The Modern Pilgrims Progress Part Six- In which Pilgrim discovers he neglected to acquire a key resource.
Successful Christian lives don’t just happen, no matter how easy some people make it look. Victorious, destiny-fulfilling life happens when a Christ follower listens to God faithfully and obeys explicitly. God will provide and direct any true believer to the right resources for every moment.
Like Moses’ staff that became a snake and devoured the Egyptian magicians’ staff/snakes.
Like ravens brought the prophet, Elijah, food in the wilderness.
Like Christ’s disciples fed a crowd with a child’s lunch.
Many believers fail to fulfill their destiny because they balk at doing things that seem weird by human standards. Many pilgrims lack the right resources for their journey and then wonder why they aren’t doing so well. In the last post I suggested an obvious one, ignored or treated casually by a growing number of Christians. Authentic connection to a healthy, local church. If you are not active or sense a disconnect from your current church, I urge you to go back to the previous post to work through some questions and ideas about that. Please don’t sit home and avoid the issue. That makes you an easy target for the enemy.
Last week I suggested you discover a church’s position on the truth and authority of the Bible before you throw your lot in. This week I’d like to recommend a few more criteria for finding your God-designed place.
- Do I agree with the vision, doctrines and beliefs of this church?
There is no one denomination or fellowship that holds all of God’s truth perfectly, so don’t try to find it. However, you should be able to wholeheartedly support a church’s position on basic truths about sin, salvation, the Holy Spirit and the Second Coming of Christ. Even smaller churches feature websites that usually contain this information. With a house church, you will need to ask key questions of its members.
Please don’t become involved in a church simply because the pastor preached a great sermon and you liked the music. Occasionally, I run across someone who regularly attends our church but becomes uncomfortable when people exercise the gift of tongues. We are an Assemblies of God church. Hello.
- Will my gifts and skills be celebrated and used?
God deposits specific spiritual gifts in every believer (I Cor. 12). He also made each of us in a unique way that is perfectly suited to the places he calls us. If you’ve got a passion for sharing the gospel with children, you probably don’t want to land in a church within a retirement community. If God’s called you to disciple Baby Boomers, you need to go where they are, not the latest millennial church start in your town.
This is a method God uses to wedge us out of one place and into another, by creating a holy restlessness concerning our gifts. If you aren’t using them right now, why? Are they not needed? God doesn’t call every church to every ministry. My church isn’t engaged in a ministry for military veterans, but I’m so grateful for other churches who are. Maybe you’re a frustrated worship musician because you aren’t being used to the degree you’d like to be. God might be preparing a perfect you-sized, worship leader position in a different body.
One of the greatest joys of the Christian life is using your gifts and abilities in your God-ordained place. Don’t settle for less.
- Are the ministries and budget balanced between in house and reaching their community and world?
“The church is the only society that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.” (William Temple) Sadly, many American churches invest too much of themselves toward the already saved. I believe in these last days, God grows impatient with that mindset. Ask questions and search websites to discover the answers to these questions.
- What type of community engagement and impact is this church involved in?
- What is the level of support for world missions considering the overall budget?
- Do the pastors and leaders teach and model a passion for the lost that is demonstrated through actions?
- Do I fit with these people?
Before you become a faithful attender, participate in a few large group events and mix it up with the people outside of a worship service. You may discover that although the worship services are a real connecting point for you, that may be the only one. I remember a small group my husband and I were once assigned to lead many years ago. A lovely group of people for sure but we had no common interests with them beyond that group. Eventually, Ken and I dreaded those Sunday evenings. With our current small group, we are eager to get together.
Do a little reconnaissance to see whether you can find shared bonds with folks before committing to them.
- If this is a church over 50 people, is there a small groups ministry?
This dovetails with the above point. If you think you fit somewhere, then you need to go all in and be connected authentically with 6-12 other people in that body. This will happen when you commit to regularly meeting or serving with a consistent small group of people inside the larger congregation. True spiritual growth does not happen by only attending worship services.
Accountability and vulnerability are hallmarks of a good tribe. That is where believers grow. You need a safe place where you can admit failures honestly and celebrate your victories genuinely.
Do you desire a victorious, purposeful life? The right resources make a difference. Position yourself rightly in your God-ordained place of growth and ministry. Below, I created a condensed list of the six questions you should ask before committing.