I loved God but did not like church and puffy hair evangelists
Going to a major denominational church was a common memory in my life up until I was in third grade. An abrupt change during this period in the life of our family, however, had a lasting impact on my views toward church. I remember the anger, mixed with pain and disappointment, that my father expressed as he stood in the center of the living room and read the letter from our church. Then, with great hurt and frustration, he ripped up the letter. We never went to church again.
Let me give you some background
My parents were hard workers and generous with people who really needed help. I remember watching my father, who was a methods engineer; build custom sized chalkboards for classrooms in the church. He fixed what was needed around the church and apparently gave a frequent tithe.
I don’t know all the details, but my parents invested heavily in a mining company. Like most in this country during the post WWII era, they were pursuing the American dream. Unfortunately, a business partner took assets from the company and left our family deep in debt. Determined to pay back the debt, my father worked long hours, causing a stressful family environment at home. He worked two to three jobs at a time, choosing swing, and graveyard shifts to free up extra time for other employment opportunities. In what little free time he had, he worked as a handyman fixing roofs, toilets, and anything else he could to make ends meet.
During this time, my mother also went to work to help with the financial situation at home. Growing up with both parents working long hours caused me to have to adjust to a different lifestyle. This meant that I was a latchkey kid for most of my childhood. I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch after school most of the time. Because of his demanding work schedule, my dad was rarely able to attend my sporting events. He only saw a couple of my early little league baseball games up until about fifth grade.
Now back to the beginning
Walking across the living room, my father paused to read the contents of a formal letter from our church. After hearing him rant over the contents of the letter, I understood my father’s pain. It was just days after a loving, but meager Christmas. The church sent a letter to my parents letting them know that since they had not tithed in a while they would be taken off the church membership unless they tithed immediately. My mom and dad were working extremely hard just to make ends meet. They wanted to do the right thing and pay back the debt and the last thing they needed was a discouraging letter about money from the church.
The church did not ask them if everything was all right or offer any guidance or assistance. The church was concerned with money because they had to pay the denomination a certain amount per member. If the member was not tithing, then they could not stay on the church membership list. To their credit my parents did not bad mouth God or go on long rants against the church, but it was easy to see their deep hurt because of the situation.
I, therefore, always had a respect for God. I did not know Him personally; He was just the Man upstairs. However, I did dislike churches and had a special disdain for the puffy hair televangelists who seemed to always be motivated by money. When I was twenty a girlfriend started going to a home bible study. Her life began to change and I thought that I needed to protect her from this cult. All churches were cults to me.
I accompanied her to bible study with suspicion, but was met with warm hugs and food. They were not weird. They did not ask for money. They actually loved God and expounded the Bible. I was a little embarrassed that I said I loved and respected God, but did not know His Word.
I began reading the Bible on my own, and though I did not understand it all, one part was very clear. I needed to overcome my resentment and commit myself to Jesus. That is where my venture with God all started. I wanted to love and serve God in truth. I wanted real answers to life’s problems, not this fake Christianity I had seen in our old church and on T.V. I did not want to blindly follow someone. I sought out answers on why we should do things. If I could not find good Biblical reasons for doing something then I wasn’t going to do it.
I think that is what makes me the way I am and why I answer Bible questions live on the radio program No Other Doctrine. I am far from perfect and I do not have all the answers, but I know more than enough to enjoy a thrilling and satisfying life walking with Jesus.
I think there are many people out there like me who respect God, but are hesitant about church and preachers.
I know how you feel. That is why we don't take an offering. It is an honor to give so we make it available but it is not the focus of our services. There are no gimmicks and there is no pressure to give. We won't embarrass you as a visitor. I invite you to come talk to me at Cross Christian Fellowship.
You will find many people just like you who are warm and welcoming. I have found that Jesus and church makes sense out of life. I think you will too.
No Other Doctrine