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Why My Family Joined A Non-Head Covering Church

Why My Family Joined A Non-Head Covering Church

Our family moved cross-country to Edmonton, Alberta and thus were in need of finding a good local church in our new city. Being a part of a local church is assumed throughout the New Testament and many commands cannot be fulfilled1) Believers cannot be disciplined unless they are actually committed to a local body (Matt 18:17, 1 Cor 5:2). Likewise, believers cannot submit to the elders who would be giving an account to God for you (Heb 13:17). Here’s a short video by John Macarthur on the importance of a local church. unless believers are a part of one. Not being part of a local church is like being without a Bible–your growth will be severely stunted without it. So we visited a few churches but ultimately settled at Fellowship Baptist Church. The preaching and doctrine is solid, the fellowship amongst believers is great and there are many other positives as well. After a few months of attending we made the commitment to become a member of this congregation.

Fellowship Baptist isn’t a “head covering church”. That’s likely surprising to you since I founded the Head Covering Movement and have spent the last 6 years defending this practice. It’s obviously a very important topic to me. But the church’s view on this symbol was not even on our radar as far as issues to consider before joining. We assumed they weren’t practicing it before we ever stepped foot in the building (safe assumption today) and we were okay with that. There are too many issues that are far more important than head covering and those are the issues that we wanted to have unity on. What kind of issues am I talking about? Well this church preaches the gospel, clearly. They’re evangelistic. They love the Bible and know it well. The congregation loves one-another and is involved in each other’s lives. They will carry out church discipline if necessary. They’re complementarian in their view of gender and reformed in their soteriology2) Though not agreeing with everything listed, here is a brief description of reformed theology. For more depth you can watch this series by R.C. Sproul. (two important distinctives for us). So for us the positives significantly outweighed the negatives. We don’t need to be in a head covering church: we just need the freedom to act on our conviction to practice it. This church allows freedom of conscience on such issues which makes it a church where we can thrive spiritually. While it would be nice if they agreed with our understanding, that shouldn’t be a pre-requisite for joining. We should never expect perfect agreement, but rather, we should seek unity on the most important issues. If we appreciate freedom of conscience to practice covering (even though its not their belief), how could we then turn around and say you must believe as I do on the same issue or we’re leaving/not joining?

Now don’t get me wrong, if there is a solid church that believes in head covering that would be the ideal. Before arriving at Fellowship Baptist we did visit a head covering church for a few Sundays to see if that would be a good fit for us. However, the preaching lacked substance. If I elevated head covering above the strong, accurate preaching of God’s Word, my family wouldn’t be thriving spiritually.

So if you find yourself in a situation like me where you’re seeking to join a non-headcovering church, let me share a few words of wisdom:

1. Don’t join a church to change it.
Choose your church because you believe it’s a place where you can grow in, serve in, have great fellowship, and spiritually thrive.

2. Ensure that you are allowed to cover.
Freedom of conscience should be a non-negotiable because if you are denied the right to practice what you believe God commands, you will be hindered spiritually. If the leadership doesn’t allow this it may be a symptom of a much larger problem with that church.

3. Respect their authority by not being divisive.
When you join a church you are placing yourself under the elder’s spiritual leadership. They have been given an authority by God and will answer to Him for those placed under their care (Heb 13:17). Since they are the ones in authority, respect that by not being divisive in the congregation with this issue.

4. Encourage the leadership more than you debate.
The Scriptures say that we’re to let the elders in our church lead with joy and not with groaning (Heb 13:17b). This is in the context of our submission to them. While there is a right time to bring up doctrinal concerns, thoughts for them to consider, and to have respectful debates–this should not be what characterizes you. Don’t be the person who continually corrects and debates them by pointing out everything you disagree with.

So if you’re looking for a local church, find one where you have unity on the most important things. It’s not essential that the leadership believes in head covering, but only that you are allowed the freedom to practice it. If you are a member of a solid church that grants freedom of conscience, I would not recommend leaving to find a “head covering church”. My hope is that those who consider themselves a part of the Head Covering Movement would be known in their churches as the most encouraging, loving, respectful, submissive members. May God grant us this grace.


Here is a picture from November 15, 2015 when my wife and I were received into the congregation as members:

Joining Fellowship Baptist Church

 

References

1.
 Believers cannot be disciplined unless they are actually committed to a local body (Matt 18:17, 1 Cor 5:2). Likewise, believers cannot submit to the elders who would be giving an account to God for you (Heb 13:17). Here’s a short video by John Macarthur on the importance of a local church.
2.
 Though not agreeing with everything listed, here is a brief description of reformed theology. For more depth you can watch this series by R.C. Sproul.

Jeremy Gardiner

Jeremy is the founder of the Head Covering Movement and the author of Head Covering: A Forgotten Christian Practice for Modern Times. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is a member of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is a husband to Amanda and father to four young children. Jeremy is also the founder and operator of Gospel eBooks, a popular website that provides alerts for free and discounted Christian e-books.

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  • Kinuko H

    “My hope is that those who consider themselves a part of the Head Covering Movement would be known in their churches as the most encouraging, loving, respectful, submissive members.”
    Wonderful and wise counsel! I am so grateful that He has appointed you to be the founder of Head covering movement. God bless you!

  • Karen Hoar Buttle

    Lovely article. It’s good to remember there are essentials and non-essentials (but freedom in non-essentials is an essential!). Your “words of wisdom” are very helpful and useful when thinking about a number of different issues.

  • Barbara

    Usually churches that do not practice the head covering are militaristic, lenient about divorce and remarriage, have people wearing immodest clothing and generally have lax church discipline in multiple other areas. Often “once saved, always saved” and easy-believism is part of the package.

    • Joshua Perkins

      This is an inaccurate generalization, at least for North America, where very few churches practice headcovering.

      • Barbara

        I have gone to many churches, and the only churches I can find that practice biblical church discipline and high standards of morality consistently without the militarism and Calvinism, are the German Baptist Brethren and conservative Mennonite and Beachy Amish (not Old Order Amish) churches and some house churches which tend to be kind of unstable. Maybe you are more fortunate where you are, but overall, I’ve found that giving up the head covering is associated with a lot of other undesirable practices, such as worldly entertainment, tolerance of divorce and remarriage, etc. Also, except for the conservative Anabaptist churches, I’ve noticed that most of the stricter churches also have serious abuses of authority by the ministers, often with cult-like practices. These are my observations over the past 40 years, but I have only lived in CA and TX, so I certainly can’t speak for the whole nation.

  • clarinetlaj

    Having a balanced and gracious leader like you bring me to this church was beyond a blessing!! Thank you for making this important judgement call Jeremy!

  • Elaine Mingus

    This is one of my favorite posts. So honest and real life. It’s nice to see who YOU are. Though of course I love all your blog posts.

  • Sara June Thompson

    It is very hard to find a church that practices head covering. There is one in my town, Plymouth Brethren but they don’t believe in speaking in tongues and some other things we do believe in. So we are at a nondenominational church where I am free to cover and no one has ever said anything negative. Glad you found a church. Watch and see how God moves, maybe others will be led to cover through example. I agree with the part about not being divisive in your church.

    • John D.

      Wow, a head coverer that also believes in spiritual gifts? I feel like I’m seeing a unicorn. 😉 I’m glad there’s at least one other person out there that shares the same beliefs.

  • John D.

    “Since they are the ones in authority, respect that by not being divisive in the congregation with this issue.”
    Please explain how one would be divisive in your situation with this issue.

    • Since it is not the position of the church, it would not be right for me to teach this position to the church (for example if I was a Sunday school teacher or leading a small group). If just a member, it would not be right for me to correct the other members of the congregation for covering (men) or uncovering (women). Another divisive thing would be to start passing out pamphlets/books/sermons on the topic to the other members or bringing a basket of coverings to be placed in the church. When I do have discussions with people about the topic in the church it’s either because they asked me a question or because we’re just chatting theology as friends.

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