Growing Through Church Setbacks
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As an active churchgoing Christian for four-and-a-half decades, I have attended a few different churches spanning a few different eras. I was raised in the classic worship songs from Integrity’s Hosanna Music, in the period of the ’80s and ’90s, where Don Moen practically wrote the new evangelical hymnal and mega churches became all the rage. There was a turn-of-the-millennium era from the ’90s into the 2000s when Hillsong arrived on the scene bringing church service production value to the forefront. Then, for the past 10 to 15 years, the church experience became like many 21st-century institutions as it raced to keep pace in the internet and social media age.
Along the way, I landed at a medium-sized, non-denominational church that checked most of the boxes my family needed. There was vibrant worship, Bible-based teaching, and ministry opportunities for us all. After five years at the main campus, we shifted over to one of the church-plant locations and became increasingly involved. Leadership at our small campus was dynamic—and we were growing! People would visit and regularly report their experience was unlike any other because of our volunteers’ friendliness and the authenticity of our leadership team. It was truly amazing and a joy to be part of what we felt God was doing … and then the body was called to a special meeting with the head church pastors.
Only a few times in life have I experienced a situation that I would say literally “shocked” me. In a matter of 15 minutes, we learned that our campus pastors had been abruptly removed. For the sake of this article, and out of respect for families involved and friendships I still have, details are not important. What matters is that my life at church dramatically changed in an instant, and I lost relationships and a sense of security that had become very comfortable to me. The sense of loss was more profound than I expected.
Over the next several days and weeks, however, something amazing began to happen. Casual relationships I had enjoyed with my brothers at church became deeper. Suddenly, we were relying on each other to process our grief and to support each other in moving forward. People I had known from a distance for years were quickly becoming close friends. Before, we all liked to talk about the “sense of community” we felt at church, but now we were experiencing it in a way no one could have predicted. I received the most beautiful lesson of “the body” being so much stronger than any one individual, and it truly changed my beliefs about what church is. Colossians 1:18 then took on greater significance in my life:
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. (NLT)
To take this verse in context, it is from Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, where he was reminding the Christians that Jesus Christ is the visible image of Almighty God. He existed before everything, and He holds all of creation together. And as the literal head of the church, which is His body, He has all power and ability to hold that together during turbulent times as well.
This encouragement is not just for storms that batter our churches, but for anyone facing challenges in life. When you are shocked and saddened, broken and bewildered, Jesus Christ, the manifestation of God Almighty is with you and in you. He brings comfort and peace in ways you never see coming. Press into the Lord during your trials, reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and experience a fresh wave of God’s goodness.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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