Friday, February 15, 2013

When is it time to stay?

I wrote a blog about when it's time to leave a church, but I want to follow it up when it's time to stay. Too many jump ship for reasons that are not solid reasons for leaving. I want to open up why many leave and when you should stay.

1. When you have conflict. Guess what, you will always have conflict. It happens. If someone hurts you, you work it out. You deal with it. If you run away from every conflict, you eventually will run out of churches to be at.

2. If you don't like the music, too bad. It's not for your enjoyment, it's to worship God. You are praising Him, not attending a concert. If you can't worship, there is a spiritual issue. Fix the spiritual issue.

3. If you are not "being fed" then maybe it's time to grow up some and grab a spoon. The preaching will encourage you, exalt God, admonish you, convict you, but you gotta feed yourself with Bible Reading and prayer.

4. The ministries don't "meet your needs". Ministries in churches begin when someone feels or sees a need and begins to meet that need. If you have a need and there isn't anything meeting that need, then get to work. Don't wait for someone to fix it.

Many times our preferences and comfort level cause us to be church consumers. You will never grow if you are a consumer, you must be a participant.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Motivation, what's yours?

Are you motivated? That is probably not the right question, because we are all motivated, the question is, what are you motivated to do, and what is the source of your motivation? Success, fame, money, love, publicity, ego or something else completely?

I strive to be motivated by love, for God and for others. I admit often times my motivation gets off track. I love God and I see the way God is slandered. I love God and I see the way He is misrepresented by many churches and pastors. I read blogs, see tweets and catch some Christian TV and it often grieves me. There are times I hear things that I don't think are true, and I am motivated by thinking I'm right.

In all these things, I try to be motivated by love. It's not easy sometimes, the flesh wants to act like the flesh, and it's weak. I am making progress I think, seems to be a 2 step forward 1 step back. Satan will always through stumbling blocks in the way. It helps to know that when I do stumble, there are those who will help me, because they are motivated by love.

Monday, February 11, 2013

When is it time to go?

In my tenure I have been in a lot of different churches. New and old, big and small and everywhere in between. Members of some, staff at some, consultant at a few and student at others. In attending a church, sometimes the question comes up of "is it time to leave"? This is never, ever easy. Friends, family, ministries and connections all tie us to our church, and staying in a single church is often healthy. There are times, however, that it's time to make an exit. Let me outline when I think it's time to leave.

1. When you are invited or asked to leave. This happens to staff, pastors, elders, and sometimes church members. Hopefully you will be given a reason and it's something to examine and take to heart. Don't draw out conflict by staying, be polite and say goodbye. It will take some grieving time, it will hurt, but it is the most honoring to God.

2. When you can't support the Pastor. I'm not talking about when you don't like his tie or think he is too short. When you can't agree with him on fundamental doctrine. When you feel like his vision is not biblical. When he is abusive, hateful, angry or manipulative. If you have ever thought "this guy should be fired" then you should probably move on. It's God's church, if He wants the pastor out, He'll move him. If it's the Pastor's church and not God's, then run for it.  There are times that Pastors and leaders are not saved. Jesus said that there will be some who prophecy (preach) and cast out demons (minister) in the name of Jesus who He doesn't know.  If you can't tell the difference between your pastor and a business man, if his leadership is from the world and not scripture, if there is little to nothing powered by the spirit, hit the road.

3. Church doctrine is wrong, unbiblical or heretical. Let's face it, every Evangelical Church in the US claims to be Biblically rooted. Unfortunately, sometimes that means the church's "interpretation" of Biblical Doctrine. I have heard Pastors say "scholars can't agree, so we don't know". A group of scholars sat on the Jesus Seminar and said all the miricles in the NT are myth. I don't have to agree with every scholar, and if a church dismisses Biblical truth, it's time to head out.

4. It damages your family. Guys, if your wife and or kids would rather eat glass than attend church. I'm not talking the occasional unhappy kid. If your wife feels like an outsider, if your kids are teased, if the church is distracting them from Christ and they are not connected as to a family or a body, get them out. Get your family connected to a Body, don't just drag them to a church. If being there is killing your marriage and your kids hate you, head down the road.

Now of course there are times to go plant churches, moving, support, and other small items that may cause you to change churches. By and large, these are my standard reasons for getting out of dodge.  If you do have to leave your church, do so with prayer and gentleness.