by Phil Baker
Imagine you arrive at a dinner party and everyone is talking about a certain someone that you must meet. You know who they’re talking about because a crowd has formed around him in the center of the room. You make your way over to hear some of the anecdotes and commentaries he is sharing with the other guests. Later in the evening, you get to meet him and he lives up to the hype. He is magnetic, entertaining and very gracious. Then you meet his wife and you think “Does she have some dirt on him?” She is homely, boring and self-possessed. How did these two end up together? As much as you like talking to him, you’re not sure if you can stand being around her.
This is how many view Jesus and church. They like Jesus but have given up on church. But being part of a local body of believers is important and essential to your Christian walk. In my last post, I talked about how it can seem easier to cut-n-run when you feel your church has lost its luster. Can you find your love for church again? I think so. And here’s a few ways how.
Your church is so much more than Sunday morning services. Most churches have several ministry opportunities throughout the week that allow you to practice servant evangelism and put feet to your faith. Sometimes just showing up is all that is required of you. For example, our annual Movies by Moonlight event has become an easy event to put on. All the set-up and tear-down is done by just a few people. But what makes it a successful event is when we have as many bodies on our lawn as possible, mingling and talking with others. This gives visitors a sense of community – something that they are probably looking for in a church. And it can give you the same thing – something you’ve probably lost.
“Here I am.” vs “There you are!”
Many visitors have told us that they haven’t returned to our church because no one really reached out to them or that they didn’t feel “connected.” Upon closer investigation, we often learn these people came with a “Here I am” attitude. In other words, they came already closed off and defensive. Anyone that might have talked to them only got one word answers or had to pull information out of them like pulling teeth. We all can have “Here I am” days and that’s okay. But we must try instead to come to church with a “There you are!” attitude. This shifts the focus off yourself and onto others. You seek out others and through talking to and about them you are also sharing more about you (and your church). Sure, you may be an introvert. But there are times when you have to get out of your comfort zone. Church is one of those times. See it as a weekly exercise in coming out of your shell.
Mend it. Don’t end it.
This is advice many give to troubled marriages. And, in keeping with my metaphor, it applies to your relationship with church. When you have a dispute or are unhappy with something, try to mend it. Reach out in a loving, humble and teachable way so that you can work together to fix it. Notice I included “teachable” with my adjectives. This indicates there may be some demands you may have to compromise on, or some things you may have to rethink. This is all part of being part of a larger body. The same way you have to pick your battles in marriage. Find the common ground that brought you to your church and rediscover your love for her. With apologies to Joshua Harris, date your church! Just as you would have a “date night” with your spouse, reawaken what attracted you to your church in the first place.
Look, no church is perfect. No person is perfect. So there’s no avoiding flaws in a flawed world. Church is a place we can bring our flaws and focus on a perfect God. The church is Christ’s bride. Let’s try to be worthy of him.