This is the first of many posts from me about “How To Find a Church”. This is my first tip… Look Around You.
Look around you and see if people are leaving. Then listen and find out why. My experience with this is leading with my eyes closed tight. I was so busy working for the church and for God that I ignored the mess. One day it dawned on me… I’ve been here for X amount of years and thinking back to all the poeple who have left and all the splits that have accured, they are all saying the same things. I thought I was exempt from this because I either hadn’t noticed, believed the pastors over the Word of God, or I swept it all under the rug. When I figured this out I felt ashamed that I didn’t listen more, I wasn’t simpathetic to the people who left, and that I automatically assumed every single person who ever left that church was wrong. Why did I beleive this way? Because that’s what I was taught. I was very young when I started going there. My family wasn’t really going anywhere else consistantly. My mother died when I was 17 and I just stayed there because I believed they were the end all be all. I believed them when they said nobody preached the Word like they did and there was no other church like theirs.
Ask the question… Why did they leave?
Example 1: Why did Harry leave the church?
Green Light: Oh, Harry! He is wonderful. He left the church to start his own church. He heard from God and wanted to have a more rock style band to offer something great for younger people. When visitors come here to our church and they are looking for something like that, we send them to Pastor Harry’s church. He sends people our way too. We have a strong covenent relationship with him and we all believe it is about growing the body of Christ, not our own church.
Red Flag: Harry left cause he got mad. He wouldn’t receive councel and there’s just nothing we can do about it anymore. He started his own church and caused a split here. He’s a stole our sheep!
Why is this last one a “red flag” Because, people don’t go to pastors to councel with them to find out what the pastor thinks is best and then go do that instead of what they feel God has called them to do. We are not robots. We go to pastors to ask them to pray about things with us so that we can be sure we have heard from God. It is then our responsablity to follow through with our calling or wait on the Lord! The second reason this is a red flag is because, Harry got mad and left and stole their sheep! Really?? Ask yourself… Why do so many people keep getting mad and leaving? What is making them so angry? Why aren’t the pastors listening more than they are talking? Then realize that people don’t “steal sheep”. People know how to think for themselves… especially grown people. They will go and do as they please because God… I said God… gave them a free will to do so.
Example 2: Why did Susan leave?
Green Light: Susan actually moved to Hondurous to be a full time missionary at an orphanage there. She went one time for a short term mission and God spoke to her to go back and stay! We actually support her financially once a month and support the children at the orphanage as well. If you would like more information about her ministry, let us know!
Red Light: Susan (rolling eyes). Well, she was insistant that she heard from God and wanted to move down there to that orphanage in Hondurous. She drank some bad water and got terribly sick. Tell me she didn’t miss God! The timing was wrong and she shouldn’t have gone. We tried to tell her we had plenty of work for her to do here. Now, she’s calling us up asking for money to help with medical expences. We just don’t have any extra money to send down there, but we will pray for her! 🙂
OK… first of all, life happens. It’s not hard to get a batch of bad water in a 3rd world country. Secondly, God’s timing is always right! Lastly, why would anybody want to stay at that kind of church and work on anything especially one that can’t find it in their heart to support one of their former “sheep” in a desperate time of need.
These are just two examples of things to listen and watch for. Jesus said to go out into all the world and preach the gospel. In both of these scenarios, Harry and Susan both felt called to do the work of the Lord. When we are in His will and His timing the rest is up to Him.
Each day I post these nuggets, I truly want you to seek the face of God about these issues. We as the body of Christ have got to step up to the happy, nice, joyful plate and give of ourselves, our time, and yes… our recources. Again, refer back to 1 Corinthians, the love chapter. If your church family is continually running people off and/or condemning those who leave or who step out to do the work of the Lord, you should really pray about your next step. Those traits are not those after Jesus’s heart. Have a blessed and thoughtful day!