage me in being bold for what this church needed to hear.
However, the “Heroes” of preserving the faith of THIS church did not approve of my message. An angry member interrupted my prayer time with our first time visitors to get in my face to let me know that I was in the wrong for not having the American Flag in the Gym. As I reached for my Bible and began telling him the only banner that is “necessary” in this church is the Word of God, he proceeds to raise his voice in interruption to let me know that it’s coward pastors like me that is what’s wrong with America.
How dare I preach the Gospel of Jesus over the false gospel of patriotism. (especially 5th of July…) How dare I pray with individuals who were affected by the Grace of God that morning and not tell them God’s Word obviously highlights america, the republican part and most importantly that living in America brings God’s SPECIAL blessings on us for being HIS nation. (the wife of the couple is Korean keep in mind…).
PRAISE GOD, this quickened my heart to take stances in our church and call out the legalism and the idol worship of America and try to point them back to Christ. Since then, God has pruned MANY “faithful” members of this church who left to the neighboring IFB church, and ironically, God has supplied us with new faces, new baptisms, and new opportunities in the community to finally BE THE CHURCH. I am amazed at the work of God around this church now despite me being a cowardly pastor who is destroying america.
There are so many more stories I feel you guys would laugh (but yet) weep over that has happened here. Another story entails me overstepping my “role” by approving and supporting a peanut butter drive for the low-income students in our town. How dare I…. these kindergarteners need to find a job we are enabling them. Most importantly, we cannot support this program because it’s ran by liberals!
You guys bring encouragement to me to continue being faithful to the GOSPEL ministry and have given me an opportunity to share my burden for those being led astray. Christ + NOTHING! Thank you guys