How many of you grew up thinking that the only way to get people to get to church was by fancy programs and flashy lights? These churches were deemed shallow and not a “good solid church”. Then you have the little church on the corner where the only way their numbers grow is if someone has a baby, but the preaching is sound. Which church is better? Honestly neither of them.
What? I know. I just popped everyone’s bubbles in each court. This is the crazy part – I have played on each team so I know how each one thinks and plays. I have been to small churches were you maybe hit fifty people on Christmas and Easter and there was a reason for that. They were not friendly, nor loving Christians. Now not all of them but the ones who ran the church (yes pretty much one family would run these churches) were like that. I haven’t been around these people lately so I hope that they have changed and that their churches are growing by leaps and bounds, but, when I was there, they were not. They were neither hot nor cold. They were luke warm and everyone knows what God thinks about luke warm churches.
Then on the flip side, I have been in big churches where they have the lights and shows and programs coming out of their ears. But here is the crazy part! They also were unfriendly and not loving Christians. Huh? Wait. I thought there was only one group who were the problem. “They” are the bad Christians, not my church. But that isn’t true either.
So is there middle ground? Can you have a church with solid preaching that doesn’t tickle ears but also has a growing membership? The answer is yes and you don’t need anything flashy to do it.
My church building regularly has 5000 people come through its doors each week. I have a HUGE church family and I have not even come close to meeting them all in my seven years of attending, but that isn’t the point. I have some really great relationships with others in my church but it’s not the end of the world for those who I don’t know. They are still in my prayers and are covered in my love when I hear about things the church is doing with missions or baptism. They have a cool family member in their corner and they don’t totally realize it. I think that is actually kind of cool and I am sure I am in someone else’s prayers who hasn’t met me yet either. That is what being a church family is all about.
You might be thinking ‘well of course she is bias since she attends the church’. Really? This church is church number 6 for me in my short 25 years of life and I just found it 7 years ago. Before this church, the longest I had been at a church was 6 years. So I have seen many types of churches in my short life time. And my church is the most balanced church I have ever seen.
Yes, I said balanced because everything requires balance and that is especially true for churches. I have been to churches who only preach about God’s wrath but never His grace and I have been to churches who only preach grace and never wrath. You need both or you will never see the full picture of God, and my church gets that.
Now, we have some programs, but there were some that had to be set aside for awhile since we did just a big move to a new building, but we have the basics of ministry like Sunday school and out reaches. I would say that for a “big” church though we don’t have as much as people would think we should right now. There are things in the works, but the move required things to be set aside but not the preaching of God’s word.
Our Pastor is such a strong and wise man of God that I feel privileged to sit under every week and not obligated. I can’t wait to go to church because I feel like I won’t be leaving with whispers behind my back. My daughter has a safe Sunday school program to go to where I know they have sound teaching so I can enjoy church and then they have VBS in the summer. The ministries out number the flashy programs and they are all about community and bringing people back to church who have left or never returned after being hurt.
So with all that said, let’s recap. My church on Sunday offers Sunday school, worship, teaching and the option for prayer. Sounds like a good basic little church right? But remember that my church’s attendance regularly runs around 5000. So here is my question. Not that my church is perfect, trust me it has had its ups and downs but God has seen us through to only be better, but my point is that why do people think that there is only two ways a church can go?
If you want to have your church grow, it has to be inviting, but not cheesy. You have to have good applicable music (not necessarily a rock band but something more than Count Your Many Blessing each week) to help people really engage with their Savior. And you have to have good solid preaching that is true but with love. My Pastor is the only pastor I have ever sat under where he has laid the hammer down on somethings going on in the church that he isn’t happy with or isn’t biblical and I still walk away feeling like he and God love me.
I want more churches to have that same experience. I want more people to know that feeling of going to church because they crave to be near their Jesus and are bummed when they miss it. I don’t think it is good for people to go to ANY church where they feel oppressed when they are there and punished when they are not. It’s not how God wants for His church.
So if you have been hurt by a church and don’t know if you ever want to go back, take heart. There are good churches out there who are not like the one you came from. There are churches out there who do show the love of Christ without making you feel like a worse Christian when you leave. Don’t believe me? Check out this link. I have not been paid or anything for this post. I just want everyone to know and love Jesus how I have learned I can these past seven years.