Dear Nathan, JC, and Brian,
I don’t know where to start because the last month has been a whirlwind for me…
I’m a young adult woman who has been raised in the IFB my whole life. Growing up, I was taught separation and told how to live so I could stay “on fire for God” all the time. Although my church growing up wasn’t as strict as a lot of IFB churches, there were standards to uphold. I have never been rebellious to my pastor or church and have never stepped one toe out of line according to the things that are required from active members.
I have a brother who recently got saved, and one of the things that has helped him grow as a Christian is your podcast. This was confusing to me, as the RFP has been preached against from our church pulpit on several occasions. The stigma associated with the RFP in my church made me believe he had gotten into something doctrinally wrong. But the change in his life said otherwise. I remember the first conversation I had with him about the podcast and he told me I needed to listen to it. He also told me he would pray for me and those were words I don’t ever remember hearing him say to me before. In my mind, “Who is he to say he’s praying for ME? I’ve been saved for 20 years and have been the one praying for HIM!” I remember singing in choir next to my brother and one of the lines we sang was “it may be old fashioned but it’s real” and he just leaned down to me and said, “the new stuff is real too”. I remember standing there thinking he was being rebellious. One night we went out to eat with friends after church and I remember him trying to have the conversation of the “old time way” with them. I knew he was trying to start something and I shut it down. I even messaged one of the friends and told them not to pay any attention to my brother and not listen to what he says. After that dinner he and I had a huge blowout over the whole thing outside of the restaurant parking lot. I just couldn’t believe the things he was telling me. I could not fathom that my church was wrong or that what I had been taught for years was wrong!
Those conversations were six months ago. Ever since, I’ve been sitting in our services, listening and watching as the things my brother pointed out slowly became clear to me. From the standards that hold no biblical authority, to preaching against those who aren’t doing it “right”. Hammering the “old time way” and emotion driven services that left me feeling no different than when I walked in. I have slowly realized that the church I grew up in and have known for 20 years is very flawed. I had another conversation with my brother recently and it went a lot different. I knew what was coming for me, I just didn’t know it would happen so fast.
I have been listening to your podcast for less than a month and have blown through every episode. I’ve had hard conversations with my family and pastor and I’m now visiting other churches, and to say that my heart isn’t broken would be a lie. I’m devastated and trying so hard to find where I belong and what’s right. Although I’m hurting, I know I’m not alone in this struggle and there are many who are doing and who have done what I am now. Apart from Christ, the fact that I am not alone is the only thing that has given me courage to do this. But that is enough.
Thank you for what you’re doing. I know you get attacked every day from people who were like me and I’m so sorry for that. But please don’t stop, because you have given me hope for a better Christian life that is more abundant and free than what I knew I could have. There are so many who still don’t know.
Your sister in Christ,