Being the Right Church

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 (Originally published 9/5/13)

I really like my church. The pastor gives a great sermon nearly every week and everyone there is very friendly. The church as a whole really cares about the community and does several outreaches as well as mission trips abroad. Their is a general heart for people at that really shines.

But their praise and worship music is way too loud. And there are a few other things that annoy me every Sunday. Some of these little things have been enough to start me contemplating a church change. I’ve been a ‘member’ of 4 churches in the last 12yrs, and while I remember my other two churches and the people I knew there fondly, I’ve so far failed to find a true and lasting fellowship connection.

I think a lot of people are in the same boat. They go to a church for a few years, fail to really ‘plug-in’, get annoyed with a handful of small details, and go looking for a change. Or perhaps they get too ‘plugged-in’ and, realizing that their pastors are humans and make mistakes, they get disillusioned and leave.

The worst is when someone in the church hurts you and you leave because of the pain, sometimes never to return. I myself have been hurt and annoyed by my fellow church attendees on a few occasions and, if I’m being honest, I’m still harboring some resentment about it.

Whenever I consider going church shopping again, I think of a story I heard one time:

Once, in a small mountain village, there lived an old man who liked to sit outside the village and greet visitors. One day, a band of travelers approached the old man and asked him to tell them about the people in his village. He responded with a question: “What were the people in your own village like?”

“They were terrible,” the travelers replied. “They were vicious and backbiting, they gossiped all the time and everyone was extremely selfish and judgmental. We finally had enough and we’re looking for a new home.”

“The people in this village are the same way,” The old man told them.

The travelers sighed and nodded, having expected as much. They continued on their way, in search of greener pastures.

Presently, a second group of travelers approached the old man with the same question and he replied in the same way: “What were the people in your own village like?”

“They were wonderful!” the travelers gushed. “Everyone had a real sense of community and neighborly love. We all looked out for each other and became like a real family. We hated to leave, but we felt led to go out and begin new settlements.”

“The people in this village are the same way,” The old man told them.

You see, I’m discovering that the common weak link in my church shopping is me. Churches, and Christians, get a bum rep. We are called judgmental hypocrites and churches are given wide berth by people who either a) don’t know what we are really like, or b) know exactly what we are like.

The thing is, we are humans. All of us. Christians too. People outside the church don’t want us judging them (and we shouldn’t) but then turn around and judge us for being judgmental. I myself have fallen into the trap of viewing my fellow church attendees according to their sins. Sins like overly loud music, or hurting those I hold dear.

But really, I should have even more love, grace, and forgiveness for them than I do for non-Christians. Why? Because the people inside that church building are my family members. Regardless of whether or not I know their names, like the same movies, share the same interests, or am in the same stage of life, if they are born again in Christ, then they are my brothers and sisters and I need to treat them as such.

I’m really excited because this Sunday, my church is beginning the ‘small group’ sessions for fall and my husband and I are going to find a group to join so we can start enjoying deeper fellowship with the members of our church. I don’t want to forsake the assembling of the brethren anymore. (Heb.10:25)

I’m eager to start loving my family members the way I’m called to love them, regardless of music volume, hurt feelings, or hypocritical judgments. A very popular phrase I hear is that we are the church. So I would encourage you, if you are dissatisfied with an aspect of your church (not including faulty doctrine, of course) rather than trying to find the right church, ask God to help you forgive your brethren and begin loving on them. Ask Him to help you be the right church. 

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About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books. View all posts by Leah Ness

2 responses to “Being the Right Church

  • Joel

    Right on, Leah. I’m happy to see you’re getting involved in a small group. I can tell you it’s done wonders for my relationship with God. Having someone pray for your deepest needs and doing the same for them is wonderful for us as individuals and very healthy for His church.

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