No matter where I go or who I talk to it seems like the majority of Christians in our culture are dissatisfied with their church or are having a hard time finding a good church to worship and fellowship with. Through these conversations it has become abundantly clear that the problem is not the church as an organization but those who profess faith in Christ.
Almost every conversation or article about how bad the church is centers around one or two pet issues. Things like Calvinism, Arminianism, music style, Bible translation, membership practices, and a host of other issues seem to be the biggest complaints I hear. Of course, these issues always show that the church is “liberal” or “fundamentalist” or whatever evil term describes those who believe differently than you. Many people now resort to online communities or a few sparse friendships that center around these one or two issues that they “got right.”
However, more often than not, the main issue is pride and laziness on part of the person complaining. Part of Christian love is loving people who are different than you. Part of Christian maturity is be willing to teach those who are wrong the truth of Scripture. The fact that someone is unwilling to walk among people who are wrong and teach them the way that is pleasing to God shows how unlike Jesus they really are. That is literally what Jesus did.
Also, if you cannot convince Christian people of the “truth” is possible that your beliefs are not true? If many Christians cannot see what you are talking about in Scripture is it possible that it is not there? Could you be (gasp) wrong? Of course not, but we all know that it is your great humility that tells you how right you are.
People today are looking for churches that do not exist: churches that do things exactly the way they want them done without any personal exertion on their part. This is by definition anti-Christian. It is arrogance of the highest degree. It is essentially the belief that one is entirely right on every issue and has nothing to learn from Christian people who may believe differently. It is also to say that there is nothing in your life that Jesus Himself does not want to change, or at least nothing near and dear to your heart. It goes even further to say that following Christ does not require you to teach all people to observe everything that Jesus has commanded. That is to go completely contrary to the explicit teachings of Jesus Christ.
Therein lies the issue. There is a huge possibility that you are not entirely correct on every single issue. It is equally a huge possibility that those who believe differently than you simply need to be taught the truth. So for the sake of the Kingdom, why not find a church filled with truly born again people and labor to grow them into Christian maturity? Ask them why they do things a certain way. You may be surprised; they may actually be more mature than you! They may not be stupid, ignorant people who have never studied Scripture. They may actually worship differently than you because they are closer to Jesus than you.
Unfortunately, the people who suffer the most from this issue are those who are proud. They allow a pet doctrine to keep them away from having their soul nourished and fed. They reject what God has accepted. They starve their souls to feed their egos. They strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. The worst part is that they so often drag their children through this as well.
I know many people who are bitter and alone because they do not have Christian fellowship or discipleship. They will not fellowship with a good church because of one or two “major” issues. Many times their “major” issues are not major to Christ. These pet doctrines and practices keep them severed from the vine that is Christ causing their spiritual life to suffer. The problem is that they are so blinded by their pride that they do not see it. Please, don’t let your pet doctrine destroy your soul. If your pet needs to be dewormed, do it. If you need telemedicine for pets, get them.
Although I may appear to many as a dogmatic on doctrine, I actually have grown spiritually by listening to the teachings of marvelous Christian men from all across the doctrinal spectrum (secondary issues, not primary.) I probably learned the most about the Christian life from Arminian, charismatics who were egalitarian (everything that I am not.) I have learned from Anabaptists, Reformed Baptists, Independent Baptists, Presbyterians, and everything in between. This is not to say that doctrine does not matter! But what I have found is this: many people who hold to my pet doctrines are hopelessly lost, and many people who do not hold to my pet doctrines are gloriously saved. The bottom line, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
So, if you are having a hard time finding a “good church” find one where there are converted people who desire to follow Christ. Don’t dismiss them because they haven’t arrived at the great “spiritual maturity” that you have. Humble yourself enough to lay aside your pet doctrine and love the people. Listen more than you talk; ask many questions to determine how they arrived at their beliefs. Find out where they are spiritually, and then join them in following the Savior. As you grow together, teach them the truth and watch them grow. Let Scripture guide them and you into conformity to His Word. This is not just what Jesus would do, it is literally what He did. “Go, and do thou likewise.”