Behold, I Will Do Something New |

Pete Salas

A Pressing Question 

Having read The Berean Call throughout the years, I have noted many emails they have received from brothers and sisters acknowledging their plight and asking for help. Often their situation has drastically changed. After having been in a church for quite a few years, they now see their pastor, who once taught and followed the Word of God, deviating from it. Their most pressing question is “Can you help us find a church in our area?  This is the most common request we receive here at TBC, and it has been for more than two decades.”   

“Biblical Fellowship Is Hard to Find” 

My wife and I can identify with this question as we have experienced this same thing in the past. For years we’ve had a burden for our brothers and sisters who are struggling to find a solid Bible-based church or an assembly of believers with whom they could fellowship. In some places, it has been hard to find even two or three like-minded believers. We are truly living in a time when many are falling away from the faith. Nevertheless, the Lord is faithful to His own. 

You will notice that some of the same false teachers/teachings that we encountered years ago are still prevalent today. In fact, many of them have come to full bloom and fruition. What was just beginning then is commonplace and acceptable now with scarcely a thought or question. 

I am writing this to encourage others out there who find themselves in a similar situation to ours. As we eventually learned, we needed to remember to remind one another that we, as the Lord’s sheep, are never without a Shepherd. God leads His dear people along. He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John:10:27).  

Walk by Faith, Not by Sight 

We may be thinking that the Lord is far away and unaware of our circumstances when in reality He is well aware of our plight. Indeed, this is a time when we are to “Walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor:5:7). We are to trust that God will do something new. As I read these words years ago, I knew that He spoke these very words first to His people, Israel. Yet I also believe that there is a spiritual application extended to us who are in the church. My wife and I saw the Lord do a wonderful thing in our life. He said, Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isa. 43:18-19).  

A Drastic Change in Ministry Focus 

The Berean Call has been such a blessing to Margaret and me since its beginnings in the 90s. Prior to that, in 1986, I read The Seduction of Christianity, written by Dave Hunt and T. A. (Tom) McMahon, and I was blessed by their insights on humanistic psychology

Dave and Tom had written to warn the church about how detrimental it would be to follow the teachings of psychology. In fact, psychology was one of the very teachings against which we were contending that had already crept into our own church. In addition, being in leadership at the church we attended, we understood that we were being introduced to Bill Hybels’s “Seeker-Friendly” model. Our leaders told us that our church was going to begin implementing that approach to reaching the community. 

Again, TBC helped us tremendously with this issue.  The Lord gave us discernment and understanding to navigate through the issues that we had in front of us. 

In 1991, we had exhausted all our options and had come to the realization that the church had taken a drastic turn in its ministry focus. Our senior pastor had retired and was being replaced with a young pastor who had been at the church for quite a few years. He was, however, not a “Bible man.” Instead, he was an executive-minded pastor. Therefore, his emphasis was no longer on the exposition of the Word, as had been that of the previous pastor, but he and his pastoral staff began to teach and/or preach topical sermons, implementing many man-made devices. Ours was already a mega church, but he wanted to increase its size even more. 

Meetings with Our “Missions Pastor”

In spite of all that transpired, we never had contentious words with our pastors. We disagreed with what they were doing—and communicated that—but we loved the leaders to whom we were accountable. We simply saw that they were not turning back from the course on which they wereheaded. On several different occasions, I began to have meetings with each of the pastors who were my overseers. I spoke to my Missions Pastor, updating him about the Bible study that we were having in our home, letting him know how it was going. At the time, I was teaching from the gospel of Luke, and we were reaching out to those who were not yet believers. At one of our meetings, as we neared the end of our lunchtime, he brought up the subject of psychology. He knew my views on it, because I sometimes taught and warned of its dangers in the Sunday school class I was teaching. Again, I used this opportunity to share with him my views, but we did not agree.  

Called on the Carpet 

On another occasion, I was speaking with my Missions Pastor and my Peer Pastor, who headed up the 30-year-old marrieds group, both of whom I was under (where I taught Sunday School). They called me in on another issue relating to a guest speaker. We in leadership were notified that he would be speaking on the gospel throughout the week. Moreover, they wanted us to inform our classes so they could invite friends, family, and fellow workers to hear the gospel. Almost every year the church designated a week during which a guest evangelist would come and preach the gospel in order to reach the lost. It turned out that the man who was to speak this time was loosely titled the “Johnny Carson” of Christian speakers. He was a motivational speaker. That caught my attention. I began to observe things changing right before my eyes.  

Unfortunately, this man did not preach the gospel to the many we had invited to hear him. I verbalized my concerns. Needless to say, my pastors were not pleased with me. This man was from the Seeker-Friendly movement, and the preaching of the gospel was foreign to him!  

 At that time, they let me know that I, being in leadership, needed to be a “team player.” They conveyed to me that “once we make a decision on something, we in leadership need to support that decision.” Unfortunately, I could not.  

Seeker-Friendly Model Implemented 

The leaders stated that the meetings during which this man had spoken were successful because many people were inquiring about our church and the “Support Group Studies” that they were going to offer. Suffice it to say that these folks had not heard the gospel nor were they born again. Even so, they were welcomed into the church. This was the first time this approach had been implemented. 

Without going into great detail, my “Missions Pastor” and my “30s Marrieds’ Pastor” recommended that I speak with the “Evangelism Pastor” who had brought in about seven different “Support Group Studies” to reach these people.  

Meeting with the Evangelism Pastor

I obtained these “studies” from the Evangelism Pastor. I looked them over and realized that not one of them had the gospel message in it. As I perused them, I saw that they had been written to make people “feel better about themselves” and to help them become “better people on a human level.” They were “studies” on how to make your marriage better, etc., but they were devoid of the gospel, with no intention of reaching those who were lost! I shared my concern with the Evangelism Pastor, but to no avail. 

Stepping Away from Man-Made Contracts and Psychology 

There came a time when I had to step out of leadership in the Singles Ministry and the 30s Married Ministry, and finally the Gospel (evangelism) Outreach Ministry. I wasn’t willing to compromise my convictions and teach something other than the Word of God. Nevertheless, the Lord was faithful to continue to open doors for His Word, and He gave us more light and direction. Through this, I learned that when someone decides not to compromise but purposes to walk in His light, He brings them into more light (which results in better discernment and understanding). “…In Thy light shall we see light” (Ps. 36:9b) and “…The Word of God is not bound [chained]” (2 Tim. 2:9).  

Praying For and Seeking the Lord’s Direction and Answer 

In the several years during which all these things had transpired, my wife and I were praying for the Lord’s direction. We knew the climate was changing and not for the good. God answered our prayers when I had a conversation with my Missions Pastor.  

 Normally, we would have a monthly meeting where I would inform him about how the ministry was going. This time, at the end of our meal, he brought up the subject of psychology. He knew that I wasn’t in agreement with what James Dobson and other “Christian psychologists” were teaching. He said to me, “I’m not telling you to do this, but if you’re not happy here, you might want to look elsewhere.”  

 I had been in that church 14 years and I had never been told that. He was a dear and kind man, and he didn’t say it with any malice. However, at that moment, the Lord quickened me, and I knew that it was time to leave. God had answered our prayer. We had done all that we could do by trying to warn them. It was clear that they were not deviating from the plans and purposes they had devised for the church.  

Exit Interview with the Executive Pastor 

 Last, but not least, I spoke with the Senior Executive Pastor. It is evident by that title that he was more of an executive than he was a biblical pastor. In fact, he was the one who was steering the ship off course. His father was likewise an executive in the business world. He lived in another state, but his influence on his son was strong. He wasn’t even a part of our church but had been involved in the “Twelve Step Program” and apparently had been successful in his struggle with “alcoholism.” Therefore, his son (our Executive Senior Pastor) was gung ho on implementing that program into the church, and he did. I spoke to him and notified him that we were leaving the church due to the issues I had mentioned. He, too, was a nice man and saw that we had made up our minds to go elsewhere. The Seeker-Friendly teachers had influenced the pastors to nicely coerce the people who were not in agreement with them to find another place where they would be happy. I am sure he was glad to see me go. 

A Painful Departure

Sadly, after having attended that church for more than 14 years, we saw that the ship was going off course in dramatic fashion. Through much prayer and the leading of the Lord, we determined that He was leading us out of the church. While attending that church, I had been serving nearly the entire time, beginning with the music ministry and then moving into teaching the Bible. It was difficult to leave our friends with whom we had fellowshipped and had ministry.  

False Doctrines Divide 

Dave Hunt and Tom McMahon’s Berean Call newsletters brought back many memories relating to our own experiences. (I’m not being psychological but just recounting what we went through back then.) The reason we left was that our pastors had parted from proclaiming the Word by adulterating it with manmade teachings and false doctrines. They were unwilling to forsake the direction in which they were heading. In addition, they were subtly suggesting to longtime members (as they had with us) that they look elsewhere for a church. And sometimes with others they were not so subtle.  

We Left Not for a Trivial Matter but for False Teaching 

I want to share this with whoever will listen. We did not leave because we didn’t like the color of the pews or the carpet. It was not a trivial matter but rather a matter of the leadership teaching false doctrine. Sadly, we saw that the church was drifting away from the faith.  

Is Home Assembly an Option?

In these last of the last days of the church age, we know that perilous times have come (2 Tim. 3:1-5; 1 Tim. 4:1). We are encountering things that many churches have experienced and have been going through for many years. Some are even meeting in homes and small meeting places due to the dying and deadness of many churches (Rev. 3:2). Don’t get me wrong. I know there are still good Bible churches, and I am not encouraging a mad rush to home churches. A home meeting can be just as defective as any other church if its foundation is faulty. 

Nonetheless, even some of the good Bible churches are deviating from their foundations. When their pastors go on to be with the Lord or retire, some of those who replace them are of an unsavory ilk. We live in different times, and we need to be ready to do the Lord’s will to equip the saints who have no place to go—or someone else will. The home church might be a viable option for some who have exhausted all their possibilities, or for some who believe that the Lord is directing them in that way

What Is and What Is Not Forsaking Our Assembling Together? 

We were sad that we could no longer fellowship with some at our former church and also for the misunderstandings that some had of us and why we had left. However, we were not like those whom the writer of Hebrews addresses when he said “…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (Heb. 10:25).  It definitely was not that we no longer wanted to be part of a church meeting, but we knew that we must turn away from the proliferation of false teaching. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to “assemble…together” as a church. We simply saw the error and knew that we could no longer be around it. Could it be that “the manner of some” pastors, leaders, and assemblies are “forsaking” the Bible believer and not the other way around? 

“The old principle is most true, that ‘He is the schismatic who causes the separation, and not he who separates’” (J. C Ryle). Our pastors had gone from teaching the Word to teaching doctrines of men and even of demons. We would have been foolish to continue in fellowship there: “…For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness?” (2 Cor. 6:14b).  

Dealing with Any Bitterness Before Moving Forward

Guilt can be foisted upon some because they have chosen to separate from their fellowship. Nevertheless, if they have exhausted all their options, have no root of bitterness, and the Lord is leading them out, then they have the liberty of the Lord to leave. If there is bitterness in one’s heart, that needs to be addressed before leaving. However, if one has already left with bitterness, it still must be dealt with, or it will be carried right into the next fellowship and infect others adversely. (See Hebrews:12:15)  

Wherever we go, we want to begin anew. “Old things are passed away….” “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 3:13). 

When Do We Withdraw from Those Abandoning the Scriptures? 

Paul instructed Timothy as to what he should do if a church or a pastor was abandoning the Scriptures. He said, “…From such withdraw.” First Timothy 6:3-5 tells us: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”   

The Resulting Plight of “Pastors”/Hirelings Scattering the Sheep  

Those who have withdrawn themselves and have written to TBC do not want to be without a church fellowship. The pastors and leaders have thrust them out because they simply wanted the pure milk of the Word. Their resulting sad situation is what is spoken of in Ezekiel 34:6, 21:  “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them (v. 6) .…Ye [pastors, leaders] have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad (v. 21).”  The first application applies to Israel. However, it has a secondary spiritual application to what is happening to the Lord’s sheep in the church today.     

There Is an Answer 

I will refer you shortly to a Q & A in which Dave Hunt addresses this epidemic. He gives sound wisdom regarding what to look for when seeking an assembly. His words changed our view thirty years ago and have had a lasting effect on us to this day. I believe it would also help many today who are struggling with this same issue. 

The Q & A That Laid the Foundation for a New Testament Assembly 

In a 1988 Q & A section of The Berean Call newsletter, Dave delineated the way in which we should answer the inquiring believer’s question. His response was also reprinted in October 2017. I truly believe that Dave Hunt had the wisdom of the Lord on this matter.  

In the past, Dave had been part of an assembly that met in a home. In that gathering, they demonstrated what he described in the Q & A. Years later we observed it firsthand and participated in that same home assembly in like manner. Dave understood the simplicity of meeting in a group, whether large or small. The importance was not the size but the focus. He had the wisdom of the Lord on many other things as he implemented them into the ministry called The Berean Call (TBC). However, he also had an understanding of church life, which kept him grounded. We need to learn from others who have been through these kinds of situations and have come into something new that the Lord has ordained. We also want to learn from those to whom the Lord has given new insights concerning their experiences.   

The Bereans Pose a Question Pertaining to Their Dilemma 

In one of his newsletters, Tom McMahon quoted a question someone sent to him concerning finding a church. He or she wrote“Dear Brothers and Sisters at The Berean Call—I’m at wit’s end. We recently moved to a new community, and we can’t find a church that is teaching God’s Word without adding to it or subtracting from it. Do you know of any good churches in our area?”

To the Berean-minded believer, this is of utmost importance. They find themselves in a situation in which they have never been before and are perplexed—they have no place in which they can find fellowship. Having gone back and evaluated what we went through in 1988, I remember Dave encouraging those who were also struggling with their current churches. Following is a composite of several similar questions: “We can’t seem to find a church in our area that has godly leadership and biblical preaching. We feel so alone and now just read the Bible and pray at home. What should we do? And how do we find a ‘good’ church?”  

Back then, Dave’s response helped me and another brother to get our focus on the Lord’s will and way as to how to begin a meeting ourselves. I also had been studying the Book of Acts and the origins of the church. I had other likeminded believers who demonstrated what Dave describes in his response to the person who asked the question. I would like to share that with you all because I believe it will bring a blessing to you. It pertains to Dave Hunt, and I will share that further on in this booklet. 

Time to Abandon Ship

What many biblical believers are experiencing is something similar to being on the Titanic, and it is going down. Where they once worshipped and served is now inundated with polluted water. They see it rising up over them. They want to get out of there and do not want to be stuck while the ship is going under. It’s not that they don’t want to serve, but they realize that their service will not benefit those who are in a polluted ship deluged with false teachings. Now all they want is to get off that ship!  

Cultivating Discernment 

The Lord our Shepherd has warned us: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you” (Mat. 24:4). He also said “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John:8:32).  The Lord calls us to be discerning, and Paul likewise tells us how the Holy Spirit cultivates discernment. He says: “But God hath revealed them [His Word] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God…. But he that is spiritual judgeth [discerns] all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Cor. 2:10 & 15) 

Paul also tells us “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).  

Cultivating discernment also comes by making choices to stand in the liberty Christ attained for us so that we will not entangle ourselves with manmade doctrines and aberrant teachings that will foist upon us a burden of bondage. 

Evacuating the Life Blood from the Church 

A few years after we had left the church of which we had once been a part, we learned that the Executive Pastor had made a decision that they would no longer mention the blood of Christ in the church service when he preached (see Mark:8:38). Concerning the blood of Christ, he told the congregation, “Though this is precious to us, the unchurched would say ‘Yuck! What’s that?’” He had completely taken them into a Seeker-Friendly approach and removed these folks, and others who would come, from the only thing that could save them, that is, the blood of Christ! The Bible makes it clear: “…Without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness, pardon]” (Heb. 9:22b).Sadly, their aim was to bring in the lost and focus on what pleased them. The concern was no longer for the believer’s growth. To remain in—or to send someone back into—a church that is apostatizing is detrimental to one’s faith. In addition, if they have their family with them, they, too, will be infected with apostate teaching.  

Doctrinal Deficiency Leads to False Practices 

A sister from our fellowship has neighbors (a couple) whom we knew from our former church. They are dear people. They recently left the church that we had been in some 28 years ago. My question here was rhetorical: How was their spiritual maturity these days? Well, the wife was taking trips up to Redding, California (Bethel Church), to receive “healing” for her back ailments. There’s no telling what else she was receiving there from the laying on of hands. Unfortunately, we just found out that she also was diagnosed with cancer and recently passed away. I say this with great sadness.  

We need to realize that false teaching and false practices will stunt the growth of a genuine believer. These teachings prohibit one from developing discernment, which will cause them to follow the latest “…wind of doctrine…” (Eph. 4:14).  In addition, the unbiblical laying on of hands can pass on a demonic influence. We once ministered to a young man who had lost all control of his bodily functions as a result of a well-known preacher having laid hands on him. Both the man and the preacher thought it was a work of the Holy Spirit when in fact it was a false spirit! Recognizing what someone is teaching will indicate what kind of fruit will come forth. 

Listening to the Shepherd’s Voice/His Word Only! 

We believers need to adhere to our Shepherd’s voice/His Word. He tells us “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me… And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John:10:27; vv. 4,5). 

If the sheep are following the Shepherd, He will lead them into truth, and they will find safety. He will lead them out of danger, giving them an awareness of what surrounds them. That is why they (and their pastors) should be concerned about the voices they’re listening to (radio, television, and the internet) and pay attention to where their pastors and teachers are leading them.   

Recognizing the Stranger’s Voice and Fleeing from It 

John:10:5a states:  And a stranger will they not follow… A true believer knows they are not to follow “a stranger,” and they demonstrate it by an act of obedience to the Lord. We deceive ourselves by thinking that just because we recognize false teaching, it’s still okay to stay in and around it. This is one of the most misleading and naïve assumptions one can make. Knowing that we are not to follow a stranger must be lived out by the obedience of faith. We have to get up and out of there or we really haven’t learned the truth that the Lord is trying to teach us. It’s not enough to simply know it in our minds, but it must also reach into our hearts, bringing forth the conviction that affects our will.  

 Our Lord tells us that His sheep “…will flee from him [the stranger]” (John:10:5a). This is the most normal response for sheep (believers). We must flee from the false teachers who continue to persist in teaching their lies, even though they have been warned to stop. 

I believe that if we don’t try to dissuade a believer from remaining or going back into the error from which they’ve come out of, they will eventually become insensitive and unresponsive to the error. They may think they have it all under control, yet it begins to change their thinking. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12)  

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”(Gal. 5:7)  

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)  

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (Ps. 1:1) 

Old Things Are Past; All Things Are New 

When we first come to the Lord, we immediately recognize that we no longer want to live the way we used to and we gladly turn away from the old life by an act of faith. As we continue to walk with the Lord, we turn away from anything that would take us away from Him. This is especially crucial in these perilous times.  

Bereans Have Learned to Discern 

Since the beginning of TBC, Dave Hunt and Tom McMahon’s main objective has been to cultivate an environment for believers to learn discernment and to act upon it. TBC’s mission statement clearly delineates this. (I encourage you to read their statement on The Berean Call website). Because of what they purposed, there is a group of Berean believers who now recognize danger when they see it. They have been persuaded by the Word to follow the Lord in the things He has taught them. Bereans have developed discernment and respond to the pressing danger. Their ears perk up when they distinguish someone else’s voice other than that of our Lord. He says “…for they know not the voice of strangers” (John:10:5b). Attuned to His Word, they hear the stranger’s voice and can detect it immediately—for example, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” from her book Jesus Calling. That indeed is a stranger’s voice, and they “…will flee from him.” 

No Desire to Acquire Discernment 

Conversely, how many times have all of us seen believers who appear to have no discernment, nor any desire to acquire it? They remain ignorant of the imminent danger of aberrant teaching and the calamity that lies ahead. Their lives could possibly be set adrift, as Paul warned: “…Some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (1 Tim. 1:19b). We are saddened by their unwillingness to recognize that they are vulnerable to much error and yet entirely unaware of it. We are told in Proverbs:19:2a: “Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good….”  In addition, Paul tells the believers in 1 Corinthians:15:34: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”  

This Is No Time for Despair 

We, as His sheep, are not without hope. We must look to the Lord and believe that He can and will do something new. That is how Margaret and I looked at it when we were experiencing these things back in 1991. Moreover, the Lord met us! We understood that this was no time for despair. Those out there who may be going through this now can be encouraged, as Margaret and I were. Look to the Lord and hear Him say:

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isa. 43:18-19)  

Our Shepherd Leads and Feeds Us 

Though hirelings and wolves in sheep’s clothing forsake us, our Shepherd, our Lord, will take us up; He will lead us to new pastures; He will feed us and draw us ever closer to Him than before. (See Ps:23:1-6)  

 By God’s grace, that is what He did with us. We can testify of that. He deepened our faith and understanding, drew us nearer to Him than ever before, and brought forth a fountain overflowing with joy and rejoicing within our hearts. We desire to share that with our brothers and sisters who feel like they are all alone. Nevertheless, each one must come to that place where he or she believes that the Lord will do a new thing. The Scriptures say, “…For He hath said, [and we must believe] I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5). 

Coming back to what Dave wrote in the Q & A section about finding a church, the Question was acomposite of several similar questions:  “We can’t seem to find a church in our area that has godly leadership and biblical preaching. We feel so alone and now just read the Bible and pray at home. What should we do? And how do we find a ‘good’ church?” 

First-century Church Life

Dave’s response helped us tremendously to re-evaluate First-century New Testament church/assembly life in light of the Book of Acts. This is codified in Acts:2:42, which describes what the believers did. Luke tells us: 

 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  This was the foundation laid at the beginning of the early Church, the ensuing Pentecost, and this is also how we began our assembly!  

Two or Three Gathered in His Name? 

Dave then replies, “It is a sad commentary on the state of the church that we receive many such queries.” What marks a “healthy” church? Crucial to the answer is Matthew:18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  

Is Dave saying that a “healthy” fellowship may comprise only two or three believers? Well, we were in a church that had 3,500 members, and it became an unhealthy apostate church.  

My wife and I know brothers and sisters who simply meet with two or three because in their small town there is no church that is sound in doctrine. Neither the amount of persons nor the program it has is the primary issue. So what is the primary issue? What is the central focus?  

As Dave stated: “Christ himself must be the central focus—not a pastor, gripping sermons, a strong missionary emphasis, exciting youth programs, compatible fellow members, or even agreeable doctrines—important as all these factors are.”  

The Transition to Christ Becoming the Central Focus of the Church Meeting

I am going to go back to 1989 up to 1991, when we were contending against the teachings of psychology, self-esteem, and the seeker-friendly implementation into the church. I’m going to share how the Lord used Dave to help us and give us some direction. I was still teaching Sunday School and had a weekly gospel outreach in our home. We were reaching out to the people within our community.  

One of the elderly couples in our study brought a missionary couple (who had ministered in the Amazon rain forest of Peru) to our study one summer evening. They had been there for 40-plus years, had just retired, and had come home to a town near us. It didn’t take us long to recognize that this couple had a love for the Lord. I would often think that he should have been teaching our Bible study instead of me. Neil was a humble man, and it was evident that he had lived a life that was yielded to the Lord. At 84 years of age, they both had such sweet spirits about them. There came a time when I briefly shared with him about the struggle we were going through at our church. I asked him and his wife to pray for us. They were not a part of our church nor did they mention the church they attended. 

Finally, Margaret and I made the decision to come out of our church yet purposed not to go church shopping/hopping but just to pray and get the Lord’s direction. Therefore, I called our missionary friends and let them know we had left our church and to please pray for us. Shortly after, he called me and asked if he and an elder from their assembly could come and visit us. We said yes and that next Wednesday they visited us. Even though they had known us for a few years, for the elder’s sake, they asked us to give our testimonies as to how we came to know the Lord. We were glad to share how He had saved us. They then invited us to their Lord’s Day meeting.  

The meeting was in a home on the outskirts of Turlock, California. The property was surrounded by an inviting peach orchard. It was a beautiful older home owned by a farmer and his wife. The husband had passed on. His wife, however, continued the weekly meeting, and our brother Neil and his wife were a part of that gathering along with about ten other believers and the elder and his wife. The beauty and simplicity of the meeting was like nothing we had seen before.   

The Centerpiece of the Meeting 

The meeting began with worshipping the Lord. The hymns we sang were solely focused on God Himself. They had no instruments, but they were not averse to having any; they just didn’t have a musician there. Nevertheless, the worship was sweet.    

Dave Hunt wrote about the importance of worship. He stated that “A fervent love for Christ and a heartfelt corporate worship of His Person must be the primary mark of a healthy church. The early church was thus characterized.”  

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4:23

This gathering of believers that Margaret and I met with demonstrated what Dave described. With no song leader nor worship team nor pastor they worshipped the Lord from the Scriptures, with song and prayerful offerings (1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 13:15).

Dave also said of the first-century church, “It met regularly on the first day of the week in remembrance of [Christ’s] death. That weekly outpouring of praise, worship, and thanksgiving had one purpose—to give God His due portion.”    

When we came to this part of the meeting, “The breaking of bread,” known by many as communion, I witnessed something I had never seen. The men in the meeting,  whoever was willing, individually stood up and read a scripture that recalled the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. He then would offer up praise, worship, adoration, and thanksgiving to the Father for sending His Son. After he sat down, another would stand and do the same. Throughout this part of the meeting, we continued to sing worshipful hymns. There was no one officiating or orchestrating the meeting. Yet, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, there was order. There was nothing ecstatic or out of control, only a simplicity and beauty in worship and remembrance of the Lord Jesus (Ps. 29:2). Christ truly was in the midst (Matt. 18:20). 

All I could think within myself was “This is what I’ve been missing!” It was indeed life changing to me. I witnessed a wonderful worship time orchestrated by the Spirit giving the Lord Jesus all the glory.    

Why Am I Sharing This? 

You might be saying, “Why are you telling us this?” There is a reason, and I’m getting to it. After that portion of the meeting, we took a short break for coffee and a snack and some fellowship. I had a conversation with the hostess of the meeting. Her name was Shamira. We were talking about authors, and I mentioned Dave Hunt’s name. 

I was surprised when she said she knew of a Dave Hunt who had been part of their meeting there in that home years ago. I told her that he had written a number of books. She responded, “He’s written one that I know of.” I was sure that this could not be the same Dave Hunt. She took me to her bookshelf and pulled out a book that Dave had written years before.  

I was stunned that in that very house on the outskirts of Turlock, Dave and Ruth Hunt had been part of that small meeting many years before. This is not to exalt Dave but to show the sovereign hand of God in this. Dave, at that time, was still working in the corporate world and had come from Los Angeles to Merced to help turn around a company that was struggling financially. Merced was not far from Turlock. So not only was Dave helping us by what he had written at TBC, describing to the couple in the Q & A the primary importance in a meeting, but now, here we were, in the home where they had once worshipped and been in fellowship! It was as if he were describing that meeting in the Q&A! Now, years later, this is what Margaret and I witnessed in that home assembly that morning.  

There were more than “two or three….” There were ten or eleven. Yet to this day, that meeting changed Margaret’s and my life, and we patterned our future meetings after that. Once again, we had found encouragement from Dave and TBC when we had not many to turn to. The Lord led us to a meeting that exemplified what Dave described to a tee in the newsletter!  After our short break of fellowship, we commenced again. We sang more hymns, went through the Scriptures verse by verse, and, again, it was a blessing. We ended with a time of prayer. 

Of Most Importance: Worship! 

Dave’s perspective on the believers meeting together helped change my mind on what was of most importance. When he said, “Christ himself must be the central focus,” he meant that worship of the Lord was of primary importance. The Lord was to be exalted. It was evident that this was Dave’s heart’s desire throughout the years. He was drawing from the Book of Acts, chapter two. Dave said, “What stirred them (the first century Church) was a fervent love for Christ and a heartfelt corporate worship of His Person. [That] must be the primary mark of a healthy church. The early church was thus characterized…. That weekly outpouring of praise, worship, and thanksgiving had one purpose—to give God His due portion.”

 Dave continued, “…It isn’t primarily a matter of my need, my edification, my enjoyment, or my spiritual satisfaction, but of His worth in my eyes and the eyes of the church.”

Secondary Focus: Servanthood 

Dave makes it very clear to this couple inquiring in the Q & A as to what to look for in a biblically sound and healthy church or assembly. He then describes what follows worship: “As I see it, our secondary focus should be our opportunity for servanthood with a corporate body of believers.” To rearrange the order of this is to elevate service over worship, and then man becomes the emphasis and not the Lord. Many churches have confused the order to the point of not knowing what worship of the Father and the Son is. It is important to know whom and why we are serving, and that flows from first knowing whom it is that we worship (1 Pet. 2:5,9). 

Dave then continued, “I give myself to a needy, imperfect people for whom I can pray, for whose needs I can concern myself in practical ways, to whom I can be an encourager and a minister of the Word, and among whom I can demonstrate and work out Christ’s desire that His own ‘might be one.’ This fellowship is commanded: ‘Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). Is it our joy to gather with God’s people in intercessory prayer and study of the Word, or is Sunday-morning-only quite enough? A healthy church will not only gather unto Him, but with each other.” 

 Dave shares here that we are not to neglect service within the church but we must simply prioritize it. It is very important that we worship the Lord and minister one to another in love. 

 “And he [a certain lawyer who was testing Jesus] answering, said [to Jesus], Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind [worship]; and thy neighbour as thyself” [service] (Luke:10:27).

 In summing up his answer in the Q & A, Dave says once again, “Remember, however, the order of priority: worship (do you worship sincerely, wholeheartedly, and in a manner satisfying to the object of that worship?) The final decision as to your church affiliation must be, prayerfully, yours. Is your personal worship of the Savior so joyful and satisfying a thing both to you and to Him that it supersedes other considerations? Do your opportunities for service render your fellowship sufficiently meaningful and significant? Or do doctrinal concerns or lack of biblical preaching and teaching cancel out the other two? You must seek the Lord for His answer. God’s comforting assurance remains: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’” 

Dave gives the reader things they should consider concerning worship and serving: “Or do doctrinal concerns or lack of biblical preaching and teaching cancel out the other two?”  Then he says, “You must seek the Lord for His answer. God’s comforting assurance remains: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’” 

How Dave’s Focus Helped to Change Our View on Worship 

What I came to realize is that Dave’s pinpoint focus on worship is what gave him spiritual clarity of thought in his writings, his talks, his videos, and on the radio.  Everything started from above (Col:3:1-2): “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” That brought light and understanding to the issues he was addressing pertaining to the Church and the world. I was much encouraged by what Dave had written. Not only that, but the Lord gave us a view into how he and Ruth worshipped. That was invaluable for us to see and partake in. We not only agreed with what Dave wrote, but now we came to agree with how he worshipped also.  

Dave’s Adversity Brought Forth Spiritual Fortitude 

What the Lord worked in Dave Hunt brought forth a spiritual fortitude that enabled him to face adversity from not only the world but also from his own brethren who vilified and misunderstood him. Their own assembly ostracized him and Ruth. They went through the pain of separation. It caused them to draw closer to the Lord when even their brothers and sisters forsook them. However, the Lord took them up (Ps. 27:10). Through this adversity, the Lord strengthened Dave to stand alone with Him. That is why years later he could write words of encouragement to those asking the question in the Q & A—words that still stand in the face of today’s apostasy when some leaders have driven believers from their church meetings on purpose. We need men and women who have walked through hardship and have come through victoriously and with understanding.  

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Prv 4:7)“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor:15:57).

A Bold Move to Begin on a New Foundation 

Today, as some are coming out of heresy-riddled churches, they could simply meet as the Lord said,“For where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I the midst of them” (Matt:18:20). He set the parametersWe began to meet in similar fashion. Quite possibly the Lord could begin a new assembly using those coming out of these churches. They could begin anew on a solid foundation.  

 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11; Matt:7:24-25; 2 Tim. 2:19). Another possibility is that for a short duration they could meet this way until the Lord leads them to a sound Bible-teaching church. He can do many things if we only trust Him that He will. However, to stay in or return to an apostate fellowship should not be an option. We are given numerous commands and admonitions to come out, to come away, to turn away, to flee, to mark and avoid, to withdraw from, and to follow not…evil.   

Who We Are in Christ 

I would like us to look at a few scriptures in light of this subject. Some people are hesitant to leave their churches because of uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Paul tells us “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). The Lord will give us His strength and His boldness and confidence if we just trust and obey Him: “…In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him” (Eph. 3:12). “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).  

Paul Urges Us to Spiritual Awareness 

Romans:16:17-18 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learnedand avoid themFor they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” 

Paul says we are to “mark them, which means to scope them out and “avoid them, or, “to go out of the way, or to turn away.” This includes the pastor or leader who is teaching false doctrine along with those who are following him.  

Paul Shows Us What Not to Do and What We Are to Do 

 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?   And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1)

Margaret and I had recognized the apostasy in our church nearly thirty years ago and came out of it as the Lord directed us by His Word and His Spirit.   

Encouraging One Another as the Day Draws Near  

In the early days, I often wondered why the Lord brought us out in the way that He did, but over the last 15 years or so, I began to see the reason more clearly. By His grace, He has given us opportunity to minister to brothers and sisters who are thinking of leaving their churches, and to others who are without church fellowship and in need of encouragement and direction.  

That No Flesh Should Glory in His Presence 

We recognize who we are and are in agreement with what our Lord said in John:15:5c: “For without Me ye can do nothing.” Likewise, we identify with what the apostle Paul said, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).  

We simply walked by faith and had an expectation and confidence that God would do something new for His sheep. Every believer can have that same mindset and glorify the Lord. 

By the Spirit, Paul looks down the corridor of time and tells us what will be taking place in the last days, which we are experiencing at this time. He says:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

 I first learned these scriptures from The Berean Call. Dave and Tom were way ahead of many in seeing what was infiltrating the churches. This is the reason why I am writing this. I am simply saying that the urgency of the day should prompt an immediate response to the Scriptures because of the perilous times and the subtlety of deceptions. Many believers are in the situation that Paul is describing. He is not suggesting that we remain where the error is proliferating. Concerning false teachers he says,  “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  We are to turn away, avoid, and shun them. We are living in the days when our brothers and sisters in Christ should have heightened awareness through the Lord’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to hear God’s Word and obey it. 

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  (John:8:12)

The Lord Leads Us Out of Darkness into His Light 

As He said, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” The time for believers to draw near to the Lord and follow Him more closely is now. They also need to find fellowship with likeminded believers and minister to one another. However, it might be in a new way, outside of what they have previously known. That is what the Lord did with us as we followed Him. In addition, we are to continue to go out and share the gospel with the lost, hoping that they will be saved, and then discipling them when they do come to the Lord.  

Both Men and Women Had the Opportunity to Share the Gospel  

The men in our fellowship went to the gospel mission, preached the gospel, and ministered to the men there. In the same way, the women from our fellowship went to the women’s mission and shared the gospel, leading some to the Lord. This also led to a Bible study with them.   

I Will Build My Church 

We are told by our Lord, “And I say also unto thee…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).     

The Lord sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and He promised Peter that he would receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which was the gospel. That is what Peter preached, and “The same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Matt. 16:19; Acts:2:41). Thus, the Lord began something new and powerful: His church!  

 Today, it seems as though the Lord is bringing His Church back to its foundation, which is to meet in simple fashion, as Luke described in the Book of Acts, chapter two: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (v. 42) 

It’s Not the Size of the Meeting but the Spiritual Vibrancy of It 

Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that there’s going to be another Pentecost. The Lord is simply calling some of His people to meet in a fresh new way, unencumbered by fluff and programs that they may have been accustomed to in the past. Maybe you won’t be in a church of 1,000 people, or even 100. It could be as small as 10 or fewer. We left a church that had 3,500 members, to meet initially with a group of seven or eight people, which continued to grow.    

The Early Church Meetings Were in Homes 

Remember when Peter preached, and 3,000 were saved? There were no coliseums, no stadiums, no synagogues, and no church structures where all those people could meet. So what did they do? They met in the temple for a time, until persecution came from the Jews. Then we are told that the apostles met “from house to house,” “and in every house,” with many of the new believers (Acts:2:46; 5:42).

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts:2:46); “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts:5:42)

 What an exciting time they all had, experiencing something new that the Lord had begun! It was something wonderful and powerful. They were enjoying their new life, free from sin and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  

By God’s Word, We Are to Reevaluate Our Situation

What is taking place in our time is that the Lord is causing His people to reevaluate what is of utmost importance. I am confident that the Lord has placed The Berean Call in a great place to continue to reach those who desire to be ready for the Lord’s coming.  

Some believers are not longing for a “new way,” nor are they looking for “new paths.” We are looking for what the prophet described in Jeremiah:6:16: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.” 

We, as His people are wanting to “Stand…in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.”  Nevertheless, at this time many are choosing to do otherwise and are departing from the faith. Jeremiah tells us, “But they said, we will not walk therein.” Contrary to this statement, we say, “We will walk therein.”  

Beginning Anew with Joyful Anticipation 

Going back to October of 1991, and to what I described earlier of having observed the worship and remembrance meeting of which Dave Hunt had been a part, Margaret and I, along with a few likeminded believers, began meeting in similar fashion. The Lord had already prepared each one of us. He initiated something new and unexpected. 

He established our first meeting, and one of our sisters recounted to me recently her joyful anticipation over what the Lord was going to do. A brother read from Isaiah:40:31: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” 

We were encouraged by what he shared—to wait and see what the Lord was going to do. We sang hymns, prayed together, broke bread, and studied His Word.   

Our meeting extended beyond what we expected. There was joyful fellowship as we sensed the presence of the Lord in our midst.   

We Met for Half a Year in This Manner, and Then… 

We continued to meet in our home on Friday nights for 26 weeks. The meeting continued to grow.Don Avigliano, who was a part of our fellowship, wrote a book in 1995 titled The Alternative Church. This book describes the beginnings of something new the Lord originated among us. Don said, “We had all come to realize that God was doing more than just having us meet for extra fellowship and encouragement. So, on Resurrection Sunday, April 19, 1992, we had our first Lord’s day meeting.”  

The following is a quote from The Alternative Church: An Experience of New Testament Christianity Following the Patten of the First Century Church.

The Author’s Preface

“In the autumn of 1991, a group of Christians met. They were questioning some things they were encountering in the religious systems of the traditional churches. They were led by the Lord to meet for fellowship outside the traditional churches. As others have done before, they sought to worship their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in spirit and in truth. This is the story of how the Lord took that beginning and spiritually developed it into a unique fellowship—one patterned after the early church that we read about in the Book of Acts. This is the story of that fellowship, how it came about, and how it developed. It is ironic that what is closest to the early church must be presented as an alternative form of church life—but this is the situation in which we find ourselves in our time of increasing apostasy!"  — Don Avigliano, 1995 

I am sharing this for the simple reason that I want to show how the Lord took a group of believers who solely desired to follow Him and His Word by His grace. He honored our meager attempt. We had felt the pressure to compromise in the church with the programs they offered. We didn’t want to participate in many of the things they were implementing. For instance, Larry Crabb’s book, Inside Out (which is humanistic psychology amalgamated with the Bible), and also, “friendship contracts,” “relationship contracts” (which recommended following man’s reasoning and promoted legalism). In addition to these were the TJTA (Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis) personality test, and support groups that I have already mentioned earlier. 

 We understand and we empathize with what our brothers and sisters are going through. They are writing to TBC because of the pressure they are experiencing to compromise their convictions. The inundation of error and deceptions are much more sophisticated and subtle today. Our Lord warned, “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark:13:22). 

 I am thankful for all the labor of TBC ministry through the years and the fruit that has come forth and blessed many. They have been a blessing to us. If we continue to stay the course that the Lord established at the beginning and hold to our convictions, fruit, more fruit—much fruit—will abound, and our Heavenly Father will be glorified. (John:15:8

 Paul urges us to consider two things that are of utmost importance. The first is “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” Whatever we are deficient in, He is sufficient. If we lack something, He is sufficient to provide what is necessary.  

 And the second thing to remember is that [He] “also hath made us able [sufficient] ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).   

 Amazing as it is, He has given us (every believer) the capability to be New Testament ministers. Having been born again, we have received the Spirit of God, who dwells within us and enables us to understand His Word and obey it.  

 Not only that, but we can also minister His Word, building up one another in the faith. Our Lord, His Word, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit are sufficient to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  


As I conclude, I would like to refer you to the passage that I shared near the beginning of this booklet. These two verses are profitable to meditate on and memorize. They are indeed life changing and applicable to many things we encounter throughout our life. Allow the Lord to give you thoughts you might not have considered up to this point.  

 “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”  (Isaiah:43:18-19

Even though the Lord has blessed in the past and done wonderful things for you, He is calling you and says, “Behold, I will do a new thing.”He wants you to “Behold.”However, if you are still dwelling on “former things”and “things of old,”how will you be able to “behold” the new thing that He is doing?  

 With expectant eyes of faith, we are to look ahead, as He said, Now it shall spring forth.”He then asks the question, “Shall ye not know it?” 

 On the other hand, will you not be aware of it? He wants us to be cognizant of it. He wants us to recognize what He is doing. It will be something new that we will praise Him for because only “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians:3:20).He will lead us out of the spiritually desolate wasteland where there was only stagnant murky water to drink (of which many have become accustomed) and, as He said, “I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah:43:18-19). 

 We must believe this and understand what John the Baptist said: A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27). 

 We want to receive only what the Lord gives us from above and nothing else! We need the Lord to teach us New Testament reality and not merely settle for what we have known. I thought that the paradigm with which I had become familiar at my former church was a part of New Testament when in reality it was not. Ask God to quicken your understanding in the book of Acts and the epistles as to what is New Testament reality.  

 Let Him do a wondrous thing in your life and in the lives of those around you. That is what He does! As it says in Psalm:72:18: “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.” 

Call out to Him and ask, as David did in Psalm:25:4-5: “Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” 

Below is the Q and A that Dave Hunt responded to that blessed us significantly. 

Question: We can’t seem to find a church in our area that has godly leadership and biblical preaching. We feel so alone and now just read the Bible and pray at home. What should we do? How do we find a good church? 

Response: It is a sad commentary on the state of the church that we receive many such queries. What marks a “healthy” church? Crucial to the answer is Matthew:18:20:“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst....” Christ himself must be the central focus—not a pastor, gripping sermons, a strong missionary emphasis, exciting youth programs, compatible fellow members, or even agreeable doctrines, important as all these factors are. A fervent love for Christ and a heartfelt corporate worship of His Person must be the primary mark of a healthy church. 

The early church was thus characterized. It met regularly on the first day of the week in remembrance of His death. That weekly outpouring of praise, worship, and thanksgiving had one purpose—to give God His due portion. It isn’t primarily a matter of my need, my edification, my enjoyment, or my spiritual satisfaction, but of His worth in my eyes and in the eyes of the church. 

As I see it, our secondary focus should be our opportunity for servanthood with a corporate body of believers. I give myself to a needy, imperfect people for whom I can pray, with whose needs I can concern myself in practical ways, to whom I can be an encourager and a minister of the Word, and among whom I can demonstrate and work out Christ’s desire that His own “might be one.” This fellowship is commanded: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews:10:25).  

Is it our joy to gather with God’s people in intercessory prayer and study of the Word—or is Sunday-morning-only quite enough? A healthy church will gather not only unto Him but with each other. 

Lastly, I need to assess my own spiritual needs. The shepherds must provide the spiritual food that will nurture the flock, that it might be “thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy:3:17). That’s a big order and requires, of course, a teachable flock that loves the Word and is in willing subjection to it. The shepherds must also guard the flock of God by keeping out false and dangerous doctrines contrary to the truth. They must adhere to the pure Word of God as the only authority for faith and morals. 

You say, “Wonderful! Lead me to such a church.” Remember, however, the order of priority: worship (do you worship sincerely, wholeheartedly, and in a manner satisfying to the Object of that worship?); servanthood (do you serve, even as Christ gave us an example, with humility and with joy?); personal needs (are you growing, maturing, taking on Christ’s character?). 

The final decision as to your church affiliation must be, prayerfully, yours. Is your personal worship of the Savior so joyful and satisfying a thing both to you and to Him that it supersedes other considerations? Do your opportunities for service render your fellowship sufficiently meaningful and significant? Or do doctrinal concerns or lack of biblical preaching and teaching cancel out the other two? You must seek the Lord for His answer. God’s comforting assurance remains: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  

About Pete Salas:

Pete F Salas: Born in Colorado. In 1975, as a musician, he moved to California and began traveling the country performing. In the summer of 1978 while still traveling, Pete came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in his hotel room. Within a few weeks, he left the music profession moving back to California. At the church he attended, he was part of a gospel group and participated in the church orchestra. However, his love for the Scriptures prompted him to go to Bible College. A bible teacher also trained him for a number of years. Pete began teaching Sunday school classes and weeknight Bible studies. He also taught the gospels in his home reaching the lost. In 1991, Pete helped start a fellowship group that eventually became a home church where he was one of the overseers. In 1998, he and his family moved to Colorado. Pete has been a board member of The Berean Call since 2013. Throughout the years, he has continued to have home bible studies. He also disciples young men one on one in the Scriptures. Pete and his wife participate in a home assembly.