If you are being fed and nurtured where you are, and there is no other reason to leave, stay where you are.
If you are not being fed and nurtured, you should go where you get the spiritual nutrition you need.
A very well-meaning friend wrote that a few days ago. It is certainly very common advice, and seems to be the state-of-the-art advice for anyone who is concerned about problems in the local church.
But is that all there is to deciding where one should be – what’s in it for me? Is that what it’s all about in church – what can I get out of it?
I haven’t thought like that for many years. I have been teaching adult Bible study classes for so long that what I get out of church doesn’t hardly even enter my mind. I’ve been far more interested in getting people interested in what’s in the Bible. If I go to church and don’t feel I got anything out of the service, I chalk it up to perhaps my own physical or mental state that morning, or the fact that the pastor may be having an off day. But it seems I can always find something in the service for me. And in fact do I really need to get something out of it? Isn’t it more important that I’m there, worshiping the Lord of all creation? How can it get more satisfying than that? If I don’t like a certain hymn, what can I find in it that I do like? The lyrics? Sometimes. What about the sermon? What is the pastor saying that is important? There always seems to be something that is edifying in the church service.
But that’s not what we’re supposed to be there for. We gather together, as the earliest church gathered, to listen to the Apostles’ teaching, for the breaking of bread, and for prayer. It’s all about praying to God, communing with Him, and learning from Him, and it’s all for His glory and praise!
Our Bible study time is a time of fellowship with other believers, and a time to learn directly from God’s Word to us. And believe me, I have seen the Holy Spirit work strongly through our Bible study classes. I have seen people’s lives changed, literally transformed by the power of the Spirit working through their openness to His working.
We are so interested in upgrading the accoutrements of the sanctuary to make for a more pleasing “worship experience” for the congregation. We are so interested in improving our “praise band” (or just having a praise band!) so we can draw the “unchurched” to our church instead of to the church down the street. We’re so interested in making our service attractive to people outside the church. But shouldn’t we pay more attention to how God says we should worship Him? Is the church service really for us?
Shouldn’t our attitude be a little different than that? Is it really all about me, or should we instead be anticipating an encounter with the One-and-Only Almighty God of all the universe who holds our very lives in His hands?