Myth: “The church should meet my needs.”
Today’s church service just didn’t do anything for me. Sunday mornings are my only day of the week to sleep late. It’s incredibly frustrating to drag myself out of bed to go to church and then not get anything out of it.
I went church shopping the first weekend I moved here and started my new job. Over the next couple months, I tried out several different kinds of churches, even though I come from a Methodist background. I did mega-churches. Small churches. Funky retro churches that met in strip malls and coffee bars. Stiff churches with ice-cold marble flooring that complemented the even cooler reception from their starched members.
The church I’m attending now is OK, but it’s not really my style. I walked into Sunday school and immediately knew these weren’t “my people.” They invite me to their socials, but what’s the point when I have nothing in common with them? I occasionally glance over the bulletin, scanning for ministries that might suit me, but I rarely find anything that garners more than an occasional blip on my interest radar. It makes me wonder where all my offering money is going. The most exciting thing I see happening is in the children’s ministry—no way, thank you. I come to church to relax, not to stress out over who’s had their snack or to build a miniature church out of dried pinto beans and empty toilet paper rolls.
One would think a church this size would have something for everyone (and some good-looking guys wouldn’t hurt). Why is it so hard to find a church that meets my needs, doesn’t talk about money more than once a year and has a decent music program?
When it comes to understanding the purpose of the church, we often have it backwards. The church does not exist for us, though we are central to its existence. The capital-C Church—which is the big-picture, universal Church that includes all believers—exists for Jesus alone. The Church is his bride (see Revelation 19:7; 21:2). The little-c church—which is the local church in a neighborhood near you—is how God reaches the masses with his gospel and love. It is also an incubator for baby Christians, a hospital for hurting people, a gathering place for all to worship and an opportunity for maturing believers to hone their spiritual gifts through serving one another. Although it is human nature to make life “all about me,” the church is all about serving Jesus through serving his people.
That’s why petty arguments about the music being too loud, the music being too dull, the pastor talking too long, the service starting too early, the service starting too late and all the other rationales for why we resent the church for not catering to our preferences are just that—petty preferences that do not matter. The next time you try to make church all about you, remember this:
- The church is Jesus’ body (see 1 Corinthians 12:27).
- Jesus promises to build his church—regardless of our personal tastes (see Matthew 16:18).
- Jesus loved the church so much that he died for it. The church matters to him, so it should matter to us (see Ephesians 5:25–27).
When we begin to make church more about Jesus and less about us, we look for ways to love the body of Christ. Ironically, God rewards our unselfish actions by meeting our needs in return—if we will just put him and his church first (see Matthew 6:33).
“The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love.”
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”