I have had conversations with a friend the past several months about what the church is and what is should be. Its easy to be critical of flaws and weaknesses when we see them, but is any church perfect? We met years ago in a church service held in the downtown of a larger city in Iowa. We both participated in worship and prayer and ministry with this body of believers in ways that in some ways were unique to that time and place, and in other ways were effective in doing what the church body is supposed to be like. There were new believers coming to saving faith almost every week, we met in small groups to form a close-knit community with a desire to grow in our faith and help others do the same. Maybe you are a part of a church family like that currently, or have been at some time in the past, and maybe you have not been part of something like that, but would you want to be?
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16
Part of the issue for my friend and myself, is that we held that experience up to be what every church community should be like. But that is not the case. When we move to a new place, we may look for something similar, but not find it. We may exclude certain denominations for various reasons, and we may find other reasons or excuses why we don’t like this place or that one while we are ‘church shopping’. The questions becomes, do we want to settle for something not idea, but good enough for a time? Even if we are not a pastor, do we think we can be a catalyst to change (for the better) the new congregation we are now a part of, or do we just acquiesce and become part of whatever they are? Even if you are a pastor, it is not easy to change the ingrained traditions and mindsets (both good and bad) that have been present in a church body for generations. So, do we then go and start out something on our own with a small group of like-minded individuals? Do we even seek God’s counsel on what is best?
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
Maybe you have been a part of a church that had problems. Maybe there was a divide in leadership over a building project, bringing in a new pastor, or the color of the carpet, etc. There are endless ways that sin and pride can creep into a body of believers. In fact, within a few weeks that I started attending the ‘ideal church’ I mentioned earlier, they had a big meeting over an issue that divided, and eventually split the church leadership. They continued on and eventually had other disputes and personality conflicts, but continued to preach and teach the Word of God to benefit myself and others. Anytime people are involved in ministry or a church, which is every church, there is potential for issues and conflicts. A healthy church deals with these in appropriate ways, and hopefully learns what to do, or not to do moving forward. But, when the heart of the leadership is focused on sound biblical teaching and seeking the leadership of Christ in all they do, the fruits will be evident. He should direct your steps and lead you to step foot in a new place, or not. May you be effective and fruitful in the body of believers you find yourself now.
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 1 Corinthians 14:26
Yours in Christ,