Acquaintances Versus Friends, Part 2

Last week I talked about acquaintances versus friends.  Your wrong understanding of the differences may keep you from enjoying the wonders of the local church!  

My wife and I planted Hope Community Church in 2017, and I’ve learned from watching people come and go, who’s likely to stay and who’s likely to leave.  Individuals who do not connect with at least 3-5 people, OR attend sporadically, OR who do not participate in a Hope (small) group, OR who do not get involved in serving at some level, usually continue their nomadic search for another church.  They usually become easily offended or immaturely look for excuses.  Sadder still, some who leave quit looking altogether.  For pastors especially this is so disconcerting!

Research tends to place the blame on church leaders and/or church structures for their on-going “back door revivals.”   May God help us close these doors!  Sure, churches perhaps need to step up to the plate. but I also think individuals need to ask the hard questions.  While talking with a 96-year-old lady, I learned that she has been a member of the same United Methodist Church for over 83 years.  Evidently, she understood the beauty and benefits of faithfulness.  Isn’t that wonderful?

When I asked her the secret behind her longevity she said, “This is where God planted me, this is where my family and beloved friends are, and this is where I choose to always be part of the solution, never part of the problem.”  I love it! Admittedly, this dear woman is very much the exception, because there are times when moving on is God’s plan.  As a rule, however, solid believers are not Mexican jumping beans; they should seek to be planted!
What’s my point?  Consumerism has taken a toll on the local church.  People often view church attendance like they do a shopping spree at Walmart. Shopping lists and personal preferences often determine peoples’ staying power.  This is so sad. 

Let me encourage you to find a local church where you can flourish spiritually and where you can connect with and make life-long friends.  “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, he will flourish in the courts of our God” (Psalm 93:12-13).

Former president of Central Bible College, Dr. Maurice Lednicky, outlined three expectations he looks for on the way to church:

1.  To be challenged by the Word

2.  To be refreshed by the Spirit

3.  To be enriched through fellowship

Well stated!

Understand you will never agree with everything you hear and see, but Christian community is priceless and one of life’s greatest joys.  Everyone needs a local fellowship and whether you understand it or not, everyone needs a Christ-loving shepherd (pastor) to help them navigate their journey from earth to heaven.

The success of your church could very well be your determination to love the Lord, to serve Him faithfully and to come alongside precious friends to see His kingdom come to the earth.  I’m not talking about tight-knit groups where outsiders find it difficult to maneuver; I’m talking about communities of people where honor, affirmation and friendly people draw others to experience God’s unconditional love and salvation.



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