This topic has been bouncing around in my head – and I knew I had to write about it. Years ago, I was between churches. I worked six days a week, so I needed one that, preferably, was close to the office. There were a few around, but one in particular had caught my attention.
After work one evening, I walked into the church for the midweek service and was welcomed by the smiling usher. A few minutes into the program, I heard the Lord clearly say, “Leave. Now.” His tone was…strange.
It was embarrassing, but I got up and walked out. The usher followed, asking why I was leaving. I didn’t know how to respond, so I just mumbled an excuse with a smile.
There was another church nearby – a branch of a certain denomination – but I wanted a more “contemporary” denomination. This branch was quite posh, modern, et al, but it wasn’t my preferred “type.’’ Anyway, I felt God’s nudging, so I walked in – making up my mind to walk out if I didn’t enjoy the service.
It was in that church I developed my prayer life, word and study life, and my gifts and talents. Later, I realised why He didn’t want me in the first one.
Why do you – yes, you – attend your current church or fellowship? A few common reasons people do include:
(1) Proximity: “It is conveniently nearby.”
(2) The Bandwagon Effect: “Everyone attends this (new/hip/powerful/miracle) church.”
(3) Relationships (Family and friends): “I was born here.” “Most of my friends go there.”
(4) Clout, Class, Social Benefits: “My boss invited me.” “All the rich and wealthy attend XYZ – and you know your association determines your elevation.”
…or something like that.
While these may be understandable, they are not good enough reasons to be in a church.
You see, God is very intentional about planting His children in their spots (Psalm 68:6). When He leads you to a place, He takes several things into consideration:
(1) Individual Purpose: There is a future God has planned for you, and the church you attend will either help in bringing it to pass – or will take you away from it.
Andrew Wommack has been used by God mightily to perform miracles, heal the sick and raise the dead. However, God had to forcefully and uncomfortably remove him from his former church – because they didn’t believe in miracles – and place him where he heard faith and miracles preached continuously.
Imagine what the world would have lost if he had chosen to remain there. Your purpose is linked to your assembly.
(2) Background. Strange point, right? But this is very important. Let me explain.
Charles and Peter are two friends. Charles comes from five generations of gospel ministers who dedicated their lineage to God from the first generation. In fact, even as an adult, Charles still has his Christian parents praying for him.
Peter, on the other hand, was born into five generations of witchdoctors who dedicated their lineage to demonic spirits. In fact, Peter was preparing to take over the ‘mantle’ from his father when he gave his life to Jesus.
On the surface, they might look similar and even work in the same office, but God knows that the spiritual “energy” needed for both to achieve purpose will be very different. Most times, for a season, He would place Peter in certain “intense” atmospheres and under certain “intense” spiritual exercises that Charles would not necessarily need.
It would be unwise for Peter to live his Christian life as casually as Charles – or ignore God’s leading and follow his friend to his “more relaxed” church. Very unwise.
(3) Growth: One way to know if you are in your God-ordained place is growth. Mentally check the list below since you started your church:
- Is your desire for God and His presence growing? Do you desire to spend more time with Him on your own?
- Is your passion for His things – particularly the Word and prayer – growing ?
- Is your faith in His power increasing – or are you getting increasingly doubtful and unbelieving?
- Is your love-walk increasing? Are you more patient, tolerant, forgiving?
- Is your purity level increasing – or do you find yourself becoming more tolerant of sin and compromising more?
- Are you becoming increasingly burdened about God’s heart, Kingdom-agenda and souls?
- Are you becoming more Christ-like?
(4) Power: A church that shares God’s Word is good, but a church that also demonstrates His power is better. Beyond the teleprompters, slide shows and smoke-effects (which are all good), there must be demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:4).
When you feel oppressed or depressed, do you leave heavier or lighter than you came into church? Or you remain the same? Isaiah 61:1-3 should be a common reality.
Finally, beware of emotional highs.
When I much younger, I used to attend a very exciting church: Loud music. Shouting. Dancing. Vibrating. High preaching. (Again, please note, none of this is wrong. In fact, my church does this – and more 🙂 ) However, I would leave emotionally high – but unexplainably depressed in my spirit.
One day, after a really ‘exciting’ and ‘marvellous’ time, I got home – and as soon as I stepped in, I got a text message from a very old acquaintance. It said something like “God is not always in the thunder and lightning and earthquake. Shouting and excitement doesn’t prove God is in a church.”
Brethren, I was shook! 😀
Find your place. For as long as God wants you there, stay there – and flourish.
(Do you have a prayer request? Send it in. We will DEFINITELY be praying)
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