Preferences

What’s your idea of a perfect church?

What type of classes should be offered? What outreach ministries should be taking place? What should the church’s logo look like? What type of teaching and preaching should be utilized? What type of music should be sung? What should the youth ministry be like? Should there be formal theological training? What missions organizations should we support? What type of expectations for members should there be? What type of structure should we have?

If you’re like me, you probably have your answers to all of those questions.

And if you’re like me, 100% of your preferences aren’t being met in the church you are a part of.

So what do you do?

Preferences are by no means wrong to have. It’s ingrained in us. It’s the culture we live in.

But when the proliferation of personal preferences become the primary pursuit of my life in the church, I’m woefully missing the mark.

Over the years I’ve been in Vernon, God has been stripping me slowly but surely of my preoccupation with how I think the church should do certain things.

Last Fall, in preparation for leading our students and children through the book of Philippians, I studied said book. And it began to blow me away. Unity through humility and love. Concern for others rather than concern for one’s self, even one’s preferences.

Outside of Scripture, countless books have formed my heart and mind to remember what I’m supposed to be doing. J-Curve taught me that life is about giving up my rights in humility and love. Everywhere You Look is one I finished last month that teaches the Kingdom of God is going to come as we are hospitable and gospel-centered in our neighborhoods.

But lately two things have been on my mind.

Romans 12 and the book Uncomfortable.

Romans 12 is chock full of examples from the church in Rome as to how to apply the life and teachings of Jesus to our lives together.

One of the translations I use and study with is the NASB, and this was how Romans 12:10 was translated:

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 

That has been swirling through my mind a lot. I actually have dedicated it to memory because I need to be reflecting on its truths.

What if that was the type of preference I was concerned with?

Putting others first, devoting my life to them in love.

When anxiety racks my mind, or frustrations mount, is it about preferences of how the church runs or the fear that some in my church family don’t feel loved?

What keeps you up at night?

What gets you animated?

Preferences or love?

Man, y’all this has been a tough lesson to learn for me.

I want my conversations to be about loving others well. The people I don’t understand. The people I disagree with at times. The people who are guests. The people who live near me.

I want my conversations and motivations to be about love for God and others.

The reality is, there is no such thing as a perfect church. From an organizational standpoint that is.

The people that make up our churches however are just that.

Perfect.

Saints.

Holy.

Beloved children of God the Father, purchased for Him by Christ the Son, held together through the power of the Spirit.

Shouldn’t that impact every conversation we have? Even the hard ones?

I sit and imagine a people that literally outdo one another in showing honor (the NIV version of Romans 12:10b) to each other.

In the book Uncomfortable, Brett McCracken doubles down on the fact that the modern church goer has the consumerist mentality. This is something the Bible never condones. Is it a normal thought process? Yes. Is it something I need to fight against in my life? Absolutely.

This is a super long series of quotes. You really just need to go read the book yourself. I’ve got it in my office.

‘How it fits me’ is the wrong criteria for finding the right church. Rather, church should be about collectively spurring one another to be fit into the likeness of Christ. This can happen in almost any sort of church as long as it’s fixed on Jesus, anchored in the gospel, and committed to the authority of Scripture. . . What if we learned to love churches even when they challenge us and stretch us out of our comfort zones? . . . Commitment even amidst discomfort, faithfulness even amidst disappointment: this is what being the people of God has always been about. . . A healthy relationship with the local church is like a healthy marriage: it only works when grounded in selfless commitment and a non consumerist covenant. 

What if we didn’t think about ourselves and our preferences at all when coming to a church?

What if instead we thought about how we could truly love others, not just our crew, but anyone in the pew.

What if going to a church that is not in your comfort zone in some areas was the way to learn humility and gentleness and love?

Brothers and sisters, I used to be a church basher. An over the top, anal, negative, cynical, apathetic, mocking, vocal critic of any church I went to or was involved in. Even a church I was once on staff at.

Then it hit me.

That’s the Bride of Christ.

It’s messy. It’s broken.

But it’s not a business. It’s not first and foremost an organization. It’s a people. A people to be loved.

Again, preferences aren’t bad. Changes aren’t bad. Changes need to be made to continue growing the Kingdom.

But I 100% believe that those changes are in our hearts first before it’s in the church.

Am I discipling?

When’s the last time you went through Scripture with another believer?

Am I witnessing?

When’s the last time you told someone about Jesus?

Am I having people over in my home?

When’s the last time you had someone outside of your sphere of friends over for dinner?

You see, even the seeker movement was based in the misconception that what happens at church during the week is how people come to join the people of God. Not so fast. That’s not true. Biblically or historically.

People will join the Kingdom of God through seeing a community that are devoted to one another in love every single day of the week. Praying for each other. Serving each other. Building relationships with each other. Disagreeing in love with each other. That’s the compelling community.

To build a church around primarily reaching new people is wrong, just as building a church around traditions that never change is wrong. The Gospels show us that when Jesus drew a crowd, He sent them away with tough teachings on laying down one’s lives.

I’m not concerned about how many new students come to youth group.

I’m concerned with how many of my current students go to them.

Every day I have to ask myself if I’m more concerned with my preferences than prayerfully submitting to the Spirit. Even at a place where I don’t agree with 100% of what happens.

Church, let us love one another.

Church, let us be more concerned with that than anything else.

Church, let us remember that we are the Bride. The Bride that Christ died for. The Bride that He loves (and He loves it a little better than we do). When I have berated the church, God is not cheering me on. When I try to humbly serve, that’s when I’m modeling His heart.

It’s time to ditch the consumerist outlook on church, what we can get out of it.

It’s time instead to commit to fighting in the trenches for the Kingdom of God.

Preferences don’t keep people away from Jesus.

Prayerless people do.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Preferences

  1. Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
    Your first written paragraph speaks much concerning your thoughts on a “perfect church”.
    If the Local expression of the Body of Christ, the church, was built according to the Foundation as taught by our Lord and His Apostles, you would not have to be concerned with such “concerns”, because none of those concerns would be present.
    The foundation you are speaking about and concerned about is not built upon the true Biblical Foundation, it is built according to the “traditions of men” and human reasoning, it’s not built by the Holy Spirit, but after the fleshly works of men.

    Secondly I would not be pushing the works of Brett McCraken, who’s church he is presently an elder at, “The Southlands Brea” in California is pushing the the Anti-Christ Gospel of Nick Gumbel’s “The Alpha Course” which was established back in the 90’s. I was attending a “Presbyterian” church back in the mid 90’s for a year when they started to bring in this “Alpha Course program”. I did my research and through the unction of the Holy Spirit’s discernment realized it was ecumenical in it’s foundation, and the man Nick Gumbel was of the Anglican Church in England, which is a stone’s throw away from the Roman Catholic Church in it’s Gospel and tradition’s. It is in essence a Gospel that appeals to the flesh, and it is an new age anti-christ belief program. Here is a link that will explain this false gospel program:
    https://truthinreality.com/2012/07/05/alpha-exposed/

    Thirdly, There is no Biblical foundation that supports a “Youth Ministry” Sunday school, Teenage ministry, Men’s ministry, Women’s ministry within the local church. You can find it no where in the new Testament. What a pastor/teacher/elder, appointed only by the Unction of the Holy Spirit according to the Will of God and the Lord’s choosing, are to teach believers how to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, to individually work out their “salvation with fear and trembling” pointing them to grow in their relationship to the Lord. Then the husband is authorized by the Lord to teach his Wife, and children. The true body of Christ has no responsibility in teaching the children separate from their parents. That is wholly the parents rightful place of authority, NOT the Pastor’s or separate ministries. By doing so, you subvert the parents authority over the children. That is disobedience against God’s authority, which leads to rebellion against the Lord’s Will.

    And since when does the Lord and His Apostles teach that we are to make merchandise of the Brethren in Christ? That means since when are true men of Christ to sell their “teaching” of God’s Word in Book form? When everything that is freely given to us, is to be freely given out to other’s.
    We are taught from John in 1Jn_2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

    Fourthly, Brethren are called to Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
    To live in harmony with true brethren in true Unity, means we are to: Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
    Eph 5:7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
    Eph 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
    Eph 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
    Eph 5:10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
    Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

    I pray the Lord will grant you the Grace to understand His Ways, and not man’s. Because each person will give an account on what they believe, and how they taught other’s to believe. There is a separation that has been occurring since the 90’s for me and other’s to Come out from among the Harlot system! Those who have ears to hear, what the Lord’s Spirit is saying will obey, to bring Glory and Honour unto His Name and what HE represents in Spirit and in Truth.
    The Lord bless you…..
    In His Eternal Love…..

    Like

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