My wife says she thinks we will get a reputation for church-hopping. We’ve recently left a congregation we’d associated with for about the past nine years and where I’d served as a Sunday School teacher, elder and sort of co-pastor, and where my wife had played keyboard. Before that, we’d been part of another congregation where my wife and I had both taught Sunday School and where I’d served as a deacon. Dunno, maybe anything shy of 20 years with the same congregation indicates instability vis-a-vis ability to build and maintain relationships with other members of a congregation as well as relative to congregational authority and government. I can see a case for that.
On the other hand, there’s discernment and a freedom, within the Body of Christ, to exercise discernment in regard to leadership trends and changes in what’s considered acceptable. Also, there’re choices mandated by conscience as one develops biblical categories to make sense of behaviors, statements, trends, and other circumstances or conceptual “currents” that may push against and enswirl Christians in a local congregation.
Something I try to teach those of my clients who are more artistically minded is this:
- If you’re going to color inside the lines, try to ensure
- they’re lines you’ve drawn, yourself, or
- they’re lines that make rational sense to you.
Too often within a religious context we fail to exercise our competence to make sense of what we see, what we hear and what we experience. The “wolves” the scriptures warn about take advantage of that tendency and often succeed in bringing the local congregation under their own authority creating categories of behavior and contribution to the wolf’s own well-being that are substituted for scripturally grounded Christian faith and practice. That, in spite of the fact that the scriptures of Old and New Testament never once adjure the elect to pretend about anything. It was Christ who said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Back to the Christov-Tenn church-hopping family – during the past several weeks, we’ve visited with four different congregations. One of them, last week, I attended solo as my wife and son were out of town. My wife told me, “You can visit that one by yourself.” Turns out she was right about that one. Today, we plan to return to a nearby church we’ve already been to and see what their Sunday School classes are like. After this congregation, we’ve got one other we plan to visit with. And who knows? Maybe we will become aware of some others we should also visit.