Be careful like me in trying to attend even a non-pastor led Bible study. I chose a "more conservative" church but was wrong about it's affiliations. I never would go to services there but figured maybe I will try a non-pastor led women's Bible study. I went twice but won't be going back. Sometimes I had the thought of having open and free conversation with people and seeing where things go, but that's limited. Maybe I don't have the social skills to pull this off, kind of like doing a "rescue mission". It has alarmed me how very much the thinking matches everywhere I go.
You know there will be trouble when you are discussing the book of Acts, and the Holy Spirit, and I said something very mild in the discussion, "I was saved and the Holy Spirit changed things for me right away, I could understand God's Word and it was wonderful and I left the Catholic church very soon after." [paraphrasing my words here]. I didn't want to offend anyone. My main point was to address the Holy Spirit changing someone's life.
This was a church that taught salvation by faith, not a liturgical one, but they all looked at me like I told them I murdered someone when I said "I left the Catholic church".
The group leader responded immediately to shut me up....
"We don't put down other denominations here."
"Catholics worship God too"
and then another lady responded....
"I brought my Catholic parents to salvation, and I go to Mass with them. Vinegar doesn't win anyone over! I now attend Mass with my parents."
I then said,
"Catholicism teaches another jesus and another gospel". I told the "vinegar" lady "We will not agree here."
I had 18 pair of eyes looking at me with anger. I didn't back down but I felt like I would be wasting my time to go any further. Be careful if you get any bright ideas like me out of a hankering to try and deal with and solve extreme social isolation. The pod people and one world religion people have taken over everywhere.
Some time later, I went to the bathroom and came back into the room hearing, "All denominations are to be respected". They were outraged and discussing my breaking of "social ecumenical rules". Remember I did not say, "The Pope is Antichrist" or "Kneeling in front of the wafer/Eucharist is idolatry". I made one simple statement of leaving a church. My husband told me, he was shocked at their level of ire over such an innocent statement. He laughed and said to me, "Imagine what they'd be saying if they saw your blog." He understood when I told him, "I can't go back."
I had the weird thought if these people saw the blog I wrote, they would lose it. Sometimes it is scary out there, it really is. As a Christian you will make enemies and be "hated" just being you. Even the most mild statements will bring anger. No even the non-pastor led Bible studies even given to a variety of people are not safe. The local IFB I left never had one bible study, where it was people having an actual discussion. I do live in a spiritual wasteland here. We have discussed moving for years but have not been given a way out yet or even more important shown where to go or given the means to go. I am praying even more fervent prayers to God about where to go.
I was led out of the Catholic church within days of being born again. I do not think people who accept Catholicism are saved. A few may be legitimately ignorant but God will know who they are. I know some will say maybe you got too open and free in sharing but better I know early on then later.
I already said no to attending a "community bible study" that I know promotes the ecumenical message. I know a local Catholic lady who attends that, I can tell they aren't teaching her much, since she still is very happy to remain Catholic. I have directly witnessed the gospel of grace to that lady and she knows why and how I left. She has smiled and told me she plans to stay Catholic but my conscience is clear. I of course turned down Alpha and other Bible studies I know are false.
Yes sometimes I do question myself to end up in this position. Yes I can see how easily people could compromise. People do it not to be alone. People want friends and people to talk to. The conformity has GROWN. Yes, I will say that and it's getting worse. Independent thinkers are rare.
Those biblical warnings about being hated are to be taken SERIOUS. It can be very hard. I am sure my readers here will understand why I left never to go back. I didn't feel there was any chance of changing minds either. Perhaps God would use someone to go in and deliver truth but I felt there was no doing that there.