A little while back A visitor to our church asked a member how long they had been part of the Chapel. They were surprised to discover that they had been there for over 30 years. You see, sadly being part of a church family for the long term is not always the norm.
There are many necessary reasons for moving church and some very good ones. So, sometimes it is necessary to move because of work or family circumstances (we have seen many people move through our community without any choice or control as they apply for leave to remain and are then rehoused elsewhere and sometimes there is a specific need and call to go and help serve with a particular Gospel ministry. Sadly, there will be times when a church has completely lost touch with the Gospel either in its teaching or practice and the right thing for an individual or family is to move. I would never want someone to feel trapped at Bearwood Chapel out of guilt based compulsion. Nor should any church get to the unhealthy stage of thinking it is the only church that people should be going to.
However, I do believe that long term commitment to a local church should be the norm and that this should be reflective of a faithfulness which is counter cultural to a consumerist and transitory society where people move on to the next best thing when it suits them.
The testimony I’ve heard from people who have committed to the long haul has been that on the one hand it has at times been hard going and costly. The easiest thing to do at times show would have been to move on. I know people who have stuck faithfully with a local church through challenging times and even kept a witness going when they could have let it close. I am personally grateful in some cases because I can see how someone’s costly faithfulness has laid vital foundations for later Gospel fruitfulness that I’ve had the joy of sharing in.
So I thought I’d write a few articles exploring the how and why of sticking with a local church. My aim is not to make you feel guilty for those times when it has been right and necessary to move on. Rather, I hope these articles will provide helpful advice and encouragement for those wanting to stick with their church for the long term. In some senses, think of them as a companion to the little series we did before on how to listen to sermons. This is really about how to be a faithful church member.
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