Finding a church that "fits" is not an easy thing, but sometimes it's the staying in a church that can be the real challenge. Passion for Christ, well-intentioned idealism, and just-plain-human needs for connection and a sense of value can all intertwine, at times, to lead us toward discontentment with our church. We have an earnest love for how things should be . . . and when our church doesn't measure up, that glowing exit sign lures. Sunday after Sunday, we may wonder, Is it time for me to find a new church?
But before you go . . .
Your reasons for pondering a graceful adieu (or maybe even imagining a confrontational, drama-filled departure) may be valid. Your church has problems. Your church isn't what it should be. Your church isn't what you deep-down long to be a part of. But even when there are legit reasons to hit the road, first stop to consider: Might God have more in mind for me here than I can see on the surface? Consider these reasons for taking a hike—and the avenues of spiritual growth they offer:
1. "_________________ (fill in name) drives me absolutely crazy, annoys the heck out of me, and makes me furious. I don't want to be frustrated every time I come to church!"
There are inevitable frustrations in a community of people—differences in mannerisms and opinions, little comments here and there. And then there are those people. The ones who drive you to levels of irritation you never thought possible. The ones who, week after week, somehow manage to vex, irk, perturb, or infuriate you in a brand new way. The ones who get your blood boiling and make you want to head for the door with Road Runner speed (lest you erupt in a volcano of tell-'em-off words or actually act out that imagined swift right hook to the jaw).
You don't want to feel this way about anybody, but you especially don't want to feel this way at church! Yet sticking it out in community even with "those people" can teach you patience—what the King James Version aptly calls "longsuffering"—like nothing else can. (Longsuffering isn't a virtue we can just "try" to embody—it is a virtue that is shaped in us through trying experiences.) It is in and through the trials of doing life with annoying people that we get the opportunity to obey this exhortation: "Make allowance for each other's faults" (Colossians 3:13) or as the NIV renders it, "Bear with each other." In all the irritation, these brothers and sisters challenge us to deal Christianly with our anger (Ephesians 4:26–27), to be humble rather than a proud know-it-all (Romans 12:16), and to take an honest look in the mirror at our own, big 'ole planks-in-the-eye (Matthew 7:1–5).