Are You Shacking Up with Your Church?

by GfG on July 16, 2014 · 6 comments

Finding a “home” church can be challenging.  If it weren’t for the people, the music, and the doctrine, it would definitely be easier.  Ahem.

I’ve shared before some whys and hows in the joining a church gig.  Since then, I’ve become a bit more than aggravated at how Americans shop for and commit, or lack there of, to church.

Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris addresses some points wonderfully.  He shares beautifully about why we are blessed and called to be a part of a local church.  He talks about what kind of church is healthy, why we should be a part of one, how to approach Sundays and worship, and he also lays out why we are to join, officially.

While Joshua Harris and I don’t see everything the same (he encourages changing jobs so you can stay by your home church or one that you love and that just isn’t realistic for many, if not most, people), I applaud him for calling out Americans on how they view church and church membership.

He calls it dating the church.  I’ve seen some more and heard some more and I’m willing to call it more than that.  I think he’s sugar coating the behavior.  Many people aren’t just dating the church, they are full on shacking up.  And it’s just wrong.

What do I mean by shacking up with the church?

shacking up PIN pic

When we enjoy all the privileges in a relationship and none of the commitment, when we associate with another person in a personal way and also refuse to be committed to them, when we claim the right to criticize or correct and not the right for others to hold us accountable, well then… it’s a lot like living with a person but not marrying him/her.

When we live with someone and look like we are married, but we aren’t, that’s shacking up.

When we pretend to be fully committed, but we aren’t and we enjoy all the “privileges” that are supposed to be for married people only, that’s shacking up.

And Christians are supposed to call that sin.

I see a disturbing trend in Americans: refusal to join a church.  They attend a church regularly, they go to all/most/many of the functions, they tell people its where they “go to church”, they want  assistance or “benefits”, and more, but they refuse to join.

They claim all kinds of reasons, but these are the top five I’ve heard:

  1. hypocricy
  2. disliking the music
  3. not agreeing with the style of worship
  4. belief that membership is unbiblical
  5. not seeing the “need”

And while some of that sounds legit, I really don’t think they are.

  1. There will always be a level of hypocricy when we are dealing with humans.  Everyone sins and everyone notices.   Rarely do people confess to one another and ask forgiveness privately, much less publicly.  {Romans 3:23; James 5:16}
  2. The music and
  3. style of worship can really affect where we look to attend, but once we make a church our consistent place of worship, then we need to be willing to suck it up.  We have to understand that no church is perfect and that sometimes we have to settle for a church that is less than our “dream church”.
  4. While membership isn’t mentioned in the Bible, submission to elders is.  We can’t submit if we refuse to commit.  Elders/leadership can not effectively lead, discipline, and assist those who aren’t actually under their authority.  {Hebrews 13:17}
  5. We talk ourselves into believing we don’t need many things. Like exercise or plenty of sleep.  Turns out, God mentions church quite a few times, so I think we should trust Him on what we need.

What I see and hear is a fierce independence, bordering on rebellion, in Americans that affects how they view church and church membership.  The “I answer to no one” and “it has to be my way” kind of thing.

Except we aren’t called to be independent or rebellious when it comes to church.

Quite the opposite.

We are called to follow and submit.  Yeah, Americans hate those words.  Is it biblical to hate them though?  No, it’s not.

Church is supposed to be where we locally {Paul trained and raised up many, but he did not consider himself, nor encourage them to consider himself their elder, but that a local body was their church and elder group} are

  • taught  {I Tim 4:13; 2 Tim 4:2}
  • equipped {2 Tim 3:17}
  • helped  {I Tim 5:9}
  • encouraged {Rom 15:4-6}
  • admonished {Matt 18:1-17}
  • led by the godly and upright {I Tim 3:2-14}
  • sharing in the ordinances {Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42}
  • as we worship the LORD our God together, through His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.   {Heb 10:24-2}

Friends, look for a church.  Look hard.  Take it seriously.  Be intentional.

And then don’t choose and refuse to commit.

Don’t shack up with your church.  Marry it.  For better or for worse. 

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