This week Kristina reflects on her personal experience of leaving a prosperity ‘gospel’ church.
I had just left a prosperity 'gospel' church. My eyes had been opened to this false ‘gospel’ that had promised me a happy future, the ideal spouse, beautiful kids and a successful career. Though I was certain about the errors of the prosperity 'gospel' teaching, deciding to leave the church for good was a hard decision.
My list of questions was growing, and unable to replace the errors with truth, I felt as if my faith was being torn apart. Questions about the Bible: "How am I supposed to read it?”, “How do I distinguish right and wrong interpretation?” and “Is there anyone I can trust to help me find answers?” This led on to questions about church: “How do I find a good church?” “Is it even worth getting stuck into a church again after all this?” “Can I just read books and blogs and find answers on my own?” The uncertainty left me confused about life: “If I cannot expect an ideal future, should I instead expect the worst?”
Now, three years later I am grateful that I have found satisfying answers to many of my uncertainties about the Bible and the Christian life. Lately I have been reflecting on this: How did I go from anxiety to assurance, from confusion to clarity?
If I were to travel back in time and give my confused self one tip it would be this: Find and commit to a faithful, Bible teaching church as soon as possible. Simple advice, I know. But here is why:
1. You learn to read the Bible in a community of believers
‘Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.’ Eph 4:15
I left my old church with poor Bible reading skills. Yes, God had graciously opened my eyes to some very serious errors, but I still struggled to really make sense of his word.
As I started coming to St Helen's my Bible reading started to be informed by sermons I heard on Sundays, RML studies and chats I had with people at food after the service. As people spoke the truth in love to me, the real gospel appeared before me, I saw more clearly who Jesus is and what it means to follow him.
2. You grow as you see other believers live out their faith
‘Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.’ Phil 3:17
Committing to church provided me with opportunities to have conversations with more mature Christians. I noticed their efforts to let their conviction of the gospel shape the way they lived their lives. Seeing people my age, and in similar circumstances living out the gospel, helped me think far more realistically and practically about what it looks like to live out the Christian life.
To grow I needed other Christians to encourage me and correct me. And as I am growing I become more able to encourage and correct others.
‘Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’ Heb 10:24-25