People get disgruntled. I’ve had a number of conversations in the last few weeks with people from different churches. All of them appreciated their church, but all were struggling with deficiencies. Some of the folk were in leadership positions and others weren’t.
At one level, dealing with this kind of thing is a no-brainer. As the old saying goes, if you ever find a perfect church, you’ll ruin it as soon as you join it.
But we need to start asking ourselves a number of questions when doubts arise as to whether we’re in the right place.
The most fundamental is this: did God call you there? If God called you, then he has a purpose for you being there. Hold your nose and hang in! But what if all you did was look for a church which “met your needs?” Maybe you never asked God? Then you’d better repent and start to pray instead of blaming somebody else.
The next question is: how patient are you? Patience is a fruit of the Spirit for a good reason. We all need it to put up with the imperfections of life and people around us. God may be using a trying situation in your church to develop patience in you. Patience puts up with peoples’ imperfections in order to accomplish a longer-term purpose, which is enabling you to give out of a less self-centred heart.
The third question is: have you been able to separate out major issues from aggravating but minor ones? You may not like the style of the worship leader. The childrens’ ministry may be short a few volunteers. It takes too long to get there. The preaching is too long (or too short). And so on. But these are issues to pray about, not leave about. Some may be resolved in time. Others you may just have to put up with.
The last question leads on from the third: what then are the major issues? There are some special cases. For a disabled person, the lack of physical accessibility is a deal-breaker. Likewise if there’s no kids’ ministry, it’s a no-go for a young family. But the really big issues involve the three things that are most important in any local church. These are teaching, worship and community. If the teaching is unbiblical or non-existent, that’s a problem. If the worship fails to glorify Christ, and is more about a performance on the platform or kowtowing to dead tradition, that’s a problem. And if there is little or no meaningful fellowship on a day to day and small group basis, that’s a problem.
It is a waste of kingdom time when God’s people have nothing better to do than sit around and complain. In ancient times, the Lord took a very dim view of complaining, and he probably doesn’t think much of it today either.
If you leave, leave with grace and compassion. If you stay, put your whole heart into it.
Whatever you do, don’t drop out. You’ll find yourself in a church of one person, and then you might just find out that one person was the problem in the first place.