Your church needs you!
A call to persevere with church even when it's boring or hard.
Imagine a conversation with a friend that went something like this.
“I have this boyfriend called Jack, and he’s really fun… he’s not very smart, and doesn’t think about the important things in life, but I have a great time when I’m with him.”
You might nod, wondering where this is going.
“So I thought I’d find a brainy boyfriend,” your friend says. “Tim can’t dance at all, but he knows sooooo much stuff. I love talking with him. He’s really great to discuss the deep issues of life with. I hang out with Jack on Fridays, but Tim helps me out with my homework during the week.”
“Um...” you might say. “I don’t think that's ¬–”
“Oh, but then there’s my creative boyfriend. Heath writes songs and sings so well, and his guitar playing is just awesome. But sometimes he’s a bit too much ‘all about the emotion’, you know?”
“So I have to go and hang out with my fun boyfriend for a while, just to get over all the emotional stuff. But I’m thinking about another guy, too. Chuck’s been giving me little presents. He’s really thoughtful, and I like that in a guy...”
Treating our churches with care
When it comes to romantic relationships, most of us would be horrified at the thought of being someone’s “sometimes” boyfriend or girlfriend (and the Bible would agree!). We know that relationships are meant to be faithful.
But how many of us treat church like that? Maybe you've heard comments like these:
- “Oh I used to go to that church, but the music bugged me, so I went somewhere that had an awesome band.”
- “That youth group doesn’t do all the fun stuff, so I found a church with an indoor rock climbing wall. They don’t teach us much about the Bible, but there’s heaps of fun.”
- “I really had a hard time getting along with those people, so I went to a different church. They don’t hassle me about life and stuff there.”
- “Thursdays I go to youth at this church, but on Sundays I go over to that one. They have better worship sessions.
For some reason, we treat church as if it’s a shopping centre, not Jesus’ family. So while we are horrified by a girl having a different boyfriend for every occasion, we don’t see anything wrong with flitting between congregations. After all, one place has good fun, another has great teaching, and perhaps there’s another one where deep emotions are just waiting for you...
You don’t learn perseverance by giving up
You don’t tone muscle by flicking between TV channels from the couch. In the same way, you don’t learn to persevere by flitting from one unsatisfying church experience to the next.
Here’s a big fact about being part of a church: it’s not always an amusement park fun-ride. There are times when church is boring, or difficult to be at. But you don’t learn to persevere in Jesus by giving up. Perseverance teaches you some pretty important lessons:
- You learn about God’s perseverance with you. After all, he didn’t just chuck you away and say, “That’s it. I’m going to find someone who’s more fun.”
- You grow more like Jesus through persevering. God wants to grow you to be more like him. Sometimes it’s only when you stick around at the one church that you learn to love the difficult people. You learn that church is more than music, or interesting sermons, or entertainment. Sometimes, you learn what it means to be Jesus’ person in tough places. You learn how to be a part of a family, not just a visitor to the cinema.
- Sooner or later, persevering in a church teaches you to forgive. When there’s nowhere else to go, you kinda have to learn to deal with your differences. But some people just chuck it all in and say, “They upset me, so I’m gonna find somewhere easier where people will be nice.” (Which is fine, until those people do something to upset you... and so on)
- You help others by hanging in there. Do you know that your presence at church helps others? When you hang in there with Jesus through tough times and good, you help others to do the same, too.
Tomorrow, we'll take a closer look at the dangers of church hopping, and why sticking with things is part of being a Christian.