There are aspects of church life that make me feel a little uncomfortable. The meet and greet times, talking about giving, waiting for somebody to pray to conclude small group, or in my case just about any time I speak to the youth. These feelings of discomfort are not bad, in fact I’d contend that feeling uncomfortable is a gift that pushes us forward into growth.
If I’m in a church where I feel comfortable at all times, I know that I’ll grow complacent.
Yet there are many of us (me included in college) who pick the church we’re going to attend based solely off of our preferences and those things that will make us comfortable. These preferences include the style of dress that is most prevalent, the style of worship, the style of teaching, the style of small groups, the style of leadership, and the general vibes of the church.
These are not explicitly wrong, but I think we’ve got church completely backwards when we make it all about us. There is most definitely wiggle room in this for wanting to be in a community that propels us forward into spiritual growth and there are situations where the church we attend may not be doing this for us. That being said, to pick a church because of how it makes us feel is something I can’t quite grasp.
In a blog from 2017, I wrote extensively about how I believe that if there’s something we wish was different in our church, we should seek to be the change in that department instead of bailing. (https://nathanpatrickroach.blog/2017/02/07/love-the-church/)
There’s no explicit verse in the Bible that says “be committed to a congregation, even when it’s uncomfortable.” There is one passage out of Hebrews that speaks about commitment to a faith community however:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:23-25
There is way more to this passage than simply a call to committing to a church, but it does emphasize this calling.
I know many whose commitment to church is loose, who go to church occasionally for the worship service but aren’t in a deep small group anywhere. I know many who have put off church altogether choosing instead to simply love Jesus alone. I know many who are anti-church membership for the sake of not wanting to submit to something. I know many who are not engaged in a church community because they claim to have a community of faith made up of family and friends.
Thankfully, I know many who are committed to their church community, laughing together, weeping together, going through hills and valleys together. This is a beautiful picture for me to see in others. The purpose of the church (besides glorifying and praising God through every facet of its programming) is to stir one another up into good words and love. The church is to encourage the follower of Christ to go all-in with the Lord through devotion to Him and service to others.
This is where being uncomfortable comes in.
It is in each of these moments of being uncomfortable that my potential for spiritual growth is the greatest. When I sing songs that are not in my comfort zone, I’m reminded that worship isn’t about me, but is about God. When the style of preaching (as long as it isn’t heretical) is not up my alley, I’m again reminded that preaching is simply re-announcing God’s Word and isn’t about my stylistic preferences. If the pastor is faithful to God’s Word, then the conviction that accompanies God’s Word via the Spirit of God is for sure uncomfortable but very necessary in my spiritual growth. When my brother in Christ believes differently than me about a certain topic that is breached in a small group, then I’m led to wrestle with my faith and beliefs as a result of this discomfort. When my brother in Christ calls me out for sin in my life, this is a blessing albeit an uncomfortable one. When my small group serves the community in a way that is foreign to me, my eyes become opened to the needs of areas of my community that I may not be aware of otherwise.
Since we’re in a culture that bought the lie of life’s about me, we have brought this into our thinking about church. We make church about being comfortable and entertained (despite the fact of almost every New Testament statement about discipleship and faith tells us that it’s about laying our lives down and suffering), and this leads to lots of church hopping.
Find a church that is close to your neighborhood and go all in. Regardless of stylistic preferences. If it’s heresy, that’s one thing. Yet church vibes, preaching style, worship style, etc. are not explicitly valid enough reasons to leave a church. Become willing to be uncomfortable.
Discomfort leads to growth. Every time.
In His Name,