What Does This Church Expect of Me?

Seattle
Maybe very little!

 

I’m not trying to be cute.  I’m serious.  In so many churches, very, very little is expected.  In fact, you can usually  boil our expectations down to a few things:

 

  • Be present in the assembly on Sunday mornings (well, most of them anyway).
  • Don’t be a sexually immoral person.
  • Don’t do anything scandalous in the community where you live. 

 

I realize that the above comments are a generalization.  Of course, that is not true of all churches.  But is is true of many!  While churches often expect very little of their members, they will often spend tremendous time and energy on what they offer to a consumerist community:

 

  • Best youth group in town
  • Something for the whole family
  • 40 different ministries (usually to the church members)

 

As consumers, we often have very little commitment toward a particular community of believers (I am not even talking about "brand" loyalty at this point).  As church members, we may go to a particular church because of all that it offers but we could very well go to the church down the street if their offerings seem to be greater. 

 

Consequently, among members and church leaders there is lots of talk about "happiness."   We (as consumers) speak of how we are not "happy" with the church anymore.  Church leaders might spend incredible energy worrying about this person or that person who is not "happy." 

 

Most disturbing is this:  We begin to judge the progress of a church by whether or not most people seem "happy."  If the church is "happy" and more people are coming on Sunday morning, we must be going places. 

 

Contrast this mindset to what you might see in the early church.  These men and women were disciples–Christ-followers.  Imperfect.  Flawed.  Human.  Yet, the intent of these earliest Christians was to imitate Christ.  After all, he was the fulfillment of the promise first made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He was God-man on this earth calling people to himself. 

 

Maybe, as we reflect upon our congregations, we would do well ask more questions that speak of our reason for existence.  For instance, instead of talking about how happy people are within a particular church, we might asking questions related to discipleship.

 

Do you think the people in our church are growing (maturing) in their attachment to Jesus?  What evidence is there that we are taking on more of his mindset?   

 

I suspect that this must first begin with me as an individual follower of Christ.  These are questions I need to be asking about myself.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “What Does This Church Expect of Me?

  1. You make church sound like a social club! Perhaps that’s the reality for the vast majority of attendees. A meeting every Sunday (and some during the week for the really serious), but for the rest of the time the community of believers is non-existent. This can’t be what Jesus was talking about, can it? In all probability it bears no resemblence to the message of Jesus.

  2. Kieren, Thanks. What you are saying is exactly my point. Unfortunately, for far too many people, it has been reduced to something social and individual.

    I’m thankful that in Jesus there is a far better way to function as both an individual Christ-follower and in a community of believers.

  3. I know the climate you describe, but the church I attend is intentional about asking more – asking people to really follow Jesus.
    I hope we’re not the exception!

  4. I, too, have know that church. Why have some churches lost that desire to keep thirsting for Christ? Maybe because we want to be served instead of serving. Thank you for the reminder to keep our focus on what is important.

  5. Jim, tremendous thoughts. I am so thankful for this post in view of the fellowship our family is a part of. I think we are blessed in that it seems to be about edifying one another, and doing all as to God, and growing in our practice of extending the kingdom of God- to those in need. Not about what makes us “happy”.

    Thanks again for a stimulating post.

  6. Ted/Julie– I am glad that you can look at your churches and see progress in terms of what a Biblical community of believers is called to be. That encourages me as well.

  7. Jim,

    Your thoughts about the selfish attitudes of Chrsitians today seems to be unfortunately accurate. Most seem to be more interested in what they can get out of worship than what they can give to God during that time. I think that can be attributed to the church allowing it to happen over time. Expectations of its members is what makes a church strong.
    If you take this post along with the one a couple of months ago entitled “I love the church, but…”, I think you have started a converstation that needs to be had out loud in many churches.
    Thank you for your insight. It refreshes my spirit to know I am not alone in these frustrations.

  8. Keith,
    I appreciate your comment. Your comment regarding a previous post, “I Love the Church but…” makes me want to look at both of these again. (Especially in light of the needed conversation you mention). So good to meet you the other day. Hope to see you again sometime.

  9. A nit: it seems to me that the church I read about in Acts *was* happy. They were amazingly sacrificial, and happy to be so. “Devoted to…”, and happy to be so. I believe happiness *is* a great measure, but the happiness isn’t some Pollyanna-in-denial thing, but from a depth of gratitude for and excitement about Jesus’ death and resurrection.