I don’t know anyone who is totally satisfied with their church. People who go to a large church want the warmth and connection of a smaller one. Others are trapped in smaller churches and hungry for the awesome music, programs and preaching of bigger ones. Go to a ‘seeker church’ and it ‘doesn’t go deep enough.’ Go to a traditional church and it’s stale . . . a ‘holy huddle’ with few ‘outsiders’ and little connection to those who don’t know Jesus.
So . . . what to do?
Lots of people are deciding to ‘roll their own.’ Ed Stetzer reports the number of churches in America are now growing instead of shrinking, in part because of this, but also because of aggressive church planting.
On the other hand, there are people who are dropping out of church and ‘going it alone.’ I had a conversation with a guy the other day who is so into the Bible and Bible study, I could almost smell the leather on his breath. He’s taking courses at a local seminary, but since he’s auditing the courses, he’s not allowed to ask questions of the professors. As far as I could tell, he’s not involved in any real relationships. So his Biblical knowledge is going into his head and gathering dust.
Being a disciple (and a disciple maker) involves wrestling with the Scriptures, not just reading them. Yes, you read and study to get the ‘raw material’ (i.e. the truth of God’s Word) as your baseline. But raw material is just that. It’s not finished product. You want to know how to apply truth to circumstances, test your understanding before you do stuff, and give God the opportunity to “make known the path of life.” Our call to ‘make disciples’ means growing and helping others grow, and that requires us to engage with people. With other like-minded Christ-followers who have experience walking with God. With others who are trying to gain an understanding of Biblical truth. With others who are walking with Him and care enough to help you learn as they learn themselves. Don’t get me wrong . . . I’m not dissing Bible study. Just sayin’ people are the catalyst for God to show up and bring His word alive. And connection to people is a necessary step to make your faith real and useful in the world. No one ever gets fixed, but we can mature in community.
Church is the first stop. It’s where you find the two elements I’m talking about here. Biblical truth and people to apply it to, see it in, and share it with.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:23-24
Question: Have you ‘neglected meeting together’ with other believers to ‘encourage one another’? Tell us here.