Just recently I saw a young member ask this question: What’s more important, a church that meets your needs or one of the proper denomination?
There are a lot of different ways to address that question, but the first thing that comes to my mind is: What a condemnation of our denomination, that such a question needs to be asked! If there was ever a question that demanded soul-searching on the part of our church, this has to be it.
And yet. . . . and yet, I have to say, I asked that question myself years ago. My answer will not satisfy every one, neither do I pretend that it is the only or best answer.
Legend has it that Alexander the Great was confronted with a supposedly intractable problem, to untie an incredibly complex knot. No one had been able to do it, and some thought that whoever could untie the knot would rule the world. Alexander solved the problem but cutting the knot with his sword.
I mention that because sometimes the way to solve a problem is to reject the assumptions that are inherent in it. What I did was plant a new congregation. To be honest, I wouldn’t have even attempted it, if it hadn’t been for how I defined “meeting my needs.” As for myself, I could survive without the support of a local congregation. Indeed, for a period of 14 months, I ceased to attend church because of the dysfunctions in what was then my local congregation. It was a place which not only did not promote spiritual growth in its members– it actively destroyed them.
My needs were not being met, but that was not what concerned me. I could not see any reason why my children would desire to be a part of such a church. That need, the need to pass on a faith worth living, to have a church that my children and grandchildren would choose to belong to, became an imperative for me. That, and only that, could have motivated me to take on the task of planting a congregation.
But that was my answer, in effect, not to choose between a church that met my needs or one of a different denomination, but to cut the knot, and plant a congregation that would meet the needs I had identified, and remain in the denomination.
I do not pretend that is the answer for every one. But that is the first part of my answer to the question posed in the beginning: Define exactly what your needs are.
I’ll have more on this in my next blog.