Let me first start off by saying I have never left a one-star review for a church before, but I really felt God tell me that this is so important that I have to write this- even if I lose some of my friends who still attend there.
And before people who still go to this church get defensive and think I don’t love Jesus or believe the Bible, know this- I am a genuine Christian and follow the Bible to the best of my ability. So don’t judge me without reading everything that I have to share- this is my personal experience and what God told me to write.
I attended this church for over seven years and am truly thankful for all the good that I received from the leaders and friendships that I made there. I learned many things and God did big things in my life while I went here. However, that doesn’t change what I saw or how things are done behind the scenes.
First, Paul claims to have had a special experience with God where he got insight into the Jewish faith. And for the most part I believe him, but it’s how he shares those insights that give me caution. Even though he said he checked with other Jews like Peter and James to confirm his approach I feel like they don’t know what it’s like serving with him. He constantly rebukes us when we sin instead of letting us grow at our own pace. And threatens to kick us out the church if we remain in our struggles.
Many of us came from pagan religions and it’s hard to all of sudden stop going to the pagan temples and participate in the festivals- especially when all our family and former friends are there. So many of those who attend the church keep leaving because the leaders put too much pressure on us to go all in for Jesus. Everyone should be allowed to be the kind of Christian they want to be- not the kind Paul wants us to be.
Second, Paul had a fight with another of his fellow leaders (Barnabas) over a young disciple who got scared on a mission trip and left to go home. The other leader left with the young man and this shows that Paul was wrong because he wanted him to stay home until he got over his cowardice. I think most people are scared to let Paul know how he intimidates others- those like Timothy, Phoebe, Priscilla, Aquilla, and Titus seem to just be “yes” people. I agree with Barnabas and think he was right.
Third, we were told some pretty extreme things that we didn’t hear from the leaders at other churches— like we were told to remain single if it meant we had more time for God, we were told to have women be silent in our services and that if wives had questions to ask their husbands at home, and that we had to be soldiers in God’s army. All of these things are just too intense for most people.
Fourth, Paul uses his letters to correct and lead us instead of coming to us face-to-face, I think he is too busy and not really organized. We are always being told he can’t come because God keeps closing doors- but I just think it’s because he is trying to do too much. I’d rather follow Peter or Apollos because I hear they are closer to the churches they started. Paul is always involved in some kind of riot or uprising. Even Agabus warned him not to go to Jerusalem but he went anyway and got arrested. So doesn’t that make it his fault?
Fifth, when Paul actually does come around, he is really not a good speaker- he doesn’t speak as good as the other leaders and his services are too long. Once he preached all night and a young man fell asleep and then fell from a window and died. Sure, God used Paul to raise him to life, but Paul then just went back to preaching until the morning! Zero understanding that it was actually his fault the young man died.
Sixth, some of the churches Paul pastors are out of control- people getting drunk during communion, following Jewish laws, living sexually perverted lives, and all other kinds of messy things. Most churches I’ve attended don’t have these problems. Something must be wrong with how Paul leads.
Seventh, Paul tells people to follow him; instead of saying what most pastors say, “Don’t follow me, just follow Jesus.” I think this is because he likes everyone reading his letters and following his directions. Once when some people in Titus’s house church tried to bring up some good ideas on how to reach more people, Paul said they were divisive and only after one warning he had Titus remove them from the church.
I could go on, but I hope everyone reading this gets the point that this church is dangerous and not really the kind of church you want your family to go to. There are other options in the area, and I would recommend finding one of those churches to attend. Also, if you have friends or family attending here, pray for them and ask God to use them to change the church so that Paul and the other leaders will more like Jesus.
(2 Timothy 4:10)