Nourishing a Healthy Faith
A Defining Moment of Faith
It was almost 20 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was sitting in a church that my husband and I had been attending for eight years. An associate pastor was preaching this day and something gave me a sense that a big “but” was coming. I listened closely as she shared her opinions about a ministry activity in town. “I know they do this and that’s good…and this is OK, too, but I disagree with their position on this…”
I will never, ever forget what she said next:
“I know it says this in the Bible, but this is the nineties and there’s a new social order.”
I felt like someone punched me in the gut. I honestly don’t remember a word she said after that. My heart was pounding and all I could think was, “I can’t come back here.”
At first our ride home was silent as each of us was deep in thought. I did not want to lead my husband in this matter; I knew in my heart that if it was mutual it was a clear sign that we needed to make a change. I tentatively broke the silence and asked my husband in as neutral a voice as possible, “What did you think of the sermon today?”
“I think we can’t go back.”
Journey to a new church
Perhaps that sounds melodramatic, but God had been doing a work in our hearts in the months leading up to this moment. About two years prior to this, some friends had given us a simple suggestion to develop deeper faith: start reading the Bible–on your own. So we did. And something began to change. We began to change.
At church the sermons didn’t seem to challenge us like they once had. Without realizing it, we had moved from being front-of-church sitters to sitting in the back. We felt our faith growing stronger, but at church, something was missing and we weren’t sure what it was.
I know now that what was missing was consistent presentation of the Word of God. Each week there was an Old Testament reading and a New Testament reading that was from the “Lectionary,” a prescribed series of Scriptures that were to be read throughout the church year. The verses were always printed in the bulletin so there was no need to bring a Bible to church. The sermons were topical, based on whatever the pastor wanted to preach on that week. We heard that Jesus loved us and that He saved us, but I confess now I never really grasped what He had saved me from.
Finding what was missing
Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” By reading the Bible on our own, our eyes had been opened to what was missing at our church, and even more so in our personal faith walk. We really cared for our church family and perhaps the habit of familiarity kept us going week after week.
But not after that day. God had clearly been drawing us in to see the power and truth of His Word. And in a single sentence, “I know it says this in the Bible, BUT…” we knew this was no longer a place we could raise our kids and cultivate a healthy, growing faith. A new social order? The world was getting crazier (and has continued to do so), and we needed to give our kids something unchangeable, unshakeable. The old hymn says, “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is shifting sand.” We needed to seek out for our kids—and ourselves—a Rock on which to stand: Jesus Christ. We longed to know Him better.
Ultimately, we knew that to have a healthy faith we needed a church that could nurture us differently than the one we had been attending.
And so that day, we began our search for a place where God’s Word was taught and cherished—one that would challenge us in our faith and support us in our desire to know more about the Bible itself as the foundation for our faith.
I’ll share in my next post where our journey led.
In the meantime, how about you? Are you wondering if your faith is solid? Do you sometimes feel like you may just be going through the motions at church? Do you have questions about faith or church in general? Our pastors would be happy to listen and help you find answers to your questions.
About the author
Nancy Zugschwert is a writer and speaker who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has been married to Jim for 30 years and they have four sons, one daughter-in-law, and a dog. She works full-time as director of communications at North Central University in Minneapolis. Nancy and her family have been attending First Free Church since 1995.