Last night on Facebook I mentioned that there is a colossal amount of immaturity seeping into the Church and so-called “modern Christianity” as a whole. There was nothing particularly grand or revelatory about this assertion. In fact, I didn’t even back it up with recent statistics, polls or any sort of concrete data. I didn’t cite any news articles or quote any pastors. (Probably because I was too lazy.) It was merely an observation made primarily from personal experience and recent conversations that I’ve had with fellow ministry colleagues. Within about five minutes of posting the status, I received a notification that it was “performing better than 90% of the other posts” on my Page. It received several likes, reactions and shares, not to mention a few e-mail responses, with everyone agreeing that I was “so right” or “dead on” in what I was saying.
I don’t say this to gloat. The truth is that I hate receiving that sort of feedback. I didn’t want people to agree. However, it at least confirmed what I was thinking: The undeniable reality is that much of our culture’s political and social immaturity has permeated and infected the Christian faith and, as believers, we have willingly stood by and allowed this happen. In many cases, we’ve even fostered and welcomed it.
Indeed, there are a vast array of immature spiritual delusions and fallacies that have overtaken the modern Church and and the thought patterns of many believers. But, I just want to focus on one here today. It can generally be summarized like this: “I can leave a church whenever I want to or whenever I feel like it, for any reason whatsoever, and it doesn’t matter.”
As a consumer-driven and emotion-based society, it’s easy to see why and how so many American Christians have fallen victim to applying this mindset to their church attendance. We mistakenly believe that we should only be loyal to a church so long as our personal needs, wants and selfish desires are being met. If a church fails to make us “feel good” or “feed us” in the exact ways that we believe it should, we head out to find another one as if we were switching from Apple to Samsung or Nike to Adidas. In essence, we become church shopping consumers, rather than hard-working contributors.
Of course, there are plenty of valid reasons to leave a church: heretical teaching, unbiblical value statements, lack of a clear mission, etc. But there are a lot of really dumb reasons too. Here are three of the most stupid reasons to ditch your church:
1) “I’m not experiencing any spiritual growth.”
Yes, a senior pastor has a responsibility to shepherd his flock toward spiritual growth. But, he also has dozens of other responsibilities like staff administration, sermon preparation, weekly meetings, counseling appointments, speaking engagements, hospital visits, weddings, random spiritual crisis emergency management moments and about a thousand other things. Take it from the son of a pastor, they can’t be expected to do or handle everything. It’s not humanly possible. In fact, this is why they surround themselves with committed staff and volunteers in the first place. It’s also why any good pastor will make sure his church offers small groups and Bible studies throughout the week. Dominant spiritual growth isn’t supposed to happen on Sunday mornings.
Moreover, we’re living in the 21st Century. If you own a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or even a library card, then you have a world of scriptural, doctrinally-sound teaching and endless sermon audio and video files right at your fingertips. “I’m not spiritually growing,” is arguably the most pathetic and weakest excuse any Christian can have for abandoning a church. Take some initiative and responsibility yourself and seek spiritual growth through online messages or small group Bible studies. (2 Timothy 2:15) (Joshua 1:8)
2) “I don’t like the pastor.”
This is usually one of those purely emotion-based, often knee-jerk-reaction-sort-of-reasons that tends to occur when a pastor says or does something that, while not unbiblical at all, just bothered you on a personal level. Maybe he resolved a conflict differently than you would have. Maybe he made a spiritual leadership choice that you were too insecure or too unwise to understand. Perhaps he made an executive decision with which you disagreed. Maybe he had the sanctuary carpet color updated. Maybe he authorized modifications to the stage or lighting. Maybe he approved some contemporary changes to the style of worship music. Oh, the horror.
Ask yourself why you’re going to church in the first place. Examine your own heart. If you’re only there for the things that make you happy and comfortable, then the problem is not the church. It’s you. Repent of your selfishness (Philippians 2:3-4) and invest in serving (1 Peter 4:10), rather than receiving. Commit to understanding the reasons for the decisions and changes, rather than complaining about them.
3) “The people there are weird and annoying.”
I hear this one a lot and my immediate response is always: “Yup.” After working 15 years in the clothing retail world, there’s one thing I can say without a doubt: Human beings are some of the weirdest and most troublesome — often infuriating — creatures ever to exist on planet Earth. And I hate to break it to you, but the church (both globally and locally) is made up of people. The church is the people. The Gospel brings together men, women and families from multiple backgrounds and all sorts of unique and diverse situations. That’s the beauty of it. The likelihood that you will ever find a church full of people just like you is nearly nonexistent. Besides, such a church would be subverting the entire point of the Gospel, and you really wouldn’t need to be there anyway.
So, if you’ve recently abandoned a church based a similar excuse, you may need to stop, pray, repent and carefully reexamine your motivations. If you’re thinking about looking for a new church, don’t do it based on one of these excuses or any variances thereof. Otherwise, you’ll spend the rest of your life miserably hopping from one church to the next — utterly unhappy with each one — and you’ll probably be just as miserable in Heaven too.