New Year, New Church?
“She lies and says she’s in love with him; can’t find a better man.” Eddie Vedder
Was Santa at your church before Christmas? Did your church cancel Sunday services on Christmas? Is your church’s music a lower quality presentation of a K-Love radio playlist (or, even worse, a better one)? Does the youth area in your church look more like an arcade with a stage than educational space? Do your deacons think The Reformation is a new wave band from the 80s? Can you just tell that there is something really wrong that the congregation has no intention of fixing? Maybe you should start the new year at a new church. Leaving a church that is headed in the wrong direction and not coming back is one of hardest decisions a family can make but it’s also one of the best…and one that should be made (like when Harry told Sally he loved her) right now. Making a life change because it is the beginning of a New Year is a psychological decision. Leaving a church is a theological one. So, when it comes down to it, no one should be making a church change because it’s the “time of the year” to make big changes. But, if you’re honest with yourself, the reasons you’re staying in a bad church (or job, or relationship, or investment for that matter) are largely psychological.
People don’t like to admit that they’ve made mistakes. If you’ve joined the wrong church, go ahead and admit it. Making a mistake is bad enough, not correcting it is worse.
People don’t like change. Maybe your family has been at this church for years. Maybe this is the first church you joined after you got saved. Maybe you met your spouse at this church. Change is almost always uncomfortable and hard. But don’t let the mistakes of your past determine your future.
People don’t like to leave relationships. Maybe all your kids’ friends are in the youth group. Maybe all your friends are in your Life Group (or Sunday School class). They’ll still be your friends if you leave church. If they won’t be, then they aren’t really your friends now.
People don’t like to give up responsibilities. You could be the lady in the kids ministry or the man driving the golf cart in the parking lot. You feel value in the little ministry your church has given you. Well, you can do that same ministry at another church and for a congregation that is showing up to worship God in spirit and truth instead of to be entertained by a Hillsong cover concert and a felt needs sermon by some “vision caster”.
If a church body is not being faithful to God’s word and His mission, you don’t owe it your presence, time, money, or support. A lot of time, such unfaithfulness doesn’t come off as outright heresy. The church website can say all the things about the Trinity and how to be saved. Yet, the Sunday stage will still feature fashionably dressed women belting out Bethel music in a cloud of artificial fog and a surface level sermon that doesn’t dare challenge the congregation or convict of sin. This New Year’s Day if your pastor is preaching a topical sermon about New Year’s resolutions instead of moving from Chapter 5 to Chapter 6 in a exegetical sermon series from God’s word, resolve to walk out and find a faithful and discerning congregation with which to covenant in Christian fellowship.
I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. I once walked into my church a few minutes late only to find Mace Windu fighting Darth Sidious on the projection screen. It was a sermon illustration about seeking power the wrong way. That was the last Sunday I was going to make my wife sit through one of that pastor’s sermons. That was the end of my great commission partnership with the room full of people who thought was what going on was okay. That was the end of any mentorship that pastor had in my life. That was the last time I’d invite anyone to a church service there. That was also about six months too late because the writing had been on the wall for a long time. I should never even have been there to see such idiocy.
If the writing is there, dear brother or sister in Christ, read it and take heed.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.