A Question I Was Asked:
Should I Attend a Prosperity Church If There Is No Other Church In My Town?
“In my town three churches teach the prosperity message, another church is Roman Catholic, and there is also an old Presbyterian church but it is closing down in a few weeks. Should I attend a prosperity place rather than have no local church?”
Your question shows a really sad state of affairs but it is not the first one of this type that I have received.
The prosperity gospel perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ so seriously that, in my opinion, to attend such a place is little better than to attend one of the cults, so I cannot recommend that you attend such a place!
There is a whole page of articles HERE which reveals the serious errors involved in the prosperity churches.
I think you are either
going to have to travel to another town to attend Christian services,
even if it is only once or twice every month (although you should do
a bit of research first to check out the theological stance of places
in the next town), or you may simply have to accept the fact that you
will be a non-church attending Christian; that
should not throw you into a panic, because you will not be the first
and you will certainly not be the last! After all, In moslem areas of
the Arab world there are probably thousands of non-church
attending Christians!! Indeed, it is known for a fact that Christians
who either never get to a hall of worship, or manage to do so
only about once every month or so can be measured in the tens of
thousands on a worldwide scale and possibly form the largest
Christian group! The irony of this is that many of these people
are exceptionally strong in the Faith although many (quite mistakenly
in my opinion) tend to think that those who don't get to a Christian
hall of worship every single Sunday are either backsliders or are
already half way out of the Faith!
Even in quite large towns - with several worship options - there appear to be a growing number of Christians who have made the decision to simply worship God in their own homes or within their own families, preferring to avoid organized and instituitional places of worship almost completely . At one time I might have been critical of them, but I have seen and experienced so many problems in organized places of Christian worship over the last few years that I now hesitate to be critical of such people, many of whom seem to be among the most dillgent and conscientious of believers. This has recently given rise to the term, 'Unchurched Christians' (now recognized as a huge and growing group!) although I think that that is a very regrettable term. I much prefer the term 'Unassociated Christians' – in other words, Christians who have decided – hopefully after much prayer and meditation – not to commit themselves to membership of any specific local congregation. In fact, my wife and I are in this number; we have good relations with a few local congregations but prefer not to commit ourselves to specific membership of any such group.
What advice would I give to Christians who – perhaps after much prayer and consideration and with some regret – have decided to become Unassociated Christians ? (the same advice would apply to believers who live in a remote district or who only have heretical groups who meet locally).
Ensure that you set aside specific times for prayer/worship in your home then dilligently stick to these times! There is an unfortunate tendency when worship only takes place within one home and concerns only one family, to put things off, to start to say things like, 'Well we were going to have our worship time in an hour but I really need to be...' - and things get deferred! Give God your quality time – not other things! Don't get sidetracked!
At least once every 4-7 weeks meet with a larger group of Christians if that is at all possible. Enjoy the expanded fellowship and experience the joy of singing some of the great hymns with a larger group; yes, maybe such a group would not be for you every single week and maybe you have personally experienced some of the problems which are so often present within such groups, but no reason why one cannot give oneself the 'lift' of an expanded group every now and again! Maybe you will have to travel to another town for this. Do your research!! Plan your journey!! Find a Bible-believing place which rejects all heresies. Check out the sort of hymns which they sing; usually a balance of the great hymns and a few of the better modern ones is a good sign. Be a little cautious of groups which only sing modern hymns and have very young worship leaders! Even checking out a congregation's preferred Bible version can tell you a lot: be careful of groups which have a rigorous KJV-only policy because this could denote a congregation which is a little authoritarian and legalist and which may put pressure on you to become members/practise tithing even if they only see you every six weeks or so! I have learned that I can discover a whole lot about a congregation simply by asking these questions:
a. How many in your congregation?
b. Which is your preferred Bible version?
c. What sort of hymns do you sing?
d. Do you pressurize people into becoming members?
e. What is your attitude to 'speaking in tongues'?
f. What is your attitude to 'Word-faith' (the prosperity gospel)?
g. What is your attitude to liberal theology/gay priests etc.?
Getting the right answers in these matters is far more important than learning whether a group's background is in Calvinism or Arminianism, after all, you will not be becoming a member of this congregation!
Put an important difference in how you do things on the Lord's Day, perhaps the special meal of the week, perhaps a quality wine to accompany the meal, maybe a lovely bunch of flowers for the table. Buy some CDs of quality hymn music and have them playing. If you have still been using an old cassette player, go out and buy yourself a brand new CD Player! You will be amazed at the enhanced quality of sound and how wonderful this can make hymns sound!!
Keep communion - Don't let this slide. Mark a date on the calendar for communion and stick to it!
Don't forget Bible Study and Prayer!! Don't allow Satan to see you and yours as prospective 'stragglers in the pack' which he might target. Your prayer life is now more important than when you were a congregation member!!
Subscribe to a good quality Christian magazine, so you will have quality inspirational reading at least once every month. Have a good Christian book which you are gradually going through.
Seek out quality sermon tapes – there are thousands out there! - but be careful that it is good conservative evangelical material; avoid the extreme and unbalanced especially with regard to spiritual gifts and prophecy. One of these tapes can occasionally form the 'meat' of your home-based Sunday Service! There are also excellent sermons which can be 'streamed' from the internet, saving space on your computer hard drive. Don't develop spiritual malnutrition for want of the 'meat' of the Word – there is no need to!
Be aware that some Christians will be critical of you for deciding not to be 'members' of any specific congregation! You may wish to simply point out to them that there is no New Testament Scripture which advises believers to do so! You may also wish to point out that the first Christians invariably worshipped in way that you are doing, that is: within private homes. Denominationalism, with its enforced local church membership pattern, did not arrive for many hundreds of years!
Robin Brace, 2005.
MUSELTOF COUNTERCULT AND APOLOGETICS UK
WITNESS TO THE WORD