Let me start off at my personal history in our church. This is where my family met the Lord, and where I grew as a Christian. Our Christian journey started here, and to that fact alone, I am grateful. Ive never been part of another church, nor did i desire to transfer membership because I see so much blessing and exciting things happening in our ministries, some we started, some we continued, and some we are going to begin with. My experience with church in the beginning is alittle disappointing to me because I had all the wrong reasons about church... give me a break, i was an eight year old boy! Up to around 15 years old, church was as boring to me until small groups were instituted. At around the same time, the church leadership found it as God's leading to transition the type of music to use in the singing... contemporary. At the same time, the Lord was exposing me to all the "rock" "worldly" music and was getting good at it. And at the same time I was going through a lot of emotional stress about family, school (fraternity), and a broken off relationship to a two year courtship-turned seven-month girlfriend.
All the "bad" things God was allowing me to go through, He was cooking up something good for me too! And that was to be used by Him. Our church would've grown as much, reached as much, trained as much, even if I werent there... see its not about me. Its all about God's will being done, and us wanting to be part of it. I was called, and I responded, and I was used...according to His will, through the pastor's leadership.
That is a concept I really hope people new and old will grasp. I am not as financially blessed as others, not as talented or good looking, intelligent or powerful, not at all. But I have a blessing that I am NOT mad at anyone, nor do I know of anyone mad at me. I cant think of anyone tahtI hold a grudge against, and vise versa. Right now, I feel alot of respect almost everywhere I go, and I give respect to almost everyone I know! The only ones I know I've offended are those who go against God. What am I driving at? I am saying that the concept of submission TO GOD, not necessarily to your Pastor or your parents, will reap good results, specially in your area of leadership, influence, and relationships.
I recently was exposed to alot of negative comments about our church, which I also give credit to, and to a degree I agree, but, I see that the comments were coming from a bitter or a hurt heart. Whenever I sense that, I always set my guards up and sense if this is from the Holy Spirit, or from, as i said, a neglected person.
All churches have flaws. That's why we need Christ to lead us. There are mega Churches who are doing great in their ministries, and I praise God for that, but the Lord has instituted local churches for DIFFERENT tasks. The same way he has gifted us as individuals differently, some uniquely, some similarly, but generally, we are gifted for a purpose... His purpose. We get to pool our gifts together, and become a powerful entity lead by a powerful Spirit to a common goal and that is to accomplish His will in this earth. I see churches with excellent musicians as examples, models for our own church family. I see mega ministries as an inspiration, leadership and structure as a guide, but not as a competition, and though they are models, I do not aspire to BECOME them. My goal is to learn from them. The only person we should be like is Jesus.
I have my own dreams and goals for our church. I desire good things for our church. I envision greatness and awesome ministries, but it is not my task to do that. God has anointed a person for that task, and we should respect and submit to that structure. We can suggest, we can help start, we can act under blessing, but we must not put in ou self the burden of leading the church when we are not the leader. A ship with many captains cannot succeed. I know of many people who are neglected and their opinions are sometimes thrown aside... it is a hurtful experience when a church is supposed to be a haven of rest, and a spiritual shelter to the hurting and to the broken. We leave the church when our needs arent met, or when we think we arent growing anymore.... a legitimate reason. But i see it as an excuse.
We go to church to worship God in a congregational setting. We go to church to serve others and serve with fellow believers. We go to church to be used by God for His glory. We go to church to learn and be equipped. Sadly, most church goers' reason is to be blessed... and others entertained. They say "I need to be blessed by the message because I am not growing anymore", for me though legitimate, is a lame reason to go to church, much less leave the church!
Let me give some background on some basics: First, we go to church to BLESS GOD first, and it is up to Him to bless us. In Psalms 103, and many other scripture it is said to "Bless the Lord o my soul and all that is within me!" We should bless God, as an imperative. Now, other scripture mentions "MAY the Lord bless you and keep you..." "Keep His commandments, and He will surely bless you..." it is UP TO HIM to bless us, not us earning His blessing.
Second, discipleship is done in a one to one basis, or at most small group basis. Not a Sunday basis. We congregate to worship together. And if we are blessed by the message then Praise God! If not, maybe you are not listening closely, or your "better" talents in preaching can be excercised through writing your insight and sharing it to a smaller group of people... maybe you need to become a small group leader since you're so good at the exposition and rightly dividing the Word. And if you faithfully do that, you will, I tell you, be used someday to teach it to the congregation. But wait for your turn...and more rightly said, earn for your turn.
If the direction of the Pastor isnt in line with the direction God has given you, then leave the flock graciously, and without causing trouble. Leave with a blessing, not a bad word to say. In that, you are sinning. Again, the pastor can only reach a certain group of people for a certain time... language and social barriers become difficult to address, and the only way to reach a wide spectrum of the audience is to provide multiple services, in which you can do only so much... you would need help, but who is there to help? Most complainers and suggesters are often those who are not helpers or those who dont make much difference in the church. Because those who are really passionate about the church's welfare do something about the problem, and not throw it at the pastor's feet and wait until he does something about it. A wiser way to do that is to suggest your idea to the person delegated to that area of responsibility. If it concerns music, talk to the music director first, if it concerns children's sunday school, talk to the sunday school head, if it concerns beautifying the church facilities, talk to deacons or the elders, etc. The Senior Pastor cannot possibly keep track of all the church's problems.
Nobody taught me these concepts. I didnt read it from a manual. But it is taught by the Bible, and I simply noticed it through experience, and by humbly submitting to authorities, and loving the church passionately. Sure, there is always room to improve, members constantly give me suggestions which are practical and good, but they are not always possible. Some suggestions are good but you cannot do simply because you lack workers or equipment, or the even the know-how to accomplish it. And yes, often, we lack the funds. And sometimes their comments or suggestions are simply dumb. And when you dont do their suggestion, whether good or dumb, because of a number of reasons, they become bitter and spread to everyone their bad feelings. I see it as a pattern and this should stop! Besides, a leader is placed in that position because he is responsible for that area. If he doesnt do a good job, yes people suffer, but it is God who will replace him for not accomplishing his work. It is a God-thing. If your pastor isnt anointed to lead the church, God Himself will remove him.... and it is not OUR job to do that. Our job is to submit, as long as his authority is based on the WORD of God and He is acting as a servant of God, not a Boss to the children of God. He is a shepherd, a leader, a visionary, a model. We are supposed to follow that model in Christ to avoid divisions, splits, ad church deaths.
I personally grew in my spiritual walk because of my mentors in a different organization.. IVCF. I learned because I read my Bible, and I read books from trustworthy authors, and reputable theologians, and my church reinforces those. I didnt depend on my church for growth. I depended on God for that. The church is very instrumental in accomplishing this, but if not, maybe you should become an equipped leader, and help the church do that. Not leave the church for some selfish ("I'm not growing here" mentality) reason.
The only reasons I see for a person to leave the church is when he/she is called to a different ministry, when he/she is absolutely going against God's laws, when that person has a different leading/calling/ direction of ministry, and maybe a handful of others.. but not because he is not satisfied with how the church is being managed.
I personally am so blessed with my church. It has a lot of flaws, and all our leaders are flawed as well, including me. But working together with my leaders and co workers is such a pleasure and I find it so fulfilling to be used in our ministry. If the time comes that I am needed or called to another ministry, then I shall leave my church so I can bless others, because I have been a blessing enough to it, and I have trained better people to do my job.