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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What Do You Get Out of Church?


In my last blog, I expressed concern about the growing narcissim that seems to be becoming such a significant emphasis of modern American culture.  I want to focus that discussion a bit further and observe how it affects the life of our churches.

Far too often, individuals seeking a church to be part of, make their selection for all the wrong reasons…or, at least, without consideration of some very significant and godly reasons.  Let me explain.

Individuals of all ages often focus their attention in church selection as well as in evaluating their experiences of a worship service (or other Christian meeting) on one basic question, worded in various ways:  

Did I get anything out of it?  

Does it meet my needs?  

Has it helped me grow?  

Do I feel closer to God because of it? 

Does it serve the needs of my family?  

How is it relevant to my life? 

Notice a common theme?  The narcissistic concentration on self.

In light of scriptures talking about the crucifixion of self and of Jesus as our model who emptied himself and took on the role of a servant, perhaps there are more important questions to be asking.  

Questions like these:

Was God pleased with my attitude and gratitude in worship today?

How did God use me to touch someone’s life at that event?

Is this ministry one in which I could serve God to make a difference for others?

Could the gifts I have and the things I have to contribute be used effectively by God in that environment?

Whose needs did I help meet?  

What hurts and struggles in others did I seek to alleve?

As I looked around, did I see people who need the ministry God could do through me?

Is this a place where the people are about themselves, or is this a place where I would be part of a community of believers who lay down their lives in the name of Christ, for the sake of others?

Who was I praying for to be impacted by God’s work today?

Does this ministry or church need people like me to help enhance the ministry?

Are there gaps in the ministry, such as ministry with youth, that I could see and therefore God could use me to help fill?

Is God touching the lives of others here, and could I help do meaningful ministry here?

Was I praying for the preacher or leader as he/she sought to minister for God?

Are there ways I could help build ministry and I can reach out for Christ to those outside the church by being involved here?

Most of all, is this where God wants to use me?  

Will I be honoring God and walking in obedience if I give of myself to be part of this ministry?

When we worry about whether the music or worship style is what WE prefer, we ignore the fact that there are others with different needs and perspectives, we have placed ourselves on the throne that belongs only to God.  When we focus on our own needs and benefits in worship and Christian community, we are doing the very opposite of the example Christ set for us to follow, the Christ who gave all he had for the benefit of others, such as you and me.

Granted there are times we need to be sustained by our fellowship with and the prayers of others…I see it all the time.  And granted we each have the need to grow and experience God’s touch in our lives.  

However, more often than not, the real depths of the Christian faith are found as one gives, serves and sacrifices for others; it is a shallow faith that seeks primarily one’s own personal growth and satisfaction and makes decisions based on that.

All of us have specific areas where we have needs, and where we have experiences or insights that can help meet the needs of others.  Divorce is one of those times when an individual needs the support of his or her fellow Christians.  

And yet, if you are seeking a place where you can find the help you need to get through the throes of divorce, I would encourage you to include in that search making an effort to seek how YOU can make a difference for others even in this time of your life.  Odds are there are others hurting from divorce’s sting in your Christian community.  There are children who may need someone to talk with as they struggle while watching their parents argue over custody.  Or, even more, as a dear friend commented to me, you are more than merely a person who is divorced; even in this time of life, there is much you have to offer if you will but seek to know how God might want to use YOU for the benefit of others.  In so doing, you will be more like Christ, grow closer to God, and honor God with your life.

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