“That Church is Too Far Away”
I get asked a certain question quite often, namely, “How far is too far to attend a church?” Wow. Is it that hard to answer?
Don’t get me wrong, I know all about driving distances when it comes to churches. Throughout the 90’s and into 20’whatever, I’ve driven about an hour to church every Sunday. Make that twice on Sunday’s. Then you had Wednesday nights.
Currently, heading to church on Sunday mornings is roughly a 25 mile drive. Of course, then you have to drive home, there’s 50. After lunch, there’s the near obligatory afternoon nap with golf in the background (how can anyone not find that soft clap from the gallery and the whispers of golf analysts sleep-enticing?)
Basically, for us, we drive 100 miles every Sunday, to and from church. That’s not 100 miles on a big, wide highway either. It’s 100 miles down snaky, winding roads, into a valley, over a mountain, shortcuts on gravel roads until eventually, we arrive. It’s a beautiful drive, but you have to pay attention! Curvy roads with hidden spots can be dangerous, especially when ‘all those blessed idiots’ are speeding and crossing the yellow line at every turn. There’s lot’s of farmland, livestock of every kind, gorgeous countryside, and of course, being in Virginia, the mountains. We love it.
But that doesn’t answer the question, does it?
Ok, then, let me ask you this: How important is God’s Word to you? Eventually, you’ve got to answer that for yourself.
The fact is, I’m surrounded by churches. In Blacksburg alone, there are myriads of them – I served in one for most of 30 years, but I can’t think of one that I would recommend anymore, and I’ve lived in Blacksburg and the surrounding area for most of my life. Yeah, I know who’s who and for the most part, what they teach. That helps in recommending churches for folks to attend.
And then there’s the celebrity factor. Sure, 15 minutes away from here is a church plant by Paul Washer. I can almost hear some of you drool. Don’t. We attended there for over a year, but, there’s a cost. Yes, it’s close by, but the doctrine and leadership is, surprisingly, not worth it. Yes, you could be in the same room with Paul Washer, but is that why you’d go to church in the first place? C’mon. We left because of doctrinal differences. That and watching charismatic theology being mixed with reformed theology, and watching people fall out of chairs and performing long, elaborate, superficial prayers.
More than superficial, actually. It was competitive. What a shame. Young people trying to outdo one another, not in honoring one another, but by trying to outdo one another in spiritual profundity. It was pretty sick. Falling out of chairs as if ‘slain by the Spirit’, and during standing prayer, hitting the floor as if knocked on the head and laying prostrate like some muslim during afternoon prayers. Add to that missionaries who were allowed to preach without ever being set apart by any church, self-electing ‘elders’ who were nothing more than immature kids (one now the ‘pastor’) hanging on to the coattail of Washer, and well, you get the idea. Did I mention the freaky thing about people moving clear across the country to be a part of the plant? Brrr. There’s more to it, but, why bother?
What was the question? Oh yeah, how far is too far to go to Church.
Well, again, how important is the Word of God to you? How important is it for you to be fed expositional preaching by a man actually called and appointed by God – not a celebrity - … as opposed to a local, nearby convenient ‘fellowship’.
I’m currently driving 25 miles, one way to feed and be fed. Personally, I’d double that before I compromised and locked hands with any celebrity or convenient location.
Doctrine matters. Drive as far as you can to get the right stuff. And there’s your answer.