Any church leader who’s been in ministry for more than a few months has heard different variations of it: I’m looking for a church that meets my needs.
What are you going to do to better meet my needs?
I’m leaving this church to find one that better suits my needs.
The longer a Christian has been in church, the more likely it is that they’ve uttered a phrase or two like this from time to time.
I’m not against changing churches. I think everyone has one or maybe two church changes in them. Leaders change. The effectiveness of churches can vary in different seasons. And occasionally a church is downright toxic. I get that.
One or two church changes (when living in the same community) is understandable. And it’s completely different from serial church shopping, which for reasons I outline in this post is a colossally bad phenomenon.
The problem is deeper, though, than changing churches (as big a decision as that is). It’s about the purpose of the quest. Should the criteria of a church meeting your needs be the reason you change churches? Well, what if the church was never intended to meet your needs? What if the furthest thing from God’s mind when he created the church was to meet your needs?
Here are five reasons why I believe trying to find a church that meets your needs is futile.
1. A Church That Meets All of Your Needs Is Probably Off-Mission
If a church ever meets all of your needs as a Christian, it’s probably off-mission. Because the church was never designed to meet all of your needs. It was designed for glorifying God and showing his love to the world.
A church that is only about meeting your needs is a church that’s focused on insiders while the world is quite literally going to hell.
The attitude that the church exists to meet the needs of members is one more remnant of consumer-Christianity, which is a strand of Western Christianity that continues to die. I outline why here (along with five other church trends to watch in 2017).
2. You’ll Uproot All Your Non-Christian Friends
If you’re drifting from church to church to satisfy your needs, what happens to all the non-Christian friends you’re building into? Oh wait…that almost never comes up in conversations with Christians who demand their needs be met. Because they usually have zero non-Christian friends. Their idea of church isn’t about the mission. It’s about them.
Think about it. If you’re living out your faith and sincerely praying for friends who aren’t in a relationship with Christ, theoretically there are at least a handful of non-Christians who will be impacted by your move.
But usually, that’s not even on the radar screen of Christians who move to satisfy their needs. Because there are zero non-Christians involved.
3. Christianity Was Never About Satisfying Yourself
The heart of the Christian faith isn’t about satisfying yourself, it’s about dying to yourself. If Christians stopped indulging their preferences and started focusing on Christ and on helping others, the church would be so much healthier.
It’s strange, but the happiest and healthiest people aren’t those who are focused on meeting their own needs. As this Harvard Business School study shows, there is a demonstrated correlation between giving away time and money and experiencing a feeling of happiness.
Perhaps it’s because that’s exactly how God designed us. Because when we give, we get.