As a pastor, I have a sincere desire for every person that walks through our doors on Sunday to grow in their relationship with God and the church. I am keenly aware of the struggle that so many of us battle in understanding the Church (global), the church (local) and our place within it. Some of you have been around the Church a long time, many great experiences and probably a little heavier baggage mixed in there as well. For others, your relationship with the Church has just begun and you are still figuring all of this out. I want to share a few pieces of advice from my own personal experience and struggle with my relationship with the Church and the local church.
When church doesn’t feel right anymore...
1. Talk to God about your motives. The first bit of advice is probably the hardest. It hits us dead in the eyes most of the time because very few of us take the time to slow down and recognize selfish motives that have permeated our hearts. Our culture screams at us to have it our way all the time, and the Scriptures scream just the opposite. Culture beckons us to become our own god and the Scriptures call us to bend our hearts in submission to God. Very simply, this life, church included, is not all about us. Rather, God adopts us into His family and calls us to a life for His glory and renown.
Here are a couple Scriptures to bring this home.
Psalm 51.10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Phil.2.3-4 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
2. Be more intentional in your relationships. Many of us long for meaningful relationships but never make any effort to have them. We pray for Biblical community but never have a meal with anyone in the body of Christ. We complain about feeling disconnected but show up once a month and don’t allow relationships beyond the surface level. The early church gathered daily to pray, break bread, fellowship and learning from the apostles teaching. Most of the time when we are struggling to find our way, fit in or just make it through the week, we go into hiding. The Christian faith is meant to be lived alongside one another striving for the same goal, to be made into the likeness of Christ and to live for His renown. One of the biggest hurdles I have overcome in my Christian walk is engaging intentional relationships that I know are good for my journey. Don’t avoid them or wait on them to come to you. Be intentional. You’ll be glad you did.
Acts 2.42 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
3. Embrace what God is teaching you in this season. I have always been a little bit of a weird bird in that I embrace the uncomfortable. When awkward things happen I pride myself on not being shaken but learning from them. I titled this “When church doesn’t feel right anymore…” for a reason. When most of us are in this place, the first thing we want to do is bolt. We cry out, “God, get me up outta this season! I don’t care what you gotta do but get me outta here.” The longer I’ve walked with God, the more I realize in every season the Lord is teaching me something new. The longer I keep hitting the eject button, the longer I will have to keep repeating the same lesson until I learn it. God wants to prune your heart in this season. Just let Him.
Daniel 2.21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Here is a few simple prayers if you find yourself in a similar season...
1. God create a clean heart in me. Fix my eyes on you and away from my selfish desires.
2. God open my eyes to the people you’ve placed in my life to build me up and bring comfort and joy to me. Help me to be real and be a godly influence on others.
3. God help me to rest in this season I am in right now. Help me to embrace your goodness in every season and to learn what you are teaching me through it.