Acquaintances vs. Friends, Part 1

From my perspective as a pastor for more than four decades I believe that many Christians never move from having acquaintances to making friends.  The difference many times determines if they remain in one local church or constantly look for greener pastures elsewhere. 
I talked to a satisfied member of a cult who said to me, “I know their doctrine is screwy, but I feel loved and wanted there.”  In his case, meaningful relationships trump truth. 
Admittedly, Sunday morning services (or whenever) do not allow for relationship building.  As a rule, they simply do not provide opportunities to connect.  They are designed for corporate worship.  People in the pews (chairs) may or may not connect with the pastor but do not typically  connect with one another.  This is no surprise!
Sadly, many feel lonely in crowds and church services never fulfill the need for relationship intimacy.  Both large and small churches struggle to incorporate newcomers into the body life of the church.  Fall out rates are high.  What can we do?
People do not invest where they feel a disconnection – neither with their finances nor time.  I can preach on tithing and giving in general, but until individuals have a vested interest in the community of believers, they will most likely refrain from any type of faithful giving.  It is not uncommon for people to attend for longer than a year and not give one dime in the offering.  They never get vested!   
DISCLAIMER:  Like individuals, churches have personalities.  If your personality does not fit a given church, that’s probably your cue to move on.  I see this as positive, although individuals rather than taking personal responsibility for their actions, often want to place the blame for leaving on the church, its leadership or some disliked aspect of the church’s ministry.  God’s people are warned to “be careful about how they live (the decisions they make).  Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people” (Ephesians 5:15).
Let me encourage you to lock into a local church.  Ashtabula County has many great Christ-honoring churches.  Find one that you can help move forward!  Every church has an assignment or a particular vision.  And I believe God has a place for you!  Find it and connect! 



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