An Open Letter to an Average Disgruntled Church Member

Dear Disgruntled:

I noticed that coming to church has become something of a dying habit for you (well, to call it a habit might be stretching it a bit; habits do require some sort of consistency). From what I’ve heard, you’ve become disheartened and disillusioned with the whole church “thing.”

Is that true? If it is, my heart breaks for you. Believe me, there’s not a single church-related heartbreak or disappointment I haven’t already endured. However, there is something simple you can do to turn things around.

What you need to do is develop a Christ-like love for your brothers and sisters, then even the worst of disappointments will have a hard time turning your heart cold.

You could start by repeating the following statement over and over: “Because He first loved me… Because He first loved me…” Why? Because He first loved you (1 John 4:19)! Believe it or not, Jesus loved you long before you were loveable…long before you stopped breaking His heart on a daily basis…long before you became perfect and quit messing up.

Wait, you are perfect, aren’t you? No? Wow! And He loves you anyway?

Amazing, isn’t it?

So, if you would just try to love others the way Jesus loves you – faults and all – His Spirit would turn those tears of disappointment into healing streams of grace.

Then, if you’d keep your worship more vertically oriented and less horizontally irritated, there’d be a lot fewer things to complain about.

Loving and missing you,

An Average Pastor (without a jet) 

 

P.S. Service times haven’t changed, and no one has claimed your seat.

 

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27 Comments

Filed under Christian Unity, Church, grace, Struggles and Trials, worship, writing

27 responses to “An Open Letter to an Average Disgruntled Church Member

  1. Amen. Sometimes we forget that even when we don’t really think we need the church, the church sure needs us.

    Kind of sad, ours was filled to the brim, standing room only the other day, and I got to see lots of people I hardly ever see. Funeral, of course. On Sunday mornings we always have plenty of room.

  2. As you know, Anthony, there are many reasons folks show up at church doors on Sundays and many more why they stop coming. You have hit on one of them.

    Having stated that you yourself have faced all kinds of church-related heartbreak and disappointments to this generic disgruntled ex-member, it seems to me you might have had more compassion for his pain. Perhaps his reasons for not coming have to do with something other than a lack of love and compassion for others, a mediocre relationship to the Lord, and a disregard for Hebrews 10:25? Like you, I could list scores of issues that might tell why, but your post seems to assume those shortcomings rather than gently asking him for feedback.

    The body of Christ – the church – gathers together in many places wherever two or three are gathered in his name. Showing up on a Sunday morning at many church facilities is not necessarily a fulfillment of Hebrews 10:25. We are not there to entertain or fulfill an obligation, but to gather together in his name and teach and encourage each other. Maybe that is not working for him and he needs someone to ask him about it.

    • Thanks for your comment and perspective. However, it should be noted that I originally wrote this over a year ago while pastor of another church – this post refers to no one in my current congregation. It did, however, find its root in other congregants I knew that could not attend a worship service for finding fault in others. So, the post is literally meant as a generic response to those who use a specific reason for avoiding other believers in a corporate worship setting, that’s all. Believe me, I would not assume this is the only reason someone might quit going to church, and I do try to find out the reasons when I can. But truth be told, most that do quit coming share their reasons with their neighbors long before I can ever get the truth out of them, if ever.

      • Thanks Anthony, that makes sense. Perhaps I projected some of my past hurts into your letter that were not there. I appreciate your heart towards those who seem to be dropping out of sight, and wish I had seen more of that through the years instead of some of the harshness and power plays we ran into several times.

      • No problem. God bless you for your own service.

  3. Pingback: An Open Letter to an Average Disgruntled Church Member — The Recovering Legalist | The Christian Path

  4. ChristianPathShare

    My past experience has been that the assumption made for my not going is that I have lost my faith. Having so much happening in my life lately I haven’t been to church as much as I would like to but it has nothing to do with loosing my faith mainly because my faith didn’t come from church in the first place.

    Faith came for having a faithful family that worshipped God everyday by reading the Bible, treating others properly and with respect, honoring the elders of our community and by gong out of our way to reach out to those in need. Even before I totally understood church I understood that this was how you behave. I didn’t find out that we were trying to walk in Jesus’ footsteps until I was much older and actually read the Bible.

    Maybe attendance would go up if church started at home. Just a thought to throw out there, my friend lol

    Be well, always.

  5. According to the Bible, we, Christ’s followers, are the church. The church is not a building, or an institution, or a business, or a marketing venture or a corporation under the federal government of the USA, though many people have made it all these things. It is us, the people of God, the body of Christ. We are the building, the temple of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City, God’s holy nation, his chosen people, a people belonging to God. The Holy Spirit of God dwells within us, not inside a building called “church.”

    So, in order to fulfill Hebrews 10:25, which says we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but that we should encourage one another, and all the more as the day is drawing near when Christ will return, then we just need to meet with other like-minded believers in Jesus Christ wherever we can find a place to meet where we can actually encourage one another like this scripture talks about. And, for many, this does not take place within the walls of institutional churches, but where Christians are gathering together and they have the freedom and the opportunities to encourage one another, as God intends, because the day is drawing near, and Satan is on the rampage against the church, the body of Christ.

    The sad reality about the church these days is that so many have turned the church into businesses, and they are marketing them just like any other business, and so they are not ministering to the needs of the saints, but they are working hard at attracting the world. So, they turn their services into stage productions, and many pastors now are merely entertainers to make the people laugh so they will want to come back.

    They don’t want to offend their customer base, i.e. the world, because they want the world to feel at home in the “church,” and so they dilute the gospel of Jesus Christ, too, to make it more appealing and acceptable to human flesh. And, so the saints of God are not with the body of Christ where they can encourage one another and build one another up in the faith, but they are intermingled with the world, and they are being told to “stay in your own lane” so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. So, the saints are being silenced in order to make the world comfortable, so how is that fulfilling Heb. 10:25? It isn’t.

    So, many Christians who are really serious about the Lord have left institutional churches in favor of meeting with the body of Christ other places where they can fulfill Ephesians 4, Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 regarding the body of Christ and how each of us has a part, and how we grow together as each part does its work. Too many institutions of men do not allow for each part to do its work, but they even tell some parts that they should go someplace else where they will be a “better fit” because those parts have “strong convictions,” and the “church” can’t have people with strong convictions about God and about his Word, it would seem. So, they are telling them, “We have no need of you,” which they are not to do.

    Some food for thought here, I hope. Sue

    • Well, you certainly took the time to leave a thoughtful comment 🙂 If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve got to get up in a few hours and I’ve still got other things to do, I’d take the time to address a couple of things you said. However, I’m too tired right now to be theological. It will have to wait.

      But, seriously, thanks for the comment a “food for thought.” I’ll wrap it up and put it in the fridge for later.

  6. That was my heart that I just shared with you, not theology.

    • Oh, I understand that. No problem. It’s just there were some points you made about the nature of the church – what it is and isn’t -that could be worth discussing. That’s all.

    • And, I guess, in order to be more specific, I should clarify that it’s not “theology,” but “ecclesiology” (the study of the Church) that would be the area of discussion. It bugged me all night that I didn’t clarify that earlier 🙂

      Anyway, blessings to you, and I hope you have a wonderful day. Gotta go to work.

      • I don’t believe you really heard my heart. If what bugged you all night was that you said “theology” instead of “ecclesiology,” then that is pretty sad, indeed. What was written about Jesus? “Zeal for your house will consume me.” This was in relation to Jesus cleansing the temple. Jesus said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” So, when I shared my heart, I was sharing our Lord’s heart. Sue

      • I wish you could see my face and hear the tone of my voice. If you could do that, maybe you would understand how concerned I am that you may be misunderstanding me. I understand that you have a “zeal for the house of the Lord.” I, too, am very concerned about the way wolves in sheep’s clothing have come along and turned the gathering of believers into a means for making profit. I would very much appreciate the time that you have taken to read anything on my blog, and I also appreciate the fact that you have left detailed comments. Please understand that I am in no way trying to argue with you. I believe we are on the same team, don’t you think?

      • Anthony, Certainly communicating through writing, though a wonderful tool for expressing our thoughts and beliefs and for sharing the truths of God’s Word, has its limitations, one of which is that we can’t see the other person or hear their tone of voice.

        I felt that you were not hearing my heart by the things you said back to me, so I expressed that to you, hoping that it would open up further dialogue in which we could talk about some of the things I shared, but not from a theological or ecclesiology standpoint, but from the heart of God standpoint.

        I don’t know you well enough yet to know if we are on the same page, but I am open to listening to your heart and to hearing what God is teaching you through his Word each day, so I will be checking back in and reading what you write, since you opened that door for me. I do believe we are both on God’s team. Thanks!

        Since you live not far from us, maybe you, Rick and I could meet one day soon in person. I think that would be nice. Sue

      • Awesome! Believe it or not, I have hosted or met up with multiple bloggers over the years. I’m all for furthering the understanding that there’s real people behind these screens. The Christian blogging community is the best 🙂

      • Thank you. If you could supply an email address where we could reach you, we can talk with you about meeting up with you one day soon. I think we are only about 1.5 hours from where you are. We wouldn’t mind driving that far.

      • Thanks! We will be in touch. Rick and Sue Love

  7. Zeal for Your House
    An Original Work / August 1, 2016

    Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

    Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
    Lord, I love my times with You.
    I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
    Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
    List’ning to You speaking to me,
    Gently guiding me in truth.

    Lord, You are my life’s example,
    Showing me how I should live.
    I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
    No greater joy have I when serving You.
    Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
    I’m yielding to Your will.

    Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
    See the church turned upside down:
    Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
    Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
    Gospel message made appealing,
    So the world will feel at home.

    Lord, we need a great revival.
    Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
    Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
    Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
    Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
    Be restored to God again.

  8. Great Post Anthony
    When we moved to another state with no contacts but a job, my wife and I decided to pray for God to lead us to the body of believers where God might use us most. He did (The story is too long to tell here). There are many amazing parts to the journey. We did not find what we were looking for in any church that we visited but God placed us where He wanted us and after two years we can honestly say that we have more than we were looking for in both ministry and support as well as Biblical Teaching and Preaching.
    Side note: I would not make a good Pastor as my way of handling disgruntled people (All too many) is a whack on the side of the head (not literally of course…just saying).

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