This is part four of a series on Church Shopping; if you would like to get caught up on the previous three, you view them here:
To conclude this mini-series, we are going to look at the your commitment to a church. Hopefully, having applied some of the helpful ideas from previous posts, you have found a church that fits just right, but then what?
It’s no secret that our culture has a devolving problem with commitment. With common societal mantras like, “the grass is always greener” and “I just want to keep my options open,” is there really any point making a stated commitment to this new church?
Even though the 1st century church looked and operated much differently than churches today, there are plenty of descriptive lessons to be learned from how these initial Christian communities functioned. For Christians in the 1st century, church was no mere club, nor one option among many various groups to which one could belong; it was, for them, what came to define their very heritage and identity. Before life in Christ, and life with other Christians, people were divided by race, gender, class, national identity, etc.; but the leaders of the new Christian movement (Paul especially) were adamant that:
“you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. For there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heir according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29 NASB).
Imagine what a shocking statement this would have been to a culture whose identity was shaped by the very things the Bible says are no longer an issue. It would be similar to making a claim today that there is neither rich nor poor, neither black nor white, neither republican nor democrat, neither male nor female (still!), and on and on; the point being, that in Christ your identity is completely formed such that there is no room in your self for anything but Jesus.
So your commitment to a church is far more than joining another social club, or, as we have discussed in previous posts, having all of your personal needs met. When you commit, you are making your identity in Christ known to your brothers and sisters, claiming God as your Father and your church as your family. What’s more, you do get to reap the benefits of the Christian community that is called to:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NASB)
Once you have found a church family that works, make that commitment and stick to it: take their membership class, contribute to the community from your gifting, and commit to ending your “church shopping,” helping others in your new-found community you discover what a blessing there is to be found in belonging to God’s family.