Scratching the Surface
When It’s O.K. to Change Churches
Sitting in the stands for a Belvidere Bucs high school football game with my friend and often mentor Ev about a decade or so ago, he directed my attention to some fans: “Hey, there’s…He was a member of the church about 30 years ago…Hey, there’s…She was a member about 20 years ago…Hey, there’s….He was a member about 15 years ago…Hey, there’s someone who left when you came!”
I think of pastor search committees.
Often asked why it’s common for PSC members to leave churches not long after the pastor “of their choice” has been around, I acknowledge those instances when the pastor or PSC or both erred in discerning them being called together for life and ministry.
Unfortunately, there are too many instances of PSC members leaving churches not long after “their” choice was installed that have little to do with identifying and yoking with a worship leader, discipler, and radical advocate for Jesus; as most often they leave because “their” choice failed to become “their” BFF, paramour, or champion for…
People leave churches for many reasons.
Most of them are silly, superficial, stupid, and selfish.
Go ahead, list ‘em.
Which ones aren’t silly, superficial, stupid, or selfish?
Which ones don’t make a mockery of our Lord’s expectations/commands in Matthew 18, John 17, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and…?
C’mon, which ones aren’t ideologically, idolatrously, idiosyncratically, or just plain old ignorantly motivated?
Unless proven otherwise by the example of Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I see only one valid reason for changing churches; and whenever this comes up, I urge people to leave those churches asap for their souls’ safety and especially for the spiritual and eternal welfare of children entrusted to them.
When the pastors, church professionals, church boards, and church constituents do not acknowledge and advocate Jesus by the book but rather sport religion only coincidental to Jesus by the book at the altar of denominational, traditional, or ideological loyalties from their navel-gazing left, right, up, down, inside, outside, and sideways, it’s time to leave.
Whenever someone in our family of faith tells me about people in such remotely-related-to-Jesus-by-the-book churches, I urge ‘em to invite, welcome, include, and agape ‘em into our family of faith.
That’s not stealin’ sheep.
That’s savin’ ‘em from…
If I have to explain that to you, you may be in a church that I would urge people to leave.
The real issue is the church’s leadership.
Do the women and men entrusted with leading the church believe in Jesus by the book with enthusiasm and without equivocation?
If so, embrace ‘em and work through the silly, superficial, stupid, and selfish things threatening to separate you from each other rather than insulting the One who lived, died, rose, and reigns to bring people together for life and ministry in/through/for Him.
If not, run from that church to save your/their life/lives.
Of course, the best way to insure your church stays with Jesus by the book is to ask prospective pastors, professionals, officers, and members, “Who is Jesus?”
If they are uncomfortable with that question, for God’s sake and everyone else’s, don’t enable them for church leadership!
If you cannot sense their joy and contagious excitement while struggling to answer the question, for God’s sake and everyone else’s, don’t enable them for church leadership!
If their answers are “nice” but only coincidental to Jesus by the book, for God’s sake and everyone else’s, don’t enable them for church leadership!
Christianity is all about Jesus.
If you find yourself in a church that’s not, leave.
If you are in a church that is, stay…and pray/labor through who/what threaten to insult our Lord’s call for peace, unity, and purity in/through/for Him.
If you are in a church that is all about Jesus, you will overcome the worldly temptations to schism and separation; because, uh, in the existential as well as eternal end, Jesus and all who really love Him are…out of this world.
Blessings and Love!
Thanks for sharing. This piece is very timely in light of our discussion/prayers last night as our Session considered how to agape folks who are on the fringe of our local assembly or are being drawn by the latest, hottest, coolest mega-churches in the area.
Please give Leslie a hug for us.
In His Mighty Grip
I am reminded of the word that tells us the ungodly cannot stand in the congregation of the righteous. If they leave a church that is in love with Jesus, exemplifies who He is, and endeavors to live for Him "by the Book", they leave because they cannot endure sound doctrine and must find a church that entertains, endorses, and appeases their desire to be religious instead of relational.
Thank you for always putting it straight!
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