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At the beginning of this year, our congregation participated in a church-wide survey to determine how our staff could better serve our members and guests, as well as how we as a church could serve the community. The survey results proved very enlightening. Our membership indicated that among the greatest needs they perceived was cult awareness and evangelism training.
Acting upon this, we enlisted the help of Watchman Fellowship, who recently completed a six-week study entitled "The Church Confronting the Cults" here at Lakeside, plus a two-week study tailored specifically for our youth. The study was conducted on Wednesday nights for our entire adult congregation and I was thrilled to see the interest our people showed as record numbers attended.
What is true of our congregation is true all across our nation, evangelical Christians regularly encounter coworkers, neighbors and even family members who are deeply involved in cultic groups such as Mormon's, Jehovah's Witnesses, New Agers and Word-Faith believers. Unfortunately most are not prepared to confront them about the false teachings of their groups. We meet them at our doors, at the airport and even in the marketplace, but in an effort to be kind, we politely-and sometimes no so politely-tell them "I'm not interested" and send them on their way. What we are really saying is that we are not interested in them.
It's not a comforting thought, but we need to candidly and prayerfully think about the results of our actions-unless someone confronts these people with the truths of scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ, it means an eternity separated from a living and loving God. The gospel is for "all people," not just those who are not part of a cult.
At Lakeside, we call our church "The Caring Place," that means that we not only care about the physical needs of our people, but we also care deeply about the spiritual needs of a lost and dying world. One of the ways that we are taking our caring to the world is through education.
I truly believe that the way to prevent the cults from deceiving people in our churches is to effectively educate our people. Sound doctrine verses false doctrine-we must expose the untruths taught by the various cults throughout the world. We not only have the responsibility to evangelize the lost; we also have the responsibility to educate our disciples once they are saved.
Watchman Fellowship's courses truly "tell it like it is" by using a cult's own materials to expose their "false doctrines" in light of revealed scripture. Their presentations are a way to promote evangelism and discipleship within the church. But most importantly for me as a pastor, our study with Watchman Fellowship was one effective way I can help keep my people from being carried away by "every wind of doctrine" that blows their way. Strong doctrinal teaching and preaching are missing from our pulpits in many areas today. I am more determined than ever as a pastor to teach my people the doctrines of the Bible. I urge other pastors to join with me in doing the same.