Trapped in the Wrong Church



Forgive me for that rather sensational title. It’s a bit harsh, especially when I think of a pastor who has been so very kind to us, and people who became our community when we had not one friend in the entire state of Florida. That’s a lonely feeling, folks, when you know that for hundreds of miles in any direction, there is not one door you could knock on and not one face that’s familiar.

But I’m getting ahead of the story, so let me backtrack.

As I’ve alluded to in so many posts, we left our home in Georgia and moved here several years ago, in about as haphazard and unwise a fashion as you could imagine. Drowning in regret brought about by our own foolishness and so weary we could barely face each new day, we decided to find a church. Here’s where it gets complicated.

I am a Baptist. I was born into a family of Methodists and attended church regularly as a child. My limited exposure to the Baptist church was during vacation Bible school each summer. And yet, even before the age of twelve, I read my Bible, I listened to preachers, and what rang true in my soul was what the Baptists believed and practiced. I was baptized by immersion as an adult and was a member (though not an active one) of a Baptist church until we moved here. At that time, we hadn’t been to church for a long time and were feeling disillusioned in general, but let me just say that if I had my way, when we got ready to find a church in Florida, I’d have chosen a Baptist church.

The hubby had other ideas. He who was born into a Baptist family, joined the Methodist church as an adult! (Though he seldom actually attended it.) I don’t want to speak on his behalf, but if I had to, I would venture to guess that he has an impression of Baptists as country, corn-pone, poorly educated, foot-washing, Amen-hollering, pulpit-pounding fire and brimstone types. All of which he abhors (especially the notion that he could be in any way associated with something country. He’s stuck-up like that. :-) )

He was on board with the idea of our finding a church, as long as it was not a Baptist church. So, after visiting a few local assemblies, we settled on, let’s call it, Denomination X. I am choosing not to name it because I certainly don’t think it is a bad place; most of the members clearly enjoy it and are loyal to it. But me, I find myself feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Let’s say I moved to Denmark, for example. No doubt Denmark is a lovely place, well understood and enjoyed by people who’ve been raised there. But no matter how friendly the natives may be, it would never be my home…I would never understand their culture, their music, their ways of doing things. In my heart I would always long for the dear old USA, and that’s exactly how I feel about our church.

But here’s the thing. 1) For the good of our marriage, our family, and our lives in general, I want my husband to stay in church.  And 2) He likes this church. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t twist my arm. I liked it at first, too. But once I got past the getting-to-know-you stage and began to really pay more attention to the service, I realized I did not agree with much of it.

So now, every time I walk in the door of Denomination X, I am practicing submission. (Not always beautifully, I’m afraid…sometimes my boredom is hard to conceal.) I sit through the service, touched by no part of it, wishing for a Sunday when I could come away inspired and uplifted; or instructed at least. But my formerly unbelieving husband is beside me, holding my hand, listening to a pastor he respects, and I know that to do anything other than what I’m doing would be detrimental. It is his place to be the spiritual leader of our family, and for that matter–how am I to know he isn’t right? He says our lives turned around when we joined this church, and I admit there is truth to that statement.  I have considered asking him if he’d mind my seeking out a Baptist church to attend on Wednesday or Sunday nights, but I always decide against bringing it up. I don’t want our family going in two different directions, and I feel that if we don’t stick together, our church attendance might wither and die altogether. Better for me to be bored than for us both to be unchurched again.

But I do look forward to our trips back to Georgia. When we visit, we attend church with his parents, where–admittedly–the congregants might not be the most erudite group you ever met. But the words I hear there ring true in my heart, and at the end of the preaching when the pianist plays “Just As I Am” and the repentant are invited to come forward to the altar…no, it’s not sophisticated. But it’s home.

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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lee Ann Dezern
    Aug 25, 2014 @ 15:19:44

    I can somewhat relate to this. I was Baptist growing up. My husband Lutheran. When we got married we tried the Baptist church but he was told he had to be baptized AGAIN if he wanted to join. He was not happy with that at all. So I relunctuntly went to the Lutheran church with him. It was a liberal church and I was not happy but we found a conservative, bible believing, not ordaining women Lutheran denomination. It is LCMS. We have been members of a LCMS congregation since 1999 and I am glad we are. I too did not want to go to 2 different churches. I have to be honest that some of the comments from our Baptist friends are pretty prejudical against us and they’ve never stepped foot in one of our congregations. Some folks act like we have horns coming out of our heads. LOL

    Anyway, if your husband really loves it I would say to stay at least for now. I can only imagine how tough this is. IF you truly feel this church is not preaching the gospel then pray pray pray and pray some more about it. If this church denies the foundations of Christianity (such as Jesus being the Son of God who took our sins upon himself on the cross. He defeated death by His resurrection and ascending into Heaven, the doctrine of the Trinity etc…) then that is another ball of wax all together.

    I also would throw this out and I am not trying to be flippant or rude. I heard this recently and it convicted me so maybe this will help? We go to church to worship God. We should go by our feelings or whether we think we got something out of it. This can be hard but like I said it hit home with me because it pointed right at me!


  2. Sweet-Water-and-Bitter
    Aug 25, 2014 @ 21:03:38

    Hi Lee Ann, and thanks. I get what you’re saying in the last paragraph. It’s something to consider.


  3. Heather
    Aug 26, 2014 @ 15:04:35

    I am an LCMS Lutheran too and I agree with most of what she is saying but…we don’t go to church to worship God. Yes, there is some aspect of worship in the service, but its main objective is to inundate us with the word of God so that we are equipped to go out into the world, strengthened by His grace and mercy.
    I would say to take a look at what comprises the service. If its God’s word, top to bottom, then be patient, stay and pray and wait. It is tricky to rely on how we feel coming out of worship. That can at times be misleading.
    You are right in saying that you don’t want your family in two different directions and you do need to be respectful of your husband’s wishes. If there are errors in what is being taught, talk with your husband about that, otherwise, maybe give it some more time.
    Praying with you.


  4. Sweet-Water-and-Bitter
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 00:38:58

    Well, as we all know, Christians can differ on what is God’s word. I believe that THEY believe what is practiced in this particular church. It’s just that I (and many other folks) happen to have a different interpretation. The plot thickens, by the way. It’s time for my son to begin confirmation classes, and in my heart I don’t WANT him to be taught things that I don’t feel are correct. Yet if I plead my case too hard with my husband, I’m afraid I’ll just cause him to doubt, turn him bitter, and maybe kill his interest in church altogether. What a dilemma. :-(


  5. Michelle
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 02:23:15

    I think it’s a good idea to try to find something else during the week, say, a women’s bible study where you can get more fed than on Sundays. Just my two cents worth… Blessings, hope it works out! And good for you for putting your hubby first!


  6. Sweet-Water-and-Bitter
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 04:03:17

    Thanks, Michelle. Interesting you should say that, because one of my coworkers just mentioned to me that she had thought of me during her Bible study class and would like me to join. She didn’t give any further details but maybe I’ll ask her. :-)


  7. Lee Ann
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 13:18:17

    I want to also share that it was not easy to switch from Baptist to Lutheran. They use different terminology. But mostly I’ve found it means the same thing. There are differences, important ones…………..ones that now I find I agree with the LCMS and not Baptist but I don’t judge someone’s salvation by where they attend church. There are salvation issues that ALL churches need to agree on and there are other issues that the various denominations disagree on but thankfully our salvation does not depend on those.
    Would it be possible to discuss any of your misgivings with the Pastor? My husband and I did that with the ELCA church we belonged to. After that discussion is when we left for the LCMS. One of my strongest concerns, no matter the denom, is to make sure that teachers are teaching TRUTH! not their opinion of the truth. I’m sure there are parishoners at my congregation that don’t agree with everything we confess………………….if they start to air these disagreements during classes or studies of any sort I will not hesitate to discuss with my pastors. It is time, especially now, that all Christians stand for TRUTH, nothing less. Look how our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are being persecuted and killed all because they are Christians. None of us here have experienced anything like that and I pray that we don’t. But that could change if we don’t stand up for what is truth, right and good.

    Pax Domini


  8. Tracy @ OurSimpleLifeSC
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 16:32:25

    I have had to face the same issue…we attend a church my husband feels comfortable in even though I love a different church. It is one of those things I submit to since his job is to lead us spiritually.


    • Sweet-Water-and-Bitter
      Aug 31, 2014 @ 00:29:46

      Yes, Tracy, if I fought too hard I might win the battle and lose the war. Our marriage has been through quite enough years of me demanding my way about things, and the results of that were not pretty. Thank you for reading and commenting!


  9. Faith
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 03:24:29

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s very wise of you to submit in this area–though it would not be wrong for you to express any concerns you have if your husband were to ask you. Your children will see, especially as they grow older, this example of submission and respect you more for it–maybe even opening up for discussions on submission and respect and marriage and church and a whole host of other topics. If you need more spiritual food, an inter-denominational Bible study might work, as well as a whole host of online resources–I like listening to sermons from–there are plenty of wonderful ones–and as long as your husband has not expressed a desire for you to not do that, it is a wonderful way to supplement what you hear–and your children may hear also, as you listen!
    Made me giggle a little bit about teaching God’s Word–my husband and I like to joke about how no church would make it if they put ‘non-Bible-believing’ in their church description–but everyone’s interpretation of Bible-believing seems to be different. In my experience with nannying–which I know is an entirely different situation–I often discussed things with ‘my’ sweet girls who were raised in a Catholic home. One of the things I often told them–and still do on the rare occasions I see them (they are now 12, 14, and 18), is that it doesn’t matter who is telling them what or what anyone’s opinions are–including mine. What matters is what God says–and they have to read His Word and explore that for themselves. does it open up the door for some faulty interpretation? Yes….but they already have that spoon-fed to them. But you are always able to lead by example–and when the time comes–they will know where to come for answers. And above all else, pray, pray, pray!!!! Pray the Word, teach the Word, and most of all, believe the Word–God always fulfills His promises!


  10. Belinda Letchford
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 08:45:16

    Though I’m not in the same situation as you in regards to my husband, we have been in church situations where we wish we weren’t. We live in a remote part of Australia and there isn’t always options. At one particular time when I was struggling with the sermons, my mother said to me “Are the Scriptures being read?” and yes, they were being read. So she encouraged me to read, think, ponder, pray during the sermon time, basing my thoughts on the Scripture reading. She said that regardless, God’s word is living truth and God can speak to me, encourage me regardless of what was going on around me. And I found that to be true, and it has been advice I have passed onto my own children. They sit there taking copious notes at time – and no, they aren’t always listening to the sermon, but instead studying and listening to what God says to them.

    Another aspect that I have recently been challenged with is why do we go to church – and I know some of this has been addressed already – but in my mind we go to church for a few reasons. To glorify God (and this happens when we focus on God, not on the constraints of the service). To encourage one another (this happens as we sing spiritual songs, talk to each other and pray together). To pray and to be built up in the Word (sermons). I have been in services where one aspect is more prevalent than others – and I grasp hold of that. So often we judge our gathering together just by the sermon – and yet that is not the only reason we are encouraged to gather together.

    And one other thought I had, is that being submissive isn’t about saying nothing. Prayerfully consider discussing beliefs – I wouldn’t discuss ‘leaving’ that church – but husband and wife should be able to discuss beliefs, especially when they differ. If this is done with a gentle heart, content and supportive, then you can learn from each other. Your marriage relationship be stronger, your heart encouraged, and you will be better prepared to encourage your children in their walk with Jesus too.


  11. imgrowinginhisgrace
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 21:04:29

    Wow Kim. This is a tough one. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS that your husband’s name was added to the Book of Life. I can’t think of anything better.
    Second (I bet you’re getting more opinions than you want, but…) growing up, my father was Catholic, and my mother Methodist. In the name of getting along, compromises were made. Only Jesus knows for sure what is in a man’s soul, but if I’m looking at fruit…I would say 5 out of 7 of us have our eternal lives in SERIOUS JEOPARDY. I believe you don’t have children at home (?) but there are STILL OTHERS who will “see Jesus” through you if you are a Christian. Something to think about.
    Third, Jeremiah 17:9 comes to mind. I would encourage you to beware of prosperity gospels, and “feel good” churches.
    Fourth, it is one thing to go to a church that preaches “interpretations” we may not agree with (i.e. pre-rapture vs. post-rapture). Examples such as these do not determine our eternal destiny. If this is what you mean, pray over it, stick it out. Sometimes the more uncomfortable you are feeling, the more God is pushing you. Pray for your husband’s heart and pray for your Pastor.
    BUT it’s entirely another thing if what is preaches is not right. Jesus is Messiah–God in the flesh. He died for our sins on the cross, conquered death, rose again, and will one day RETURN to set up His Kingdom. Period. End of story. Without Jesus, we are all headed for Hell.
    Conclusion (this is why I don’t comment on people’s posts–I’m too long winded): We are FIRST and foremost Children of the Most High God. I would absolutely remove myself from Satan’s dangers if blatant lies are told in a church. We are SECOND our husband’s wives. If we believe #1, then we are submissive to them. If I was in a situation where I wasn’t “feeling it” but it wasn’t a misleading church and my husband had his heart set on it (and he KNEW how I felt), then I would just have to pray and get through it (Consider James 1:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:5). I Worship at home on a regular basis (I totally get where you are coming from–trust me). How do you know if you are being mislead? Read your bible on a consistent basis–be in the word. Write his words on your heart. (Consider Acts 17:11).
    I don’t know your details, so some of this may be completely irrelevant to you. But I am so glad you wrote this article. There are many people out there who are stuck in the wrong church–and are being mislead. Yet there are others out there who are right where God wants them but are being tempted by the great tempter to become church hoppers.
    I will commit to praying for your situation on a regular basis this week Kim.


  12. Gentle Joy
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 17:59:46

    Interesting story and thought provoking…. Thank you for following your husband and being submitted to the Lord.


  13. wmtoolbox
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 17:01:30

    Just stumbled across your blog and happened on this post (via Missional Women). What jumped out to me was this “I realized I did not agree with much of it.”

    If what is being preached does not line up with the Word of God then absolutely you must get your husband and yourself out of there. There are far too many churches “tickling” ears and twisting Truth and giving people a false belief in their eternal destination.

    I understand you don’t want to cause discord and that you believe God is calling you to submit (thought I don’t think you used those words – I would pray and ask God for specific confirmation that is what He is asking you to do in this situation). Keep in mind – Satan wants nothing more than for you to stay put!

    Not that you probably want one more suggestion, but…. I would casually talk about the sermon each Sunday with my husband and I would prayerfully find ways to ask questions using the points I took issue with that morning. Not in an argumentative way at all – but in a “Lord please use my questions and concerns to open my husband’s eyes” kind of way.

    In the meantime you may want to see if there is a Bible Study Fellowship group meeting in your area – they are non-denominational and teach the Word. This year’s study is on the life of Moses. Chances are your class will be starting up in the next 2 weeks. I think you’ll find it will feed your soul while you wait for God to move in your church situation.


  14. Marie
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 08:57:34

    Thanks for posting this! We’re in a similar situation, although my husband and I are in agreement that we’re in the “wrong” church. The problem is that we live in an area of the world where we can’t be choosy about denomination since there aren’t many churches around at all period. I’ve had to realize that there is no perfect church, and I can’t really change anything except for my own attitude. I’ve been trying to focus more on what I can bring to the church and how I can encourage the people there rather than all of the things I don’t agree with or just plain don’t like. I have a long ways to go, but I agree with the person who commented on focusing on the purpose of church. It’s not really to necessarily learn something every week, although that would be nice. Our being there glorifies God, and there are always little opportunities to encourage others, even if it’s just a listening ear. I was able to encourage a middle schooler last week that I would be praying for him as he starts a new school, and I was able to encourage a mom of four who was feeling overwhelmed just by listening to her. These are small things, but it reminded me that it’s better to be there than not, even if I don’t agree with everything. The other funny thing is that the more I get to know the other members, the more I realize that probably half the people there feel the same as we do!


  15. Danielle
    Sep 21, 2014 @ 16:38:01

    Honestly this is something that should be discussed BEFORE marriage. No way would I switch denominations. The bible says to not be unequally yoked. That doesn’t just mean to not marry an unbeliever. Both should be the same place spiritually and believe the same things when it comes to God.

    And if this was discussed before marriage then he changes his mind, I’d be looking for a good counsellor!


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