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Preview of upcoming blog about being a former IFB member

December 8, 2012 Leave a comment

I grew up attending Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches.

I attended a college which was IFB in its atmosphere.

When I was 32, I began attending a church that could be deemed either Independent Fundamental Church of America or, perhaps more appropriately, non-denominational.

Currently, I attend a Regular Baptist Church.

When I eventually move back to Texas, I plan to attend either a Southern Baptist Church or a non-denominational Bible Church.

After years of being led to believe necklaces on men were girlie, today I consistently wear one of three: a dog-tag-style one honoring my German heritage, a medallion with leather string to honor my time spent studying Chinese and leather string with a cross made from horse ties. I plan to add several more necklaces.

Soon, I will write an essay about the how and why and will decide if it needs to be two or three parts.

Stay tuned…

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Great visit at church yesterday

Yesterday, my son Charles and I attended First Baptist Church in Vassar, Michigan (my wife Jennifer and my oldest son weren’t feeling well and the youngest decided he wanted to stay home and help Mom out). Very nice church. Friendly with clear Bible teaching. I felt very uplifted. Charles, 12, told me he really liked the youth program. A friend of his, Angel, attends the church. That evening, he went to another youth activity.

Jennifer and I have discussed different churches in the area, and one of our key requirements is an excellent youth program. It may be trite, but it bears repeating: kids who are bored in church today grow up to become adults who don’t attend church at all.

We may still attend other churches in the area, although sometime next week I hope Jenn and I are able to chat with the pastor at his office to ask him questions about the church. V-FBC so far looks to be a good fit, but I’d like to make sure of it.

Over the past few years, after spending many years attending Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, I’ve floated around in the non-denominational/Independent Fundamental Churches of America realm. There was a time two decades ago where I scoffed at anything pertaining to Southern Baptist. It would be ironic (not to mention tickling) if we ended up joining such a church.

Richard Zowie is a Christian blogger. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

The Zowie Family searches for a church, Part 1

Since my wife had just recently been discharged from the hospital with a heart problem that she’s now treating with meds, a low-fat, low-sodium diet and by losing weight, I decided to use my day off last Sunday to engage in a long put-off task–finding a good, local church to attend. I work two jobs, so it’s a challenge having work scheduled around church services.

We had attended one in Lapeer for the past few years but decided to look for something closer (among other reasons). On Easter Sunday, I visited a nice church in Frankenmuth, but it wasn’t a good fit. The preaching and contemporary music weren’t bad, but they had two services due to overflow: 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. When we arrived there, I was told that they did not have children’s church at the 10:45 a.m. service, which really soured me. If the day comes that we are still looking for a church and they’re in their own building again and are able to offer normal services and offer children’s church at a decent time, we’ll check them out again.

This past Sunday by myself, I attended First Baptist Church here in Vassar. The people were pretty friendly, and I liked the Bible teaching. The pastor also encouraged anyone who didn’t know the Lord to get that settled, which was also a huge plus. Some snooty Christians treat invitations as something only done in the “embarrassing” circles of Independent Fundamental Baptists.

As someone who’s heavy and is losing weight, I don’t have any dressy clothes in my closet that fit. So, I wore a nice pair of jeans, tennis shoes and a button-down shirt. Turns out, many of the men in the church also wore this style. It reminds me a little of that one church’s slogan: “Dress casual. Jesus did.” Nothing is more embarrassing than to go into a church and see you’re extremely under-dressed.

Overall, I liked FBC in Vassar. There are two other churches in the area I plan to check out, but I definitely liked what I saw. And, of course, it’s only a few blocks away from our house.

I come from a Baptist/Independent Fundamental Churches of America/Non-denominational background. Here’s what I look for in a church:

Teaching of the Bible. Preaching is great, but I really like it when a pastor digs deep into what the Word says and telling how it can be applied to our own lives. Two former pastors, including Don Ohm of San Antonio’s Lighthouse Baptist Church, are great at this. You come away knowing something about the Bible and its historical backgrond.

Separating personal preferences from convictions. In Baptist circles, I’ve seen this far too much as the lines between personal preferences and convictions frequently get too blurred. One pastor decides he doesn’t like Michael W. Smith’s music, and then soon it becomes a Biblical dogma that Smith’s music is not to be listened to. I remember once that the late Dr. Jack Hyles once referred to the “Jesus is the Answer” singer as “Michael W. Smut”. It’s one thing to not like the Power Rangers or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I personally find the turtles very obnoxious), but if you’re going to tell your youth group they’re “new age”, do research to see what they are about, compare it with the Bible and make sure it’s really harmful rather than just a harmless kids’ entertainment.

Contemporary music. I used to be vehemently opposed to Contemporary Christian Music, until I started learning a few things. First, as one pastor once said, today’s CCM is tomorrow’s traditional music. IFB-ers love Fanny Crosby’s hymns, but my understanding is in her day she was considered pretty worldly and radical with her music. I love songs like Watermark’s “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, Stacie Orrico’s “Don’t Look At Me”, Rebecca St. James’ “Don’t Worry” and Crystal Lewis’ “Only Fools”. Huge blessings, including the evil Michael W. Smith’s song “Jesus is the Answer”. I even like Petra’s version of “The Graverobber” and “Not of This World”. It’s ok to use an amplified guitar in church, kids. And it’s also ok to use drums and a bass guitar. Heck, when I was at a Baptist church in Mexico back in 1990, guess what they used for musical accompaniment? An electric guitar!

Various activities. A church needs to busy itself serving its members, encouraging people, edifying and evangelizing the community.

Children’s programs. I’m not just talking about Awana or Patch the Pirate, nor am I just talking about Sunday School and Children’s Church. There needs to be activities for children during Sunday night services, midweek services and during revival meetings. When kids are stuck in adult services, they get bored. Very. Quickly. Nothing’s worse than for kids to associate church with boredom.

Keeping things fresh and thinking outside the box. Churches that adopt the “We’ve never done it this way before” attitude are doomed–especially with how our society (and especially technology) is constantly changing. Even Pope Benedict XVI has recently encouraged Catholic ministers to use the internet and blog as a way of reaching out to parishioners.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981 and blogs here about Christian issues. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.