Stumbled across a blog recently … and felt like I would add to the discussion. Following is my comments I left on his blog… these answers were first thought only and therefore may need to be changed as I look through them closer, but this was my gut reaction. First his post:
Living In Springfield, Mo has its advantages and disadvantages. The area is an awesome place to raise a family, but the church culture here is certainly different than what I experienced in Chicago. One thing that has irritated me since I moved here was the amount of “transient Christianity” that abounds. It is nothing for someone to hop from one church to the next for no reason at all, or for the silliest reasons. I loved what Tim Stevens put in his blog today. Check it out…
Dearest Career Church Hopper: I met you again on Wednesday, the same person smiling at me through a different face, telling me that you’ve been shopping for churches for months now, and that darn it, you “just can’t find one (you) like.” The music’s too rocky at this one, you said; the preacher too funny at that one. The latest one might make the cut, though: you’d had the pastor and his wife over the previous evening for a little “dinner audition” — your words, not mine — and he said things that made you feel good and comfortable, things that you already agree with, so you’re thinking about sticking around. At the very least, you could get your teaching from this church and your worship from that one. I’m sure we’ll run into each other again, but before we do, I’d like to suggest some things you could perhaps think about before you move on to the next church, as I’m sure you will, whether this weekend or next year:
- Christ didn’t bleed for the Church so you could treat your search for one like an episode of Survivor, deciding who to vote off the island this week.
- The Church was not commissioned by Christ to meet your needs. You ARE the Church, and you’ve been commissioned to meet the needs of the world.
- Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25). Quit treating his bride like a Jesus buffet where you can pick and choose what you like, hedging your bets against the pain and sacrifice of making a commitment.
- Per scripture’s instructions to use your gifts in service to the Body of Christ — and its lack of instruction to search for a church that scratches you where you itch — you might want to consider what the Church you’re visiting needs from you, rather than the other way around.
- If you only want to hear things you already know and agree with, save your Sundays and talk to yourself in the bathroom mirror.
Sincerely, The Preacher’s Wife You can read more at Tim’s blog.
Now my response:
This is from someone who knows about this personally, finding the right fit is sometimes hard. I think there are times when God leads us to one church, and then leads us to another. Part of the change is associated with personal growth on my part, and other times to add my skills (in part) to the new church – that is my thought anyway. To me, being part of the church with a capital C is just that… believing in Christ and carrying out his word – not being stuck to one church with a little c. What makes that hard for the modern day church is the fact that I may take my dollars and move to another church. I may take my volunteer time and go somewhere else. That makes it challenging for them to plan as they do. Totally understand that. But I love the way one former pastor said it, “You belong in the church that God pulls you to, not in the church I want you to be in.”
Now with that comes the following with some additional comments to think through:
“Christ didn’t bleed for the Church so you could treat your search for one like an episode of Survivor, deciding who to vote off the island this week.” Christ didn’t bleed for the Church with a little c – he bleed for you and me and we make up the Church with a big C. But, I totally agree that we should not disrespect any part of the big C church. I totally agree that we should not treat anyone like some of the comments noted above. To me that is someone who is out for themselves rather than falling before God and asking what He would like for them to do. Sometimes it is not fun to be in a church that needs help… but maybe that is why a person is placed there.
“The Church was not commissioned by Christ to meet your needs. You ARE the Church, and you’ve been commissioned to meet the needs of the world.” Again totally agree… I am commissioned to meet the needs of the world … and to carry that one step further not to meet only the needs of any one church with a little c. Should I help because they are part of the big C Church – absolutely.
“Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25). Quit treating his bride like a Jesus buffet where you can pick and choose what you like, hedging your bets against the pain and sacrifice of making a commitment.” Again His bride was the church with a big C not a little c – but do show more respect than what was shown above. The church with a big C is his bride… and the little c churches are the parts of the Big C.
“Per scripture’s instructions to use your gifts in service to the Body of Christ — and its lack of instruction to search for a church that scratches you where you itch — you might want to consider what the Church you’re visiting needs from you, rather than the other way around.” – touching on what I said above, maybe God had different plans for me… maybe He wanted me to use those God given talents to help another little c church or even the big C church. Not a personal issue, just following orders if you will.
“If you only want to hear things you already know and agree with, save your Sundays and talk to yourself in the bathroom mirror.” Maybe that is what caused the change to begin with… hearing the same thing, or I got to a point in my faith where the little c church did nothing to continue that growth.
For me it all comes down to the following:
If a church is loosing members… figure out why. Did the minister or pastor use the same sermon every season? Is he challenging the congregation to think and act more Christ like – or just sitting on the sidelines preaching on Sunday. Some love to sit on the sidelines… some don’t – you need to figure out what you want to be and determine if that is good enough…not just for you, but for God. Also, to encourage me to “save my Sundays” because you think that I am church hopping solely because of the sermon and whether or not I know or agree with that sermon – well, that is pretty closed minded. That might be a clue as to why people leave a little c church.
My thought is rather than be discouraged with someone stopping by and moving on, you should continue to keep on telling the story… singing the song… if you are loosing people – figure out why… if you are gaining people – figure out why. In today’s society, life is not about standing still – during Christ life it wasn’t about standing still – it was about growing and adapting and changing.
It was all about becoming more Christ like.