Another “Community Church”

February 4, 2006

EDITOR’S NOTE: At the time of this notation, this post is pushing 5 months old. Because of recent comments, I feel it is necessary to clarify the context of this post. As you read this post, please note that I have only visited Turtle Creek Community Church once, and that was for their very first (launch) service. There has been no attempt to typify what TCCC’s ministry looks like today. If you have questions or concerns about TCCC, please contact them directly and do not use any comments made here as an excuse to not worship with them. The majority of this post is just opinion and is not intended to distinguish between a right way and a wrong way. I continue to have concerns with TCCC’s doctrine, but this is assuming that they hold to similar doctrines as the denomination that they have aligned themselves with. None of the comments thus far, however, have ventured into this disucssion. With that, I invite you to read and respond as necessary.

This is a belated post. Last Sunday My family and I visited Turtle Creek Community Church. This was their “launch” Sunday. They had some Christmas related services in December, but this was the official kick-off. As we are on our “sabbatical” we really wanted to see what other churches are doing. Since I am interested in church planting, I was very interested in how they pulled off the first service.

We received a very nice mailer that told us of the event. We arrived in a hailstorm at the elementary school in which the services were being held. It was actually rain when I dropped the family off at the curb, but by the time I looped the parking lot, “all hail broke loose.” It was confusing finding the nursery for lack of signage and guidance, but we eventually dropped both kids (1 and 3 years old) in the same classroom (We were slightly disappointed at this point that they had nothing more stimulating for our 3 year old, but our expectations were likely too high anyway.). We found a few friends to sit with that we had not seen in a while. They have been in the area for a few months and have yet to find a church home in which they would be happy.

The service was ok. I hate to be judgmental, because I doubt I would do it any better in foresight. However, the pastor was not as smoothe or polished as I had hoped. The music was good, but there was no interaction. The congregation did not sing at all. I recognize that they are trying to reach unchurched people, and unchurched people might not yet feel comfortable in participating, but I still think this was a poor choice.

The message was poor (in my not-so-humble opinion). It was 20 minutes into the message (after having incorporated 2 movie clips) before the Bible was even opened. Again, I am in favor of the multimedia, but the Bible has to come out strong, because it is the gospel (found in the Word) that is our only hope at change.

I have labeled this post “Another ‘Community Church,'” because this is the 3rd “Community Church” that we have visited within a month’s time (see prevous post). I must reiterate here that you never know what you are going to get. In this case, the plant is part of the Church of God (Anderson) denomination. This is a major strike mark against them from my perspective. Here are some of the beliefs from my COG brethren (I would disagree with the majority of these statements):

The Church of God, as well as other Holiness Churches, as well as the Methodist Church they came out of, teach a salvation by grace thru faith in the Lord Jesus Christ initially, but one must maintain good WORKS and remain faithful to the Lord in order to remain saved, as do all other Holiness Churches. Thus many outside observers would say this is a salvation of grace plus works. Instead of receiving the free gift of Eternal Life, Holiness Churches teach one receives PROBATIONARY LIFE when one trusts Christ as Saviour.

The Church of God, as other Holiness Churches, believes that a person who has been saved and born-again can achieve SINLESS PERFECTION in this lifetime. In an act subsequent to trusting Christ for salvation, which some call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or SECOND BLESSING, one is said to be cleansed at that moment from ALL inward sin…and it is ‘eradicated’ when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit.

The Church of God and other holiness churches believe that once a person has become a born-again Christian that he can ‘Sin willfully and SEVER his relationship with Christ’. Thus, the Church of God believes that Salvation can be LOST after one has been truly saved, and that person can end up in hell after all. Wesleyans reject the doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved, otherwise known as ‘Eternal Security’. All other Holiness Churches, as well as the Church of God itself, believe Salvation can be LOST and reject the Baptist doctrine of ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED teaching of Eternal Security. This is known as ‘Arminian theology’ and is a tenet of Holiness Churches.

The Church of God also sees a third ordinance as FOOT WASHING. They believe Jesus’ example of washing the disciples feet was meant to be repeated as an ordinance in local churches today amongst believers, but none of these ‘ordinances are considered mandatory conditions of Christian experience or fellowship.’

The Church of God does allow and ordain WOMEN PREACHERS. In fact, the first women preachers in America began in the Holiness Movement of the later 1800’s.

(these quotes were excerpted from http://www.gospelcenterchurch.org/churchofgod.html, this site is not related to, nor sponsored by the Church of God. It is a church’s site that shows the difference from Baptist’s and other churches’ beliefs.)

I can hope that God will use Turtle Creek to reach some with the gospel, but the gospel is not good news unless it is eternally secure. This will not cause me to cease from fellowship with these brothers and sisters in Christ. I can only lovingly encourage them to the truth. However, it is unlikely that I would revisit this new plant.

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8 Responses to “Another “Community Church””

  1. Kellie Powell said

    Let me introduce myself … my name is Kellie Powell and I’m one of the labeled “unchurched people” who attend Turtlecreek Church that you refer to. Your blog has disappointed me — not only because of what you’ve stated but, that old time feeling of how some “church people” can be so judgemental set in by the time I was done reading it. Not only do I attend Turtlecreek but, my whole family does too and we have since the first X-Mas service. Your comments have hurt my feelings because you have boldly stated how bad our church was but, your not getting the point of what our Pastor is trying to do and why we are comfortable still attending. Our church is perfect for us. We don’t dance or sing or do the typical thing that most are use to but, we know we have the option and that is it an option and not something forced! When we do open the Bible to get the lesson of the day, you better believe that it is with open ears! Our Pastor has taught us how to be a sponge and to absorb. On our last Sunday visit, he taught us how to pray. How can things like this be even close to a being a bad mark against anything? Things like this blog is the reason I never attended church before and why there is still a thing of “unchurched people”. You visited one time, it was not up to your standards and you have made it public for everyone to view that Turtlecreek is not the greatest — followed by the reply of how you’d be unlike to revisit. This is not the type of reaction any church needs especially one that is just getting started. And as hurt as I am at you .. I will forgive you and invite you back because that is what I’ve been taught at church to do. However, I hope you’ll be able to open your heart & mind to something new and be able to see that Turtlecreek is touching people and becoming a big part of people lives. To me, anytime the Word is passed to people and explained in a very real way for them understand it, there is no way that is something bad or misperformed. Our Pastor has made a church that welcomes everyone as they are and the only thing that he ask of us, is that we attend and we allow ourselves to aborb the word of God and to me that is exactly what I’ve not found at many other churches.

  2. Nathan said

    Kellie, I know what it is to be on the defensive, I’ve been there many times myself. I’m sorry if I have offended you, but this blog does express my opinions and that is what you have here in relationship to TCC. I have been up front that my opinions were based on a single service, and the first service at that. None of what I have stated, however, is inaccurate.

    I would like to think that I am not your typical “church people,” but I am highly concerned with the way the gospel is presented. I am in favor of innovative methods, which Kevin seems to be using, but our innovation cannot distort the truth. I don’t say that as an accusation but rather a warning. I have too often seen this become the case.

    I am in no position to offer any more opinion on TCC and their continued ministry. I am glad that you and your family have found a home there. If I were in Kevin’s position, I would hopefully take my comments with a grain of salt, knowing that I am not the audience he is trying to reach. You, however, are the audience he is trying to reach, and it appears he is having success in that arena.

    My only final thoughts for you are in relation to truth. If Kevin and TCC hold to the beliefs that I have excerpted in my original post, then I must stress that this is an inaccurate and incorrect representation of what the Bible has to say. “Good works” are evidence of salvation not requirements for it. We work “because we have been” saved, not “in order to be” saved. Also, salvation is eternal, and is therefore not something that God gives and takes away. It is a gift that can never be taken back.

    I pray that you will continue to grow in your spiritual journey and that you will find truth. Hopefully TCC will be the source of much of that truth; but also that you will always question your teachers and make your search for truth a personal matter as well. Blind faith can lead to places that we should not go.

    I again apologize for any misunderstanding you may have had concerning my comments.

  3. Traci said

    It is with great sadness and frustration that I stumble across your post this morning. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting the folks of Turtlecreek Community Church and visited one of their services as a fill-in worship leader. So, I have had as much experience with their church as you have apparently.

    The reason your posting provided me sadness and frustration was because of its poisonous nature. Words of criticism are damaging despite their intent. I was told a long time ago that “feedback requires a request”. I think this is a principle to remember. In your case, blogging must be like journaling, a way to clearinghouse your thoughts. However I must caution to be careful.

    Let me remind you of your own words…
    “It was confusing finding the nursery for lack of signage and guidance…”
    “We were slightly disappointed at this point that they had nothing more stimulating for our 3 year old…”
    “The service was ok. I hate to be judgmental…”
    “However, the pastor was not as smoothe or polished as I had hoped…”
    “The music was good, but there was no interaction…”
    “I still think this was a poor choice…”
    “The message was poor…”

    While some of your comments were followed by disclaimers like, “I doubt I would do it any better in foresight,” the sting of your criticism is still left with the reader. Attending a church and then posting your criticisms is not like being a food critic and writing an article after eating in a new restaurant. TCC and other churches are not in the business of selling something temperal, we are selling faith in Christ to the lost. Your criticism may very well squash the flicker of hope that is found in the heart of new believers like Kellie who posted earlier.

    Take a moment and think and pray over what your true motives are in this posting. You and I can spend the rest of our lives arguing over doctrinal issues. I can read the same scriptures as you and find different meanings. I’m not writing this to discuss doctrine with you. I’m writing this because I want you to simply hear from me that your words are like poison or termites… creating an infestation in the heart that can destroy the fledgling faith of the new Christian or even old believer.

    If your motives were entirely pure, speaking the truth in love, then perhaps you should follow the scriptural principles found in Matthew 18. If you truly believe that TCC is so in error, then your responsibility is to go directly to the Pastor and talk to him one one one. Hear his heart. Find out if your suspicions are true. Because what if you’re wrong? What if you’ve made assumptions about the church based on one visit that are incorrect? You’ve posted your criticisms as fact, when in fact they are only opinion. It’s all really sad to me.

    In a time when we should be joining together to bring people to the Lord, tearing each other down is the last thing we need.

    Proverbs 12:18:
    Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.

    Proverbs 15:2:
    The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

    Matthew 18:15
    If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

  4. Karl Ranfew said

    Is the foundation of the church in hope or is it in truth? Traci West, here criticizes criticism because it might squash someone’s hope, but what’s the alternative? Is silence concerning the truth not also deception?

    If the church has any claim to legitimacy, it is not that it offers hope. Any cult offers its followers hope, and hope they do in vain. If the church is to be anything other than a cult, it must have truth.

    Traci hasn’t berated Nathan for posting something untrue, but rather for possibly “squashing the hope of an unbeliver.”

    Nathan posted this one week among many weeks that he had visited many churches and simply wrote about his experiences during those visits. He didn’t attack TCC, he merely wrote truthfully about his experience. From Kellie’s one really long paragraph, it seems she is upset with Nathan for making her feel bad by saying that he didn’t like the church and that one of the church’s core beliefs is not, in his opinion, Biblical. She doesn’t say Nathan’s incorrect. Instead her position seems to be that he should say nothing negative.

    Traci West’s message is the same. Is this the new message of the church? “We don’t have the truth, but we sure can make you feel better about yourself.”

    Traci even quotes scripture. Quoting Proverbs 12:18 about “cutting remarks” in the same post that she is cutting Nathan down. Quoting Proverbs 15:2 which doesn’t seem at all relevant and is ambiguous at best and then referring to Matthew 18 twice, quoting verse 15 which talks about going privately and pointing out the fault when a believer “sins against you.” Even if one were to stretch Nathan’s comments so far as to claim that he thinks that TCC or its people sinned against him, then how is Traci’s comment not exactly the same thing? Did she first email Nathan privately and get rebuffed? It doesn’t seem that way.

    Any believer who is a true believer should be able to withstand criticism better than any other because believing means that he is certain he has truth on his side. I feel sorry for Kellie because she seems to think that truth is only truth if it makes her feel good. Unfortunately truth has no such restriction. The common saying that the truth hurts is not just a saying.

    I don’t feel as sorry for Traci, and her position is harder to defend. She allows herself to publicly scold Nathan, who is another believer, for posting public criticisms. Her claim of authority, scripture, seems to have been written more to her than to Nathan.

  5. Traci said

    I’m not going to enter into a lengthy discourse about this topic anymore. It’s apparent that it is in vain. I’m not debating doctrine because it’s not about that. If it’s easier to discredit me than to actually hear me, then it’s your loss.

    And if you think it’s ok to criticize churches for their nursery, sermons, music, etc, then you and I will never agree.

    I did not post my blog for any purpose other than to point out that as I said, ‘Attending a church and then posting your criticisms is not like being a food critic and writing an article after eating in a new restaurant.’ It is does not build up the body, and I don’t care if you tie it up neatly with a bow and call it “truth”. That doesn’t increase its value. Our words are supposed to always be full of grace.

    Ephesians 4:29
    “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

  6. Karl Ranfew said

    Traci, my point remains the same. How is your comment on here “good and helpful” or “full of grace” or “building up the body?”

    I haven’t labeled Nathan’s comments as “truth.” I was pointing out that the church has no hope in hope, but only hope in truth and that if you reject something, you ought to reject it because it is untrue. Rejecting only what contradicts your hopes is foolishness.

    I have not discredited you. I do not know you. I instead discredited your position which means I did hear what you had to say, however I rejected what you had to say as implicitly inconsistent because you are only criticizing Nathan for criticism. If I am to understand that your criticism is constructive, then how is Nathan’s not? I haven’t said Nathan is right, only that if he’s wrong for critcizing, you are equally wrong.

    You seem to have implied with the word, “anymore,” that you have been employed in lengthy discourses about this before. If you don’t understand why it is so difficult to get people to accept what you are saying, I’m telling you why.

    If you don’t think that it’s ok to criticize churches then you are right that we can never agree. Save the gospels, most of the New Testament is criticism of churches. Nathan is by no means an apostle, but since you are not either, I can’t see the difference here. The church should be the most open to criticism. I cannot imagine that Christ or his Father are going to be easier critics. The fact that Nathan’s comments are so much less important than those in the epistles is just less of a reason to get bent out of shape.

    I think you’ve taken Ephesians 4:29 out of its full context. If Paul took this advice by itself, alone as you’ve offered it, he would not have written half of his epistles. Nathan’s words could easily be good and helpful if those who read it endeavored to either reject them as incorrect/insignificant or accept them and improve. I fail to see the difference between your comments and Nathan’s, except that yours are implicitly inconsistent. It’s a pity you have prefaced your last comment with an excuse to not answer this one, but I was hoping you’d at least answer why you think your comments are justifiable whereas Nathan’s are not.

  7. Kellie Powell said

    Nathan, Traci & Karl —

    WOW! When I started reading the reponses of this blog I felt happy that Traci understood what I was saying and then when I read further, I started getting sad. The replies (including mine) are harsh and turned into a script throw-down. I want to apoligize for my response if I hurt anyones feelings. I personally can’t compete in the script throw-down for a lack of knowledge and willingness but, I know it made me sad to read on because even though we disagree about things we all are believing in the same thing — which is something we all do agree on. My response was in anger because it took me & my family a long time to come to a point were we are church people. Not that the we didn’t read the Bible — it was just always at home and the reason why is because church is intimidating to someone who hasn’t been brought up going to church regularly. My fear (and many others I know) about going to church, is not because of God or the church or being in that setting .. it’s the people who go and what the world had protrade as church. When I read Nathan entry, that’s what was running through my head. If I was a different person who was looking up TCC and found that blog, it would give me a misinturptation of what TCC really is and I wouldn’t have went. That was my main point to Nathan, that his words can be discouraging if he keeps wording his reviews as “a bad mark”, etc. I forwarded Nathan’s blog to my Pastor and my Pastor told me at church that Sunday, not to worry about it. We talked for about 5 mins. about it before church because it was still bothering me and all he did was reassure me that I was going to church to understand God & the Bible and not to get too wrapped up in what others think because that’s not the foundation of TCC. He didn’t start this church to be another community church. He built it to allow all people to come as they are and stay or go at their will. My reaction to Nathan was out of hurt because I really like TCC and we are growing steadily but, slowly and it just seemed to be something that wouldn’t help us become as big of a congregation and as close to one another as I hope we will. Just like his friends he talked about that haven’t found a church to settle with .. is it becasue of his opinions that are making them walk away from TCC (if they have)? That’s the kind of discouragement I’m referring to. Are they getting wrapped up in what the world protrays as church or are they looking with an open heart to what the church has to offer to get them feeling closer to God? It took me several visits to TCC before I made a decision of it being what I’m looking for and lucky for me, it is.

  8. Nathan said

    Kellie, I appreciate your honesty.

    I will be honest and say that I never intended this post to have the effect it has obviously had. I am very surprised that a Google search for “Turtle Creek Community Church” brings up a link to my post as the number 1 result (actually, it varies between #1 and #2 from my experience). As discouraging as it is, it is not until page 2 of Google’s results that you actually find the homepage you may have been looking for. Every other front page result seems to link to a church in Texas by the same name. As much as I would like to start generating traffic to my blog, I am not in favor of it taking precedent over TCC’s homepage. It was not my intent for anyone’s first exposure to TCC’s ministry be my blog; and changing Google’s indexing is beyond the scope of my ability (…I digress).
    If I were part of the ministry of TCC (and I’m not), I would consider the original post for how I might benefit from it. I would not, however, let it bother me. I am not who TCC is trying to reach, so why should my opinion really matter to them (it should’t). As any ministry team member should attest to, it is nice to have an honest outside opinion of how our service is perceived. It was not my intent for this to be the first exposure that someone had to TCC. I was perfectly pleased when this post remained in obscurity as it did for almost 6 months.
    I do not intend to remove the post, but I will take the time to preface the post to give it better context.
    I continue to invite response, and feel free to continue to tell me how I am missing the point. Just remember that God and I know the thoughts and intents of my heart much better than you do; and there was no malice in my motives in this original post. The post was not necessarily meant for this broad of an audience, so please consider these points as you continue to make your own cutting remarks against me.

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