You may start feeling like it’s time to change churches. Most Christians at some time or another nowadays have felt that way at least once. It could be for any number of reasons: they don’t offer the ministries your family needs, things are stagnant, there are too many jerks that go there. Sometimes it’s just time to change the scenery.
So let’s do that.
Evaluate The Situation
Sunday morning after you get there, take a deep look around. Everything you are looking at is what I like to call a ‘tertiary issue’, meaning it is third in line of what is of most importance. The way the chairs are stacked, the ‘moody’ purple lighting on stage, even the dead looks on all the people’s faces. All of it is unfortunately, utterly irrelevant. What we need to do is create a base-line understanding of where to start.
Yes. Let’s start here before we go somewhere else. You haven’t been bamboozled, just stick with me for a little bit.
After the service starts, someone (usually the Pastor) at some point will come up on stage and welcome everybody, encourage shaking hands, and introduce tithes and offerings. This is normal. This is something that rarely differs from church to church and is completely common to Christianity and isn’t in any way biblically based, nor is it banned. It is a completely tertiary issue.
Before we continue, tithes and offerings is biblically based, but specifically taking it in a service on a weekly basis directly between worship and the sermon has no biblical basis whatsoever…that is what I am referring to.
Once the sermon starts, this is where I have some questions that we need to be paying attention to:
Is the Bible the ultimate authority to doctrine and teaching?
Is our goal to grow spiritually not only today (Sunday) but to grow on a daily basis?
Is our goal to reach out into the community and make disciples?
If something other than the Bible holds ultimate authority, and if we are focused most on something other than the Great Commission, then something might be wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to have the best potluck this side of the Interstate, but if all we are focused on is Janice’s 14 Bean Casserole (How did she find 14?), then we may have a problem.
Evaluating the Bible, particularly the New Testament, has pointed out something to me that I just can’t shake:
God’s will isn’t to focus on shuffling believers around like a cosmic draft coach, especially if the players are just going to sit on the bench.
Paul sent Timothy all over the place: ahead of him to Macedonia, Corinth, and eventually to Ephesus where Paul left him to be Bishop. I can’t help but notice that no one in the bible ever ‘felt led’ to leave their church for another one in the same town. They always journeyed to help where help was needed. Occasionally, they would see a vision to do something specific, but feeling led to keep another seat warm is something that just isn’t biblically supported. THAT is a consumer mentality. Making church attendance decisions based on what they are doing for you.
This isn’t everybody. I’m not saying that. I have been to a few churches where there were serious and genuine problems: The Pastor’s word trumps all other word even Scripture, or the absolute bastardization of how the Bible is even interpreted. I’ve been in some weird ones. Honestly, sometimes there is no changing that church, whatever is wrong with it. I’ve seen a church where the Pastor was simply just trying to build a brand. I’ve seen one where he was trying to sell his books. I’ve seen one where they really never said much other than the words ‘hope’ and ‘faith’ and ‘Amen?’ a bunch of times. I get that there are some places that are lost causes.
But also in my personal experience, I’ve honestly never tried changing the church before I changed my churches.
That is what I’d like to explore in this series of posts. Stick with me and I’d like to hear what you think as well.
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Thank you, and I hope to see you soon!