Where do you gather? (pt. 3)

In the previous post, I asked about our spiritual gifts and whether we know what they are or not. Today I’d like to revisit the questions from the first post regarding why we worship where we worship.

But first, a story

I don’t know when exactly they began to attend our church, but they’ve been a part of this fellowship for quite a while. Faced with a new state, town, and situation, meanwhile figuring life and ministry out, this family began to search the area for a church they could call home. After looking into two or three, they settled on our church, FBC of South Portland.

Having two young kids, one would think that the top priority for them would be to find a church family that had a thriving children’s ministry. I don’t know what the state of the children’s ministry was when they arrived (I think it was doing pretty well, though), but I do know that wasn’t the biggest driving force behind their decision. Yes, they wanted their children fed but, knowing the primary responsibility for leading their children fell on them, they chose this church based off of the gifts they had and the needs of the church.

Now you might think this arrogant: “Really? They wanted to attend a place where THEY could use THEIR gifts? What about being fed? What about letting the Church minister to you? Isn’t that a better and more humble way to choose a church family?”

The Sin of Consumerism

In a few short years the slogan, “Have it your way” has gone from describing personalized burgers to defining the life of the average American. If you don’t like the way something works, by all means complain about it and make sure it’s done differently. But this is hardly the proper attitude of Christians within the Church. It is easy to hop from church to church seeking to be fed and find the one ministry that has it “right;” but that is far from one’s purpose in the Church. We are not meant to be consumers.

Yes, we must be fed the Word of God. Yes, we must fellowship with other believers. Yes, our children need ministering to (even though that is primarily the job of their parents). But beyond all of that is our need to serve others within the Church. I cannot remember where I heard it said, but it’s true that “If Christian maturity were based off of the amount of resources consumed, the American Church would be the most mature in the world.” The sad fact is that our output (love, generosity, graciousness, servitude) is minuscule compared with the many sermons, books, devotionals, songs, etc., that we take in.

We exist not to sit here consuming resources but to share our gifts, be generous with God’s stuff, and to worship as a body.

You won’t get it your way

If we follow the example of the couple above and repent of our sin of consumerism, we will hardly get our way. Instead, we will be conformed to the way of the cross: the way that sacrifices our false desires while making way for true love and service for others. So we won’t (or shouldn’t) be so concerned about our church having the “right” music, “right” programs, “right” sermons, and “right” ministries. Instead, we’ll be concerned with following God where He’s going. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37.4) is a call to seeking the things above so that that the things above can influence our lives below, starting with our choice of church family.

For more on this, see James Emery White

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