Liberty Heights Church

February 11, 2006

In our church-hopping, we dropped in on Liberty Heights Church this past weekend.  Liberty is among the largest Southern Baptist Churches in the state.  However, they have had a recent string of setbacks.  They are currently without a pastor, as Terry Fields (the previous pastor) has taken a job with the North American Mission Board.  Their are without a Worship Pastor, since Rick Melson (with whom I have had lunch) left to join the staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (and who would not want to go work with John Piper).

The church has moved into a new facility within the past year.  This property is at least 8 or more miles from their previous location.  A church is bound to lose some of its membership in moving that distance.  With the hits of losing all the platform staff, and the move, the attendance is considerably down.

In spite of all this, we really enjoyed the church.  The facility is gorgeous (of course a price was paid for it).  The kids programming seems to have remained strong.  The teacher for the day was a professor from Southern Seminary.  I did not realize in coming that I would know the worship leader, but the layman who was leading the worship did a great job under the circumstances.  I have been in his position, and I know some of the pressures involved with maintaining a full-time day job and coordinating a worship program.  The music was well presented, well led, and sincere.  The homily was well-formed with tremendous content and delivery (by an experienced teacher).

I would not be surprised if we ended up at Liberty.  For me, there is a little selfishness to it in that we can choose the level of involvement that we will take.  We can be a part of something that is dynamic, and we won’t feel pressure to do more than we want at present.  I have to test and try my motives if we choose to make this our home; but I think we could be happy here.  As with any of those visiting now, we would like to see who the pastor will be before we settle permanently.

Wednesday we returned to let the kids enjoy the children’s programming and so that we could visit the choir.  Choir is something that I have always loved.  I do not know that if I were to plant a church today that we would attempt to form a choir, but as an established ministry, it is something I love when done right.  They do it right at Liberty.  The music is dynamic and strong.

We will continue to pray for God’s direction in leading us to a new home of worship.  I have enjoyed the ability to visit around and see what other churches are doing; but at the same time, we really want to get settled.  It is not that I desire a place of attention in the service, but I know that God has gifted me, and I do not want to neglect those gifts.

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14 Responses to “Liberty Heights Church”

  1. Dan Mayer said

    C’mon back and join us for our Chruistmas Spectacular, December 15-17!

    Lots of good things going on since last visit.

    Liberty Heights Church member

  2. Ex-Liberty Heights Church Member said

    Stay away as far as you can. I was there when Terry Fields started at the church and immediately felt that he was not a good thing. Looking at history of disruption that comes with him (including abandoning his wife and children recently) – numerous staff members, church splits (too many to count), and distrust – I’d stay away. There needs to be change at that church and it needs to start with an overhaul of all the past. Not a good place. There are some good people still there, don’t get me wrong, but now is not a good time to be there. Spiritual reform MUST happen.

  3. Tassos Madonis said

    Sorry to hear from the ex-Liberty Heights Member…..things have changed dramatically in the past couple of months – new pastor Rick Garner has great vision and enthsiasm and the entire church family is beginning to make a dramatic change and in turn plans to make a HUGE impact not only Butler County, but world wide….
    Hope you can come by for a visit….
    http://www.librtyheights.org

  4. Nathan said

    The church is not the pastor. I, too, find the ex-member’s words a little strong. I have heard some recent positive things from LHC. LHC has tremendous potential with its location and facilities; hopefully Pastor Rick can help guide LHC in its stewardship so that it can find its footing and get back in the race full force.

    Thanks for the invites to re-visit, but God has put us elsewhere recently (and I intend to post on that soon).

  5. terry stehlin said

    I just read the ex-member’s words left on the web in February 2007. He or she better be careful when talking about the Lord’s church. It is a dangerous thing to criticize the Lord’s work and the Lord’s servants.

    My husband and I have been members for a few years. We started at the church a couple of years before Pastor Terry left. We thoroughly enjoyed him as a pastor.

    Pastor Rick seems to be a fine man. The church is a spiritual place. Apparently the ex-member didn’t feel the same. Sometimes we need to look within. That would be my suggestion for this person. We need to pray for him or her.

  6. another former member said

    Terry:
    Liberty Heights was not a good church while Terry Fields was there. You said the former member should be careful not to criticize the Lord’s servants. Really? Tell the apostle Paul when he lashed out against those who would promote false doctrine. Terry Fields didn’t preach the word of God; he preached self-help messages that were man-centered. And, the leadership of Liberty Heights let him mistreat dozens and dozens of members as well as staff people with no rebuke. The leadership of that church remains one of the most ineffective and biblically illiterate group of people I’ve ever known. I don’t know the new pastor, but the same old ichabod remains over that place unless and until the Holy Spirit purges the dross.

  7. Past Staff Member said

    As a past staff member, I too know that there was much amiss at LHC. I saw up-close and personal many people mistreated & misused at the church. The building fund was a major catastrophe & many funds were spent on VERY inappropriate things. Yet the body continued to worship their flashy pastor & not their Lord! I left due to the mess and I continue to have a very jaded view of the ministry because of the things I saw daily in that place.

    I am glad to hear there is a new Pastor & I pray there is a new spirit at LHC!

  8. terry stehlin said

    Well – such venom. That is not of God. I sign my emails because I am sure of what I believe and I do not care to identify myself.

    My background is a preacher’s kid. I know doctrine. I know it well. The Apostle Paul taught the difference between false and true doctrine. Terry Fields NEVER ONCE taught false doctrine. He preached eternal security, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, the virgin birth of Christ, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and I could go on and on.
    Let’s not confuse a preaching style with false doctrine.

    My husband and I felt the Spirit of the Lord in our church services under the ministry of Pastor Terry. I am sorry that these other writers did not feel the Spirit of God. Once again, I must say – look within.

    I certainly understand that there are those who do not like Terry Fields – he is not a perfect man. But, who is? Only Christ Jesus and none other. So, please, let go of the anger. It is so destructive in the life of the angry person.

    Ichabod does not hang over the door of Liberty Heights Church. That is an unbelievable thing for this anonymous person to say. We are seeing souls saved – people baptized – and the spirit of Christ-centered worship at our church.

    And frankly, I believe we are rid of the dross.

    I will be in worship at LHC this Sunday. I am so glad.

    Terry Stehlin

  9. another former member said

    Pastor Terry divorced his wife in May of last year. That speaks volumes, by itself.

  10. terry stehlin said

    I realize divorce is sad. I know that all too well. However, it is not the end of a christian’s life. Terry Field’s personal life is his business – not mine, or yours.

    I am glad God doesn’t look for perfect people to use in His work. I wouldn’t qualify. Would you?

    The real issue here is not Pastor Terry. He is not pastor of LHC anymore. Just let it go.
    Move on.

    Terry Stehlin

  11. Rod said

    Terry- I couldn’t agree more…I have no dog in this hunt I was just looking at other ministries…I am from NC…the problem seems to be their problem…Bitterness, anger and things they had better let go of before it bites them back…This is the reason the world doesn’t want anything to do with us…Instead of us building the kingdom up, we tear it down because we put mpre stock in MAN instead “THE MAN”. Get over it people and enjoy your walk with God.

  12. Tom said

    Ross,

    Sorry to disappoint you but Christians are human. Some humans commit crimes but that doesn’t make every human a criminal. I’m sure you have gotten bad service at a restaurant but I’ll bet you still eat out. The bitterness shown here is unfortunate but it does not mean that all Christians are bitter and hypocritical. I personally believe that some folks who call themselves Christians really shouldn’t because their actions would tend to prove otherwise. Give Christianity a chance before you decide it’s better to live in hell.

    –Tom

  13. Louise said

    Wow, there are a couple of angry people here. I’ve been a member of LHC for 17 years so I have lived through all of this turmoil. There’s a number of allegations here, but I am just going to comment on one of them: First of all, Pastor Terry did not abandon his wife and children. His wife refused to go where his new job was. He did not divorce her, the divorce was her idea. There are 2 sides to this story and I heard both of them, from the sources. There is a lot most people don’t know. I won’t comment because it is their business.

    It also seems that it is not taken into account that there also were a number of “trouble makers” in the church. They turned the church upside down and then they all left.

  14. Joe Esarey said

    Jesus has always been all about resurrection!
    The life of Jesus is much like the life of a church.
    Jesus was conceived/born of the Holy Spirit. The Church was birthed in Acts 2 by the coming of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Once Christ was born, He had LIFE…and lived it fully. God expects His church to have LIFE….and flow in that life abundantly. Christ suffered much in His life…He was rejected, betrayed, abandoned by followers, and mistreated. Likewise, the church throughout the ages has suffered greatly and continues today in that suffereing. Jesus laid down His life, and DIED! This is where the church today…every church…struggles. All church want RESURRECTION POWER…but no DEATH. Had Jesus not died, he would not have been resurrected. Simple point. Yet…profound! He “let” Lazarus die so He could raise Him up again. Jesus said “destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up again”. Until a church is willing to DIE….die to itself, it will not know the REVIVAL…the RESURRECTION it so deperately needs. But I know…..if a church WILL DIE….The same Spirit that quickened the body of Jesus…will quicken the body of believers who will be united around “dying to self”….and resurrection will follow!
    Now my friend, that’s the real need in church today.
    Better than a program….better than the lessons in the new SBC quarterly LOL. Better than self-life is death to self.
    Blessings to you all!
    http://www.HisPoiema.org

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