I have been attending a ...

Trish asked:

I have been attending a church for the past 2 years. I attend fellowship regularly and serve the community whenever there is an opportunity. I have wanted a leadership position or have been wanting to pursue a leadership position but have not attended the church long enough. Since graduating and starting work, I have been unable to attend fellowship regularly and have been struggling with my faith. Last Sunday, I realized that while I sensed His presence through our pastor on Sundays, I haven't developed strong Christian relationships. No one calls or reaches out to me even though I haven't been able to attend fellowship for 2 months! Granted, I love being part of the caring committee and usually assist in calling those who are missing. I am unsure whether this is a question of wavering faith or if its the church. I just don't feel comfortable going anymore. This is a long background to the question: When should you go to another Church? and How do you know if a church is right for you and you for them?Thank you for reading this long question!Trish

Jack Answered:

Thanks, Trish for sharing your concern with regard to the church you attend, and by extension to the Church in general.

Your experience: I’m confused as to your relationship with the congregation. It would appear that at one time you attended the fellowship regularly, but since graduation, you haven’t. You also recognize that you haven’t developed strong relationships with members of the fellowship, illustrated by the fact that your absence hasn’t generated calls. In the midst of this issue is your concern that your faith is wavering.

Suggestions: Trish, we live in an evil world, whose god is Satan (2 Cor 4:4). He will do anything he can to tear down your faith and keep you from trusting God. For this reason, the Lord has given us the priceless treasure of Christian fellowship, which the local congregation can offer us. We all need spiritual fellowship and encouragement to survive. Meeting with other Christians offers us a community where people are interested in us, opportunities for worship, instruction through teaching, and the stimulus of observing the lives of other believers.

On a daily basis, we also need to find fellowship with the Lord through meditating on Scripture and turning it into prayer – for ourselves, for our fellow believers, and for those who don’t know Him.

It would appear that you haven’t made involvement with the fellowship a priority. I would strongly encourage you to do so – for your own good!

How to evaluate a church: Some thoughts on your last two questions. " What we should look for in a church. At the end of Acts 2, Luke gives us an interesting description of the “early church.” I would summarize this description in four areas. A church should provide worship, biblical teaching, fellowship among the believers, and outreach (in service and evangelism). " You will never find the perfect church. (As one wag added, and if you do, don’t join it or you’ll spoil it!) However, some churches do a better job of providing these four dimensions than others. " We don’t go to a church like we go to a filling station – any good oil company’s product will do to meet our need. We go to be part of a family where we receive, but we also give – to God in worship and to others. Often, the more we give, the more satisfied we become. " There is the matter of loyalty and commitment. Once we’ve decided to be part of a fellowship, we need to stick with them through thick and thin, not hopping around from one church to another every year or so. However, if a minister comes whose theology is questionable, or decisions are made by the congregation that go against your convictions, you may have to decide to leave, but not before sharing fully with the leadership as to why.

I don’t know if these thoughts will be helpful to you, Trish, but perhaps they will give you something to think about.

Blessing on you.

Jack

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