Our conversation continued but shifte towards the topic of healthy within a church.
If you feel your church is not healthy, do you leave rather than trying to change everyone?
Well, first I would try to identify what the “not healthy” looks like. What is it that you believe to be unhealthy? (articles on unhealthy churches: Crosswalk, Christian Post) Look at whatever that is and ask yourself if this is something that is unhealthy based on Biblical standards or personal standards. There are many things that may not appeal to us on a personal level but are not unhealthy as far as a Bible believing church. That distinction is important.
It could be good to get an outsider’s perspective on this as well – preferably a trusted Christian not in your age range but someone you trust.
If you decide that there are “unbiblical” health issues at your church, your first step would be talking to leadership. Leadership that you know, respect, and trust. Being one who has worked “behind the scenes” at churches for several years now, there is a lot that goes on that if you didn’t know was happening would look shady. For example, my church just did a huge revamp on the education center that would normally cost a million dollars, it was done for free. We have golf carts that drive people to and from their cars – they are donated. The original iPads that they use for giving are bought for cheap. However, anyone looking at this could easily assume our church throws money at unnecessary expenses when money is tight. That is why it is so important to talk to those “in the know.” They can speak truth in situations others simply cannot.
Matthew 18 is a good way to deal with something like this. Go to the people who know and hear their heart and gain a better understanding before making any decision.
I am much more for the “be the change you want to see” philosophy when it comes to churches.
What is the purpose of church besides fellowship?
Well, the chief purpose of the church is to glorify God. Beyond that fellowship is very important – iron sharpens iron and what not. The local church also acts as a send off point for believers to go out into the world and reach people for Christ. I’ve grown up in the Christian and Missionary Alliance; their model for this is:
- Outreach events to bring people in
- Biblical teaching of Salvation through Christ
- Discipleship and growth
- Sending people out to fulfill the Great Commission
Different denominations have different models. The main goal, though, is introducing people to a saving faith in Christ Jesus and building disciples to carry out the Great Commandment at home or abroad.
Is it worth staying at a church when fellowship has soured?
If you’ve gone through all of this, you have attempted to reconcile with people, and in the end you feel there is no place for you, then maybe it is time to seek out a new church.
Though, I will say, that sometimes this can set up bad patterns. It’s kind of like dating. People date then break up and repeat whenever times get hard. Later, down the road when they get married, their lifelong pattern of running when it gets tough leads them to divorce. If you build up patterns of walking away from a church in difficult seasons it could continue throughout your life. Make sure if you decide to leave you leave with the right motives and state of your heart. The church doesn’t need any more division.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with going to other churches and seeing what they are like, getting an idea of what your heart connects with and how God is using His people. Just know that “the grass is always greener on the other side” – everything will look better than what you have but that does not mean it is.
What are your experiences with this? What would your advice be to someone struggling with their place at their church? Leave a comment below!