Leadership, family, theology and world events
I hear this statement time to time from people from different churches. Who is to blame for it, the pastor or the members? And what is the solution? Should I move on or stay?
To address this issue, I believe, we have to first of all, know the situation and secondly, understand God’s intention for the church.
I have to say that there are people who don’t want to leave a particular church, but it would be beneficial for their family and the body of Christ if they move on, and there are people who have been moving from church to church who have to finally commit to one church.
I don’t believe someone shouldn’t be allowed to switch churches. Our membership is not a lifetime marriage, and there are reasons why we can and should move to another church. The top reasons would be: a sinful life of the leaders when nothing is done about it, heresy, or when a church is not, even partially, fulfilling its purpose.
There are two extremes. Some families are staying in a particular church when a pastor has been preaching, hypothetically lets say, the prosperity message for decades, (I am not singling out only this one) without expanding into the importance of serving, preaching to unbelievers, living a righteous life, etc. But at the same time, others are changing churches at a rate of few years or attending multiple without connecting to any of them.
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42, 46, 47
How do we see a church, as a restaurant where we are served, or a country club membership with entailment to the privileges or a family where everyone has duties and responsibilities to build it up? If church is a restaurant then it is all about being served for our money. But the church isn’t about only teaching the members, but also about fellowship, doing life together, serving each other and preaching the Gospel.
Some churches are stronger in one aspect while others in something else. Yet, those three are equally important: teaching, doing life together (church’s ministry involvement, friendship beyond church’s walls), and witnessing about Jesus.
Being involved in a church’s ministry and testifying about Jesus to unbelievers is not just about doing our duties before expecting others to feed us, but changing our “food” priorities and needs. I think a random visitor and a member who serves and shares the Gospel will have different “food preferences” on Sunday morning. If you are not involved, it is about hearing something new, when you are involved it is about “equipping [you] for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” Ephesians 4:13
People who are witnessing about Jesus will expect a pastor to teach on that topic for at least a month, but a random visitor will be bored after the second time of hearing the “same thing”.
I don’t think that is ok, when you are not getting anything from the pastor’s preaching. Yet, our spiritual growth and “food intake” cannot be limited only to Sunday service. Our primary growth, especially for “grown ups” has to do with our time with God in prayers, meditation on Word of God, serving others, and witnessing to unbelievers.
Often if you are a leader or spiritually mature person, you can find yourself in the situation where things that have being taught this Sunday, is something that you have already learned long time ago. Yet, the message is important for other 90% of the church. If we are really “grown up” then we will care more about “kids” be fed than about ourselves.
Again, I think there are situations where it is better to move to another church. Yet, the right decision can be made only by those who have been doing life together with other members of this church, involved in ministry, witnessing to other, have had a personal relationship with God, and was putting needs of others before his (or her) own. In this case this decision will be right, but difficult, in the same time for “a permanent visitor” the same decision will easy but often wrong.