Maybe we should start with a different question: why do I go to church? To get my weekly shot in the arm? To hear good preaching? To be with other believers? To participate in worship? Lots of different people have lots of different reasons.
Lately I’ve been reading Peace Making Women by Tara Klena Barthel and Judy Dabbler. In it, they make a comment with which I totally agree, but I’d never heard it put this way. They explain that many people have a mind-set that church is like a cruise ship.
“When we have this view of the body of Christ, we expect everything in the church to be conveniently tailored to our wants and desires. Our expectation is that we will be served, cared for, and entertained by professionals whose sole focus is our happiness. Of course, this misguided mind-set leads us to view people in the church as resources for our comfort rather than valuable members of one body who both need us and are needed by us.”
I’ve known many people who appear to have this cruise ship mentality toward church. They leave a church because they’re “just not getting fed,” they want more upbeat “worship” music, or they’ve heard about a good youth group for their children at another church.
I have a suggestion.
If we believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, the final authority for all truth and practice, as I’ve mentioned before, perhaps we should look explore what God has to say about this important matter.
As an example, Acts 2:41-42 tells how the early church met for teaching in the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers.
Romans 12:4-5 says we are many members in one body, not having the same function.
I Corinthians 12:12-26 talks about how we should each be a functioning member of the body of Christ, just like an eye and a foot are functioning parts of a person’s body. The body needs each member, for each member has a role in a well-functioning body. I Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” Do we know the members of our churches well enough to participate in their joys and sorrows?
The writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us not to forsake assembling with other believers, so that we can exhort and encourage each other to love and good works. I would like to suggest that these verses presuppose that we are part of a body and, as such, we know each other well enough to exhort and encourage.
What we should be asking is not “What can I get from this church?” but “What can I give?” and “What is my role in this body of believers?”
I believe that each of us should run a heart check on this issue. Once again, is it all about us? Or is it all about Jesus?
What is your role at your church? Do you go just to “get fed”? Or do you have an active role in the body? When was the last time you introduced yourself to someone you didn’t know? When was the last time you prayed with someone you did know? Or took them a meal?
Ask God to show you what your role in the church body should be. And then be willing to get involved!