So I went to church today...

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Hisclarkness
Posts: 457
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So I went to church today...

#1 Post by Hisclarkness » 5 years ago

Actually, it was the Sunday school bible study, not the main service. A brother (former elder) has started attending on Sundays and invited me to join him. It was a small group of around 20 or so congregants, mostly older men and women. A few observations which I wanted to share:

The conductor of the bible study was a woman. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of a non-issue this was for me. Since waking up I had already come to appreciate that women often took the lead in the first century. Still, having grown up my whole life with the Witnesses, the concept was still strange to me. However, this woman was more than competant and I felt completely at ease in her company.

We were considering Matthew 3 today. Although the conductor steered the study, it was a completely open format and everyone was free to comment as they felt the desire. I surprised myself by offering the first comment of the morning. The conductor wanted to see if the congregation remembered who Matthew's audience was and what the purpose of his book was. I answered and was warmly welcomed.

The conductor had a tendancy to go off into tangents at times instead of focusing on the text. The brother who I was with would tactfully raise his hand and offer a comment to get the discussion back on track.

The study lasted one hour. Afterwards, all the congregants came over and welcomed us very warmly and introduced themselves. After all my life having been taught that only the Witnesses were this warm and loving brotherhood, I was saddened by the lies I had believed all those years. These friends who I will call my brothers and sisters were just as loving and warm and reminded me very much of the elderly brothers and sisters in my old hall.

And finally, WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS AND HELP OTHERS BETTER FOLLLW THE CHRIST!!!! I'm not talking about spreading doctrine or what I think people should be doing and believing. I'm talking about uniting the body of Christ that is divided amongst all the sects and denominations. Instead of dividing ourselves over our differences we should be united in our love for Christ so that we can be true lights to the rest of the world. This small group certainly was not lacking in love, kindness, and the other fruits of the spirit. And they all knew that "Jesus died for me, therefore I'm saved". But they were lacking in general Bible knowledge and Jesus' complete role in bringing forth the kingdom, the need to FOLLOW his footsteps, be lights, and so forth. The few comments that the brother and I offered were welcomed and intently listened to. It occured to me that these same people would have probably slammed the door in my face as one of Jehovah's Witnesses but because I was among them in their fellowship they listened eagerly to our comments. (Everyone knew we were former Witnesses).

All in all it was a pleasant experience and I would encourage others who feel free enough to visit a local church group, perhaps a small congregation where you can get to know everyone, to do so. If you're looking for ministry, there are ripe harvests among the churches of "Christendom". Not to convert to our brand of doctrine, but to fully cultivate the love that they already have for Christ into palpable action.

In the short time this brother has attended this small congregation, he has already been invited to conduct the bible study many times and has even been invited to instruct congregants on how to effectively talk to Witnesses without shutting the conversation down. He was even able to institute a Memorial supper at the chruch in the same manner of the first century. Seeing his fruitage and what I saw today has inspired me to branch out myself.

AmosAU
Posts: 1246
Joined: 7 years ago
Location: Qld. Australia
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Re: So I went to church today...

#2 Post by AmosAU » 5 years ago

Greetings Hisclarkness,

I'm so very happy to hear of your experience. I believe that the type of arrangement that you speak of, is very similar to 1st century gatherings. I have come to believe that (under normal circumstances) it is best suited for the study group to either be seated around a table, or if too many for this to be seated around the room. In this way, it takes it away from a churchie type format & brings it back to a family type arrangement. I believe this is very important.
The door is wide open for personal ministry. We DON'T need a GB to direct our activity, we just need to listen to & co-operate with the Holy Spirit.

Kind regards, Amos.

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menrov
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Re: So I went to church today...

#3 Post by menrov » 5 years ago

Very happy for your fine experience, Hisclarknes. Thanks for sharing.

vinman
Posts: 52
Joined: 6 years ago

Re: So I went to church today...

#4 Post by vinman » 5 years ago

Thanks for posting Hisclarkness!
I just wanted to say, that I personally am very happy to hear your experience. This will give me the opportunity to bounce a few questions off you.
The reason this excites me, is that I started going to a small church as well. I have been there three times. I am in total agreement with the ten or so basic beliefs that we all have in common. Beyond that, it is not a high control group at all. No membership. No actual leaders dictating doctrine. We can express ourselves freely. Having said that, I am stll struggling with some things. The people are very nice and sincere. No love bombing.  But each time I leave I feel somewhat empty. I couldn't pinpoint it at first. I think I figured it out. But I want advice or perhaps a more correct way of looking at things. As I examined my feelings, I now think these are some of the reasons:
1) I would feel an obligation towards the group to be on a schedule (although not a difficult one) for meeting together.  My thought was, "Why would I carry this obligation if it is not THE TRUTH as we at one time understood truth to be?"  It was important to go to the KH so that we could all be clones, but that is not the case now. So I kept asking, why am I going if we are living in the time of the "wheat and the tares"?
2) Although we all had the most important points in common, we still had our own feelings about so many things, similar to Borean Pickets. And so it was difficult to hear things that i personally disagreed on. Because of all the freedom we had, it is difficult for any pastor to speak about things unless it is the very bare bone basics of Christianiy. The Watchtower dictated EVERYTHING. But now it seemed like no one had the power to talk about things that were more personal in nature. I know it is Watchtower residue, but because it is loosely bound, I just wondered why I was there. If the truth is Jesus Christ, why should I sense an obligation towards the group? My presence seemed artificial.  I know it sounds selfish. It may seem I have an "I" problem. My goal would be to strengthen others, but how? 
I started going because I thought it would add some structure to my life. Association is important. I need to make new friends. I really want it to work. But it seems it is missing something. Help me out if you can. Thanks.

AmosAU
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Joined: 7 years ago
Location: Qld. Australia
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Re: So I went to church today...

#5 Post by AmosAU » 5 years ago

Hi Vinman,

I'd like to give some thoughts that may help you. First & foremost, don't give up until you give it a decent period of attendance. I'm sure you will start to see how it all works. These small groups & also some mainstream denominations are really quite different to the WTS on format. What I have also found is my need to change my entire outlook toward others, this takes time. I can speak from experience as I've been attending several small groups during the last 6 years. I have just last week left one that I'd been part of for about 4.5 years, off & on. I'm in the process now of looking into a small group that should more closely fill my needs. This has come about as the result of my ongoing Hebraic Roots/Torah studies.

Kind regards, Amos.

jo-el
Posts: 1125
Joined: 7 years ago

Re: So I went to church today...

#6 Post by jo-el » 5 years ago

My reservations are that I cannot seem to find a local group I would feel comfortable going to. There are several in my locality, some are appealing, but most are very Pastor-centric, and/or require tithing, and/or have ostentatious buildings and/or believe many things that I do not. The local gospel hall might be a good fit, but I cannot find anything to convince me that my stereo-type of "happy-clappy" is incorrect and that would not appeal to me <--- please note I am not saying that happiness and clapping to music is wrong, I am just saying that the notion puts me off. I am also concerned about congregations that may be underneath or members of certain umbrella organisations such as the Worldwide Council of Churches, which makes me wary of other such organisations. Often such membership is not common knowledge because it may not be considered important.

I should probably just go to the gospel hall and see for myself, but what I am really looking for is small group fellowship, study and communion.

GodsWordIsTruth
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Re: So I went to church today...

#7 Post by GodsWordIsTruth » 5 years ago

Hisclarkness wrote:
52 years ago
Actually, it was the Sunday school bible study, not the main service. A brother (former elder) has started attending on Sundays and invited me to join him. It was a small group of around 20 or so congregants, mostly older men and women. A few observations which I wanted to share:

The conductor of the bible study was a woman. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of a non-issue this was for me. Since waking up I had already come to appreciate that women often took the lead in the first century. Still, having grown up my whole life with the Witnesses, the concept was still strange to me. However, this woman was more than competant and I felt completely at ease in her company.

We were considering Matthew 3 today. Although the conductor steered the study, it was a completely open format and everyone was free to comment as they felt the desire. I surprised myself by offering the first comment of the morning. The conductor wanted to see if the congregation remembered who Matthew's audience was and what the purpose of his book was. I answered and was warmly welcomed.

The conductor had a tendancy to go off into tangents at times instead of focusing on the text. The brother who I was with would tactfully raise his hand and offer a comment to get the discussion back on track.

The study lasted one hour. Afterwards, all the congregants came over and welcomed us very warmly and introduced themselves. After all my life having been taught that only the Witnesses were this warm and loving brotherhood, I was saddened by the lies I had believed all those years. These friends who I will call my brothers and sisters were just as loving and warm and reminded me very much of the elderly brothers and sisters in my old hall.

And finally, WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS AND HELP OTHERS BETTER FOLLLW THE CHRIST!!!! I'm not talking about spreading doctrine or what I think people should be doing and believing. I'm talking about uniting the body of Christ that is divided amongst all the sects and denominations. Instead of dividing ourselves over our differences we should be united in our love for Christ so that we can be true lights to the rest of the world. This small group certainly was not lacking in love, kindness, and the other fruits of the spirit. And they all knew that "Jesus died for me, therefore I'm saved". But they were lacking in general Bible knowledge and Jesus' complete role in bringing forth the kingdom, the need to FOLLOW his footsteps, be lights, and so forth. The few comments that the brother and I offered were welcomed and intently listened to. It occured to me that these same people would have probably slammed the door in my face as one of Jehovah's Witnesses but because I was among them in their fellowship they listened eagerly to our comments. (Everyone knew we were former Witnesses).

All in all it was a pleasant experience and I would encourage others who feel free enough to visit a local church group, perhaps a small congregation where you can get to know everyone, to do so. If you're looking for ministry, there are ripe harvests among the churches of "Christendom". Not to convert to our brand of doctrine, but to fully cultivate the love that they already have for Christ into palpable action.

In the short time this brother has attended this small congregation, he has already been invited to conduct the bible study many times and has even been invited to instruct congregants on how to effectively talk to Witnesses without shutting the conversation down. He was even able to institute a Memorial supper at the chruch in the same manner of the first century. Seeing his fruitage and what I saw today has inspired me to branch out myself.
Your story is much like my own. I thought I was looking for religion and instead found people who are feeling me and my family tremendously in our individual walks with God. I have sworn off hierarchal type Christian sects so a Church/fellowship is a perfect fit for me . There is little focus on doctrine if at all. The Focus is on the scriptures and being taught by the Spirit. I imagine that the free flowing interchange and growing up together is what Paul had originally in mind Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25.

Praise God for the experience that you had hisclarkness! God works through our hearts(love,faith) not our head.(knowledge, works)

Agape,
Shannon

P. S. It is nothing like I was brought up to believe. I was largely stand offish at first because of the lies I was told about the outside world about "professed" or "so-called" Christians and their places of worship SMH.

AmosAU
Posts: 1246
Joined: 7 years ago
Location: Qld. Australia
Contact:

Re: So I went to church today...

#8 Post by AmosAU » 5 years ago

jo-el wrote:
52 years ago
My reservations are that I cannot seem to find a local group I would feel comfortable going to. There are several in my locality, some are appealing, but most are very Pastor-centric, and/or require tithing, and/or have ostentatious buildings and/or believe many things that I do not. The local gospel hall might be a good fit, but I cannot find anything to convince me that my stereo-type of "happy-clappy" is incorrect and that would not appeal to me <--- please note I am not saying that happiness and clapping to music is wrong, I am just saying that the notion puts me off. I am also concerned about congregations that may be underneath or members of certain umbrella organisations such as the Worldwide Council of Churches, which makes me wary of other such organisations. Often such membership is not common knowledge because it may not be considered important.

I should probably just go to the gospel hall and see for myself, but what I am really looking for is small group fellowship, study and communion.
Greetings Jo-el,

I fully agree with your comments here. Re the Gospel Hall, if this is the Open Brethren, it may take a while for you to be accepted at "The Lord's Table." This is generally exclusively for the membership themselves. Others are permitted to sit back & observe ALL proceedings & not permitted to speak or take communion.
If it is a "Pentecostal" type fellowship, I believe any can mix & partake.

Regards, Amos.

Hisclarkness
Posts: 457
Joined: 7 years ago

Re: So I went to church today...

#9 Post by Hisclarkness » 5 years ago

vinman wrote:
52 years ago
Thanks for posting Hisclarkness!
I just wanted to say, that I personally am very happy to hear your experience. This will give me the opportunity to bounce a few questions off you.
The reason this excites me, is that I started going to a small church as well. I have been there three times. I am in total agreement with the ten or so basic beliefs that we all have in common. Beyond that, it is not a high control group at all. No membership. No actual leaders dictating doctrine. We can express ourselves freely. Having said that, I am stll struggling with some things. The people are very nice and sincere. No love bombing.  But each time I leave I feel somewhat empty. I couldn't pinpoint it at first. I think I figured it out. But I want advice or perhaps a more correct way of looking at things. As I examined my feelings, I now think these are some of the reasons:
1) I would feel an obligation towards the group to be on a schedule (although not a difficult one) for meeting together.  My thought was, "Why would I carry this obligation if it is not THE TRUTH as we at one time understood truth to be?"  It was important to go to the KH so that we could all be clones, but that is not the case now. So I kept asking, why am I going if we are living in the time of the "wheat and the tares"?
2) Although we all had the most important points in common, we still had our own feelings about so many things, similar to Borean Pickets. And so it was difficult to hear things that i personally disagreed on. Because of all the freedom we had, it is difficult for any pastor to speak about things unless it is the very bare bone basics of Christianiy. The Watchtower dictated EVERYTHING. But now it seemed like no one had the power to talk about things that were more personal in nature. I know it is Watchtower residue, but because it is loosely bound, I just wondered why I was there. If the truth is Jesus Christ, why should I sense an obligation towards the group? My presence seemed artificial.  I know it sounds selfish. It may seem I have an "I" problem. My goal would be to strengthen others, but how? 
I started going because I thought it would add some structure to my life. Association is important. I need to make new friends. I really want it to work. But it seems it is missing something. Help me out if you can. Thanks.
Hi vinman!

I don't think you're ever going to find a church where you agree 100% with everything that is taught. You have to have it settled in your own heart what you believe and not get too stressed out about the outside. You must learn to separate religion from spirituality. So I wouldn't be too stressed out if a certain church had an incorrect understanding of something as long as they are not pushing it on you such that you can't be a part of them unless you believe it à la JWs.

Regarding the feeling of obligation to join them weekly, I'll pass on the advice that the brother gave me. Once he started to make friends with ones in the church they naturally asked him to join. He always expressed to them that he had just spent some 40 plus years serving under the yoke of a master and didn't intend to chain himself to another. He made it clear that he was their brother but that he would come and go as he pleased. If they see him one Sunday, that's great, but if for whatever reason he doesn't show up the next Sunday, then that's that. He's more than happy to contribute (or not contribute) as he sees fit.

I feel this is good advice. This way you can visit many different churches and make friends in many different places without feeling obligated to join another religion and thus come under their rules.

jo-el
Posts: 1125
Joined: 7 years ago

Re: So I went to church today...

#10 Post by jo-el » 5 years ago

AmosAU wrote:
52 years ago
jo-el wrote:
52 years ago
My reservations are that I cannot seem to find a local group I would feel comfortable going to. There are several in my locality, some are appealing, but most are very Pastor-centric, and/or require tithing, and/or have ostentatious buildings and/or believe many things that I do not. The local gospel hall might be a good fit, but I cannot find anything to convince me that my stereo-type of "happy-clappy" is incorrect and that would not appeal to me <--- please note I am not saying that happiness and clapping to music is wrong, I am just saying that the notion puts me off. I am also concerned about congregations that may be underneath or members of certain umbrella organisations such as the Worldwide Council of Churches, which makes me wary of other such organisations. Often such membership is not common knowledge because it may not be considered important.

I should probably just go to the gospel hall and see for myself, but what I am really looking for is small group fellowship, study and communion.
Greetings Jo-el,

I fully agree with your comments here. Re the Gospel Hall, if this is the Open Brethren, it may take a while for you to be accepted at "The Lord's Table." This is generally exclusively for the membership themselves. Others are permitted to sit back & observe ALL proceedings & not permitted to speak or take communion.
If it is a "Pentecostal" type fellowship, I believe any can mix & partake.

Regards, Amos.
Thanks Amos, that is useful to know. Unfortunately only a few gatherings have any online presence that I can find, so getting to the nitty gritty will no doubt require the old fashioned method! :)

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