On Leaving the Black Church: It Just Seemed Good

 My pastor Bayless Conley preaching my soul happy. (photo credit: Cottonwood Church Instagram feed)

My pastor Bayless Conley preaching my soul happy. (photo credit: Cottonwood Church Instagram feed)

Three years ago I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. I left my predominately black Apostolic/Pentecostal church for a non-denominational predominately white church.

*gasp*

It sort of happened by accident...but then not really.

I 'd been feeling out of sorts at my home church. The church I joined when I first moved to Southern California fresh out of college. The church that my childhood pastor from home approved of. The church I got married at and where my first-born was dedicated. The church where I served diligently and forged deep friendships. The church that fed my soul week after week.

I couldn't explain it but I just knew it was time to go. Nothing was wrong, it just started to feel like it didn't fit anymore. But no one leaves a perfectly good church for no good reason.

Except I did.

One day my mother in law invited me to her church. I went because I wasn't planning on going to my own church so any church seemed better than staying at home.

Honestly (and arrogantly) I didn't expect much.  But when I walked into that church the Holy Spirit met me there like I'd never expected Him to. I was astonished at the teaching (which I should't have been because I watched the Pastor occasionally when I'd get ready for my own church service on Sundays.) The word taught was so good that I kept going back again and again until I couldn't deny the fact that this is where I wanted to be. It was like a feast was spread out  every week that left me satisfied and hungry for more at the same time. Turns out that the pastor came from a Pentecostal background which explained the church's wholehearted embrace of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and being baptized.

This past Saturday night, my pastor taught on the subject: Following the Call of God.

He pointed out that sometimes God guides us intuitively by the Holy Spirit through "what seems good to us."

Acts 15:22 says: "Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas-- Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren."

God didn't send an earthquake to confirm that men from their group should go on this important ministry trip to non-Jewish believers. The Bible says, the decision was based on what seemed good.

And again in verse 25: "it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul."

Once more in verse 28: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things."

God's leading isn't always life shattering. Sometimes He speaks subtly and intuitively to us and all we know is that it seems good to us. God guides us even when we're not conscious of it. There will be areas of our lives where there's a definite sense of God's involvement and approval, but it there's no dictate from on high about it. That's why we need the Holy Spirit because He guides those things that seem good into the right place. Of course, there are some things that seem good that clearly are not. The inner witness of the Holy Spirit will give an amen to the correct "seem good."

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. There is a plan for all of us who walk with God--a plan that was established long before we knew about it. And God's got a plan to get us to those good things. It may come through a burning bush. Or a word spoken through a preacher. Or through what seems good.

When we agree with where the Holy Spirit is leading it just feels right. There is no organ at the church I attend now, but I love the worship service so much. There are no church members dancing or running the aisles but I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in such a powerful way at my "new" church. Many blessings have come from moving on. One Sunday, my oldest and I went and sat in the service and he turned to me and said, "I just want to cry because it's just so beautiful in here." That was further proof that a move seemed good.

From here on out, I won't be afraid of what seems good as long as I get an amen from the Holy Spirit.