Yes – that’s you. A ‘bunny believer’ – hopping from church to church each weekend. Not too early of course – you like to sleep in and arrive just in time for the church service (or a little later). You aren’t involved in a local church but instead ‘window shop’ the churches in your area. That’s pretty much what you’re doing right? Ok, so maybe you will make the odd purchase (donation to the offering) for the product (music, preaching). You’ll certainly be discussing what people were wearing and dissecting the program and speaker over lunch.
Church for you is like sitting in front of the TV with a remote control. When you’re tired of one station – you flick to another. How many churches have you been to in the last month? Well you can’t go too often to the same one – they might ask you to do something. To commit. Ooh, there’s a scary word. But what message does your lack of commitment give to your work colleagues, neighbours or classmates?
You might think I’m being a little harsh on you. Maybe, but I need you to know that I’m also one of you – well I have been since the beginning of this year. I’ve almost managed to check out a different church each weekend without having to visit the same one twice!
You know what? We’ve all been sold a lie and swallowed it whole. Consumerism makes us miserable, and we’ve brought it into the realm of our church experience. We hope for church therapy, attending a program just to see who else has come or what’s new up front. Yet we only stay until it becomes too uncomfortable – till we have to make investments of some sort. We’ve become afraid of intimate relationships, sour looks, stern faces, criticism, involvement and the offering plate. We’ve become really good at picking church to pieces, and then doing nothing about it. We’ve become part of the problem, not the solution.
Church shopping leaves you feeling empty. Church was never meant to be a place to just turn up to. We’re actually called to be the church. The church is God’s family – and without it we’re spiritual orphans. The local church needs you – your talents, gifts, insights and experiences. And you need your church family so you can learn to love, forgive, grow and be held accountable to your walk with Jesus. God wants you to love real people, not ideal people. You can spend a lifetime searching for the perfect church, but you will never find it (I’m sure you’ve heard that before).
I’m sorry if you’ve been hurt in the past – or you’ve burned out. That happens. People are human. People are hypocrites. So are you and I. Lauren Hill said it is fantasy that we want, but reality that we need. You and I are called to love people just as God does. Church’s can be messy, and there will always be setbacks – but when you persevere God makes you a powerful change agent in this world.
OK, so where to from here? Why not choose one church and for the next 6 months make an attempt to get to know the people, turn up on time, get involved in ministry and serve the surrounding community? Alternatively, God may be asking you to join a team of mission-minded people and shape a new group that reaches out to those who’ve disconnected from Jesus and the life He offers. Talk to God about which option He’s calling you to.
Being an active part of a church family that is active in meeting the needs of this world will make you come alive, and to come alive is both what you and this world desperately needs.
So make our time on this earth count for something and get to it!
— Mark Baines