In February I posted a link to an article called Ten Myths of Church Leavers. Debbie responded to that post with the following concern and I think there are many more who share her concern.
My in laws left the church years ago, and are perfectly content with that. There is no absence in their life of believers to fellowship with. However, as a new Christian, I feel lost without a church. It seems like it’s ok for people who have been in the system to leave, what about us newbies who don’t know a lot of Christians.
Debbie, and others who feel similarly, let me say that I sympathize with your concern and I applaud your hunger. So let me make the following observations that may help us all sort this out:
- First, wanting to have relationships with other followers of Christ is what being part of the body is all about. Don’t lose that hunger, just look for ways God wants to fulfill it in you.
- Second, people aren’t leaving ‘church’, they’ve just found that our religious institutions are often a poor reflection of it and are seeking alternative ways to live out the life of the church with other believers. That same door is open to you. God knows how to bring other believers alongside you so that you can share this journey together.
- Third, if you know of a group of believers that meet regularly in a building and you feel God is leading you there to connect with other Christians, no one is saying that is wrong. Feel free to go, just realize what that is and enjoy the fellowship without getting caught up in all the politics and spiritual pecking-order games. I’m in all kinds of gatherings over a year’s time and I find folks in all of them who have a hunger to know God. And one great thing I’ve discovered about people growing to know God is that they are open to new friendships, especially with young believers.
- Finally, it is important for folks who have lots of relationships with other believers to keep those relationships open to others who may not have them. One person told me recently than he knows you’re a friend if you’ll help him out, but he’ll know you’re a close friend if you share your friends with him. I like that. Be generous with your friendships so people like Debbie don’t get left out and feel they have to go it alone.