You’ve been looking for a new church home. You’ve found a church that seems to have the right beliefs and to be pursuing the right mission. But it’s not easy to fit into a new church. Problems will probably arise that will make you question your choice. How do you start to fit into the church you have chosen?
Set Appropriate Expectations
Start by getting involved in ministries and relationships – helping on a serving team or attending a small group. As you do, remember that “you will join the wrong church.” In other words, at some point the church will fail you. You will question your decision. Perhaps you will have some conflict, or the church won’t measure up to your hopes. There is no perfect church. But God works extraordinarily through ordinary means. That means that if God’s Word and God’s Spirit are present in this church, God will work in your life even if the ministries aren’t the best or the people are less than perfect.
[Related: The Ordinary Ways God Makes Us Holy]
Realize That You Have Something to Offer
Many Christians come to a church with a “consumer” mentality – what can this church give me or do for me? A better approach is to realize that each of us has something to offer to help that church succeed. In fact, if you’re frustrated with what the church isn’t doing well, that may be God’s way of calling you to be a blessing to the church. You’re probably tuned in to that need because it reflects your own gifts and passions.
Ephesians 4:13,15 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ…. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Any church grows mature and Christ-like as each of us makes ourselves available to serve. Don’t just sit on the sidelines!
Grasp the Church’s Glorious Identity and Future
When struggling with difficult people or weak programs, we see the church at its worst. In response, it helps if we can get a glimpse of the church at its best – from a heavenly perspective. First, the church has within her the powers of the age to come. They aren’t always visible, but the powers of heaven have broken into this age through the church. Second, God is building his eternal home through the church. In the Old Testament, the temple was God’s home, but it was only temporary. Now, instead of gold and precious stones, God is building this new home out of people.
Ephesians 2:20-22 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
God’s new home is the church, and all of his people are the building blocks. When you struggle with someone who is hard to like, remember that God loves that person enough to want him or her included in the construction of his dwelling. And he loves you enough to include you.
No matter what church you choose, you will run into struggles at times. So it’s helpful to see this bigger picture of how God can use each of us – along with the faulty people around us – to build his church.
[External Resource: Choosing a Church: A Biblical and Practical Guide]