Christ Presbyterian Church | Read below to hear why I think this is the best church in Temecula...

Pastor Eric Landry

Church Website
5 is best/0 is worst)
Worship 5/5
Friendliness 4/5
Sermon 5/5
Theological Content 5/5
Evangelistic 5/5
Facility 4/5

The church is currently meeting at Chaparral High School in Temecula.

I want to begin this church review by stating that I am NOT Presbyterian. On Sunday 11/27/2011 I decided to go visit the 10:30 AM service at Christ Presbyterian Church
On this particular Sunday Rev. Robert Recio was preaching. The title of his sermon was "Christmas and Creation" I was so thoroughly impressed with the sermon that I spoke to the pastor after the service and complimented him on his preaching. It was then I learned that he was not the main preaching pastor. I thought to myself, "if this guy isn't the main preaching pastor and he was that good then how good is the other guy?" So I decided to return on Sunday December 11th. Pastor Landry preached the sermon entitled "The Christmas Controversy" I was blown away. I have listened to A LOT of preaching. I decided to return today just to make sure this guy was for real and I just didn't catch him on a good Sunday. Once again I was amazed. When I hear a sermon there are usually several things said that I am not in complete agreement with. This guy nailed it once again! Praise God that he continues to gift men such as Pastor Eric.

The Worship
The service begins with a call to worship and follows a particular flow from beginning to end. Although it is liturgical Pastor Eric presents the liturgy in a fresh and informative manner that I have never heard before. I have never been fond of liturgical churches because the ones that I have attended seemed rote and wooden. Not so at CPC.

The Music
I also really appreciated the worship music. It was contemporary yet meaningful. It was also biblical and theological in content and was not repetitious in the least. There are two to three musicians and it is very conducive to congregational worship. It was NOT a rock concert! There were no one handed drum solos or "hip shaking" bass players. (I am so sick of that stuff). The music was done with humility and reverence which is how it should be done.

The Sermon
I have already touched on this aspect of the church service. I will add that the preaching is the MOST Gospel centered I have experienced in Temecula. There is a continual reminder that our only hope is Jesus and His finished work. We don't stand before God because we have been "good Christians" but we stand before God and have access to His throne of Grace because he has redeemed us and bids us to come on the basis of the blood of Christ. I need to hear this every Sunday and so do you. I have heard this on the three Sundays that I was present at CPC.

If you are looking for a church, do yourself a favor and visit Christ Presbyterian Church in Temecula!

7 things to look for when choosing a church

The Bible clearly shows us that the “church” is not a structure or building but rather a body of believers. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” This Bible verse emphasizes the fact that followers of Jesus must regularly meet together. The local church is typically where this type of meeting will occur. So the church (body of believers) is very important to the life of a Christian. So choosing a church is one of the most important decisions that one can make in his/her life…maybe only second behind choosing a spouse to marry. Your church, in many ways, helps to shape who you are and your relationship with God. Many of the things you will learn about the Bible will come through your church. This decision is not one to make flippantly or without putting much thought into it. The choice is important and the options are many. Some recent statistics show that there are approximately 450,000 churches in the United States of America. Even in a small town one will often have six or seven choices within a few minutes of home. So where do we begin? How do I choose?

I am going to go through some things that are important about picking a church. These will include things to look for and also things to avoid. However, keep in mind that our number one resource for every decision in life is to turn to God and the leading of the Holy Spirit for any decision that we will make in life. I encourage you to pray and to look to God for wisdom and leading in this all-important choice.

The Authority and Inerrancy of the Bible

This means that al'Church' photo (c) 2007, s marcu - license: the words in Scripture are God’s words and if we are to disobey them, we are disobeying God. Ask these questions…

  1. Is the Bible the main resource for preaching and teaching in the church?
  2. Does the church believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God and is the final authority on every church matter?

A Place That Encourages You in Worship

Every church should encourage you to worship God.

This point almost seems too obvious to mention. The church is about worship to God the Father. That is what we exist for. He created us to worship Him. Jesus makes this point very clear when He is asked by the Pharisees which commandment is the greatest. Jesus says (Matthew 22:37 & 39), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Worship isn’t just about sitting through a worship service or singing songs. At the core of worship is an intimate communication with God. The church must help you in this connection with God not only with the weekly Sunday Service but throughout your life.

A Place That Encourages and Equips You to Grow in Discipleship

A disciple is one who is learning to live like Christ.

A healthy church is just as concerned with growing members than with growing numbers. Growth is a sign of life in a church.

The writer of Hebrews stresses the importance of growth (discipleship). He says in Hebrews 5:12-13, “by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” These are strong words addressing the fact that this group of believers was not growing but remained as spiritual “infants.”

God is glorified by growing churches. That growth does not just mean numerically but through people growing as evidenced in serving, or by getting involved in missions, or by giving financially (maybe for the first time), by sharing the gospel with others…and the list goes on and on.

A Place With Sound Doctrine

We all need to be very careful what we teach others when it comes to salvation. There are many doctrines floating around out there. According to scripture, there’s just one faith: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:4-6

Sound doctrine is important. Most churches will have a doctrinal statement posted on their website. Carefully look over this and see if it agrees with Scripture and hopefully what you believe too. A good doctrinal statement will explain their positions on at least these topics; the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), salvation, sin, human destiny, the Bible, and the church.

A Place Where You Can Experience Christian Fellowship

True Christian Fellowship is not just pot-luck meals and times of social gatherings. These type of fun events can often lead to fellowship but don’t underestimate the importance of fellowship. Consider these two verses.

Hebrews 10:24: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

1 Peter 4:10: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

While Jesus was walking on this planet he also showed the importance of fellowship. He invested his life into the twelve disciples and when He sent them out, He sent them out in two’s. We need encouragement, support, correction, and guidance from other believers for us to grow the way God wants us to grow.

Expositional Preaching

This type of preaching believes in our earlier point of the authority of Scripture. This is the oldest preaching style around but it never goes out of style. The goal of this preaching is to expound on what is said in a particular passage of Scripture and to carefully explaining the meaning and applying it to the congregation.

The expositional preacher’s authority begins and ends with Scripture. Sound expositional preaching is often the catalyst of growth in a church. Pray for your pastor that he will commit himself to the study of Scripture, carefully and earnestly, and that God will lead him in applying the message of the text to his own life first and then to the body of the church.

We can see this element clearly in the beginning with the Reformation. Martin Luther was earnestly seeking to understand Scripture and what he was hearing taught and preached did not match up to the words that he was reading in the Scripture. We too, must be committed to be men and women of the Word of God.


This topic may be covered at least partially under the category of doctrine but I believe it is so important that it needs special mention. The view that a church takes about evangelism and salvation is so important. A simple definition of evangelism is to present the good news of Jesus freely and trusting God to “convert” people (see Acts 16:14).

One of the primary callings of the church is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ so that those who believe it already might be encouraged and so that those who don’t believe might have a chance to do so. Every single Christian church should preach the gospel regularly and faithfully.

There are actually some churches that do not preach the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus because they don’t actually believe this. They have replaced this gospel with another, perhaps “God loves and accepts everyone, period” or something like that. Today’s culture wants religious tolerance where all views are okay but that is not what the Bible teaches. We must always show love to people and not be judgmental but there is only one way to God. John 14:6 says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This is not an exhaustive list but 7 things that I believe should be considered when choosing a church. I once had a great seminary professor that warned us young pastors in training of this…he said, “Don’t look for a perfect church. Because if it is, it won’t be after you get there.” We all laughed but he was so right. There is no perfect church but there are some things that are so important in finding the right one for you.

Murrieta Valley Church

Church Website
5 is best/0 is worst)
Worship 5/5
Friendliness 4/5
Sermon 4/5
Theological Content 4/5
Evangelistic 4/5
Facility 3/5

The church is currently meeting at Thompson Middle School in Murrieta. On Sunday 01/23/2010 I decided to go visit the 10:15 AM service at Murrieta Valley Church
They also offer Nursery and Sunday School classes for all ages.

A Brief Bio on Pastor Jason

Jason Robertson, our preaching pastor, is married to Tasha and they have three children. He was baptized in Milldale Baptist Church (Zachary, LA) in 1980. He began preaching the Gospel in 1985. He attended Liberty University and completed his undergraduate studies at William Carey College and earned his Masters of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His current doctoral work is on hold until he can free up some time. He teaches “Church Planting” as an adjunct professor at California Baptist University in Riverside, CA. Jason planted MVC in 2001.

The Music

Pastor Scott Hill oversees our worship ministries. His is also an elder in the church. He is married and is the father of three. He recruits, trains and shepherd’s many men, women and young people who wish to lead God’s people in corporate worship.
Listen to some of his music on Youtube.

The Sermon

The Sermon that Pastor Jason preached was entitled "Longevity and the Glory of God". You can listen to the audio here. It was about how we as Christians can demonstrate the steadfast and immovable love of God through consistency and longevity. Consistancy and longevity in our relationships, our marriages, our families and our Church. We live in a culture of change and one of the ways that we can standout from the world is through immutability in our relational commitments most importantly, the Body of Christ.

The church has a plurality of elders. The current leadership consists of Pastor Jason Robertson, Pastor Scott Hill, Pastor Chris Hinton oversees our counseling ministries. He is married and is the father of four. He is trained in biblical, clinical and nouthetic counseling. He works for a plastics sales company in Southern California and is a student at California Baptist University (where his oldest daughter attends). Chris is a die-hard Chargers fan, a motorcycle enthusiast, and loves taking his boys fishing and Pastor Larry Brooks oversees our finances and education ministries. He is married and is the father of two and the grandfather of four. He was saved and baptized into Christ in 1974 and has served in churches ever since. He has studied at the Southern California School of Evangelism, Talbot School of Theology, and Bahnsen Theological Seminary. In 2006 he earned a Masters in Theology. Larry’s passion is for MVC to provide a biblical education for all ages that is second to none. He loves playing golf, riding his Harley, and hanging out with friends.

Calvary Chapel Murrieta

Calvary Chapel Murrieta
24225 Monroe Ave
Murrieta, CA 92562

Phone: (951)677-5667
Fax: (951) 698-4896
T.T.Y. (951) 698-2520

Church Website

Worship 5/5
Friendliness 4/5
Sermon 4/5
Theological Content 3/5
Evangelistic 4/5
Facility 5/5

On Sunday 04/05/2009 I decided to go visit the 7:30AM service at Calvary Chapel Murrieta
Their services are at 7:30, 9:30, 11:30AM and 7PM. Nursery and Sunday School classes for all ages are available.

Pastor Brian Bell explains the history of the church

Chapel of Murrieta was originally incorporated as Murrieta Union Church in 1951 as part of the Assembly of God denomination. However, in January of 1985, the church had only 12 remaining members and no pastor. The remaining members, at that time, contacted Chuck Smith, the Pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, a non-denominational church, requesting that a pastor be sent. A pastor from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa came and began teaching line upon line, precept upon precept, through the Word of God. The church began to slowly grow in numbers during the next three years. The name was changed to Murrieta Country Church to better reflect the rural setting and location of the church.

By March of 1987, the church numbered more than 100 adults. It a move to Murrieta Christian School located on Adams Avenue. The church refurbished the school facilities and was able to meet there rent free. Near the end of 1987, the church sold its property in Old Town and purchased five acres of vacant land next to Murrieta Christian School with the intent of building its own facility.

In June 1989, because of confusion over whether or not we were affiliated with Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, we changed the name of the church to Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. On July 2, 1989, the original pastor sent from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa resigned and moved away. At that time, the Assistant Pastor, Brian Bell, became the Senior Pastor.

In June of 1991 we completed the construction of a new 350 seat sanctuary and Sunday School/fellowship hall on the five acres that we had purchased in 1987 on Adams Ave. In September of 1993, Calvary Chapel Murrieta established Calvary Chapel Christian School on this site with an enrollment of 268 students.

The next five years would be filled with continued growth, not only for our church, but our new school as well. As the church expanded to four Sunday morning services and the school added eight modular classrooms to keep up with our growth, it was evident that we were in need of a larger facility. In 1995, we purchased 8.25 acres on Monroe Ave. and made plans to not only move the church to this site, but also to construct a Jr./Sr. high school facility so that we could accommodate the continued growth and expansion of our school.

In August 1996, we broke ground on the building of a new 900 seat sanctuary and gymnasium at the Monroe Ave. site, which also included 60,000 additional square feet of classrooms, 315 parking spaces and support offices for the church, Sunday school, and our Jr./Sr. high school. In February 1997 we dedicated the building and held our first service.

1999 was a busy year at Calvary Chapel Murrieta. We were able to complete our new elementary school campus in late February. This new campus, which is located south of the church on Monroe Ave., currently has 640 students and 60 staff members. The 35,000 square foot school has a full service kitchen, a separate fine arts department room, and a large maintenance building. With over two acres of playground and play equipment, as well as 185 new parking stalls, this new facility will meet our needs for some time to come.

Our Jr./Sr. high campus has also seen some new construction with the addition of six classrooms, the relocation and remodeling of our Jr./Sr. high school offices, and the consolidation of our church and school print shops to one location. The addition of the six new classrooms has enabled us to add a multi-room library to serve both campuses, as well as a completely new computer lab and support staff office.

In addition to the 505 students at our Jr./Sr. high campus, we also have an additional 229 students who are home schooled participating in ISP (Independent Study Program.)

The Music

The worship music was the best that I have heard in the Temecula/Murrieta Valley. Why do I say that? First of all it was real worship not a performance or a concert. Secondly, the music was tastefully done and the vocals were excellent. The harmonies were right on and the mix was great. I could go on but I don't want to puff them up!

The Sermon

The Sermon was good. It was Biblical and to the point. Pastor Brian's style struck me as different than the Calvary Chapel pastors that I have heard preach. I can't put my finger on what the difference was but I didn't feel like I was listening to a KWAVE sermon. The Title of his sermon was "This is a Test" and you can listen to it on itunes by going to the itunes store and downloading it for free.

What should I look for when choosing a new church home?

We've all heard that the choice and purchase of a home is one of the most significant decisions a person will ever make. In this temporal world that may be true. However, choosing where you and your children will learn the things of God and serve the Lord Jesus Christ has eternal ramifications.

Every week at Grace to You we receive letters from people asking us to recommend a good church in their area. Those requests indicate three types of people wanting to make a wise choice in selecting a church home: those who have moved or will be moving, new believers wanting to choose a good church, and those whose current church has departed from biblical principles. Such circumstances force us to consider what's really important in a church.

Is This Church Right for Me?

What are the biblical criteria you need to be aware of when considering a new church? Let's compare the search for a new church to that of a new home. When looking for a house, people typically ask, How much does it cost? Is it large enough to meet our family's needs? How well is it built? What kind of neighborhood is it in? Does it have a warm and homey atmosphere? Is it conducive to hospitality? Similarly, before choosing a church home you need to consider its foundation, structure, function, and environment.

Before we consider those important components, please realize that no church is going to be perfect. Some local churches may be in seemingly excellent condition, while others are obvious fixer-uppers! Many fall some where in between. You must seek God's will and be led by the Holy Spirit in selecting a church. Also you need to evaluate how you and your family can contribute to that ministry so it is not just another church, but truly a church home.

Investigating Its Foundation

Jesus said that the wise man builds his house upon rock and the foolish man builds his house upon sand (Matt. 7:24-27). When storms come, the stability of the foundation determines both the direction and durability of the structure. Whether you're searching for a home to live in or a church to worship in, its foundation is crucial.

There are four main components that make up the foundation of a strong local church:

A Proper View of Scripture. When investigating a potential church home, pay particular attention to how it views the Bible. Does it hold to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures? Does it believe the Bible is the only rule for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)?

An Emphasis on Bible Teaching and Preaching. Observe what kind of preaching is done. Is it primarily expository, topical, or evangelistic in nature? Is the main diet repetitive salvation messages each week, or are believers being fed from the Word (Acts 20:27; 1 Tim. 4:13-16; 2 Tim. 4:1-5)? There should be astrong commitment to high-quality Bible teaching.

Doctrinal Soundness. Just as you would inspect the soundness of a house's foundation, so you should investigate the doctrinal stance of the churches you visit. Where do they stand on such crucial issues of the Christian faith as the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ; the depravity of mankind; the work of Christ on the cross; His death, burial, and bodily resurrection; salvation by grace through faith alone; the second coming of Christ; and the ordinances of baptism and Communion?

Doctrinal Practice. Observe whether the church practices the doctrines it claims to believe and teach. As James said to the church at large, "Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves" (James 1:22; cf. Luke 6:46; John 13:17).

Examining Its Structure

Once you are satisfied with the foundational aspects of the church, you need to look at its structural components. Recently I walked through a new house under construction. I noticed posts that weren't plumb, seams that didn't meet properly, and beams that were crooked and uneven. Those were glaring structural defects in a home advertised as being built by "the last of the true craftsmen"!

The structural components of a local church provide not only its strength, but also dictate the character and direction of itsministry. Those components include:

Church Government. Find out if the church's leaders function according to New Testament principles (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17-20; Titus 1:4-9; Heb. 13:7, 17). Do they understand the centrality of Christ as head of the church and His desire to rule His church through a plurality of godly men (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col.1:18; 1 Cor. 11:3)?

Evidence of Order. The church's ministry, including its services, teaching, and administration, should have an obvious sense of order. Some church services exhibit as much lack of planning as do homes with poorly thought-out floor plans. Some churches handle the Lord's resources and work in such a haphazard way that they bring shame to the name of Christ. As Paul said in speaking of the church, "Let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner" (1 Cor. 14:40).

Functional Goals and Objectives. As you investigate a new church, find out if the leadership has set any goals. Has the church planned for future progress and direction? Does it have in mind particular methods of reaching those goals? Like Paul, we as a church need "to run in such a way, as not without aim" (1 Cor. 9:26).

The Size. When purchasing a home, some people prefer the warmth and quaintness of a small home in a quiet rural setting. Others prefer living in a larger structure in an urban area. The same is true when considering the size of a church. Some Christians love being involved in a large urban ministry with hundreds or even thousands of people. Others feel lost in the vastness of such a ministry and fare much better in a smaller congregation. Again, finding your niche in the Body of Christ requires the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Seeing How It Functions

When satisfied that the foundation and structure are what they should be, the wise home buyer will then look at how functional the house is. Does it fulfill the purpose for which it was designed? Does it meet the needs of the family?

As you observe how a church functions, look for an emphasis on worshiping God. See if the leadership stresses the importance of honoring and glorifying God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31; Col.3:17). Also observe the involvement of the individual members. Do they exercise their spiritual gifts among the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:3-8; Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Pet. 4:10-11), or do they seem to expect the pastor to do everything?

Does the church emphasize evangelism as one of its primary functions? Are home and foreign missions an important part of its ministry (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8)? What about discipleship? Do you see church members and leaders seeking to make disciples and reproduce themselves in the lives of others (2 Tim. 2:2; Titus 2:3-7; Matt. 28:19-20)?

A strong local church is marked by love. Do the members seem to genuinely care for one another? Do they minister to each others needs? As you become acquainted with the church, do you sense that the members are loving one another as Christ commanded (John 13:34-35)? Notice if friendships form easily (cf. Heb. 10:24-25; Phil. 2:1-4; Eph. 4:1-3).

The leadership of the church you choose should be committed to teaching and supporting God's design for the family (Eph. 5:22--6:4; Col. 3:18-21; Titus 2:1-8; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). Does the church schedule, contribute to or take away from the strength of the family?

Checking Its Environment

If you have ever gone house hunting, you know what it's like to walk through and sense the atmosphere of the place. It can feel cold and gloomy or warm and inviting. It can have a homey feel or it can be impersonal--almost like a museum.

Doubtless you have had the same experience when attending various churches. Certain observable factors contribute to the overall atmosphere of a local church. Those environmental components are usually manifested in attitudes.

A High View of God. Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." It should be obvious that the people, from the leadership down, focus on the glory and majesty of God. Do they take God seriously and exalt Him in all they do? Their view of God will affect every aspect of their lives and ministry. Ask yourself if God is the focus of their worship or if they're preoccupied with each other or themselves.

The Presence of a Sincere Faith. Is it obvious to you that the church lives and operates by faith? Are the people willing to trust God (Heb. 11:1, 6; Eph. 3:20; 2 Cor. 5:7; 1 Thess. 5:24)?

Spirit of Sacrifice. Can you see that the church members are willing to sacrifice themselves and their possessions to advance God's kingdom (Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 8:3; Matt. 6:33)? Do you sense they would sacrifice themselves for one another (Phil. 2:3-4;John 15:13; Eph. 5:1-2)?

Proper Attitudes Toward the Pastor and Other Leaders. As you talk with the people, be sensitive to how they regard theirleaders. Do they appreciate and esteem the pastor and other leaders "very highly in love because of their work" (1 Thess. 5:13)? Are they fully behind them, giving their spiritual, emotional, and material support (1 Tim. 5:17-18; Heb. 13:7, 17)?

Spirit of Unity. This is often the most obvious attitude radiating from a local congregation. An outsider is usually able to sense very quickly whether a church is unified in its ministry. That has a great effect on its testimony to the community and reflects on the name of our Lord (John 13:34-35; 1 Cor. 1:10-17; 3:1-9; Eph. 4:1-6; Phil. 2:1-5; 4:1-5).

Am I Right For This Church?

We have looked at the foundational, structural, functional, and environmental components of a vital, healthy local church. Now look at yourself and ask, Are there opportunities here for me to serve and exercise my spiritual gifts? Does this local body have a need that by God's enabling I can meet? Am I willing to get what the church can do for me, but also what I can do for the Lord as I serve Him in this church? Am I willing to give of my time, money, energy, and prayers to contribute to the success of this church (Mark 12:30; Rom. 12:1)?

A house is not a home until all the members of a family contribute to its success. The same is true of a church home. Only when each member in the family of God exercises his or her God-given gifts will God's children feel at home in His church.

The decision you make about what church to attend will greatly affect your spiritual life and the lives of your children. In fact, the decisions you make now will affect your descendants and the generations to come. That's a sobering reality.

Remember that no church will ever perfectly fulfill all these criteria. There is no perfect church. Also, remember that every church is going to have its own special blend of the characteristics we have examined. The key is to find a church that has them in proper balance, not overemphasizing some or de-emphasizing others. A balanced ministry is a Spirit-controlled ministry. If you find a church that possesses most but not all of the characteristics we've mentioned, don't immediately disregard it. Consider whether God wants to use you to help improve that local body as you exercise your own particular spiritual gifts.

Choosing a church home is one of the most significant decisions you will ever make--one that reaches into eternity. May each of us spend at least as much time and effort making that decision as we do deciding on our earthly dwelling.

Taken from an article written by Mike Fitzhugh appearing in the July/August 1990 issue of Masterpiece Magazine.

When should you leave a church?

Leaving a church is not something that should be done lightly. Too many people abandon churches for petty reasons. Disagreements over simple matters of preference are never a good reason to withdraw from a sound, Bible-believing church. Christians are commanded to respect, honor, and obey those whom God has placed in positions of leadership in the church (Heb.13:7, 17). However, there are times when it becomes necessary to leave a church for the sake of one's own conscience, or out of a duty to obey God rather than men. Such circumstances would include:

If heresy on some fundamental truth is being taught from the pulpit (Gal. 1:7-9).

If the leaders of the church tolerate seriously errant doctrine from any who are given teaching authority in the fellowship (Rom. 16:17).

If the church is characterized by a wanton disregard for Scripture, such as a refusal to discipline members who are sinning blatantly (1 Cor. 5:1-7).

If unholy living is tolerated in the church (1 Cor. 5:9-11).

If the church is seriously out of step with the biblical pattern for the church (2 Thess. 3:6, 14).

If the church is marked by gross hypocrisy, giving lip service to biblical Christianity but refusing to acknowledge its true power (2 Tim. 3:5).

This is not to suggest that these are the only circumstances under which people are permitted to leave a church. There is certainly nothing wrong with moving one's membership just because another church offers better teaching or more opportunities for growth and service. But those who transfer their membership for such reasons ought to take extreme care not to sow discord or division in the church they are leaving. And such moves ought to be made sparingly. Membership in a church is a commitment that ought to be taken seriously.

This article was written by Pastor John MacArthur Jr.

Biblically-Anemic Preaching

The Devastating Consequences of a Watered-Down Message

By John MacArthur

The Devastating Consequences of a Watered-Down MessageThose who are familiar with my ministry know that I am committed to expository preaching. It is my unshakable conviction that the proclamation of God’s Word should always be the heart and the focus of the church’s ministry (2 Tim. 4:2). And proper biblical preaching should be systematic, expositional, theological, and God-centered.

Such preaching is in short supply these days. There are plenty of gifted communicators in the modern evangelical movement, but today’s sermons tend to be short, shallow, topical homilies that massage people’s egos and focus on fairly insipid subjects like human relationships, "successful" living, emotional issues, and other practical but worldly—and not definitively biblical—themes. These messages are lightweight and without substance, cheap and synthetic, leaving little more than an ephemeral impression on the minds of the hearers.

Some time ago I hosted a discussion at the Expositors’ Institute, an annual small-group colloquium on preaching held at our church. In preparation for that seminar, I took a yellow legal pad and a pen and began listing the negative effects of the superficial brand of preaching that is so rife in modern evangelicalism.

I initially thought I might be able to identify about ten, but in the end I had jotted down a list of sixty-one devastating consequences. I’ve distilled them to fifteen by combining and eliminating all but the most crucial ones. I offer them as a warning against superficial, marginally biblical preaching—both to those who stand behind the pulpit and to those who sit in the pew.

1. It usurps the authority of God over the soul. Whether a preacher boldly proclaims the Word of God or not is ultimately a question of authority. Who has the right to speak to the church? The preacher or God? Whenever anything is substituted for the preaching of the Word, God’s authority is usurped. What a prideful thing to do! In fact, it is hard to conceive of anything more insolent that could be done by a man who is called by God to preach.

2. It removes the lordship of Christ from His church. Who is the Head of the church? Is Christ really the dominant teaching authority in the church? If so, then why are there so many churches where His Word is not being faithfully proclaimed? When we look at contemporary ministry, we see programs and methods that are the fruit of human invention, the offspring of opinion polls and neighborhood surveys, and other pragmatic artifices. Church-growth experts have in essence wrested control of the church’s agenda from her true Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Puritan forefathers resisted the imposition of government-imposed liturgies for precisely this reason: They saw it as a direct attack on the headship of Christ over His own church. Modern preachers who neglect the Word of God have yielded the ground those men fought and sometimes died for. When Jesus Christ is exalted among His people, His power is manifest in the church. When the church is commandeered by compromisers who want to appease the culture, the gospel is minimized, true power is lost, artificial energy must be manufactured, and superficiality takes the place of truth.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. What is the instrument the Spirit uses to do His work? The Word of God. He uses the Word as the instrument of regeneration (1 Pet. 1:23; Jas. 1:18). He also uses it as the means of sanctification (John 17:17). In fact, it is the only tool He uses (Eph. 6:17). So when preachers neglect God’s Word, they undermine the work of the Holy Spirit, producing shallow conversions and spiritually lame Christians—if not utterly spurious ones.

4. It demonstrates appalling pride and a lack of submission. In the modern approach to "ministry," the Word of God is deliberately downplayed, the reproach of Christ is quietly repudiated, the offense of the gospel is carefully eliminated, and "worship" is purposely tailored to fit the preferences of unbelievers. That is nothing but a refusal to submit to the biblical mandate for the church. The effrontery of ministers who pursue such a course is, to me, frightening.

5. It severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture. The greatest personal benefit that I get from preaching is the work that the Spirit of God does on my own soul as I study and prepare for two expository messages each Lord’s Day. Week by week the duty of careful exposition keeps my own heart focused and fixed on the Scriptures, and the Word of God nourishes me while I prepare to feed my flock. So I am personally blessed and spiritually strengthened through the enterprise. If for no other reason, I would never abandon biblical preaching. The enemy of our souls is after preachers in particular, and the sanctifying grace of the Word of God is critical to our protection.

6. It clouds the true depth and transcendence of our message and therefore cripples both corporate and personal worship. What passes for preaching in some churches today is literally no more profound than what preachers in our fathers’ generation were teaching in the five-minute children’s sermon they gave before dismissing the kids. That’s no exaggeration. It is often that simplistic, if not utterly inane. There is nothing deep about it. Such an approach makes it impossible for true worship to take place, because worship is a transcendent experience. Worship should take us above the mundane and simplistic. So the only way true worship can occur is if we first come to grips with the depth of spiritual truth. Our people can only rise high in worship in the same proportion to which we have taken them deep into the profound truths of the Word. There is no way they can have lofty thoughts of God unless we have plunged them into the depths of God’s self-revelation. But preaching today is neither profound nor transcendent. It doesn’t go down, and it doesn’t go up. It merely aims to entertain.

By the way, true worship is not something that can be stimulated artificially. A bigger, louder band and more sentimental music might do more to stir people’s emotions. But that is not genuine worship. True worship is a response from the heart to God’s truth (John 4:23). You can actually worship without music if you have seen the glories and the depth of what the Bible teaches.

7. It prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ. Pastors are supposed to be under-shepherds of Christ. Too many modern preachers are so bent on understanding the culture that they develop the mind of the culture and not the mind of Christ. They start to think like the world, and not like the Savior. Frankly, the nuances of worldly culture are virtually irrelevant to me. I want to know the mind of Christ and bring that to bear on the culture, no matter what culture I may be ministering to. If I’m going to stand up in a pulpit and be a representative of Jesus Christ, I want to know how He thinks—and that must be my message to His people too. The only way to know and proclaim the mind of Christ is by being faithful to study and preach His Word. What happens to preachers who obsess about cultural "relevancy" is that they become worldly, not godly.

8. It depreciates by example the spiritual duty and priority of personal Bible study. Is personal Bible study important? Of course. But what example does the preacher set when he neglects the Bible in his own preaching? Why would people think they need to study the Bible if the preacher doesn’t do serious study himself in the preparation of his sermons? There is now a movement among some in ministry to trim, as much as possible, all explicit references to the Bible from the sermon—and above all, don’t ever ask your people to turn to a specific Bible passage because that kind of thing makes "seekers" uncomfortable. Some churches actively discourage their people from bringing Bibles to church lest the sight of so many Bibles intimidate the "seekers." As if it were dangerous to give your people the impression that the Bible might be important!

9. It prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time. Jeremiah 8:9 says, "The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?" When I speak, I want to be God’s messenger. I’m not interested in exegeting what some psychologist or business guru or college professor has to say about an issue. My people don’t need my opinion; they need to hear what God has to say. If we preach as Scripture commands us, there should be no ambiguity about whose message is coming from the pulpit.

10. It breeds a congregation that is as weak and indifferent to the glory of God as their pastor is. Such preaching fosters people who are consumed with their own well-being. When you tell people that the church’s primary ministry is to fix for them whatever is wrong in this life—to meet their needs, to help them cope with their worldly disappointments, and so on—the message you are sending is that their mundane problems are more important than the glory of God and the majesty of Christ. Again, that sabotages true worship.

11. It robs people of their only true source of help. People who sit under superficial preaching become dependent on the cleverness and the creativity of the speaker. When preachers punctuate their sermons with laser lights and smoke, video clips and live drama, the message they send is that there isn’t a prayer the people in the pew could ever extract such profound material on their own. Such gimmicks create a kind of dispensing mechanism that people can’t use to serve themselves. So they become spiritual couch potatoes who just come in to be entertained, and whatever superficial spiritual content they get from the preacher’s weekly performance is all they will get. They have no particular interest in the Bible because the sermons they hear don’t cultivate that. They are wowed by the preacher’s creativity and manipulated by the music, and that becomes their whole perspective on spirituality.

12. It encourages people to become indifferent to the Word of God and divine authority. Predictably, in a church where the preaching of Scripture is neglected, it becomes impossible to get people to submit to the authority of Scripture. The preacher who always aims at meeting felt needs and strokes the conceit of worldly people has no platform from which to confront the man who wants to divorce his wife without cause. The man will say, "You don’t understand what I feel. I came here because you promised to meet my felt needs. And I’m telling you, I don’t feel like I want to live with this woman anymore." You can’t inject biblical authority into that. You certainly wouldn’t have an easy time pursuing church discipline. That is the monster that superficial preaching creates. But if you are going to try to deal with sin and apply any kind of authoritative principle to keep the church pure, you must be preaching the Word.

13. It lies to people about what they really need. In Jeremiah 8:11, God condemns the prophets who treated people’s wounds superficially. That verse applies powerfully to the preachers who populate so many prominent evangelical pulpits today. They omit the hard truths about sin and judgment. They tone down the offensive parts of Christ’s message. They lie to people about what they really need, promising them "fulfillment" and earthly well-being when what people really need is an exalted vision of Christ and a true understanding of the splendor of God’s holiness.

14. It strips the pulpit of power. "The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12). Everything else is impotent, giving merely an illusion of power. Human strategy is not more important than Scripture. The showman’s ability to lure people in should not impress us more than the Bible’s ability to transform lives.

15. It puts the responsibility on the preacher to change people with his cleverness. Preachers who pursue the modern approach to ministry must think they have the power to change people. That, too, is a frightening expression of pride. We preachers can’t save people, and we can’t sanctify them. We can’t change people with our insights, our cleverness, by entertaining them or by appealing to their human whims and wishes and ambitions. There’s only One who can change sinners. That’s God, and He does it by His Spirit through the Word.

So pastors must preach the Word, even though it is currently out of fashion to do so (2 Tim. 4:2). That is the only way their ministry can ever truly be fruitful. Moreover, it assures that they will be fruitful in ministry, because God’s Word never returns to Him void; it always accomplishes that for which He sends it and prospers in what He sends it to do (Isa. 55:11).