Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Plugging In and Fitting In

A conversation I had with a brother recently got me thinking about stories in a book Finding Church that I am reading. In the book, a number of different people share their stories of looking for church, finding problems with each church, and moving on and looking elsewhere.  I know many people who have similar stories, moving from church to church. For a time they feel like they have found a home church, later to discover something is missing.  Some of them eventually give up and stop looking for the church that best fits their needs. Some settle on a church community but are not really satisfied, others give up and quit 'going' to church.

There are many different reasons people leave churches and go looking for church elsewhere.

I think I recognize a common desire in most of these stories. People often want to feel like they belong and fit into a church community. 

Many Christians struggle with this need of belonging. It could be because people are encouraged to 'fit in' by 'plugging in' and serving in some church program.  After visiting for a few weeks, if someone wants to belong, the first step is often to find some ministry where they can volunteer and contribute. In some cases serving side by side with others does build relationships. However for others it doesn't work out that way.  After a few years of working side by side with others, some people still don't really feel like family. For whatever reason, some people will form stronger relationships than others.

A problem with this could be that churches often focus on plugging into programs - and simply hope that relationships will form.

What if people were encouraged to plug into church by building relationships first?

If church was viewed primarily as believers, and whenever they get together - a primary focus of the church could be building relationships with each other whenever we get together - to build each other up to become more like Christ, and encourage each other to go and share Christ with others.

If you take an honest look at the church of the New Testament, you should notice that relationships come before programs.  There isn't much mention of church programs.  But there is a strong emphasis on the 'one another' relational aspects of gathering together as the church.

So here is my suggestion for those that feel like you don't fit in with a community of believers.  Focus on what you can do in terms of the 'one another' commands we see in Scripture.  Plug in by building some relationships and see if things change.

Advice for those that do fit in with a community of believers but are concerned about those that don't.  Focus on what you can do in terms of the 'one another' commands we see in Scripture.  Instead of encouraging fringe people to fill a ministry need, take the time to build a relationship with them.  Take whatever opportunity you can to encourage others to become more like Christ.

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William Floyd said...

Great post.

Jonathan said...

Thanks William.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this post - excellent insights.

Genoise said...

You are always encouraging. I appreciate the way you gently point out the things that are askew without slapping people on the wrist with a resounding, "You're doing it wrong!"
You prefer to gently point out a better way and leave it at that. It's a gift. :)

Jonathan said...

Thanks Genoise for the encouraging words. Over the past few years of this I have had my share of negative emotions, and I haven't always been as gracious as I should be. But since my journey started with a longing for church unity, I've recognized my role is not to be anyone's final judge. None of us have it all figured out, and we need each other to encourage and teach with wisdom and gentleness.

Anyways... thanks! God bless!