For thirty-seven years, my wife and I were members of Heritage Baptist Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. By the way, they were thirty-seven incredibly blessed years! However, recently my wife and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where we have joined Graceway Baptist Church. None of that is earth-shattering news; but we found it significant because, for the first time, we had to put into practice what we had preached to so many for so long. Our experience in church had always been to advise others about the process of relocating, and now we were experiencing it. Do you know what we found out? It was important for us to follow our own counsel. Let me mention a few important considerations.
It is important to find the church before you find the house.
Now let me give a disclaimer: as a man who has pastored military for many years, I get it. When the Marine Corp sends you to Afghanistan, you do not get to insist on a place with a good local church! However, when we do have options about our relocation, it is important for us to place the priority on finding a Christ-centered, evangelistic, separatist church, and then an appropriate house and neighborhood. I preached that principle, and our recent move made us practice it. There were so many things on my wish list! I love to fish, so I wanted on a lake (fishing is a spiritual exercise!). We wanted a convenient location, in a growing area, with good schools so that our home would appreciate for the possibility of re-sale. We wanted close to our kids without being too close, we wanted shopping and restaurants nearby, and most of all, we wanted a maintenance-free yard!!! The problem was that finding all of those never led us to a church that we felt God would have us serve in. In the end, we do not live on a lake, our school district is not the top-rated, it is a long way to Walmart, but we ABSOLUTELY LOVE our church! We are fed there, we have a place to serve there, and we have a church family that cares about us. Nothing can replace that blessing.
It is important to have a serving attitude, not a self-serving one.
One of the essentials for every believer who wants to be Christ-like is to have a servant’s heart. Listen to the heart of Jesus:
Mark 10:43-45 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
We did not search for a church that had the best senior citizen program, nor did we search for the church that would require the least from us. We looked for a church that was biblically sound in doctrine, that taught Christians to have a consecrated walk with the Lord, and that had compassion for the lost in both their own community and the world. No matter what our season or status in life, we must remember that we are to be servants. Someone recently asked me, “Do you think you can transition from being the leader of a church to just a member of a church?” I replied kindly that I thought I could; but inside my heart, I reminded myself that as a servant leader, all I have ever truly been is a serving member of a church. This week at Graceway, my wife and I put candy in bags with tracts that we will pass out in the Waxhaw parade on the Fourth of July. Hey, wait a minute, that is what we did at Heritage when I was pastor! We are all servants! Find a place you can serve.
It is important to commit yourself to your new church family.
My wife and I have purposed in our hearts that we will not be the people who slip into the church at the start time, hear the message, quickly leave and then wonder why people are so unfriendly. We will be the ones who learn the names, learn the stories of people’s lives, and then enter the stream of church family life with them. We will help with the chairs, pick up the envelopes and bulletins on the floor. We will be there for outreach, help at the fall festival. We will work at VBS and march in the parade, because God has made this our church and these people our family.
Yes, the Pastor and Mrs. Edwards have joined a church, and by God’s grace they will be good church members to the praise of the glory of Jesus their Savior. See you at the work party!
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.