Eric Ehmann – Associate Campus Pastor, Queen Creek
Don’t do it alone.
That may sound like tripe or rhetoric to you. However, there is a deeper need for the individual to understand that statement in regards to the church. I know a lot of people who will say that I can worship better in mountains on a camping trip than I do in a worship service at a local church. That may be true, but don’t commit only to the former and neglect the latter. People tell me that the church just doesn’t “get it,” they are selfish there and naïve to the truth. That too may be true, but it does not remove your need, that’s right, “need,” to be connected to the local church. The church is community. I have come across an alarming trend (to me anyway) where followers of Jesus harbor a significant bitterness toward the church. Of course there is hurt and thus good reasons for their anger. This informs the desire of some to never want to go to a church community. There is a problem; the church is the bride of Christ. If we get set on edge or harbor anger against this bride, we find ourselves in a paradox of anger with ourselves.
God did not make us to be an individual particle bouncing around trying to do “good things” as a follower of Jesus. You diminish not only the value of the church when you disregard her, but you diminish your ability to initiate, participate and benefit from the movement of the living God when you isolate yourself. You simply weren’t meant to do this alone. Alone, you don’t get to see the threads of God’s movement through the church universal. Like revivals in South America or the power shown in the underground church in China. Alone you don’t get to see whole neighborhood communities being transformed. Alone you wont get to see the whole picture. There is a greater story being told and as Walt Whitman says, “you may contribute a verse.” Alone you wont get to be a part of the wave that washes over humanity bringing life change like on the day of Pentecost.
Alone is arrogant. We may call it independence or individualism, but it is selfish. You rob the church of your gifts, talents and most importantly, the word that you receive from God. You have an obligation to join in with others so that the world will know the truth, experience the mystical and see the miraculous. You owe it to the church, to those whom you can reach outside the church and to yourself. You need to see what God can do when he adds you to a body that is moving. If you don’t think your church is pursuing God, find another one that is. If you are not where God is calling you or where you can use your giftedness, find where he is moving and join him. If you have bitterness toward your church, get over it. If you think they make bad decisions, get inside and change it. Maybe you need to learn what it is to submit to leadership. Learn to serve. Each church has its problems and they all have room to improve so don’t look for greener grass. When God moves you to a church home, he wants you to plant there, get involved and serve. Even if you are on a short-term stay, you can find a way to serve for as long as you are there. Stop acting like a consumer. Become the church that you were made to be.
It may be that the world is falling a part. You can’t listen to any media source without being told the reasons why mankind is in trouble. It may even be the church’s fault for not being more like Jesus. After all, the church hasn’t always had on its mind the things of God. The church has said the wrong things, made poor choices and fallen. However, since you are part of the church, the responsibilities may be yours for not taking up your cross and following, living, serving, loving… in community.