Recently Jeff sent me a link to a post I wrote “back in the day” when we were a young church. I realized that some of the people I referred to like Julie, Mary, and Shane, are still attending Touchstone and others are not. Some moved to other areas and well, honestly, a few I have no idea where they went or what happened. I just pray they are still in the family of believers somewhere out there.
Our church family has clearly grown over the years and I thought about why some of us stick around while others disappear. Some people feel it’s the responsibility of the church leadership to keep track of all its people. Some people would say it’s Jesus’ responsibility. Others would say it is the individual who is responsible for him or herself. My guess is it is all of the above.
Jeff, Sharon, Steve and Shirley cannot possibly know each of us at an intimate level. That would be a highly unreasonable expectation.
Jesus being solely responsible is definitely a possibility. But He told Peter “feed my sheep.” So clearly, he wants us to share in the responsibility, despite the fact that He can feed the entire universe without any assistance whatsoever from us.
An individual being responsible for him or herself is also accurate. However, if you come to church and are super shy, it is not likely that you are going to connect with someone right away. Maybe after a few mild encounters you will become braver. That would have accurately described me when I first came to church. I wanted to come in unnoticed, check it out, and leave unharmed. No introductions as a first time visitor, no membership, no handshaking, etc. Let me warm up to you on my terms. Others would be highly offended to come into a church and not be noticed. They may even write a snot face email to the church saying such things about how unloving the church is.
That is the problem and always will be. The church is made up of people. People who love Jesus are still of all various backgrounds, colors, personalities, baggage carriers, and at different levels of commitment in their walks with Jesus. Some who come in the door have never met Jesus and some have walked with Him all their lives. Try as we might, we will always let someone down because we are still people. We want to be full of Jesus but some days we struggle to get our Holy Spirit fueling and come in with our tanks on “E.” Other times we may be amped up and ready to just pour our hearts out to others.
Church families have the same problems any relationship will have. We have expectations of each other. We will all need to forgive and will need to be forgiven. We are all called to contribute to the family. We will all experience pain. We will all change.
We can chose to love or hate, stay or leave. I chose to stay because I was gently encouraged to grow. I still choose to stay because now I can encourage someone else to grow while still growing myself. I chose to stay because I saw Jesus in my church family. I still choose to stay because I see Jesus even more in my church family. We hear the saying “the church is a hospital.” It’s true. Sometimes we are the patient. Sometimes we are the staff. Sometimes we are the family visiting. Either way, we are all in it together. Ten years ago, I fell in love with Touchstone Christian Fellowship and I can honestly say the bond has only become stronger because of experiencing “life” with my people. It has not always been smooth but it has always been genuine and full of Christ.