What To Do When You’re Unhappy In Your Church Home

What to Do When You're Unhappy In Your Church Home- Feed Me, Mama!

There’s a little saying that I’ve been hearing around recently- “bloom where you’re planted”. It’s cute to hear and conjures up images of little flowers in springtime, but in reality, this is a very difficult thing to live out! I’ve been meditating on how this phrase can apply to my own life, especially in relation to ministry opportunities.

A friend posted several subsequent quotes as Facebook statuses today regarding churches. These hit me hard!

“Church hopping is the equivalent of speed dating. It’s consumeristic and shallow.”

“There is no “perfect church” so ask Jesus how you can serve to make yours better so more people can meet Him.”

As someone working in ministry (and with family in ministry), it is amazing to me how often I see this situation- people searching for the perfect church to meet their needs, hopping from place to place with a pros and cons list, or leaving a church because of one thing or another. It’s become too easy to simply switch churches, and I believe that it grieves the heart of the Lord.

Just as we teach our children that dating must be taken seriously because large-scale breakups are very much like ‘practicing divorce’, I believe that church-hopping and general ‘serve-me’ attitudes towards church bodies are creating an unhealthy culture within the family of God that doesn’t actually foster family at all- it fosters division.

In the new testament, division, conflict, and disunity run rampant within the fledgling communities of the Way. And yet, you never see Paul advising church members to go and find another body that will suit them better. Instead, Paul is the champion of conflict resolution, difficult accountability, and tough love. He doesn’t sugarcoat his words to the church, but instead admonishes them to maintain their unity and work together to continue being the Kingdom of the Lord here on earth.

How often do we follow this example in our own churches? As my friend said, there is no perfect church. There will never be a church that wonderfully fits every need of your family and has the perfect sermons and worship and service opportunities and community. There will always be something lacking. So, what do we do about it?

PRAY. As the saying goes, we must seek out the reason that the Lord has placed us within the congregation He has and ‘bloom where we are planted’. Many times we spend so much of our thought life wallowing in what we don’t like, or thinking about the next step, that we miss the opportunities right in front of us.

HUMBLE OURSELVES. One of the most toxic phrases floating around the church today is ‘I just wasn’t getting fed’, or, it’s cousin, ‘our needs aren’t being met’. When did being a church member become all about us, and what we get out of it? Yes, our churches should foster healthy spiritual development. But this development should come when diligently seek ways to serve one another, use the gifts the Lord has given us to uplift the body, and function as an accountable member of the body. It should be more about giving than receiving.

MEET WITH LEADERSHIP.
If you have serious concerns with something that you feel your church is lacking, I urge you to meet with the leadership of your congregation and share your heart with them. It’s very likely that they are aware of this lacking, and that it grieves their heart as much as it grieves yours. Rather than simply leaving your congregation to find a place that meets your need, try to set a plan in motion to see that need met within your church body. And don’t forget to ask yourself what your role can be in meeting that need, too!

BE DISCERNING. I will be the first to tell you that there are definitely times and places to leave a congregation. False teachings, major character flaws and corruption in leadership- we have to take responsibility for our spiritual development. That said, I fully believe that if the Lord is leading you away from your congregation, and you have gone through the above steps with your concerns, He will give you peace about that transition, and the ability to leave gracefully and without leaving conflict and dissension in your wake.

Friends, I encourage you, do not take your church home lightly. If you are already rooted somewhere, it should be a very, very big deal for you to leave. If you aren’t, it should be an emotional, serious process for you to commit to a church home. But have faith- the Lord knows what our churches need, and He desires unity and growth among His people. Seek His way for you and your family, and He will make it clear!

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10 thoughts on “What To Do When You’re Unhappy In Your Church Home

  1. Thank you for your thoughts on this!! My church has been struggling over the past year (and consequently for a few years leading up to this “incident”) because of some underlying issues that I will not elaborate on here since this is public. Thankfully those have been dealt with but we are still in the rebuilding process. We’ve also seen some decline in attendance because of these changes. I am however encouraged by the many people who have stepped up and began taking ownership as a part of the church body but we need more people to do this.

  2. Stopping in from A Proverbs 31 Wife. I think this is very good advice. The church, IMO is not the problem, it is man that has the flaws. If we all strive to be better and serve, our church will be better and be a better reflection of Christ. Many people don’t come to this conclusion. They believe that the few in charge are supposed to make the members “happy” or something. It is yet another flawed way of thinking. Look to Christ for contentment and then reflect that out. Great post.

  3. For me the biggest problem with my church has been having a hard time getting to know others, finding a place where I can serve regularly and getting into a worshipful space with the type of music they do. Our pastor is wonderful and the teaching sound, but I’m discovering I need more meaty substance in both the music and the teaching than what I’m getting. The preaching, while sound, focuses almost only on the basic gospel message each week, rather than practical application for Christian life – and with no Sunday School for adults, I need some of that discipleship from the pulpit. The music, while high quality, is too produced for my taste – it seems more like a performance and less communal. And it’s loud. I have a hard time hearing myself, much less my neighbors, singing along. Also, after having been there over a year I’m only just now starting to make any friends – my church is not very welcoming or helpful to single adults. These are, overall, some very minor flaws – and not big issues of integrity or doctrine, at all – but they are things that make me wonder if there might be a better fit at a different church. I only visited one other church before I started attending mine regularly and I wonder if I committed too soon. It is also true that the more seeker-friendly style is what I was needing when I first moved out here, but now a year and half later I need more. I’ve had some great interaction with people from one of the other churches in the area (a church mine regularly partners with for teen programs and outreach) and keep meaning to give one of their services a try just to see if it’s a better fit for me.

    1. I totally understand, Amy Beth- and this is a really hard thing to handle. What if you feel like you’ve slipped in under the radar, and could slip out just as easily? Or, like you said, maybe committed too soon? These are tough situations but I definitely believe that the Lord will lead you in your decision- He led you to this church for this time, and if it’s your time to leave, He’ll make that clear. But I totally know what it feels like to be in a place where it just doesn’t seem to *fit*- you’re in my thoughts, girl!

  4. You’ve really given clarity to the wrong motivations, separating them from the sometimes right motivations, Karli. I think this can be confusing for many, especially in our consumeristic culture. But we do need to take our commitment to the body of Christ as seriously as we do our marriage commitment. I’ve never thought of it in that way, but I wholeheartedly agree! Thanks for this thought-provoking and wise post, my friend!

  5. In case there is someone out there who has read this blog post and is feeling guilty about the thought of leaving their current church, I implore you to be discerning and give a great deal of time to prayer.

    I am someone who with in the past year has left a church that our family was a part of since we moved to our community. Out of respect, I will not share the circumstances to our departure, but I have to say leaving was the best thing that has happened to our family. My marriage has been saved. My children chose on their own (with out my prompting or even suggestion) to be baptized and publicly confess their faith. I am no longer taking the prescription medication that I was on for over a decade for depression and anxiety. Walls that I built around myself out of protection and old hurts that I carried for years have been broken. I had a total stranger come up to me recently and tell me that they see God’s finger prints all over me. An acquaintance told my husband that they needed to get to know him better because they can feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit on him.

    None of those things would have happened had we stayed where we were. Leaving was not easy. It hurt more than I can express. We hurt and angered people we love deeply. We could have stayed where we were. But we would have missed out on the bounty of blessings that God had in store for us. We would not be equipped to serve Him the way He has called us to. Leaving the old and immersing ourselves in the new was the only way to release the power of God in our lives.

    1. Thank you for the post, Karli, and to all who left a reply. This is a very difficult season for me now as I have been with my present church for 12 years already (actively involved in a ministry for 11 years). I know I need to seriously pray about this struggle to transfer to another church, and I believe that soon, God will make things clear for me and my family. May His will be done in our lives… πŸ™‚

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