I love to see my brothers & sisters in Christ “plugged in” to a vibrant, healthy, and Biblical local church. The reason I love this is because I know there is no greater resource for a Christian’s joy and strength than the support of Jesus himself mediated through His local church, namely the people of God. That said, I have personally experienced and witnessed many pitfalls as people seek to get plugged into church life. Here’s 10 of those Practical Pitfalls…
1. WRONG DEFINITION OF COMMUNITY
Pitfall: Defining “community” as knowing everyone in the church (i.e. all the men, all the women, all the other young families, etc…), rather than just going deep relationally with people in a Fellowship Group.
Solution: Don’t worry about knowing everyone. It’s way overrated! Biblical community is not a mile wide and an inch deep. Dive into a Fellowship Group begin growing spiritually with a few other disciples of Jesus.
2. NOT GIVING IT TIME
Pitfall: Unrealistic expectations about the time and consistency it takes to form good Christian relationships.
Solution: To properly visit a church you should attend Sundays 3-4 weeks in a row, maybe more. It often takes 6m-1yr for a Fellowship Group to really get close. Be patient.
3. NEGLECTING SUNDAY
Pitfall: Underestimating the importance of the church gathered on Sundays (coming late, not preparing your heart, not taking notes, leaving early, being a weekend warrior and skipping often)
Solution: Commit to make the most of Sundays. Commit to a Sunday service team. Plan your family calendar with Sundays in mind.
4. PROGRAM ADDICTED PASSIVITY
Pitfall: Seeking and waiting on “official” programs for relationships and discipleship (i.e. women’s ministry, youth group, etc.) rather than taking initiative and diving into friendships and looking to disciple and be discipled.
Solution: Begin meeting weekly for coffee with 1-2 people in your Fellowship Group. Read a book together.
5. BLAME IT ON THE KIDS!
Pitfall: Assuming there is no help or not asking for help with your kids for Fellowship Groups or other.
Solution: Our kids need us to have strong walks with Jesus. The last thing they would want is to be the reason we don’t. If the type of help you need with your kids is not offered- please ask. We love kids!
6. DISLIKING LEADERSHIP & NOT DEALING WITH IT
Pitfall: Disunity with or distaste for the vision and/or the leadership but staying at the church because you enjoy many of the people and friends. (i.e. “I love the people but hate the preaching”)
Solution: You must seek unity with the vision & leadership of your local church. Without this unity your participation and joy will be greatly hindered.
7. MY OLD CHURCH DID IT THIS WAY…
Pitfall: Holding conscious or unconscious expectations that your new church will be just like your old church in good and bad ways.
Solution: No church is perfect and every church is different. Try not to compare one local church to another on specifics, rather compare a local church to the God’s general standards for the church given in the Bible.
8. I PLAY ELECTRIC BUT DON’T TAKE OUT THE TRASH
Pitfall: Insisting on being used to serve in a certain way.
Solution: It’s fine to mention where you feel best fit to serve, but start out serving with humility, where most needed, and gain trust.
9. PROCESSING CONCERNS ON AN ISLAND
Pitfall: Making the assumption that you cannot talk to people or leaders in your church about concerns you have about your church, which results in no one knowing you even had concerns until the day you leave.
Solution: Humbly share your concerns in a healthy way and ask your questions as a committed member of the fam- not as one threatening to leave.
10. BARBWIRE FENCES INSTEAD OF BOUNDARIES
Pitfall: Holding back, being dis-trusting & overly self-protective with time and commitments.
Solution: As a church our goal is to care for you. Trust us that the last thing we want to see is you burning out or your family totally neglected in the name of church. Share your fears and concerns, choose to trust, and allow yourself to be cared for.