If you regularly attend a local church, which you love and serve at, this blog post is not for you.
If, however, you attend a church which frustrates and disappoints you, please read on. Or, perhaps you’ve given up on church altogether. Maybe you grew up in the church, but as soon as you were old enough to choose for yourself, you decided, ‘This isn’t for me.’ It might be that you had such a bad experience with church that you’ve resolved, ‘Never again.’
I want to urge you to reconsider. I want you to try another church.
Last week the MacPhail’s were invited to a friend’s home in Nassau for some Bahamian food. As the platters of food were set out before us, I became sufficiently excited about the menu options in front of me. One platter in particular, however, gave me pause. There was a plate of fried plantains that I was eager to avoid.
A couple of years ago, when we were eating at a restaurant in Freeport, Bahamas, I tried fried plantains for the first time. I absolutely hated this dish. The plantains we mushy and messy. Imagine an overripe banana, served warm. Yuck! I couldn’t finish the serving. And, having tried this new food, I resolved that my first taste of plantains would be my last. That all changed last week.
Good manners compelled me to try plantains again, and so I put two small pieces on my plate….and loved it! If I was blindfolded, I might have guessed that I was eating cooked apples that were rolled in cinnamon. But I wasn’t–I was eating plantains, and was looking for more.
I have met many individuals who have abandoned Christianity because of their bad experience in one or two churches—but does that make sense? If I go to a restaurant and, as a result, I get food poisoning, does it make sense to swear off eating at all restaurants? No—what would make sense would be to stop going to the restaurant that poisoned you and you find another restaurant, where the food satisfies you.
I fear that there are a plethora of people out there who have bailed on corporate Christian fellowship because of a negative experience within a local congregation. I don’t mean to sound unkind when I say that such a resolution follows a skewed string of logic. I almost employed that same skewed logic the evening when a platter of plantains was put in front of me. I’m so glad I gave plantains another try. They were amazing!
Could it be that you are overdue to give church another try? Perhaps your experience has been limited to a congregation chosen by your parents. Have you taken the time to identify a congregation more suited to you, and your life experiences and spiritual needs?
I readily confess that there are some bad churches out there. I have experienced congregations that are doctrinally mushy and relationally messy. But I also know of congregations that are sweet, and help bring satisfaction to the soul. I don’t want you to miss out on those.
No doubt, those reading this blog post will have varied backgrounds and experiences. But for those who are not currently connected to a congregation, my counsel is simple: You need to try another church.