Disclaimer 1: I wrote a shorter version of this in this weekend’s bulletin and the feedback was very encouraging. Here it is in a longer, more complete form.
Disclaimer 2: Do any of us “deserve” anything? You almost have to address the caveats and such when you say that in a religious context. Grace, by definition, precludes “deservedness.” Nevertheless, what I mean is, if we’re going to have something by the Lord’s blessing, we can expect those things will be good (James 1:17). In that case, it’s right and good for us to say “if the Lord is giving me something, it’s going to be good.”
The Lord has given us congregations. Is yours good?
I am comfortable saying “you deserve a good church” because I think the Lord wants you to have a good church. He didn’t go through all He did just for you to settle. Christianity is not the religion of “it’s good enough, I guess.” Jesus wants excellence. He doesn’t demand perfection, but He does want us striving. You can’t strive and settle at the same time. So why should you settle for a congregation that isn’t good for you?
Ask yourself: Is my congregation a good one?
Does it have strong, Biblical leaders?
Does it faithful, dedicated deacons?
Does it have hard-working, compassionate preachers?
Does it have members committed to growth, both personally (spiritually) and congregationally (numerically)?
Those aren’t the only ingredients for what makes a good church, but that’s a good foundation.
People deserve a good church.
I’ve talked with many Christians in many different areas over the years, brethren who struggle to find a “good church home,” they say. They are in a place where they’re not being fed, where the little things aren’t being done, where the big things aren’t being done right. Instead of feeling good about their spiritual life, they are restless, anxious, frustrated; attitudes the Lord does not want us to have in His Kingdom. Sometimes those brethren will visit another congregation and it’s like a light switch goes off; things are calm, happy, well-organized, etc. Those brethren, who previously would get in their car after services and just talk about how sad and depressing things are, now get in their car and talk excitedly about the work going on there, about the lessons they heard, the connections they made, etc. And then they feel guilty because they know they only visited and now have to leave that lively church and go back to a dead one, and they’re guilty because they feel obligated to stay at the dead place, when the lively place can fill the missing pieces of their life.
People deserve a good church.
Don’t get me wrong, North Heights, this is not about you. This congregation is amazing! I’m thinking of the ones who may be visiting us, who may be frustrated, who may be looking for something they’re not getting anywhere else, who feel an obligation to settle. I’m saying you don’t have to settle. Why settle for something less than what’s good for your needs out of a sense of obligation? No, you should go to a place that feeds its sheep, that does Bible things in Bible ways, that knows your needs and works to help you grow spiritually. Jesus has given us the template for a good church. The seed has been planted everywhere. Why settle for something less than what’s good for your needs out of a sense of obligation?
People deserve a good church…
but you also have to work to make it so.
Wherever you go, whatever church you belong to, you’re going to run into problems. If you ever do find the perfect church, please, don’t go there, you’ll ruin it! Wherever you go, the expectation on you is the same: Work. I’m thankful that North Heights is a working church. I’m thankful our members don’t settle.
Our congregation is a working one because our members—from the elders to the deacons to the ministers to the whole rest of us—care enough to do the work. We work to strengthen this congregation’s relationship with the community. We work to encourage our members who are struggling. We work to reach the Gospel to those who are lost. We work to make this a church that, when visitors come, they walk away saying “I don’t want to go anywhere else.” Why do we do that? We do it because the Lord has given us this church.
And because people deserve a good one.