Do I stay or do I go?
I’m going to say that church is a family… How so?
We are living stones (2 Peter 2) and together, built upon the chief cornerstone who is Jesus, and the foundation stones who are the New Testament Apostles and Old Testament Prophets, we make up the church. The church is not a building and in fact, churches initially met in homes as home groups. Today, it is usual for congregations to have small groups, often called cells or home groups or connect groups, which are small subsets of any particular congregation. These small groups are designed to bring together portions of the congregation in friendship and personal intimacy where it isn’t practicable to do so en masse.
We are the bride of Christ, that’s true. And before the wedding day, the day when he returns to fetch us (Matthew 25), he is fashioning us as his bride.
But as a church, we are family. And as an individual congregation, we are family.
Leaving a congregation then, is like a family member abdicating its membership. And if you’ve ever been in a natural family where one leaves or others disown, that is heart-breaking. Instead, reconciliation is much better; it’s healthier and more loving. So too, ought it to be within the church.
Therefore, I would suggest we stay in the congregation we are in wherever possible. If we move homestead to a new town, and it isn’t practicable to remain, of course we must move on. Paul repeatedly says, “I long to see you” when it isn’t feasible.
If there are deep convictions within you, that the leadership is not teaching sound doctrine, that may be a reason to leave, particularly if it is infecting your live of faith and growth. You may however, be called to remain, in order to “be the grit” to offer words of chastening to leadership. Of course if that’s the case, then it will be done in a spirit of humility and with grace under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The time of church hopping and random selection is passed
If we are convicted that we can’t just hop around, hoping to find a good sermon here and there, or make a few new friends, we may choose more cautiously, with a view for the long term, the church in which we will worship. It is a family, and so we must consider others whom we will meet, and recognise they will view us (consciously or unconsciously we do not know, but they will!) as family. And to them, each addition is important.
So let us not run here and there, and let us not leave in a huff. Rather let us recognise the living stones that we are, and that we are meant to be cemented into a family and to stay put, in order for us to grow, blossom and effect others to do the same.
Iron sharpens iron
Let us embrace our church family like we embrace any family: wholeheartedly, with acceptance, conviction, determination and love, to make our church life healthy, whole and all it is intended by Jesus to be. His church began with 12 men, woman such as his mother, Mary Magdalene and others, and revolutionised a world through faith and love.
“Let us, as a church, grow in the same way. Let us hold fast and be the church that Jesus intended, one brick at a time.
“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”