Why I’ve joined a Grace Baptist church

Why I’ve joined a Grace Baptist church March 23, 2024

I have now joined Shepherd Drive Baptist Church in Ipswich, a Reformed Baptist, some might call it. Go back a few years and it would have been called a “Strict and Particular Baptist”. You might ask why I would join such a church when I have long been known for being a Reformed Charismatic? By the way, that phrase doesn’t mean I used to be a charismatic and now I am reformed of such behaviour! Rather that I like to hold both Reformed Doctrine and Charismatic Experience together.

Well right at the top of the list is that the church has been incredibly loving and welcoming to me as I started attending after getting engaged to Adele.  It had been a long time since I had been to any church due to my severe immune compromise and the COVID situation.  Once I finally caught it and a combination of my antibodies and antivirals meant that I did quite well.  My docs were quite surprised and pleased.  But nonetheless my immune system remains poor and I feel much safer going to a small church than a large one. We got married at Shepherd Drive in July last year.

The church is led by Adele’s  brother and has been her home for many years.  Unless there was a clear sense God was leading us somewhere else, why would I take her away from that? Especially as she has taken on a lot by marrying me due to my health issues. Due to her being a wife of a disabled person it’s important that her support structures remain intact. Of course moving to Colchester meant attending my old church would have been impossible anyway.

Back to the charismatic issue, my own personal views have not changed.  I have previously passionately spoken out against  John MacArthur’s claim that all charismatics blaspheme the Holy Spirit. I wrote a long series of articles taking apart his outright rejection of the wing of the church I have spent almost my entire life being a member of. During that time I also had a debate on Premier Christian Radio about these issues. It was fascinating to appreciate that many of the difference between charismatics and non-charismatics can be explained by differences in what we call certain experiences of God.  You might find this interesting:

Different views on charismatic issues exist in a spectrum which I have written about before.  Understanding this spectrum and that some of our differences are mere semantics help Christians help us to mutually respect each other even when we might have different views.

The church I have joined is not a charismatic church. But they are not hostile to charismatics either and already have other  members who have come from a similar background to me.  Crucially to me, the pastors and people of this church are also very clearly open to an experience of God, even though they would use different words to describe that than I would.  They do believe in the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christians and would encourage us to seek for more of his influence in our lives.

My new church’s statement of faith  is silent on charismatic matters so I have not had to affirm anything that I would disagree with.  I spent some time talking with the pastors about those areas where I might have different perspectives.  All that they asked was that I not promote division in the church about this issue, which I was of course more than happy to agree to.

Many churches these days are becoming mixed congregations. As people move around they look for a church they feel that they fit, where they feel welcome and loved, and where the teaching and preaching speaks to them.  It is important if you decide to join a church that you are happy to be part of the church culture. Simple issues like, is it OK to raise hands or clap here during worship obviously make a difference.  And for the record, whilst most at Shepherd Drive are not demonstrative in worship those who wish to are welcome to raise their hands or clap.  Worship has become quite similar in many churches these days.

Anyway, I have found a church home where I respect the leaders, and feel loved and at home.  What more is there to ask for?

 

 

Read More

Benefits of a Diverse Church Congregation

A new Reformation: What The Brethren Restored to the Church

Safe Haven – when God leads you to a new peaceful place. Colchester here I come.

Imperfect Churches Reflect God’s Perfect Glory

My childhood in an early charismatic church

Covid caution and God’s grace

Six years on – Life after a cancer diagnosis

 

Reformed and charismatic belong together

John MacArthur accuses half-a-billion Christians of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

How Charismatic are YOU? A Spectrum of belief and practice

 

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