Churches, Red Flags, and Venting :: By Candy Austin

As Christians we are not to be Anxious about Anything but instead we are to Pray about Everything! Crucial to our Faith is the Prayer for Wisdom and Discernment. We need these now more than ever in our current Laodicean Church Age. Biblical Wisdom is to have a Reverential Fear of the LORD. Godly Discernment is to have a Spiritual Awareness to Differentiate between what is True and what is False. Wisdom and Discernment protect us Spiritually by Guarding and Guiding us Away from Falsehood, Error, and Deception.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10; all scripture KJV).

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

I am pretty sure that I do not have to tell you how hard it is to find a Good Church in these Last Days! By ‘Good’ I mean a Church that Teaches the Whole Counsel of GOD!  We have found several online YouTube Pastors that have ‘Filled that Void’ over the past 5 years or so, but have yet to find that same ‘Passion and Tenacity for the Whole Counsel of GOD including Eschatology’ in any of the surrounding churches in our area!

I will begin with our Quest starting about 15 years ago in trying to find a Church Home after we had to leave our Church Home of 5 years due to Spiritual Abuse from certain members there. Spiritual Abuse by certain Ladies ‘ganging up on me during a Mandatory Women’s Meeting’ one night, trying to ‘Force’ me and two other Ladies around my age who also had small kids to participate in the administration of the Fall Festival. First off, no one should try to ‘Force’ anyone to participate in anything, much less a Church Function or Activity if they do not feel Comfortable, Led, or Compelled to do so!

Therefore, I tried to explain to them that I had just started a New Job and that ‘Night Activities were not Feasible for me’ since having to cook for my family, my kids having homework, and the need for us to Prepare for the next day. Clearly, my ‘New Job Excuse’ was not Good Enough for them because the Pastor’s Wife then proceeded to ‘Scold’ me in front of everyone about why I needed to participate, stating that this whole event is for the kids in the church who are specifically in my kid’s age group!

Back Story is that I am really an Introvert who is also Not a Night Person; and after work and social activity, I Need or ‘more like Require Down Time’ to Recharge and Recuperate. Needless to say, when they tried to ‘Thrust this Mandatory Participation’ on me, they were not successful, seeing how I then grabbed my purse, called my kids from the other room, and Walked Out Totally Repelled! Introverts are people who need time to ‘Mentally Prepare’ for Events and Social Activities and do not take well to being ‘Forced’ to do anything they are not comfortable with!

Looking back now, we realize that the 5 years we were there, we never really heard any preaching on the Rapture… the Second Coming maybe… but not on Our Blessed Hope! We also remember a Strange Fundraising Event called the Men’s Fashion Show, which had Men dress up like Women to prance across the stage while the congregants rolled with laughter at all the Bearded Faces Donning Lipstick and Long- Haired Wigs along with Hairy Bodies in Dresses, High Heels, and Ridiculously Stuffed Bras! This all took place in the early 2000s, but upon reflection, it ‘Eerily Resembles’ the Gender Fluidity and Transgenderism that has overtaken our culture now nearly 20 years later! Discernment reveals to us that it was a Good Thing to leave this Apostate Environment!

Fast forward a few years when we started visiting a Mega Church, the same one that we are in now. To expound on this Mega Church, we have left it several times in hopes of finding a smaller more Intimate Church where we did not feel Anonymous, but somehow we always seemed to come back to this huge Mega Church. I will share, or better yet, ‘Vent’ on some of the experiences we have had in these smaller churches and will relate why we keep coming back to this Mega Church.

After hearing of our experiences, it will be easy to Recognize the Red Flags, the Laodicean Mindset, and the Apostate Condition of these churches. Many churches we visited only a few times because we could ascertain that it was not Biblically Sound, such as taking something Sacred like Communion and making it ‘Common.’  In this particular church, the Communion Element Table would be out every Sunday for Anyone to Walk up, take the Elements, and go back to their seats to Partake on their Own without any Official Word on this Sacred Practice!

Discernment tells us that Communion is Very Sacred, and it is a Practice that is to be taken in a GOD- Ordained and Orderly Fashion! Such as Scripture being read by the Pastor, the Examining of Oneself, and of Thought-Provoking Prayer, Remembering what JESUS Did for us before we Haphazardly or Commonly Partake! In 1 Corinthians it talks about taking Communion ‘Worthily or in a Worthy Manner.’ That alone tells us that this is not something to be Taken Lightly!

Excerpt from GotQuestions: What is the importance of the Lord’s supper / Christian Communion?

We may ask what it means to partake of the bread and the cup “in an unworthy manner.” It may mean to disregard the true meaning of the bread and cup and to forget the tremendous price our Savior paid for our salvation. Or it may mean to allow the ceremony to become a dead and formal ritual or to come to the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin. In keeping with Paul’s instruction, we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup. – Source 

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (1Corinthians 11:27).

Then there was this Charismatic Church that had a Pastor who Claimed that he could see ‘Demons sitting on people’s shoulders.’ And not only that; he would call them out and tell them that they needed to come up to the front and let him Pray over them right now! Question… Since GOD is ‘No Respecter of Persons,’ how is it that ‘Certain People’ can Claim to have a ‘Direct Hotline to the LORD’ and supposedly have the ‘Supernatural Ability to See into the Spiritual Realm’ while the Rest of Us (The Majority) do not?! Discernment tells us that these Kinds of Claims are Unbiblical and Incongruous to the Truth!

One church we Attended and Joined for the space of 6 months had Red Flags all over the place! Embarrassingly, we kept on going because we were getting a lot of Needed Attention which we so desperately craved at the time. The Huge Red Flag was that the Pastor, while leading the congregation in Prayer each Sunday, would consistently address the Devil by telling him, “Devil, you’re a Liar and you’re not welcome here!” At first glance, that would seem like the thing to do, but Discernment Sirens went off every time because we have come to learn that addressing the Devil is not something we should do! Our ‘Focus should Not be on Satan’ especially while in Prayer! Our Focus should be on the LORD JESUS and in asking HIM to make all Evil flee!

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Worshipping the Devil obviously includes prayer and talking to him… so why would someone, much less a Pastor, Focus on addressing and/or talking to the Devil while leading the congregation in Prayer at Every Service?! By reading GOD’S WORD, we learn that Michael the Archangel Dared Not to bring a Railing Accusation against Satan, but said, “The LORD Rebuke you.” This example tells us that we should not do such a thing, seeing how even Michael the Archangel Dared Not to do it! Hence the repulsiveness to me of the ‘Not Today, Satan’ t-shirts which acclimates people in addressing the Devil!

“Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 1:9).

Another Red Flag that we perceived while attending this Particular Church was that it was a ‘Dead Church’ in terms of Absolutely No Youth Activity, Little to No Fellowship, and Hardly Any Growth in Numbers! This church was so small that if one did not attend on a Wednesday night, then everybody, namely the Pastor and his Wife, noticed! Sure enough, two Sundays in a row, the Pastor would end his sermon by strutting back and forth across the stage like an Angry Rooster, ‘Reprimanding the Congregation with a Rebuking and Condescending Tone’ for not coming on Wednesday nights!

It did not matter that we regularly tithed, cleaned the church, worked the sound booth, did song specials in Sign Language, and tried to help the church grow. If we did not come on Wednesday nights then we were ‘sure to be made to feel guilty’ about it! This Pastor used his Platform to Spiritually Abuse, Manipulate, and/or Coerce the congregants to do what he wanted them to do! I did not understand why something that was not of a ‘Sin or Salvation Issue’ was of such importance even to the driving away of congregants who saw through this Manipulation! (On a side note, this church has a history of a high turnover rate, and very few stay the long haul.)

Throughout the past 15 years, we have come to meet and know several Pastors on our Quest in trying to find a Church Home. Some Pastors were really Nice (but we did not get to know them due to Theological or Doctrinal Error); some were Loving and True Shepherds of the Flock (these are the ones we miss but had to leave for other reasons); some were ‘Hoity Toity’ (too Rich, Famous, or Popular to acknowledge our presence, much less shake our hands); and some really Should Not have ever been Behind a Pulpit (especially the ones that talk to the Devil during Every Service)!

There are other ‘Vent-Worthy Experiences’ that I could write about; but, for the time being, I will go ahead and wrap up with the Mega Church that we are in now. This church has EVERYTHING! It is the size of an Airport Terminal/Shopping Mall! It has Bible-Based Preaching, Music that Glorifies JESUS, Coffee Bars, Elevators, Baptistries, Nurseries galore, Multi-level Sunday School classes, ‘Worshiptainment’ (Worship Team Band, Smoke, Lights, Media Effects), a Chapel, a Paid Staff that includes Professional Media and Production Team, and more importantly to us.. Life Groups! Life Groups here consist of (Specific to your Age Group and Common Interests) Sunday School Classes that ‘Do Life’ with each other by Worshipping, Learning, Growing, and Fellowshipping with one another on a Regular Monthly Basis!

Hence the reason why this Mega Church draws us back every time for their having ‘Well-Organized Fellowship’ which we so desperately Need, seeing how the Love of Many has waxed cold in our personal life!  Nowhere else have we found such Organized, Regular, Monthly Church Fellowship like we have found here!

But before we get Lost in the ‘Bliss’… this Mega Church is not without ‘Red Flags’ either! Discernment tells us that this Church is ‘Somewhat Compromised’ for Certain Reasons that I may delve into at a later time. But for now, I will divulge some examples such as trying to be ‘Too Relevant’ to the point of dropping the name ‘Baptist’ from their title several years ago, to Promoting Secular Movies and TV Shows even during Sermons and Sunday School Lessons.

As Christians, we know that we are to be IN the World but not OF IT; so seeing a ‘Big Bang Theory’ clip being used for a Sunday School lesson had our Discernment Sirens going off! (Is not the whole premise of the Big Bang Theory to refute Biblical Creationism?!) Once again… it seems like no matter where we go, we cannot get away from churches that acquiesce to celebrating Halloween, churches that have one Red Flag or another, and mainly churches that do not have Well-Organized Fellowship.

So, our Quest to find ‘the Ideal Church’ or what we are looking for does not seem likely in this Laodicean Church Age. What we want is a Church Home that will: 1) Preach on the Whole Counsel of GOD, (2) Focus on what the Flock Needs which is the Teaching on Eschatology and/or at least Prophecy Updates, (3) Well-Organized and Frequent Fellowship, (4) No Compromise in the Ways of the World (Secular TV, Movies, Music & Pagan Holidays), and (5) Brothers and Sisters in CHRIST who Really Love and Care about One Another. Apparently, this is either ‘Setting the Bar Too High, Asking Too Much, or just Downright Unrealistic’ in these Last Days!

At least in this Mega Church we get about 2-3 out of the 5 Qualities we are looking for, which is sadly more than most of the churches we have experienced over the years. As much Spiritual Abuse and Frustration as we have encountered with churches over the years, one would think that we would have given up by now! The Truth is that many people Look for or Will Find ‘Any Reason’ to Stop Going to Church. Ultimately, it boils down to this… we know on this side of Heaven we will not have the ‘Perfect Fellowship’ we long for… but that should Never cause us to ‘Forsake the Fellowship’ especially in these Last Days! Just because People Fail Us does not mean that We Fail CHRIST! We are to Remain Faithful until HIS COMING!

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Until Next Time… Maranatha!


*Ambassador For Christ in All I Do

*YouTube Channel: All For Christ (Sign Language/Voice Ministry)

*Instagram: ambassadorforchrist07

*Occupation: Sign Language Interpreter Sub//Highest Calling of Wife, Mother, & Keeper of the Home