By Michael Sitko
So I’ve decided to do a few blog articles on church planting since that is a journey that we have embarked upon and I anticipate one that will be a recurring event in our lives as it’s more of a long term role we’ve been called to fulfill in the call of God on our lives. We’ll try this out and see how it goes anyways.
So today let’s chat a little bit about a question that I commonly get asked these days, “Can I come to your church?” Well first off let me say this... it's not my church, but I understand the question. Choosing a church to attend is a very "North American" concept, in other parts of the world church attendance is much more of a community, cultural and family decision than in the consumer driven culture of North America. We are so used to a plethora of choices in this day and age in our society. Options have become chief in almost everything in our day-to-day lives.
We live in a society that is consumed with looking for the options, the upgrades, and the perks. Unfortunately this culture of options or "consumerism" is consuming the life of the North American church. What does your church provide? What will your church do for me? What kinds of services will your church provide for my kids? Do you have a coffee bar? What kind of coffee bar do you have and what options are available? What kind of worship do you have, is it 15 mins or 30?... On and on and on the questions go about the available options.
Forgive me for getting “spiritual” on you, but before we settle on “choice being chief” among our reasons for attending or leaving a church family let me throw a little thought out there that I usually spend a great deal of my time unpacking with people who start asking questions about our church family and I think it’s something that every Christian needs to take into consideration with regards to the church that they attend and the community of believers to which they choose to plug into.
1 Corinthians 12 is a kaleidascope of vision regarding the beauty and diversity that exists within the Body of Christ and the abundance of gifts and options that are contained within this beautiful thing we call the Church. In the midst of a discussion on gifts and callings, and anointings and offices within the Body of Christ, about mid way through the chapter, Paul tucks away a little nugget that has huge implications.
In verse 12 of chapter 12, Paul begins to talk about the church as the Body of Christ and one of the characteristics of being a body is that it is composed of many parts. In verse 18 Paul puts what I like to call the capstone on the discussion by making this little statement which has far reaching effects, “…and God Himself places each member into the Body as He pleases.” If the church family you choose to attend is one that you have chosen for any number of the reasons that people choose churches today in Canada, you may have made a decision that will ultimately lead you to a place where you will be unfulfilled, unproductive and ultimately miss out on the life giving relationships, connections and callings that God has for you.
Now I can hear the wheels starting to turn… “Mike you mean to say that God has an opinion on what church I go to?” You may be surprised to learn that God has a lot more to say about your life and the plans He has for you than just where you go to church, but that’s a whole other conversation… In a day and age where discontent and church hopping (or shopping as I like to call it) is at an all time high people tend to miss out on a key that if paid attention to ultimately has the potential to lead you into one of the most life giving experiences you could ever experience, finding your tribe.
In Psalms 139:16 David gets a revelation while writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As David is speaking about God he has this thought come to him… “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Wow, interesting revelation!!!! God wrote a book about my life and has a detailed plan for every day of it and He recorded it? This revelation is life transforming the deeper you go with it, now follow me here.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul actually begins to share about this same idea of building his life upon the plans of Christ and that in fact the role that his life plays is connected to the rest of the church as a whole. Paul likens himself to an architect that had been tasked to build his piece in the family according to the plans that the Father had for him and that in the end he would receive a reward according to how well he did at following the Fathers blueprints, that He had laid out for Paul’s life.
So in taking into consideration this understanding of scripture it begs the question as to how important the "options" really are in relation to choosing a church family to belong to. Is it possible that God actually has a plan for the time, space, and place that you were meant to occupy in the earth and that you were perhaps meant to plug in to a church family and create some of those options yourself instead of shopping for the options you want? Acts 17 is a good read to get a little more understanding on this thought, Paul definitely seems to think so.
Maybe part of your blueprint and mine is to be the “someone” who creates an “option” that will impact the life of countless others through the church family that God is pleased to plug you into? Even if you don’t agree with all of this it definitely provides some questions that may be good for you to take into consideration and involve in your thought processes as you seek to discover the church family you ultimately will choose to be a part of or before you start thinking of leaving your current church family.
In the end, my discussions with people inevitably ends with me telling the person that ultimately the decision isn’t mine to make as to whether or not they can come to our church. My role is simply to receive those that the Father has destined and sent to be a part of our family of believers and then to journey with them as they come to realize the story God has for them within the context of our greater community.