Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ten Things You’ll Never See (and/or Hear) at the FOC

Last night, I visited a local church (it was my second time visiting). As I looked around, I thought about all the ways this church (and most churches) differ from the definition of church I grew up with. Here are just ten (of numerous) things I saw/heard at last night’s church service, that I would have never seen/heard at the FOC:

  1. A worship band – with electric guitars, loud drums, and women in the worship band.
  2. A wooden cross hanging on the wall – topped by a crown of thorns.
  3. Worshippers spontaneously standing and lifting their arms to the Lord in praise and adoration.
  4. Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans.
  5. Someone leading the congregation in prayer (praying aloud).
  6. Congregants with their Bibles open (following along with the sermon).
  7. Bibles.
  8. People taking notes on the sermon.
  9. A sermon.
  10.  People warmly greeting strangers.

The list can go on endlessly – I didn’t even mention the presence of pastors (seven of them!). Or that one of the associate pastors, who was wearing shorts at church, had a friendly discussion with me about politics. That’s not something that would’ve ever happened at the FOC (a male leader taking the time to discuss politics with an unknown female visitor).

The point of this comparison is not to say one is better than the other – more to discuss the shock that can occur when you only know one definition for a cultural phenomenon (church) and later discover that the overwhelming majority of the Christian culture has a completely different characterization of that same term (church). This was an accepting and positive experience. I didn’t feel judged. I received hugs from a few strangers. They were eager to welcome a new friend into the fold. Imagine.


Dear Readers: I am busy this season with the care of my family, so I will only be able to blog weekly. Enjoy your summer and please check back every Sunday for a new post.


  1. That's quite a different experience even that what I had with my upbringing. The first 3 on your list wasn't seen either (don't desire seeing it there either lol) and number 4 was rare, but perhaps because most of our interwoven families that constituted our congregants were from the Mid-west.

  2. Acceptace and forgiveness, the basis of our beliefs.
    As the Bible states we may be entertaing Angels unaware. Life is but a vapor, far to short toisolate ourseves, hold grudges etc.
    Praise G. Just Praise GOD he welcomes us withGrace and Mercy. "TO SAVE A WRETCH LIKE "
    In JESUS name. Prayers and blessings to you and yours

  3. So much of what happens, especially in a well establihed church or following is generational.
    Fortunately we are creatures of free will (that can be good or bad) Constantly looking to GOD for guidance.
    We are not redeemed by the color of our skin our taste in music or any GOD given talents it is only by the BLOOD OF CHRIST.
    It's hard not to be judgemental or so many other things.
    To me this falls under habitual and deliberate sin.Like so many other things
    Although we are not under the law, ther are still the obvious mandates set forth in the scriptures.
    Sin is sin it is not a buffet where we can pick and choose only what we like.

  4. The only item on this list that I didn't grow up seeing on a regular basis is the crown of thorns, and that was probably just because no one had thought to put one up. I was drilled on memory verses and armed with the gospels every week in Sunday School. I've probably eaten several times my weight in potluck dishes over the years, and drank some of the worst coffee known to man or science (the WORST of which was a particularly evil concoction served at a Catholic reception that I attended with a friend who was a member there - tasted like boiled cardboard with an extra dollop of glue). I've attended church as a child, a young woman, a newlywed bride, a new (and later a well-seasoned) mother, a board member and a divorcee.
    In my humble opinion, the greatest gift, and also the greatest task, of any church is that of being virtuous and gracious, as befits the bride of Christ, and as such she should stand unflinchingly for what is right and holy so as to be a guiding light to the lost and misguided and an example to her congregation, and she should give generously not only of her worldly goods, but also freely of the grace and forgiveness she has received, extending her arms in invitation and welcome to any who will come.
    That's a tall order for any church.
    Psalms says, "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it".

  5. I love my church. It's not perfect, of course, and if it was, I would have spoiled it when I joined, but they've stood with me in dark times, and still do now in happier times. I'm very blessed.

  6. I had mentioned not living under the law , but certain mandates or instructions ,which I think in "OUR" faith are fundamental.
    John 3:16
    Matt. 5:1-12 (Beattitudes)
    Exodus 20:3-17 (Ten Commandments)
    Matt. 6:9-13 (Lords Prayer)

    GOD bless you all in JESUS name.

  7. Someone is trying to stir the pot again. No one on cares anymore what you have to say. Your name and this blog hasn't been mentioned for months in the foc circles. Sorry to disappoint.

  8. The fact that you came to look proves that people from the FOC are still visiting the site and thinking about what Suzy says whether they talk about it in your "circles" or not.

  9. Why does FOC care what Suzy says on here? Was she a member?

  10. They care because they have no hope of salvation, no certain purpose in life, no reason for why they do what they do, and no answers for the most important questions. That's why some care. Why do you care?

    Below is a comment from someone who cares and one of the reasons I started writing here.

    AnonymousApr 11, 2012 12:00 PM
    I agree with Anonymous Apr 11, 2012 10:32 AM you would never get that answer from a follower including myself. I to believe God has the power to heal all. I am right now brought to tears at my family’s current state. When one of us is sick we anoint, we fast, and we have laid hands on each other. I know I am playing church. We are not baptized, we have no leaders, we are left with a lot of thinks so’s and I remembers. If I was to go seek leadership and the word of god I would be banished from everything I have ever known. We have seen this happen. I have heard that this blog is causing confusion and we all know who the author of confusion is. I think this blog is making everyone face what is really going on. It is making us younger persons ask more questions and not just go along, we see a huge problem that the older brethren who have heard preaching who have received the holy ghost who have been told they were full are ignoring.
    God have mercy on us oh lord, who have decisions to make.

  11. Wow Garth I can't believe that you just said that the foc "have no hope of salvation". Out of all the horrible things posted on here that takes the cake. I had came to respect your opinion from your posts on here, but after reading that I have lost all respect for you. I can't imagine anyone saying that about anyone else. You have exhalted yourself to the level of God. Did Christ not die on the cross for the foc the same as you. Our hope firmly rests in his sacrifice but you say we have no hope. Unbelievable! You are a wolf in sheeps clothing that just revieled himself.

    1. It might not be right to say that a group of people is not saved or that they "have no hope of salvation" but the things that have been taught at the FOC have been lies and in those things there is no salvation. To say "our hope firmly rests in His sacrifice" tells me that you do not belong to the FOC or if you do you do not talk to many people. The common FOC belief that has been taught is that you are saved by going to the building each Sunday and the works you do.

      The FOC have taught and continue to teach that you are saved by works. The bible says you are saved by grace. Salvation by works is the lie that the FOC has taught and Garth was right there is no salvation in what has been taught.

  12. You are wrong. If that is what you have been taught i'm sorry, but it is very easy to pick up your bible and figure that out on your own. That being said, what is faith without works? Garth is completly wrong and you should let him stand up for himself. If he truly believes that he can condem us all to hell then he needs to explain. Judge not.

  13. Anonymous 8:55 PM,
    I seriously doubt you ever respected anything I said, seeing how quickly you threw me under the bus for a comment you didn’t like.

    We all know the FOC has no official position on salvation or the hope given to believers, we can only speak for what we’ve heard and seen the FOC to believe. Your anonymous tag is perhaps the most discrediting element of your post, we don’t really know if you are, or ever where brought up in the FOC.

    Let’s put all that aside for now and focus on the hope of salvation. Did you know that the biblical word for “hope” has a different meaning than our English word “hope”? When you or I use the word hope we mean ‘not so sure’: Will it be nice weather for the picnic on Sunday? I hope so. But the New Testament Greek word for hope means ‘certainty’: Will it be nice weather for the picnic on Sunday? It certainly will. When Paul says in Galatians 5:5 “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.” He means this is a ‘certain hope’ that’s going to happen for believers, they will inherit the fulfillment of righteousness.

    You seem to have taken my comment to mean people who attend FOC can’t be saved, but I didn’t say that and never have. My point is simply this: I was at the Oregon City F.O.C. for thirty years and nobody there ever spoke about hope like Paul did in Galatians. And nobody ever told me about the gospel of Jesus Christ who gave his life as a ransom for sinners. He didn’t come for good people, or those who went to the right church. He came to call sinners to repentance; he came for sicko’s like me. He didn’t come for those who were ashamed to profess his name; he came for those whose ‘certain hope’ is in Jesus alone.

  14. I guess you hung around the wrong people then. Just like so many other ex-followers, you are putting us all in the same boat because you are narrow minded and believe we all are of the same mind and belifes. Suzzane has done the same thing in this blog assuming we were all raised like she was. It's just simply not the truth. Haven't you ever heard it said that a few goats can sound like an entire herd of sheep. Mabey you ex-followers should stop judging the sheep of his flock because you only listened to the goats that are within us.

  15. Can’t say I’ve heard your goat analogy before, but maybe I have been narrow-minded. Alright anonymous, you’ve made claims to know the truth and you should be given opportunity to speak clearly and convincingly about them. This is an invitation: Please tell me what is the reason for the hope in you? Tell me something about your conversion, why and how were you changed. What is the basis of your faith? How has the gospel affected you? Please use your full name as a public testimony.

    This is a very serious invitation, it’s not a challenge. I want to hear your personal calling and testimony. Are you willing?

  16. My "conversion"? Do you believe if you were raised in the faith that you must be converted? Just trying to gauge your tone. That could be taken as a shot at the foc if you think because I am a member of the foc that I need to be converted. Respectfully please clarify your conversion comment.

    1. Camping right now. Get back to you next week.

    2. Anonymous,
      I threw you a huge softball that most any Christian would want to hit out of the park, all you needed to do is speak to your own hope.

      Wait… maybe you’re not the same anon to whom the question was addressed and appears to be looking for cover? You could be someone just asking an honest question, I have no idea who you are and I suppose it doesn’t matter. You have a good point, it is important to define our terms.

      Fine, I will give my brief explanation of conversion and change the wording of the question for you or any other anon who wants to jump in. You don’t have to answer every part of the question; I’m just looking for an answer for the hope in you.

      The word “conversion” means “turning”. Turning away from sin is called repentance; turning to Christ is called faith. There is more to being a disciple of Jesus than knowing who he is and approving of the facts, you must be converted and trust Him personally. Conversion is how believer’s who’ve been given new spiritual life willingly respond to the gospel call.

      The problem we all must face is our sin and the impending consequences. I say “all” because the bible makes it clear everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Sin doesn’t distinguish between people groups or age groups, everyone is guilty and deserving of their individual penalty (Rom 6:23).
      It doesn’t matter who your parents were or what their faith was, it doesn’t matter what church you grew up in or how carefully you listened to the older ones. If you have a ‘certain hope’ of salvation… you should be able to point at the evidence of spiritual life. You must be converted: you must have a basic understand the gospel, agree that it is true; you also must turn from sin and trust Jesus completely.

      Have you come to trust Jesus personally, or are you still at the point of intellectual knowledge and emotional approval of the facts? If you have not put your faith in Jesus yet, what do you think is making you hesitate?

      When you are ready… the question about your hope is here. It’s not about your church, it’s only about you.
      Please tell me what is the reason for the hope in you? Has your heart attitude toward sin changed? Did you receive and respond to an elevated trust and dependence upon the Savior? What is the basis of your faith? How has the gospel affected you? Please use your full name as a public testimony.

      This is a very serious invitation, it’s not a challenge. I want to hear your personal calling and testimony. Are you willing?


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