The Problem(‘)s With Me – Part 1Reflections on Christian Struggles

FIRST POSTED 11/21/2005

“Here I go, again on my own” – Whitesnake

Loyalty

The church that I grew up in no longer exists. It started dying before I can remember and continued for the next 20 years that I attended and the next ten years after that. Never vibrant or growing, it always seemed to maintain the 30 or so people who attended. Occasionally someone would rotate in or out, but the numbers always stayed about the same.

There weren’t a whole lot of kids who attended – maybe 10 or 12 who were within four years of my age plus or minus. To the best of my knowledge, most of them no longer attend any church. The adults have scattered. Some families have broken. Some are serving God powerfully, having been released from the trials of a struggling ministry.

We never had a full-time pastor. Our part time pastor resigned one weekend, but continued to preach for the next fifteen years there because there was no one to take his place, and the church would have ended had he not continued.

I’ve often wondered how my life might have been different had I attended a church with an active youth group and positive peer pressure. Would I have avoided mistakes that I made? But in spite of my early church experience, or perhaps because of it, I am who I am today. I am incredibly blessed by God with a wonderful life, a beautiful wife and children. And most of all, I am convinced that God has chosen me to be reconciled with Him.

I’ve also wondered what held that little church in San Jose together all those years. It’s a virtue that I’ve struggled with and one that I believe many in the contemporary church also have trouble with. Loyalty. Commitment. Longsuffering.

Oh, I know. There are times to leave a church. Just as I knew in my early adulthood that I would have to leave my church to grow in my Christian walk. But there is such a consumer mindset in our culture that we treat our churches like a grocery store. We hop from one to another because our needs aren’t met or pick and choose programs from various churches never submitting to the authority of one body. I’ve done it, and I know that I’m not alone.

It seems that Southern Baptist churches are notorious for having inflated membership rolls. “We have 1,500 members and 565 average attendance.” In Northern California, we seem to have the opposite problem. “We have 300 members and 1,105 average attenders.” People don’t seem to want to join anything here.

I read Josh Harris’s Stop Dating the Church not too long ago, and it helped me realize that the local church deserves our commitment. Our Christian walk requires that we be committed to a local body, a church family. Lord, I repent of my lack of loyalty to your church, and I pray that others will likewise commit to their local church families.

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