Last week week was our Annual State Convention. As always it is a great time to see what God is doing in advancing His Kingdom in PA and South Jersey. It is also a wonderful time to catch up with other Pastors and ministers, some of whom I have known for a number of years. We serve a mighty God, and great things are happening here! Oh… and I forgot to mention Sunday, our Worship Team did wonderful in leading us in worship Thursday. Many folks came and shared how much they were blessed. Well done Worship Team!!! Thank you.
On another note, and the subject of other conversations, we have also been hearing more and more from people who feel “disconnected”, and wander off in search of another church. Sadly, we have even heard that recently in our own church; as I have over the years in the churches I have attended and pastored.
With this in mind, one of our leaders sent me this blog from “The Gospel Coalition”. The author is Erik Raymond, a pastor in Nebraska. It is worth reading. Please know, I don’t have an axe to grind, as they say; but I do have a very heavy heart. I remember well, thinking to myself, that the proverbial grass has to be better over yonder. It isn’t. It really isn’t, it’s just different. And I am also concerned, for the day is coming - sooner than later - in our country, when a true church family will be the only real connecting hope to living out our faith we will have. The uncommitted will wake up one day realizing no one is committed to them either. Maybe you know someone who is feeling “disconnected”. Maybe you’re the one feeling “disconnected”. I wouldn’t share this if I didn’t care about you. Maybe this might be of help.
Help for those who feel “Disconnected” at church.
It is a common phrase spoken by Christians and wrestled with by pastors, “I don’t feel connected at church.” The pastoral burden is for all Christians to be thriving in and through the ministry. When we hear something like this we immediately go into “fix-it” mode. Often times we even attempt to construct some structure around the person to help them feel connected.
But what if this didn’t help anyone? What if the problem wasn’t the ministry but the individual? What if the disconnection we feel is actually the consequence of selfishness?*
Catering to selfishness will never cure selfishness, it only fortifies it.
I find it fascinating that the church, on every level, as she applies the gospel, is self-denying. In fact, the lion’s share of the NT imperatives (commands) are calling us away from serving ourselves by serving others (i.e. Eph. 4-6).
What follows is a list, some help for those who are aiming to feel connected at church.**
- Pray to be impressed with God’s design in the church.
- Go to church on Sundays.
- Talk to 3 people that you do not know at church.
- Open up your home to have someone over (hospitality).
- Find opportunities to serve in ministry.
- Pray for your pastors, deacons and fellow church family.
- Talk to people about Jesus and invite them to church.
- Be content with the ordinary means of grace.
- Restart process.
As you read this list you no doubt noticed that in each case the problem is countered by self-denying service. Instead of catering to ourselves (consumeranity) believers are called to serve others (Christianity). While this may not be comfortable it is certainly biblical, and therefore, sanctifying.
Can I confess something to you? Sometimes I don’t feel very connected at church. And I’m the pastor! [By the way, I “resemble” this also] But, guess what I do? I get to work on myself because nine times out of ten, the problem is with me. I need to get to work with the simple, ordinary means of grace. This always gets my focus off of myself and on to Christ. It helps me to remember that while the church is full of sinners, I myself am also a sinner.
The way ahead is always service through humility. God knows what he is doing with and through the church. We need to trust him, and, most often, get to work. If you are feeling disconnected or counseling those who are feeling this way, I challenge you to take an honest crack at this list. I think it will do the trick.
*I realize there can be legitimate problems in churches that could cause faithful Christians to feel disconnected. And I don’t discount that pastors can lead people into meaningful community. This posts aims to focus on the individual.
**This list assumes that there is theological and philosophical agreement with the church.