Anyhow, if you’re a hesitant joiner, or just an anti-joiner, I wanted to share a little of my past so you know that I once walked in your shoes even while serving as a paid staff. I’ll get into why I think you should consider joining a church in the next few posts.
At Redeemer, we’ve been starting to get a stream of folks wanting to join. But of course mingled in with those folks who want to join, there are, and will inevitably be, folks who simply won’t join this or any church. I’m going to do a min-series (though I know summer is usually the time for mini-series’) on why I think you should and should want to join a church.
I want to start it off by saying that I once lived in the “why join a church camp,” especially when I’m regularly attending and participating (not just showing up) in worship, tithing, connecting, and even serving an existing ministry.
For 3 years as a youth director at Westminster Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, I did not join. My reasoning was that I didn’t really agree with the traditional-ignore-your neighbor-but-send-missionaries-overseas mentality (as I saw it). I also had disagreements which stemmed from philosophy of ministry differences (simply what church ministry should look like). And I hated the organ and thought it was the church’s main idol, though I might not have been wrong.
Looking back on my years from age 22-25 (not my best years), I can say there were several factors which led me to leave for seminary without even being a church member for the previous three years. That doesn’t look good on an application!
1.) HENDER”SIN” One of the sins of the Henderson’s which runs pretty deep over the generations is an automatic suspicion of authority. Perhaps it goes back to the Scottish roots, for when the Scots weren’t fighting the Brits, they were simply fighting each other. Whatever it is, authority in general is not something to be respected (contra Romans 13) and people in authority are not to be trusted (contra I Thess 5:12). Fortunately God’s redeeming work deals with our specific sins, and my grandfather (when alive), father, brother and I, are currently members of specific churches.
2.) I was just plain dumb and immature. As a youth director I made many mistakes, like the live mouse toss for our Fear Factor Outreach (yep the first mouse bit a kid and ended those shenanigans quick, fast, and in a hurry) and I’m OK to admit that. I put not joining the church up there with the mouse toss. I’m not saying you’re dumb if you don’t join a church, but I certainly was. The gospel gives me, and all of us who believe in it, the opportunity to say, “I was dumb, and I realize that, but Jesus loves this dumb sinner.” I realized my folly and joined University Presbyterian Church in Orlando the spring of my first year.
3.) The senior pastor was not like the previous three I’ve with whom I have labored. He was gracious and helpful while I struggled with depression, but did not really challenge the notion of why I wouldn’t join. It was a non-issue. But it really shouldn’t have been. There were, as I already mentioned, some subtle, but underlying sinful issues.