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Friday, October 03, 2008

I Want You To Grow Spiritually 4: Get A New Church

Get a new church. Change worship traditions.

I know. I'm upsetting some of you. I'm sorry. But in truth, some of you are married to a church that isn't healthy for you and/or has lost it's mojo and it won't be getting it back any time soon.
  • There's the church that pigeon holes you. It won't let you change, develop or serve in new areas of ministry.
  • There's the church that has left orthodoxy.
  • There's the church with dangerous beliefs and behavior. One friend called me recently to help a patient at their hospital find a new church. The patient was hospitalized for depression and being a danger to herself. Her church didn't think she should be getting help from the hospital for those problems. Basically the people at the church didn't think she should have those problems. She was conflicted about leaving because they have been her friends for 18 years. A church that suggests you should not seek counseling or health care, or that says if you do, you just don't have enough faith, is unhealthy for you. Move on.
  • There's the church that has lost it's voice and role in your life, or that has lost your trust.
There is an old earthy proverb that I find useful: "Sh*t stinks. But it's warm." Sometimes our current place in life is smelly and unhealthy for us but it's what we know. It's familiar. We're comfortable with it. It's much less scary than the unknown if we changed.

Sometimes a person with a substance abuse problem goes to rehab. When they come home, if they have a family that doesn't get help at the same time, that family system unconsciously tries to push the abuser back into using. While the family really wants them sober, they only know how to treat them as a user.

Sometimes we want to change but our church only knows how to treat as they always have. Maybe we want to serve in a new area of ministry but the church. I remember a businessman who had been church treasurer for many years. The Lord had worked on him and he grew very passionate about youth ministry. He quit being treasurer -- despite the church pressuring him not to resign -- and volunteered to serve on the youth leadership team. The first thing they did was ask him to lead the annual fund raising drive for youth ministry. He quit the church. They just couldn't see him as anything other than a number cruncher and he couldn't stand even another day of crunching numbers at work and at church.

There's the church that helped rescue your marriage or helped you pick up the pieces after your divorce. They helped rescue you from the bondage of substance abuse. They were there for you when your house burned down. They walked you through the grief of the death of the spouse or a child. The church was wonderful to you and ministered to you in your time of need. But that was several years ago now and the church still treats you as the grieving widower, the needy family, the precariously recovering addict, etc. You don't want to be forever introduced to newcomers as the person who previously had problems and we helped them.

If the church won't let you change and grow, consider moving on.

Perhaps consider changing worship traditions/styles. I know Baptists who found spiritual revival in the Catholic and charismatic churches. I know Episcopalians that found a new home in Nazarene and Baptist churches. I know people who have spent a lifetime in a highly liturgical church with predominantly choral and hymnal music who came alive when they went low church with music by Matt Redman, David Crowder and others .... and vice versa.

In summary, if you are feeling stuck spiritually, a change in churches might help. Certainly we all wish that everyone would find a church and just stick with it for better or worse, in sickness and health, and to death do us part. And, yes, we do have a problem in the American church with parishioners acting like consumers and shopping for churches like they shop for shoes. But sometimes, yes, sometimes -- I know this is hard to hear if you are a church leader -- it is the church that is hindrance. Sometimes people need a fresh start in a new church with a new worship style where God meets them in a new way.

This is part 4 in a 20 part series on spiritual growth. If you feel like you are not growing deeper in your faith or relationship to God, if you are not loving and serving others more, if you have a sense of 'stuckness' in your spiritual journey, and you really want to grow ——— the answer might not be to try harder. All too often I have heard the same solutions offered over and over — 'All you have to do is have daily devotions, pray more, read more of the Bible, be in worship every week and get more involved in the church.' In other words try harder.

Sometimes that doesn't work and I'm going to offer some suggestions that might help you move forward.

Previous Installments:
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 1: Give Up Daily Devotions
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 2: See A Counselor
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 3: Spiritual Direction

Comments on "I Want You To Grow Spiritually 4: Get A New Church"


Blogger Kim said ... (10:40 AM, October 03, 2008) : 

Tell us how you REALLY feel! LOL Great stuff, rev...


Blogger theultrarev said ... (4:45 PM, October 03, 2008) : 

Hmmmm. Was that too over the top?


Blogger Kim said ... (1:26 PM, October 04, 2008) : 

Not at all. You tell it like it is, and I appreciate that! :)


Anonymous Pat Z said ... (7:56 PM, September 21, 2009) : 

Never thought I would agree with leaving a church, but I gotta say I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. Very well thought out and just plain truthful. I like the whole list, but this is especially profound.

When is #9 coming? I really hate being out of order...(yes, I have OCD tendencies, I admit it)


Blogger theultrarev said ... (8:48 AM, September 22, 2009) : 

I'll get working on 9. I'm a little slow these days.


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