Sunday, July 3, 2011

Are We Only in (or Out of) Church Because of Friends? PART I.

*Disclaimer: This only my opinion (such as everything else on my blog).*

About 2 years ago, my husband- Hector, ran into an acquaintance from another sister church while in Georgetown...we will call this person "Billy" out of respect and privacy issues. They were both happy to run into each other and soon got to chatting. Hector asked Billy how his church was doing and that is when Billy dropped the bomb...he was no longer in church. When Hector prodded him to see why he wasn't in the faith any longer, Billy's answer was clear... he wasn't in the church because all his friends had stabbed him in the back and no longer had any real friends at church. Hector continued to talk to him and said a few impacting lines that I will never forget-- "Billy, I understand about your friends letting you down, but it should not have anything to do with your relationship with God. You can try another church in the area, but please do not leave the church in entirety. If you leave the church because of lack of friends, it might mean your motives were wrong..." Billy agreed wholeheartedly with what my husband said and to make a long story short Hector agreed to keep him in prayer and encouraged him to try another church because the MOST important thing is your friendship with Christ...

Unfortunately, this is a story we hear all too often, right? I am sure all of us know at least 1 person who has left the church because of his/her lack of friends. But why is this? Even though, like my husband said, our motive is wrong if we leave the entire faith because we do not have friends, human interaction has something to do with our worship experience. After all, one of the reasons why we do not stay home Sabbath after Sabbath and go to church is to come together as people of faith to worship the ultimate creator! Friends are an integral part of our spiritual walk with God, but when we solely depend on those friendships and those relationships fail, what then happens to our walk with Christ? It reminds me of this one old Christian song by Stacie Orrico that says, "Don't look at me (your friend) if you're looking for perfection...I will only let you down. I'll do my best to point you in the right direction, but don't look at me, LOOK at GOD."

I'm going to be honest with you all and those of you know know me know I'm a private person, but I think it's worth sharing this because I know others may be going through something similar. When I knew it was time to leave my childhood church (about 1.5 years ago) because of various reasons that maybe I will disclose one of these days, one of the hardest thing to do was leave because of my close friends. Hector and I were church shopping with one thing in mind...we wanted to attend a church that was open minded, was open to new ways to evangelize, youthful, and wasn't so stuck in Central American ways (no offense to my own people...which we love). I would cry because I did not want to leave my group of friends and the thought of going to a new church would scare me because who would we talk to after the service was done? When we found our current (and awesome) church, Restoration Praise Center (RPC), we were thrilled! But there was always that part of me that would want to draw me back to my childhood church because of my friends. I then had an "aha" moment thanks to God and one of my good friends, Carol. She told me, "Nissy, what is more important...your friendships or your spiritual walk/life with God?" Sounds harsh, but it got me thinking and that's when I was finally more than okay to let go of my childhood church. While my friends at my childhood church mean the world to us, Hector and I knew that we could always still hang out with them outside of church...So, we could essentially get the best of both worlds: Attend a new, amazing, Holy Spirit filled church and still maintain our other friendships alive after church hours.

What I'm saying is friendships are an integral part of our worship experience and spiritual walk, but they should not be our main motive. Do you see what I'm saying? This leads me to say, let us all (yes, including me) try to befriend those at church who look lonely so we can enhance (not full dependence) their walk with Christ because we just never know...

Part II will be coming soon. Please share your opinions + comments below. Thanks + God bless!



1 comment:

  1. I, of course, was in the church because of friends. No doubt about it. You think i would stay in church because of sea beasts with horns and a lamb talking like a dragon? I think not. But my childhood was focused on this aspect. There was nothing that drew me to church but relationships with friends who were embracing and i never knew the concept of exclusion. Yet, this is not always the case for everyone.
    One thing i do know, now, as a pastor is that people leave church because of exclusion within the church, hence, relationships. A relationship with Christ means a relationship with his people as well. It is part of the integral command. "Love God, Love Man."
    Yes, we are essentially Christians because our Lord is Jesus Christ. But if we do form part of Christ, then we must also essentially belong to His people. Christ and His people are not mutually exclusive. Those who believe that they can have an isolated relationship with Jesus and no one else will not last long in the Christian faith...(these are those who dont experience the body of Christ.)
    The concept of going to church to meet God is questionable, i believe. The Holy Spirit dwells with believers on a permanent basis. The attendance to church is to commune, to forgive, to share,to confess, to worship with intent, to pray, to encourage one another. Obviously, church means relationships.
    Im gonna stop here because i know this raises questions but thats why there is starbucks to sit, and talk about this stuff.
    So, Yes, for relationship with Jesus. AND Yes, for relationships with one another. Again, they are not mutually exclusive.
    ok thanks