Fruitless Searches for a Church, and Our Online Outreach

Frequently I receive emails from Christians, most of whom have been or are being abused by an evil spouse and further oppressed by their churches for daring to expose the abuse and request justice…I receive emails from them in which in part of their story (by the way, I never tire of hearing your stories and you don’t need to apologize for them being long), includes their fruitless searching for a sound local church where Christ’s Word is genuinely taught and practiced. A church where the pastor and people are born again and really do love one another. A church where, well, where this is happening:

Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

And so they look. They try. They get their hopes up and then Wham! There it is. The same old, same old, yada, yada teaching about how God loves everyone the same, how we are to love everyone the same, how all of us are sinners just like our abusers, how marriage and divorce are…., and you know how to complete that sentence. They find themselves traumatized once again, they get in the train wreck over and over, the fog of confusion grows thick once more, and the search goes on.

I can tell you that people like this search for YEARS and keep coming up empty for the most part. Once in a great while they will succeed and find the real remnant flock, but increasingly it seems that the odds of that are growing to the same as winning megabucks.

Recently I wrote a response to just such a person – a searcher – who had found our online outreach. One of you suggested that I post it here as a blog article as it may help others as well. So, here it is and I hope that it does help-

Dear ________:

I was thinking about what you said regarding the corrupt state of the churches today and how in your area there is a church on every street corner, but they are all just counterfeits. I can assure you that your analysis is quite accurate. I don’t say this so I can be self-righteous or because I am one of the types who just loves to run down other ministries and claim that I am “the only one” who has it right. I have seen those kind before and I never want to be like that.

But the truth of the matter is that the churches for the most part with rare exception are exactly as you describe. Over the years I have corresponded with people who have found my books or our blogs and livestreams of sermons and Bible studies, and they report exactly what you are saying. They looked and they looked and they looked. They tried and tried and tried…to find a sound church. Some of them even moved to other areas, and one in particular went to your area looking. Always the same. Usually sooner than later, their hopes were dashed as they realized the preaching and teaching was fluff. It was not sound, solid biblical truth taught AND applied. Sin was tolerated in the church. The pastor and other leaders really didn’t care about the people. When real truth was spoken, the person was shut down – it was too much of a threat to the system. And so these people moved on in their search.


One friend of mine in another state went through all of this. She was even a counselor on staff at a large church. But eventually they fired her for exposing wicked abusers sitting right in the pews and calling for them to confront that sin. They refused and they fired her. So she kept looking for a church. One after another. And then she wrote to me and said “I have been looking and looking, and it suddenly hit me – I have a church and a pastor.” And by that she meant us and our online outreach to the people of Christ who have been scattered by wolves. She plugged in as a member of our body online, follows the services and the Bible studies, communicates with me to share her questions and comments, and she is doing great. 


My purpose in writing all this to you is to encourage you by sharing with you that you could move to a new place (but as you say, you have no idea where), you could keep looking in those brick buildings on every corner for the real thing, in the end the common experience of the real Christians I know is – you are going to come up empty. At best what you are going to find, unless you happen to be as lucky as a lottery winner! – is shallowness and superficiality. Trite teachings that please the unregenerate person in the pews. God loves everyone the same. All of us are sinners just the same. God knows we aren’t perfect and He forgives us. We need to always forgive and reconcile with others. Salvation is easy. Most everyone who says they are a Christian is. And on and on it goes.

One person put it like this: “After listening to your sermons and Bible studies over the past few months I’ve realized that I have had no in depth teaching in the church I was in. Even the small groups I have been in there over the years have felt like the person leading was unqualified or it was nothing more than the nonsense of collecting everyone’s thoughts on verses – “what does that verse mean to me” – and it was useless.”

And this matter of no in depth preaching of the Word is not just a matter of shallowness in objective doctrine. No. It creates an environment where evil can take root, grow, parade as light, and attack the sheep. I see the online outreach to people like yourself as a valid, real, church. A ministry to the people of Christ who are scattered. We have been joined by wonderful people whose faith is real in Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, California, Michigan, Oregon, Scotland, the Netherlands, and more. And they love it.  They  communicate with me and in some cases now with one another. 
I write all of this just to encourage you and to let you know that you are very welcome to be a part of Christ’s church through these means without having to wear yourself out looking and being disappointed or hurt over and over again.

All you need do to join us is to let me know. If you are a real Christian who loves the Lord and yearns to know Him better and to obey Him better, then you are welcome.

Blessings in Christ,

Jeff

4 thoughts on “Fruitless Searches for a Church, and Our Online Outreach

  1. Debi

    Thank you. This is me!
    I’m here from west (name of state removed to protect identity). I’ve been listening to your sermons for the last several months and have been greatly encouraged! I have not been able to find a safe local church, even though there’s one on almost every corner.

    I was a widow with two young (children) when the wolf came into my life. He robbed me financially, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, sexually and tried to put me away. This has been an incredibly lonely walk as most in the church don’t know the schemes of the enemy. I’m so happy that Jesus opened my eyes and set me free!

    Thank you for this wonderful invitation. It feels safe here.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lari

    I was divorced by my husband of 29 years after discovering he had another wife in a different country and a string of infidelities. He was a deacon in our church and we had given substantial monetary contributions as well as plane tickets to Europe to our pastor. When he abandoned us and left the country, I asked for counseling but the pastor would not meet with me unless my husband was present. After trying for too long to make it work, I found a new church that needed a letter from former pastor to transfer my membership. He refused, saying it was church policy to only grant transfer letters to those who, after exit counseling, were joining another Sovereign Grace church. I went to my new church anyway, but was not allowed to officially become a member. I am so tired and discouraged. I have tried many churches over the last 3 years. My three children, disgusted by their church experience, no longer attend. I go alone, sit alone, and leave alone. Nobody talks to me and, as a middle-aged divorcee. I might as well be invisible. Can you please tell me how to find your online church?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jeff Crippen

      Lari – I am so sorry that you have been oppressed in such wicked ways. You have persevered and you are courageous. Your experience is not rare at all, and you are not alone in this suffering. This is the typical evil worked by abusers and by their allies in “churches.” All who have so sorely abused you will give account to the Lord on that Day and it will not go well with them.

      We would be VERY glad for you to join us in our online church outreach. All you need to do is to email me at swordtrowel@gmail.com and let me know you would like to join us. We will put you on our online members list, include you in our weekly prayer focus, share prayer request with you. You can stay in contact with us by emailing or texting me and I am always happy to communicate with you.

      And you can join us in our Sunday services, Sunday morning classes, and mid week Bible studies by following us online at our Christ Reformation Church sites on Facebook, Youtube, and Sermon Audio. The Sermon Audio site is sermonaudio.com/crc.

      We livestream all of these sermons and classes but we also post them on the three online sites so you can watch them anytime. This also helps deal with the time zone differences. Many of our people watch the Sunday service and sermon, for example, one week behind.

      I am very, very angry at those churches and of course at your abuser for the wickedness they exercised upon you. And it is especially wicked of them to do so “in Christ’s name.” They are like the false prophets of Jeremiah 23 who the Lord announces that He never sent them and will judge them. But I am not surprised. This wickedness is pervasive today in local churches.

      May the Lord bless you and I will be looking forward to hearing from you.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Lynn

    The longer I walk with Christ the less convinced I am that what passes for Christianity in the west, maybe in the world, is actually of Christ. They are power structures of men who want their own kingdom to rule on this earth under the guise of being godly.

    They are more like businesses and less like a family in how they are run. This leads to the perversion of the gospel because it takes money and removes it from its rightful place as a tool to help the church meet the needs of its members, and makes it the primary function of the church. Then the church becomes all about efficiency, how to generate donations to pay for all the infrastructure they have created in order to establish their own little kingdom on earth. Megachurch pastors are treated as CEOs and paid like it, allowing them to live a luxurious lifestyle at the expense of their members, many of who are struggling to make ends meet but fear being cursed if they don’t obey their pastor.

    I’ve seen it up close and personal. I’ve worked on staff at multiple mega-churches. While there, I was getting paid well under market rates for my specific technical skillset. Definitely not enough to support myself. The pastors demanded the non-pastoral staff work 50-60 hour work weeks without overtime pay, while the pastors and their children were decked out in the latest fashion, driving luxury vehicles, and spouting on that my sacrifice was for the kingdom of God. God will repay me financially for what I gave to the church, they claimed. It never happened and won’t happen because that money was not given in the service of the Kingdom of God. It went to serve Satan and his minions. While my heart may have been in the right place, I lacked wisdom in understanding the true nature of evil and that it was all around me. It employed me. It used self-proclaimed “ministers of the gospel” to financially, spiritually, and emotionally oppress me. Those pastors who were my former employers are wolves. The worst kind of wolf. They were greedy for selfish gain and used God’s name to get what they wanted out of it. If they do not repent of it that will lead to the destruction of their souls.

    These wolves crave power and are very seductive in their message, promising health, wealth, prosperity, that you will gain God’s blessing and favor and that his kingdom will be advanced when you give your tithes and offerings to the church or para-church ministry.

    Some are more crafty than that. Their cover is much more covert. They preach what appears to be sound doctrine, may even be reformed, and espouse TULIP and the 5 Solas.

    1. Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone”
    2. Sola fide: “faith alone”
    3. Sola gratia: “grace alone”
    4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone”
    5. Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”

    But their deeds are evil.

    They sin level. They equate cheating on your 5th-grade math test with abusing another person as equal. They refuse to acknowledge that true evil exists and that it’s in the church sitting in their pews, preaching from their pulpits, and funding all of their endeavors.

    They mistreat abuse victims. 93%-98% of abuse victims are telling the truth, yet they act as if the opposite is true. They refuse to believe abuse victims because they would rather err on the side of assuming the abuser is being falsely accused so they can maintain their power and control, than deal with the fact that evil is staring them in the face and the cost it will require to be an ally and advocate for the victim.

    They cover up abuse. They blame victims for their abuse.

    They have no love for those who are in Christ that do not offer them value or optics to show their fine works before men.

    They insist that victims remain with their abusers because the institution of marriage is more important than the people in the marriage.

    They treat women as inferior and seek to oppress them through manipulation and coercion.

    They believe God ordained men to rule over women and that patriarchy is a fine, good thing. They refuse to acknowledge all of the abuse that happens as a result of patriarchal structures. Patriarchy is a result of the fall – see its birth in Genesis 3:16 – not a part of God’s original design for the human race. Men and women are equal in value to God. They were created to be mutually beneficial partners who love and serve God while caring for His creation, not dominated by either gender.

    They love fine things and want others to see their fine things so they can be admired, loved, and worshipped. The $1000 shoes. The really expensive watch. The Mercedes, Audi, or BMW they drive. The rare copies of the Bible from centuries gone by or other historically important church artifacts.

    They seek to use the gospel as a means to exploit others to gratify their own needs.

    Please hear me on this. When a pastor uses language that promises you God’s favor in exchange for your money, or that you will invite a curse onto your life if you do not give to the church – the institution, not the actual body of Christ – you are being duped. You are building up the pastor’s kingdom – aka Satan’s – not God’s.

    If your pastor, church, or denomination will not help when you have been abused, they are not of Christ. I don’t care how spiritual they appear to be and how convincing their doctrinal statements are. Their hearts are exposed in how they treat the widows, the orphans, and the oppressed. If they will not lift a finger to help, run. You are in a synagogue of Satan.

    I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve been in all types of churches, non-denominational, Assembly of God, Baptist and they all end up doing the same kinds of things. They are smooth talkers who will tickle your ears, make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but leave you starving – spiritually, emotionally, financially, and sometimes even physically – because at the end of the day, it’s not about serving the body of Christ. It’s about gratifying their fleshly desires so that their members will replace God with themselves. They desire to be seen as God’s oracle who has all the answers, and they bleed those people dry while destroying their souls.

    I had a pastor once preach a sermon on the importance of never missing a tithe or offering, but if you have a financial issue, don’t come looking for the church to bail you out or be a part of the solution. That’s a you problem who needs to learn how to better steward the resources God gave you. This was to a congregation that was largely made up of single mothers, most of who were struggling to make ends meet. But he also preached on how if you don’t give to the church, you are dishonoring God, inviting a curse on yourself and your family. Looking back now I see it for what it really is, wickedness, that I’m embarrassed by how long I stayed there and how much money I gave to them before God opened my eyes and gave me a means of escape.

    Please understand me. I am not against giving to the church or paying pastors for their labor in teaching the word of God. They should be compensated for the work they are doing. I just want to make sure that any money given is actually being used to further the kingdom of God, not the devil’s. If I were to give to something, it would be most likely to meet a specific need of another Christian. That seems more like what we see modeled for us in scripture in Acts 4:32-35.

    There are plenty of abuse victims who would benefit from the members of their church who profess to be Christians stepping up and fulfilling the mandate to care for the widows, orphans, and the oppressed. But that doesn’t get butts in seats. That requires sacrifice and the willingness to truly love their brother or sister in Christ who’s hurting. That doesn’t help the church’s bottom line. That doesn’t fund the lifestyle many pastors have grown accustomed to. That doesn’t validate their need to be admired and loved. They crave power, control, and being viewed as godly, successful, and important.

    When we look at how the early church was modeled, it was not a business or a vocation. It was a group of people unified in their belief that Christ is the only way to be reconciled to God, who shared what they had with each other so that there was no lack in their midst. They gave their time, their resources, and their talents to help in the spread of the good news. Those who had wealth used it to help those who don’t. The simplicity of this model is in stark contrast to what the visible church has become today.

    What would it look like if all of the money that is tied up in property ownership and utilities had been available to assist in helping those who have been abused by the church? Don’t you think that would have made a difference in the lives of those in their midst who needed real help but got turned away? All who turn away from Christ’s flock will be told to depart from Him – I do not know you – unless they genuinely repent.

    What would it look like if pastors weren’t driven by the bottom line, but on accurately teaching scripture to their members? I’ll tell you what it looks like. It looks like the church in Smyrna and Philadelphia in Revelation 2 and 3. It is small. It endures much persecution but holds fast to their faith in spite of it. They persevere. That’s why it’s so hard to find them. They get lost in all that parades as Christianity but is a false Christ. They get persecuted for not falling into line with faulty beliefs like you can be an abuser and still be a Christian. God loves everyone equally. That God hates divorce. That everyone’s sin is equal in the sight of God.

    Fortunately, we have the technology now that allows us to meet virtually for sermons, Bible studies, and finally get the truth our souls have longed for and the spiritual meat so we can grow in wisdom, being wise as a serpent in the face of evil, yet innocent as doves in the practice of it.

    Like

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