Last week I saw a man who quit attending our Church worship programs a few years ago. He was unhappy about something that someone said. His feelings were hurt, and in many ways, he was correct in his attitude. The other person was wrong and he, along with his family, decided to stop attending. People tried to talk them out of it, but it was to no avail. Unfortunately, they not only quit our Church, but they left the Church altogether.
His story is just one of the hundreds that I have known over the years. Every place I have served has similar stories. Someone got upset about something, and they quit. Many times, they were right and justified in their thoughts. I completely understood their frustration.
In almost every case that I have experienced this type of interaction, I have come to a similar conclusion. The very reason you want to quit the Church is the very reason you need to go. I believe God put us together with other believers in the Church to help us all grow and mature spiritually. Usually, that growth comes in ways that are uncomfortable.
The man I mentioned above, I think God might be teaching him to be less judgmental, arrogant and self-righteous. God connected him to someone who is going to teach him those characteristics along with grace, patience, and love. I run this thinking through every encounter I have experienced in Church. The person who quits because someone was a bully. They need to confront that person with courage in love and learn to live in harmony with difficult people. The person who quits coming because they don’t like the decision the leadership made, may need to learn submission, obedience and possibly become a leader themselves. The person who quits because of the music might need to redefine worship in a way that is not self-centered. I could go on and on. The person who stops attending because of whatever reason might have something they need to learn from the situation.
I know this is hard to hear. You might even think, well, that is easy for you to say as a preacher. Actually, it is more difficult for me than you can imagine. This is a lesson I have learned from experience. God has sent people to the Churches I have led who have taught me to be more grace-filled, kind, patient, less angry, non-judgmental, and a dozen other things.
So what if this weekend there will be a moment when you will think, “I don’t want to go to worship because of ….” What if you flipped that over and asked God to teach you through these thoughts? Maybe the reason you do not want to be here is precisely what you need to grow in the Lord.