Friday, August 20, 2010

Good Reasons to Leave a Church Evaluated (Part 2)

Let's continue the discussion on "Good Reasons for Moving On." After considering the four good reasons for moving on, we now consider the three possible reasons for moving on. As in my previous post, my response is in italics.

Possible Reasons for Moving On – The Three S’s

1. Spouse—An unbelieving or non-church attending spouse is not willing to attend this church, but will attend another with you.

I would want to know the reasons behind an unbelieving spouse’s choice of churches to attend. If it has to do with the offence of the gospel, then changing churches would be anti-gospel, anti-Christ, and would communicate all the wrong things to the unbeliever. If it has to do with avoiding real discipleship, then it would be wrong to change churches.

You see, in my experience (for what it is worth), when an unbeliever makes excuses about not attending a church, these excuses are often smokescreen issues. They are convenient reasons behind which the unbeliever can hide his unwillingness to submit to Jesus as Lord. He wants a nice, conscience-soothing religion. He doesn’t want a Savior and Lord.

There is a real spiritual danger in choosing a church because an unbeliever feels comfortable in it.

This is not to say that unbelievers never have legitimate complaints against churches. Sometimes they see our faults better than we do ourselves. Also, those of us who have loving Christian marriages need to keep in mind the frustrating complexity and heart-rending contradictions inherent in a mixed marriage. We must work very patiently and lovingly with any brother or sister in such a situation.

2. Special Needs—Every family has special needs, so this one needs to be handled with care. A possible example may be that my family has a disabled child and another faithful church in the area has a wonderful ministry to disabled people which can help us.

I always get a little jumpy when we put “my needs” into the equation of choosing a church. There are a couple challenges with thinking about it in this way. First, we don’t naturally interpret needs the way God tells us to (for more on this, see David Powlison, Seeing with New Eyes, chapter 8). God tells us that he has provided all that we need for eternal life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Second, in a church where the Word is preached truly and the ordinances administered biblically, that church is objectively providing what we need spiritually, whether we feel like it subjectively or not. We have so psychologized our idea of what we need that we tend to identify our needs with our feelings.

I do not believe, however, that this is what the author is talking about. He uses the example of a disabled child, which is clearly an objective condition. I believe this is a worthwhile consideration, as long as we have our priorities biblically ordered. At the present time we have a spunky young lady in our church who is deaf. During the week she attends the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. On Sundays she attends our church where she is the only deaf person. Her parents feel no need to find a church with a deaf ministry. They simply expect that she will develop the skills to live with people who depend upon their hearing. Yet not everyone is capable of doing that.

3. Special Gifts—Another faithful church in the area may have asked for you to use your special gifts in their midst for the building up of the body (i.e. organist). Never decide this one on your own. If it is a possible reason, then it is too easy to think too highly of oneself and go running to the greener pastures. This is always something that should be taken to the leadership of your current church and wrestled through.

These reasons are rightly labeled “possible,” not probable or likely, but in some cases remotely possible. I would take the last three sentences of point 3 and apply them to this entire section.

Remember, church membership, being the outworking of the cross-shaped Christian life, is not to be looked at from perspective of only “what is best for me.” It is at its heart a commitment for the good of others. It is a position of humble service, just like our Savior adopted when he came to seek and to save us.


Shirley Wilbers said...

I found your blog while searching for "Deaf Ministry". Your comment about the girl who is deaf caught my attention. If her parents refuse to go to another church that has a deaf ministry - one option might be to "bring the deaf ministry " to her. You didn't say how old she was but some possibilities
1. check with some of the churches in the area -they might know of terps willing come \
2. Our website has links to webstreaming videos in sign language that you can watch online. this might help with some spiritual imput
3. check with Deaf TeenQuest - they set up Youth for Christ type groups for Deaf teens.
Our website is http://deafministriesconnection, there are also some Deaf Ministries that would come and do workshops/training for anyone interested in setting up a deaf ministry. Either way this girl needs to know the gospel in HER language.

Jason Parker said...

Hi Shirley,
Thanks for leaving a note. I do want to clarify. The family is not refusing to go to another church, and the young lady is hearing the Word. In this particular case, she reads lips extremely well, and whatever she does not pick up her mother fills in for her with sign language. She plays with all of the other children very well, even though none of them know much sign language. She is quite amazing.

Perhaps someday the Lord will open the door for our church to have more opportunities for deaf folks. Perhaps she can even be the catalyst for that.

Shirley said...

thanks for the clarification. I have known more than a few Deaf who sat through church services being clueless as to what was going on. Also the fact that she is young enough to "play with" other children makes a difference too.
Have you seen the Dr. Wonder show? Its for Deaf kids (and hearing kids too) and gives Bible knowledge and teaching in a drama format -all in sign language. Its from Silent Blessings.
Sorry for making assumptions. I was under the impression that she was a teenager and a bit older.