Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | October 28, 2009

Church Dilemma

I’m in a church dilemma.  I live in a generation of churchgoers who shop for churches like they shop for the latest fashion.  Growing up my parents chose the nearest Baptist church and stuck with it through thick and thin.  Now, if things aren’t going our way or we see another church doing something different and we want to try it, we just pick up and leave without giving it a second thought.

At the same time, appearances can be deceitful.  When visiting a church, you may feel welcome, encouraged and accepted; however, later you may find those same welcoming faces have gone back to their own group and expected you to form your own.  They may have accepted you into the church but not their exclusive group leaving you right back where you started wondering did God really put me here or did I yearn for community so badly I was willing to hold on to a false sense of security.

Then there are those churches who never seem to welcome visitors.  They give the appearance of thanking visitors for coming, but no one is going to invite them back.  Actually, this church is probably more “authentic” because they don’t melt all over you.  What you see is what you get.  I don’t want to be “melted” over, but it would be kind of nice for people to acknowledge my presence rather than thinking I am the person who sat in “their” pew.

I have considered that maybe it was never God’s intention for us to form different denominations or have 50 different congregations in one community.  I wondered today some what ifs.  What if instead of churches competing over members they decided to work together to create a community of believers whose mission it was to search for lost souls with whom to share the good news?  What if each church became a part of the body like each person is a part of the body of believers–one church may be good at children’s ministry and another may be good at women’s ministry and the list goes on and on–instead of being a member of one particular church, each one could share its gifts with the community.  I realize this wouldn’t work as well in reality as it does in theory–I was just thinking along the lines of what if.

I have heard pastors speak and read Christian articles that speak to the practice of church hopping and all are very wise and make excellent points with which I agree.  Normally, I hold on with both hands, pray mightily and wait for God’s leading which is what I am trying to do now.  I can’t seem to get a clear answer. 

My dilemma–my husband and I are members of a church where our teenage daughter did not really fit in so we allowed her to join a different church in the community where she feels accepted and loved.   We have been criticized by well-meaning people who believe we should have kept her with us.  In response, we have started attending the church she joined because we believe she is growing where she is.  However, we don’t feel like we belong.  Actually, truth be told, it is me, not my husband, that is having issues.  He doesn’t care as long as we go somewhere.  I, on the other hand, want a church where I feel like I am growing spiritually, able to give my talents, and where I feel like I am honoring God by my worshipping there.  I don’t want it to be all about me, but I do want to be fed so I can serve.  I don’t want a place where I can get over-saturated which is what some people are doing today.  But if I am attending a church where there is very little nourishment, I can’t bulk up to serve.  I totally believe community worship and study is just as important than personal Bible study.  After all, you learn and grow when you take in the knowledge of others and the natural discussion that comes from small groups and Sunday School.

I think one of the reasons I’m having such a difficult time is my evolving attitude toward what church should really be about and not being able to find a church with the same mindset.  I’m also trying to come to grips with the fact that maybe I shouldn’t try to find a church with something for everyone–after all, finding something for two adults (one man, one woman), one teenager and one toddler may be an impossible task.  I’m reminded that nothing is impossible with God and He will eventually lead us to a church where we belong whether it is back to our church where we are members, the church we are now attending or another that may be just what He wants for us at this season of our lives.


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