I often hear people say that they absolutely love Jesus, just not the church. I call this the comfortable deception condition (cdc). This cdc stunts the spiritual growth of a Christian and robs the community of learning from another. It usurps the individual of progress they would otherwise experience.
To say that you love Jesus and not the church is to assert an illogical statement. The two go together. In fact, Jesus died for her (Eph. 5:25). It is a package deal. The are inextricably tethered together. They cannot be separated. They are eternally connected. They are not mutually exclusive. They cannot be.
What makes so many people steer clear from being a committed member of a local church? Why do people stray away from intentionally naming a particular community of faith, their home community? Many people are addicted to being bunny believers. They hop from church to church, always looking for the next best thing. Settling in and down in one church is just not their thing.
Today, I am not going to defend or decry official church membership. Even though I believe that it is biblical and a case can be made for it. What I want to do today is point out five popular reasons why a person refuses to be a committed member of a local church:
1. Convenience. We live in a culture of convenience. If it is not convenient, then it is not cool. It is much more convenient not to be a devoted participant of a local church. You can come as you want and go as you please. If it is not convenient for you, then you just don’t come. You set and create the schedule. How inconvenient to have a schedule imposed upon you. When being a part of a local church, there will be things you will have to do that are not convenient. Like seeing the same people every Sunday you might not be overly excited about.
2. Commitment. We live in a culture where commitment is ridiculed and indecisiveness is demanded. A sign of commitment shows that you made a choice over something else. A full-fledged commitment screams fanaticism. A decision on your part just made you practice prejudice over something else. Being a part of a local church requires you to make a commitment, without seeing immediate results. Instant gratification from commitment is not common within the church. It comes over time and after long years of service. Sometimes, it will not come at all during your whole life time.
3. Dependence. When you are part of a local church, other people depend on you. To set up chairs. To set up the tech and audio. To sit and listen attentively to someone who spent a good part of their week preparing a sermon. To render to God, that which is God’s so that the work of the gospel can continue. To offer a word of encouragement to the discouraged. To express joy with those who are jubilant. To weep with those who are mourning. Feeling the weight of this dependence can be too much for some people. But when you are a committed member of a church, this dependence becomes for you not a burden to carry but a task to excitedly embrace.
4. Novelty. We crave and desire new. We are infatuated not with the thing but with the [concept of] new. Before I could even get familiar with the magical iPad, the iPad2 was starting to seduce me. Of course, I begin to want it. I begin to look at my iPad1 with scorn and distaste. “What do you have to say for yourself, I say to it, no front facing camera? no face time? It is a travesty, I tell you!” And so it goes with church. We like the church that serves us Starbucks Coffee upon arrival, where skinny jeans run rampant and Coldplay is gently wafted through the vintage speakers. We like the church where everyone looks like they just came out of Anthropology and accidentally spent their entire life savings at Urban Outfitters. We like the variety and the novelty. What fun is it to go back to the same old gathering, every Sunday. Being committed to one local body means that we have to see the same body every Sunday. And some of us are just ready for another round of p90x, church edition.
5. Responsibility. There is absolutely no responsibility involved when we are not committed to one local church. There is nothing on the line. We do not run the risk of someone hurting our feelings. We don’t have the risk of doing something and then being held accountable for it. If we do not like something, we just pick up our iPhone and leave. We do not have to try to be careful about what we say or how we say it. Because, after all, since we are not a part of the church, we do not have to take part in the risk. It is a comfort zone that is craved by many people. When you are a committed member in a local church, there will be a time when you will make a mistake. And other people in the church will hold you accountable. This makes some people uncomfortable. At the same time, it will help you grow as a Christian. When you are a committed member, you realize the risk of responsibility and render it worth the effort to be a part of this community.
My plea in this post is for the hoppers to become the settlers, and join one local church. If you are all about spiritual growth, this is the best way to experience an exponential increase in your rate of sanctification.
Question: What other reasons make people think twice before becoming a part of a local church? Have you stopped the hop? What led you to make this decision?