When Your Church Leaves You Spiritually Unfulfilled

It can be tough to find a good church. The worship services at many churches are either completely irrelevant and old-fashioned or are too much like a show – flashy, loud, and overproduced. Even if we do find a place where we can really worship, it can be hard to really connect with people, build relationships, and be fed spiritually. Sometimes it seems like churches just don’t get it

Or maybe we are focusing on the wrong thing.

The style of worship and culture of our churches isn’t the problem. We tend to focus too much on finding a church that we can “connect with” or that offers what we are looking for and then blame the Church for being out of touch or irrelevant when we can’t find anything that satisfies us or leaves us feeling fulfilled.The problem isn’t the Church or local churches – it’s us. So many of us are too distracted and lazy to read, study, worship, and build relationships on our own, but unwilling to accept responsibility for our lack of spiritual growth. Everything that takes place at churches should be happening every day, but when it only takes place one day a week, of course we’ll feel unfulfilled.

The focus of a worship service isn’t for us to feel connected and satisfied, it’s to worship God together as one body. We feel frustrated and unfulfilled because of our lack of commitment and inability to accept responsibility – not because the Church isn’t doing a good enough job.

So the next time you are feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied, don’t blame your church – take a look at yourself and the effort that you are putting in. Until we are willing to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth and stop expecting other people to facilitate it for us, we will always feel frustrated and unfulfilled. Until we are willing to study, worship, pray and build relationships on our own throughout the rest of the week, the study, worship, prayer, and relationships we participate in at church will never be enough.

There is a huge difference between going to church and being the Church. Expecting something we do for 1-2 hours out of a 168 hour week to satisfy all our spiritual needs is like expecting a multivitamin to supply all our dietary needs. When we expect a supplement to supply the majority of what we need to be healthy, we end up feeling weak, sick, and vulnerable. We need to stop whining about not being fed and start feeding ourselves. Only when we have a well-balanced diet will we ever be healthy, growing, and able to reach our full potential.

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The Similarities Between Churches And Football Teams

Football is back! I don’t know about you, but I am pretty excited and looking forward to a new season. Along with a new football season inevitably comes a barrage of football themed sermon illustrations, but perhaps there is a good reason for it. It recently crossed my mind that when you compare the people who make up a church with the people who make up a football team, there are a lot of similarities. Here is what I came up with:

TEAM STAFF/FRONT OFFICE: CHURCH LEADERSHIP
Owner Of Team: God

Each ultimately has the final say in all things. Nothing happens without them knowing and they are able to step in at anytime and do what they feel is necessary.

Head Coach: Preacher
They are the ones who stand up in front of the team to motivate, encourage, instruct, and cast vision. They are the ones who are typically held responsible for the overall health and effectiveness of their team.

Coaching Staff: Elders
They are the ones who guide and instruct the team, with each serving and using their strengths in a particular area. They also encourage and support the head coach/pastor, keep him accountable if they see areas where he is going off-track, and help the team stick to the vision being cast by the head coach/preacher

TEAM MEMBERS: CHURCH MEMBERS
Quarterback

These are the people in visible leadership roles. They are the ones who are willing to step up, take charge of projects/ministries, don’t mind being the center of attention, and are okay with having other people look to them for guidance. They tend to be extroverts, have big personalities, and are seen as natural leaders by people who know them.

Halfback (Running Back)
These are the people who are able and willing to lead when called upon. They may not always be the first to step up and lead, but when asked, they are willing to step up, take over, and run with a project. The people in church leadership positions know that if there is something that needs to be done, they can hand it off to this person and know that it is in good hands. They may not be the ones who come up with a lot of ideas, but you can present an idea to them and they catch the vision, see what needs to be done, take over, and run with it through completion.

Wide Receiver
These are the people who just start serving somewhere, keep serving consistently in that area, and may eventually be put in a leadership role or put in charge of the area in which they have been serving. They are willing to keep serving, working, and doing the same thing for as long as they are needed. If the time comes when they are asked to step up and lead the area they have been serving in, they are willing to do so and carry it on to completion.

Tight End
These are the people who are willing to serve in either and public, visible role or behind the scenes. They are willing to do the grunt work behind the scenes for as long as needed, but will also step up and take on a more visible role if that is where they can best be used. They may be more naturally gifted in one role or the other, but are willing to serve in either way, depending on where they can best help the team.

Fullback
These are the people who make it their goal to make the jobs and lives of those in leadership go as smoothly as possible. They take care of the “small” stuff so that the people in leadership roles can better focus their time and energy on the main aspects of their jobs. People tend to not even realize they are there or know exactly what it is they do. They rarely get any kind of recognition for what they do until they “retire,” move away, or die – but once they are gone people realize the impact that their service had.

Offensive Line
These are the people in the trenches, doing the dirty work, who tend to get taken for granted. They do the things that must be in order for everything else to go smoothly, so that the more visible members of the team are able to perform their duties. If these people were not there doing what they do, nothing else would work properly and the opposition would cause chaos among the team.

Defensive Line
These are the people who are called upon as the first line of defense when something starts to go wrong or needs to be addressed quickly. The leadership of the team know that they can count on these people to effectively address and control the situation. They are willing to step in and do whatever it takes to get the situation under control.

Linebackers (Pass Rushers)
These are the people who referred to as “Prayer Warriors.” They are always chasing down and putting pressure on the enemy. Rather than sit back and wait for something to go wrong, they attack the opponent with all they’ve got. These are the people who are constantly in prayer for the leadership, church members, and anyone else who may need prayer. They are the first to sign up for prayer meetings, are willing to stop and pray with anyone right on the spot, and have lists of leaders, missionaries, and other Christians around the world that they are praying for.

Secondary
These are the people who step up and come through when things seem like they are falling apart. When there is a crisis, people are going through difficult times, or things are extremely busy, these people step up and do whatever it takes to make sure things are handled and the situation doesn’t get too out of control. Some of these people are very involved, serving in many different areas and helping out wherever needed. Others hang back, blend in, and wait until it is obvious that they are needed, but when times get tough and the situation looks desperate is when they do their best work.

Special Teams/Punter
These are the people who step up when things seem to be stalling. They may not have the most glamorous roles, but are always prepared and do what is expected of them. Instead of seeing their being called upon as an admission of failure, they see it as a strategic opportunity to reassess the situation, push back against the opponent, and regain some of the ground that was lost.

Kicker
These are the people who consistently execute, successfully do what is asked of them, are rarely given credit and have their successes minimized, but are quick to be blamed when they do mess up. They will step up in critical situations and do what needs to be done to help the team achieve success, but when things don’t work out as hoped, they are the ones that people focus on to assess blame – even though no one else was willing to step up and do what they were willing to do. A lot of the things they do may seem simple, but are more difficult than people realize, especially considering the pressure-filled circumstances in which they take place.

Waterboy/Equipment Manager
These are the people who make sure everything is working properly, are quick to recognize the needs of others, and are constantly looking for ways to serve and meet the needs of others in ways that most people may not see. They do the things that most people never think of or realize need to be done; the things that always get done, but no one really knows who does it or how/when it gets done. They rarely, if ever, get recognized for the work they do, but they are okay with that. They do what they do, not for recognition, but simply because it needs to be done.

What do you think? Am I crazy? What did I leave out? Feel free to make comment, suggestions, or call me names in the comments.

How Patriotic Should Christians Be?

Does this not seem strange to anyone else?

According to the United States Flag Code:

When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience. (emphasis mine)

How about now?

When did Christians become okay with giving more honor to the flag that represents the country they live in than to the flag representing the God we serve?  I’m not a fan of having the United States flag anywhere inside the church, but if you insist on having it in your church, could you at least put it in its proper place?  I realize that flags are just pieces of fabric, but when you display a flag you are expressing your loyalty to whatever that flag represents.  And the flag that you place in the position of prominence and highest honor tells everyone who you are most loyal to.

It drives me nuts when I go into a church or Christian organization and I see the United States flag displayed, especially when it is above the Christian flag or the Christian flag is not present.  By doing this it tells people that your ultimate loyalty is to the United States.  Our loyalty should not be to any country, state, organization, or system, but to God and God alone.  That is why I have issues with flying the United States flag inside church buildings.

It’s also why I struggle with saying the Pledge Of Allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,
and to the republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

I guess my biggest issue with all this is whether or not it’s possible to profess allegiance and be loyal to both God and the country I live in.  My ultimate loyalty will always be to God, but loyalty to a country can change.  If I were a citizen of Djibouti, would my loyalty and allegiance be to America or Djibouti?  I would probably be okay with pledging my allegiance to the United States above any other country, since it’s where I was born and where I live, but I’m not okay with pledging my allegiance in general to a flag or a country.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but not too long ago I was at a function at a church and they had everyone stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around how they could think that it seemed like a good idea.  It was at a graduation ceremony for a preschool at a church in town and they had the kids singing church songs and patriotic songs, one right after the other.  When did American patriotism become so intertwined with Christianity in this country?  And why do Christians seem so okay with them being so closely bound and get so upset and defensive when other people aren’t as patriotic as they think they should be?

Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be appreciative of the rights and freedom that we have as a result of living in America.  We should appreciate and be thankful for the rights and freedom that we are afforded as a result of living where we do.  We should be thankful for, respect, and honor those in the military and public service who have sacrificed their time, effort, energy, and lives to protect us and our freedom.  We should show a certain amount of respect to the flag and what it represents.  What we shouldn’t do is be more devoted to the country in which we live than to the Kingdom to which we belong.

Be patriotic if you want.  Be appreciative and grateful that you live where you do.  Show respect to the country, the flag, and those who have given so much so that you may have something to respect and be appreciative of.  Just don’t forget that God and His Church must take priority over whatever country, state, or city you live in.  Nations will come and go, but the Kingdom of God will reign forever.

Please Be Patient And Kind

This may be is my favorite sign that I have ever seen in a church bathroom.  I think it makes a good point – we never really consider the feelings of the toilets we use.  Without going into too much detail, I would say that most of what we do to a toilet would be considered fairly rude in any other context.  Maybe it’s about time some toilets get a mind of their own.  I just hope that they never get to the point where they can retaliate because they will be able to catch us in the most vulnerable of positions.