Trouble shooting for the church grumbles
12th May 2013, Jared Kealley
Being part of a church is so important for our Christian growth. But what do we do if we find ourselves grumbling about church, for whatever reason? Or what about if we find a friend coming to us for advice because they have found that they are facing the church grumbles? Here is a checklist for troubleshooting the grumbles-
1. What can I do?If you we find ourselves grumbling about church, firstly we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we can do about it. It can be easy to nit-pick- "the church doesn't do this, the church doesn't have that...", but is the reason because we are not doing our part? We can say "no one calls me" but do we call anyone? Church is more than an organization that we belong to, but is a holy, living community, and each member has a part to play (1 Cor 12: 12). If we don't do our part, others miss out.
2. Do I have realistic and biblical expectations?
A big reason why people leave or are fed up in churches is because the church doesn't meet their expectations. And it is ok to have some degree of expectations, but are they biblical? We need to have our expectations in the Word, and not be conformed to this world (Romans 12: 2). We also need to make sure our expectations are realistic- not expecting people to read our minds (especially pastors) but communicating and seeking support if needed. The church is not a country club where have membership entitlements, but a living Holy community- all have a part to play to work together. We need to move from an entitlement mindset to a servant mindset.
3. Is my heart right?
A lot of the time the entitlement mindset, and feeling "owed" can have nothing to do with others, but what is happening in our heart. Out of our heart comes all sorts of bad stuff, and it does influence our life (Proverbs 4: 23). Our past hurt, pride, fear and wounds can have a big impact on our relationship with others if not dealt with, including church. It is often easier to blame the church or other people than deal with our own problems. If we are finding ourselves having the church grumbles, it is a good idea to have a heart check up with the Great Physician! He is in the business of healing broken hearts and making them clean. And He also places "hospitals" all around us to provide support and care- the church!
4. Am I planted?
We can judge, criticize, make excuses, and pick or choose when it comes to church, but at the end of the day we need to ask ourselves if we are where God wants us, and if so, whether we are planted there. God calls us and appoints us to churches- a place we can be planted, grow and minister (Ps 92: 13). We need to make sure we are planted where He calls us. Being planted involves being committed, part of the community and being accountable, as well as serving, and receiving love and support. When we are planted, we flourish. When the storms of life come, because our roots are deep, we remain stable, supported and grow strong. When we aren't planted, it is very easy to become critical, and see the flaws in others, but when we are planted, we grow, and God irons all the flaws and creases out of ourselves, which gets them out of the church!
So let us not make any excuses for not fellowshipping with each other, but plant our roots deeply in our local church!
The importance of church
5th May 2013, Jared Kealley
Being part of a church is such an important part of being a Christian, but sadly many Christians can neglect it for various reasons such as the business of life, past hurts, pride, and the negative impact of unhealthy churches. Nevertheless it is such an important aspect, and not being part can hinder our growth and impact. But why is it so important?
Well first let's look at some myths about church- what church isn't and doesn't do
Myths about church
As funny as some of them may appear, these myths have had an influence of Christianity, and many people have believed them. They are not only incorrect, but dangerous. Now they are out of the way, lets look at the real reasons of why church is important
Church is important to God, therefore it should be important to us. It is something that God has designed, and He wants us to be part of. Hebrews 10: 25 tells us not to neglect meeting together but to encourage one another. Whilst the bible doesn't say "you must go to church every Sunday", church involves meeting with each other, encouraging each other, sharing with each other, and loving each other, which the Bible tells us to do. Unity and fellowship is something that God wants for us, and Jesus prayed for this for us the night before He died. Also God is a loving father, so like all of His instructions, He tells us to do it because it is the best for us. We need it!
We were made for community. We were made in the image of God, and part of that involves relationship. Our relationship with each other flows out of our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other is an example of God's love to the world. People will know we are His disciples by the love we have for each other. When we meet and have fellowship, it is more than just getting together. It is a holy community, and Jesus is present with us.
This isn't just on a Sunday, but whenever we meet. But this doesn't diminish the importance for meeting together for church- this is a pattern that was established right at the beginning of the early church (Acts 2: 42), meeting for teaching, fellowship, sharing in the Lord's supper, and prayer, which is what we do at church. It is about having fellowship, celebrating, doing life together and being one, even though we are many.
Part of the community involves encouraging each other in our faith (1 Thessalonians 5: 11), and that's another reason why church is important. Even though this can happen outside of church, it is a big aspect of church and ensures that it happens. It's not only about us receiving encouragement in our faith, but also giving it. When we aren't part of a church, we not only miss out, but others do to because we bring something that is unique that others need. It's like a vital part is missing when we aren't part of a church.
Church is also about being equipped to do what God has called us to do. Ephesians 4: 11 tells us that Christ gave to the church leadership gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (the five-fold ministry) to equip the people to minister and build up the church. Church is a place where we are trained up and equipped to minister- to shine out the light and love of Jesus. If we aren't part of a church, we aren't fully equipped to do this. The word equip means fully qualifed for service, so without church, it's like we aren't quite up to scratch to do the task.
The word "equipping" also means to bring wholeness like a surgeon does when setting a bone during surgery, bringing restoration and stability, and that's another factor of why church is so important. Ephesians 4: 14 tells us that through being equipped and growing in maturity, we will be stable, doesn't matter what is going on outside. We won't be immature like children, or blown about like a little boat being tossed about in the sea. We won't chase the latest fad, follow the latest false doctrine (and there are so many out there) or go off track. Without being part of that community where we are equipped and grow, having teaching and direction, it is easy to go off the mark.
It is not only the teaching and direction that helps us stay on track, but also the fact that we have people who help support us, give advice and encouragement, and watch our back. We not only have each other, but also the pastor/leadership, who God has appointed to nurture us, and help keep accountability and encourage growth. Some people argue that being accountable to a pastor or leadership is dangerous because they aren't accountable to anyone, and yes there are wolves in sheep clothing who are not true pastors, but true pastors and leaders will also have people around them who they are accountable to, which ensures their own growth and stability, and they continually commit themselves to God's will, and are gifted and called to care for and nurture believers. Leadership is vital for growth in the church and is a gift from God.
The stability we get from being part of a church not only leads to personal growth, but also Kingdom expansion. It grows out of us into the community and beyond. So being part of a church is not just about us- it affects more than we know!