Evangelical Christianity and being 'Born again'(37 Posts)
I am a Christian and have been developing my faith this last year. I was looking for a church where I felt comfortable , inspired, ideally have good fellowship and where I feel above all the worship suits me. I am a very private person and like to pray and worship quietly in church but enjoy the feeling of being lifted up by the sermon and the Bible study.
I began visiting a C of E Parish church which was very nice, but small congregation, and the prayers and responses very formulaic. I tried a local Evangelical church where I have been going the last few months.
Last Sunday there was a sermon on Pontius Pilate and the crowds being not on Jesus' side and the reasons this may have been. This then led into a part of the sermon about salvation through Christ. The Pastor kept calling out then who wanted to be with Jesus and who would be left to one side in eternal damnation .
then there was a communion but they brought the bread and wine round to us, and didn't bless it like they do in C of E church does anyone know why this is? And the vicar kept saying, if you are with Jesus and have accepted Jesus into your life , take the bread and wine...I can't tell all of it of course, but it's quite a small church room and it's as if everyone was watching me. I thought for a moment the vicar would call me up.. He does quite a lot of calling out and clapping ...to the front and ask me if I had Jesus in my life.
Now I don't think I am lacking in my faith but I find this style excruciating and also not sure why there has to be a Born again experience.. Isn't it enough to believe Jesus is our saviour ? That he is the redeemer.
Is this just a style issue I have with the church? I am not sure I want to go back and may return to C of E , wondered if any Christians have any thoughts on this.
Hi :-) I'm also a Christian, I grew up in church and so I can't pinpoint a specific time or day where I became a Christian. It used to really bother me, but I've learnt that it's different for everyone. Some have a sudden moment where they know they were "born again" and others aren't sure when it happened but can tell you they're definitely a Christian now. The whole phrase "born again" is a weird one but one that Jesus used. It goes hand in hand with what the bible says about being a new creation if we are in Christ. The most important thing is where are you with God now? Do you have a relationship with Him that's growing and causing you to grow? If the answer is yes, then how you got there isn't too important :-)
As for style of church, are these the only 2 to choose from? It doesn't sound like you're entirely comfortable in either. I'm not really one for consumerist Christianity but I do think it's important to find a church where you can feel at home, put down roots relationally and where you learn and grow. We're all different and all reflect different aspects of a massive God so it's not surprising that there are churches who all express themselves and their worship differently. So long as the teaching is solid and you feel you connect with God there, that's the most important thing. But I would consider seeing what else is in the local area. Maybe travelling a bit further could prove worthwhile. I currently drive half an hour to church, but then that's because we had to move further out to afford a house!!
I think it is a style issue myself. To me (and I have attended both C of E and the more outgoing evangelical churches) believing in Jesus as saviour IS being born again. Some churches are more outspoken/focused on this public acceptance.
REgarding the bread and wine - the Cof E has various rules and rituals in regards to this (and many other things) whereas non denominational/evangelical churches are usually more relaxed about rules and rituals. Personally I take an "each to his own" approach. Often I enjoy the rituals that go with attending a C of E service but I know many evangelicals frown on is all as being tied in knots.
Hi Baked thanks for your thoughtful reply. I liked the evangelical church until last week. The communion is onlyonce a month and as I work a lot of weekends I haven't been to one before. I think the more Evangelical style is probably related to the communion. There was also a time for free expression.
I live in a bilingual area and there are not many English speaking churches. There is a Methodist church, a Charismatic church ( Pentecostal ) and a Baptist church.
What do you feel about the Pastor wanting me to express myself as Born again? I know he was staring at me intently and I felt as if I should say or do something .. and has previously asked me if I know Jesus and similar questions. I think maybe I don't fit in the church if I'm not comfortable with that sort of self expression.
The way churches approach communion can vary a lot. Some treat it with lots of ritual and formality, others much more laid back. I don't think any of them are wrong per-se and we always have to be careful not to judge based on mere perception. The key is the heart with which we approach it, and that's something that only each individual truly knows.
As for the pastor trying to elicit an answer out of you about your "born again status"... Well that doesn't seem great to me, but I wasn't there to see it and I naturally hate being singled out. Have you ever chatted with him before? Was he perhaps curious about who you are and where you're at in your faith? It sounds like he could handle things better and take time to chat to you privately. There is a verse about not taking communion in an unworthy manner and there being consequences for that, but even if he was concerned on that front there's better ways to handle it. Quite honestly it's hard to know, but maybe having a cuppa and a chat with him might help?
Hi Biggins thanks for your reply. I think what you suggest is true.. I felt I should give some public declaration or acceptance.
It is in this church my feeling of being with Christ has developed more deeply but I am either not ready or not willing for the public speeches, even to take the bread and wine somehow. It has made me question myself, but at the same time I know I believe. But the sermon was suggesting that if you didn't side publicly with Jesus, then you weren't with Him was the impression I was getting.
Hi Baked.. It was before the communion, as if a lot of his address to the small congregation was directed at me. He was saying'. "Are you one of those who is there with Jesus and will be with Him in Heaven or are you one of the lost to eternal hell and damnation. Some of those here today will be with Him, some may not yet be but they can accept Him into their lives today and take communion but if they are not ready for that then just let it pass them by and there will be no embarrassment about that" and a lot more besides..he wanted me to sort of confirm my faith I think..but I just felt embarrassed because it's a small intimate room and it's not a case of going up to the altar , the bread and wine came to me.
Yeah it sounds to me like a raw passion to see people saved mixed with a bit of immaturity. People with an evangelism passion can get really caught up in the mission of "getting people saved" and forget that everything has to be done in love. Its easily done really, enthusiasm just overtakes and suddenly the relative stranger in your congregation has become the target of your gospel sermon. Please don't feel condemned by it or question your faith - it's really just between you and God. No man has the right to force you into saying or doing anything. If you know that you can take the bread and wine with a clear conscience as one of God's children, then do it. Also, it's really easy for us all to sit in some sermons and feel like they're being addressed right to us - I've done it and know many others who have. Go easier on yourself and enjoy being loved by God :-)
Thanks Baked. I can take the communion as I know I believe and I know this has developed further with this new church for which I'm really grateful. But somehow I 'm not comfortable with the direct evangelical talks in the setting. It's too public in a small church. I'm really torn about whether to go back tomorrow.
Really hard to know what to say that could help. The only thing I can think of is to say pray about it and ask God to give you a peace about going back if that's the right decision. Hope you find peace and a good spiritual home xx
I have found another English speaking church in my area ..Anglican and the vicar is a canon, it looks maybe a bit busier and is very established. Am going to go there tomorrow. I'd like to be confirmed and this church offers classes ( will try it and settle first obviously)
In John 3 Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again so it's a scriptural concept.
In some evangelical churches they call themselves 'born again christians' whereas in John 3 it is implied that by definition to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, is to be born again (therefore why say 'born again Christian' and not just 'Christian'!)
Also some churches have criteria which they use, for example have you said a special prayer or asked Jesus into your life etc. I don't think it's as clear cut as that; some people don't have a conversion moment and therefore they experience God's love and grace more gradually. Still Christians but
sadly by the definition of some they are not 'born again' as they haven't had a single moment of repentance and acceptance of Christ.
Hi Boo yes I completely agree. I am Christian and the certainty of this has been gradually developing over the last few months. I read the scripture too online last night and in the way Jesus spoke I feel I am born again but don't wish to stand up/ announce myself as such in the church in a big moment..it's been a lot of prayer and reflection and it's just something I know inside myself. I wouldn't deny it, I am proud of it , but the style of telling everyone in church I am born again publicly is not what I want at all.
I got the impression now from this church Pastor he is working up to this/ expects this. I may be wrong, and I think he is leaving soon, but I'm going to try a more traditional church again.
I'm a CofE priest and I don't think I'd be happy standing up and proclaiming I am a 'born again Christian', especially if my faith and relationship with God were being judged on that statement.
I'd be happy to stand up and say I love God, I believe but know my faith can be fragile, I mess up, I say sorry and I am thankful for God's abundant grace and acknowledge my need for him in my life...... I think that means I probably am, by definition, born again but I would still not be comfortable being asked to do what you feel you will have to do.
I know a lot of people are happy in very evangelical churches but equally I know that it can be a challenge for others.
I was interested with your comments about the structure of CofE and how they use the same liturgy etc. It may not be right for you but I personally find the liturgy and structure freeing as the familiarity of words and actions allows me to do it instinctively and I feel more liberated in worship not having to worry about what I'm doing or saying as it's so natural. Just a different perspective on ritual and liturgy which might be helpful (but ignore me of it's not!)
I hope it goes well tomorrow
You need to be comfortable and what you describe, if you are correct in how you perceived it, would make most people squirm.
That said there are some 'style' things that you may have to overlook or you can be forever looking for the 'perfect' church and never finding it.
I really hate:
Prancing around waving flags.
Pastors/speakers saying "everybody say xxx" or 'turn to the person next to you and say xxx'.
Being asked to stand/raise my hand if I identify with something.
I literally cringe sometimes.
But I don't run the church and I have to remind myself that they aren't done to make me feel uncomfortable.
I'm not sure that helps you at all. I guess I'd have a look around at other places for a better fit but not write anything off.
Boo .. Thank you so much. The next stage for me is Bible study. That is what Appealed to me with the evangelical church.. It is a very Bible study based church. Looking forward to tomorrow
This morning I went to two separate churches in the end. One akin to C of E .. a sung Eucharist which was a lovely service. I had a blessing obv as I am not yet confirmed. Then I went to Baptist church where they made me very welcome and had a long chat with the minister. I can go there while deciding whether to settle .
There is one .. Wesleyan Methodist and there is an English Congregational too. I may also try my nearest village and town churches again as it's actually a few years since I was there ( and the vicar may have changed)
But both of today's churches I would really like to visit again only thing perhaps is that the congregations are elderly and small, whereas the charismatic church is younger ( but I know I wouldn't like it there)
I consider myself to be a born again believer, but that's really not how I'd describe myself - I'd just say I'm a Christian.
The bible says if you believe in your heart and confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord then you are saved. For some of us, that's something powerful and emotional at the front of a church very publicly, for others of us, that's a very quiet private declaration. They're both fine.
I'd also consider myself to be a charismatic evangelical Anglican. But again, probably not how I'd describe myself on a day to day basis! I love the liturgy and tradition of the Anglican Church, but my preferred style of worship is very charismatic (singling in tongues, dancing, but not ribbon waving. Never ribbon waving).
Which means I find myself at home in a variety of different churches. If God's there, it's good. I personally would miss the liturgy of communion if I were attending a less formal house church on a more regular basis, but equally I'd miss charismatic worship if my local Anglican Church was more of a hymn sandwich type of a place.
I don't think there's any one true and right church - how can there be, when we are all flawed people and we are the ones attending them? I think it's down to us to listen, participate, and decide for ourselves which bits ring true and which don't.
Being singled out from the front must be a little intimidating; I'm not sure how I'd handle that at all.
Confirmation for me was an important ritual. I don't think it's particularly biblical, but it was a public declaration of my own faith, whereas my christening had been my parents making promises on my behalf. for me, standing up before the congregation to repeat vows made by countless others over the past centuries was deeply meaningful. For others, a believer's baptism serves the same purpose, as well as being a very literal washing/rebirth. Some of us have done both!
Probably a very muddled post. I don't think there's anything wrong with going either way, but I do think our God wants our love before anything else. And I'm pretty sure that what draws me to Him is his love for me, not fear of eternal damnation. Love is bigger. Love wins. Always. So try to respond to the Love, not the fear, when making decisions.
Hi Natty. I also do consider myself a born again believer in that all my life I have attended a few services a year but over the last year or two I have been drawn more and more to develop my faith and during a process over the last few months I feel a commitment to being a Christian that I didn't have before. Everything has changed with my faith yet I can't pinpoint a time. I am happy to tell people this if they ask but want to worship at services similar to the ones I went to today. The Pastor in the evangelical church didn't call out my name or call me up, but I had a strong feeling he was watching me and might do so. I found the free expression and communion too intimate in style especially with the sermon that had gone before. I just wanted to escape.
It may be in another year I'll feel differently again but for now I'll have to go with the service that suits me rather than the congregation that is more in my age group.
Thank you all for your comments and opinions. I strongly feel God will show me the way. Today the sermon at the first service was on worrying.. And I have had a lot of stress this week and do as an ongoing thing because of my job. It was a coincidence..and it's not the first time it's happened that way. The sermon often seems to be reflecting back my thoughts and feelings of that week, and guiding me.
One of my friends described it like this. Imagine you're in bed, it's night time. And then the sun comes up.
Some people have no curtains, so the room gradually gets brighter, other people have big black out blinds, and so the room is in darkness until they walk across to the window and pull them back.
And I think faith is like that too. Some people really do have a single pinpointed "and that's when I realised, and asked Jesus in, and my life changed forever" moment, other people have a far more gradual journey towards the truth.
Both end up standing in the light, but the gradual journey can be really hard to describe, especially in an "I've seen the Light!!" type church.
Oh and it's probably not a coincidence that the sermon was what you needed to hear!
I like that analogy, Natty. Mine was definitely the slow burn sun coming up.
Selling I would feel uncomfortable with what you describe. The great thing about God is that we are free to worship in the way we feel most at home, the way which suits our God-given nature. Sometimes God calls us out of our comfort zones but in general it's great that there is such variety in churches. I like lively styles of worship but really would struggle with being called out to the front or to say something in front of everyone. It sounds very forced and not very loving tbh. However, I guess it works for some people who find their home there.
(I would like to clarify that I love lively but don't love flags )
As for born again I agree with all the pp. Jesus described being in relationship with God as being born again to Nicodemus but somehow the phrase has been somewhat misused and come to mean a description of the more extreme side of Christianity eg fundamentalist evangelicals. What it actually means is all Christians of all flavours, but like the others I would go round using it as a descriptor of my faith though know some who do.
I hope you find a home where you feel free to worship in the way you were created to. So glad to read of your journey.
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