How to Pick?

One of the questions that I have struggled with is: how do we pick who to gather with?

It seems that most people gather with people that agree with them on “essential” issues. Is this right? Well, if by essential they mean issues that define Biblical Christianity then probably that is a good idea: I mean if they don’t believe in the Divinity of Christ, for example, then they couldn’t even be considered a part of the church, right?

But there are LOTS of people who believe in the essential elements of Christianity and we can’t gather with ALL of them. So how do we decide who we gather with and not do so in a divisive way? It seems divisive to me to only gather with those who you agree with theologically, stylistically, or ideologically. Not only is it divisive but it is not conducive to growth. You learn much more from people who don’t agree with you then people who do.

I guess you can’t gather with people who refuse to gather with you, so that may eliminate a lot of people for me!

This is a serious practical question: how do we decide who we gather with?

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

10 responses to “How to Pick?

  • Ben

    Just a quick thought, in the Bible the churches are called by their physical location, not their beliefs. Maybe this is the answer??

  • Dan Allen

    Ben,

    I agree that geographical location was the basis for their gatherings, but there are SO many people in my area, how do I decide which to gather with and have that close knit community with? Should it be all of them? Can it be all of them?

  • Arthur Sido

    Here is where we struggle as a family and what has consumed me for most of 2010. We want to be in community with other Christians around us but most of them are not interested in being in close knit community if it means more than a couple of hours a week. Those who are interested in close knit community want you to “do community” their way, so if you want to move to where they are and live by their rules you might be welcome. It is discouraging at times that so few people see church as the Bible describes it, tight familial communities of believers living as a witness to the world.

  • Dan Allen

    Arthur,

    thanks for the thoughts. I have run into many who don’t want more than a couple hours a week, and many who believe things should be done their way (I’m sure I come across that way often!). We all have our ideas, but we won’t have Christ centered community until we submit those ideas to him!

    Thanks again for sharing!

    -Dan

  • penandpapermama

    I’m thinking that last comment is key: submitting to Him. In the past, when we moved to a new community we would follow all the usual suggestions: try out different churches and see how they “feel” to us; read their list of beliefs; have an interview with the pastor; try to find something close to where you live so you can easily invite your new neighbors; check out their programs to make sure they have good stuff for each family member; go to a church where someone you already know goes… etc etc etc.

    I ended up with my current church family by praying, asking Father, “Where do You want me? I’ll go anywhere… even if it doesn’t fit my ideas…” (That was kind of scary, but I had finally gotten to the point where I wanted what Father wanted, not what I wanted). One winter morning I woke up really early, and decided to take a walk down the street by a local park. I noticed that under some trees, a bunch of grubby looking guys and a few girls were hanging around, eating hot dogs from a barbeque, and huddling around a battered old kerosene heater. As I walked by, this one big guy with tattoos and scruffy hair yelled out, “Hello, sister! God bless you! Want a hot dog?” I thought, “Yikes!” But I was curious so I shyly wandered over. It turned out that this was a gathering of the church, mostly made up of street people, and some people living in poverty, and 3 or 4 other people who Father had called to be part of this particular part of the church in our community. Certainly not what I would have “picked.” But what Father called me to when I left the choice up to Him.

    One other thing. No gathering of the body is perfect. So if we quit looking for perfect, and start looking for where Jesus is calling us, whatever that looks like… (of course sometimes, now, I get scared that Father might someday call me back into a gathering that looks more like what I used to think of as “going to church” … lol.. oh my goodness, do I want to follow Him that far? Yikes! 🙂

  • Dan Allen

    Norma,

    What a great story of how God led you to a community of believers! I definitely need to leave myself more open to his leading!

    Thanks for sharing!

    -Dan

  • Mark Van Norden

    My own limited experience tells me that the Spirit leads us in this issue. I agree it is a cop-out to only meet with those who fit our mold or believe just how we believe. I think we have to let the Spirit “knit” us as He sees fit. This may not be a practical answer for all, but it so far fits what I have experienced.

  • Dan Allen

    Mark,

    I think I am seeing this happen. Since I started this blog just over a week ago I have gotten emails from 4 different people in the area. I have been racking my brain about how to figure this out and God is filling my inbox with the answer!

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    In regard to everyone’s comments it seems that when we stop worrying about finding the people who believe like us, or like the same music as us or fit into our socioeconomic group God may show us the people he wants in our lives. Is that the general consensus?

  • Mark

    And how bland would life be if everyone acted like I acted, and liked what I liked, and did like I did? There’s no richness there! Its like comparing a plain green rug to a rich tapestry. There is no growth and no beauty where there isn’t individual variation. Also, if everyone is like me, there will be no “iron sharpening iron”, and the body will not mature!

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