Is church a choice? Certainly, from the perspective of the Bible attending church is not a choice. There are no Biblical examples of Christians in the New Testament period who were believers that did not attend church.
However, many Christians today seem to treat church as if it was an optional Christian event. In our age, it seems that one can be a Christian without attending church. As if it was a choice.
And not only a choice as to if one will attend a local church, but the choice of attending a different church every other year, or every other month, or every other week. Perhaps one may think that if they attend a different local church once a month and in-between those visits stay home and watch “church” on TV or via the internet then they are keeping the Biblical example of attending/participating in church.
However, for one to attend “church” as described above would be for one to be duped by the modern love affair with consumerism.
Church is not a consumerist’s choice. In our North American age of multiple choices one may change their choices based on feeling, financial changes, social changes, or countless other reasons.
When I go to the grocery store I do not go to just get cookies – I go to choose a package of cookies from 20 to 30 different choices.
I choose my bank based on what services it does for me and if I so choose I change my bank if something better comes along; a bank that is better for my needs, wants, and desires.
I buy an automobile based on my needs and wants. I make consumerist choices based on what that product or service does for me.
Church is not the same. I should not choose a church based on what it does for me or how I feel. I should choose a church because it is a place where I can serve other people and I sense a calling from the Holy Spirit.
If my church does not have something that I would like, then meet with the leadership and start that ministry.
Serve in the passion that God has given you.
Reform always starts from within and from participation. To leave it is to reject it.
We must be careful as believers to be counter-cultural. The church should always be counter-cultural. Sin is pervasive and impacts every area of culture. It is to this aspect that we are called to preach and teach the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, we must be aware that our cultural sense of consumerism will influence are loyalty and participation in the local church.
This is really good. We do not get to choose our earthly family, so then why do we think we should get to choose our church family. Excellent, sound and biblical advice.
Thank you for the comments.
This is an interesting post, Mark.
I suffered a serious illness a few years ago and during that time internet services were a huge blessing to me. And, my husband and I did change churches at the beginning of this year. We switched from a Really.Big.Church where he’d worshiped for over 15 years. I’d been there since moving to the area in 2006.
We felt led to our new church and we expect to worship there for the rest of our earthly lives.
Is there ever a circumstance when you would endorse switching congregations? (Which I recognize is very different from attending all over and never setting roots anywhere).
Yes, I believe there are a number of reasons/circumstances for changing churches: moving to a new location, the Spirit’s leading/prompting, etc. I surely do not mean that we never can. And I am thankful that internet services were an encouragement for you.
As you mention in your parenthesis, persons who flippantly change churches seemingly on a whim or leave the church altogether are not displaying a Biblical pattern. I personally struggle with that from a Biblical standpoint and hope to give reasoned encouragement for people to ‘give church another start.’
Thanks for the comments.
And that’s a really good point, Mark. I’m glad you’re raising the issue here. I’m building a little list in my head of all the benefits of remaining in one church for a long, long time.
We can minister to one another better when people in the congregation know one another and have developed relationships.
Ministering to the community goes more smoothly when congregants have developed a rhythm for serving side-by-side.
I speculate that we benefit more from teaching when it’s consistent.
We learn whose dishes to sample at potlucks. 🙂
What dishes to sample at potlucks is a very important thing to know… :0)
I have discovered that during the course of our lifetime perhaps the needs of an individual may change….I have discovered that our personal (individual and spiritual) needs may not be met by the same body of believers over a longer period of time. Each body has its own unique “offerings” that minister to us in different was….both of which may “mature” at different rates and in places. So..I am not for “feel good” change, buy I do support that personal spiritual growth may require new environments in order to both give to the body and to receive in personal growth as we move along life’s journey.
I agree that sometimes the Holy Spirit will lead us in a change of direction.
Thanks for sharing.