Giving and Receiving at Church

Photo by Vintage Collective via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Confession: There are times when I am frustrated with my church.

  • To the point of not wanting to go.
  • To the point of wanting to give up on organized church.
  • To the point where I think the action of attending church may actually be hindering my ability to live out the Gospel in my life.
  • To the point of wanting to withhold myself, my money, my children, my thoughts, and even my prayers.

This causes me to search myself, my motivations for the action of going to a church, and even what Scripture does or does not say about what goes on at church.

Lately, at the bottom of that barrel I am left with this thought:

Going to church is about giving and receiving simultaneously like the heart pumping blood in both directions. When I’m dissatisfied I am either unwilling to give of myself or I’m unwilling to receive ministry created for me (as part of the congregation). Conversely, I will be most satisfied with the corporate worship experience when I go with my heart pumping a desire to both give an receive.

In other words, I think too much and I must be more simplistic in this exchange with the church. I need to discipline myself to give what I can (in its various forms, not exclusive to money) and receive what I can. (in its various forms, not exclusive to teaching)

It’s a two-fold relationship. When I go more needy to receive I don’t go with a heart to give of myself. When I go needy to give of myself I don’t go with a heart to receive.

Questions for Reflection

I’m not accusing anyone of ever being dissatisfied with their church. I’m only confessing that sometimes I am. But if you find yourself discontent, here are some questions for reflection that have helped me.

  • What is the thing that drives you nuts, that has become a block between you “truly coming to worship God?
  • What category would you place that thing in? Personal preference? Desire for excellence? Biblical accuracy? Effectiveness? Something else?
  • Is that really a big deal or do you just have an attitude problem?
  • Could you chose contentedness with that issue if it never changes?
  • Where areas are you contributing to your church?
  • If a leader thinks about you, would they label you as someone who contributes significantly to the vision and mission of the church? (Not just money, but your actions and heart for the congregation.)
  • Are  you comparing what you want with what you’ve seen at another church? Is that a fair comparison?
  • Is the root of your dissatisfaction a personal sin issue that is manifesting itself as dissatisfaction with something at church?
  • Are you seeking out relationships with people in your congregation or are you waiting for those relationships to pursue you?
  • Are you just being a jerk?

This is what I know

I know that Jesus expects us to live inter-dependently with a community of other believers. As I read the New Testament I never read about the early church being a place of comfort, cushy chairs, mono-cultural, or without tension. Instead, I see a church which gave of itself fully, which recognized that some people were mature while others were immature, was as functional and dysfunctional as a family, and was all about giving and receiving fully of themselves.


3 responses to “Giving and Receiving at Church”

  1. Brian Ford Avatar

    Love it Adam! My wife and I have had these moments when we have felt the same, but we continue to push ahead doing our part as God has commanded us. Thanks for this post.

  2. Stephen Avatar

    Sigh…again your hidden camera in my life makes itself known.
    I’ve reached a simple conclusion about our current church, sadly.

    It isn’t growing for one simple reason: though the members SAY they want to grow, deep down, they DON’T.

    The leaders of the church, don’t lead.

    The worshippers at our church, don’t worship. They come, they sit, they stare at the pastor, they leave. And, that is “church” for them.

    Conflict is resolved using personal power and grudges, not with the Bible as a guide. Or, it just festers, and the leadership has settled into a “just let things sort themselves out” mode, yet are always wondering why people continue to leave for other churches.

    Part of it is an attitude problem (mine, too). But when I read the book of Acts, then look at our church, I keep asking myself, “why don’t WE get it like they did?”

  3. Jeffrey Dick Avatar
    Jeffrey Dick

    I just finished posting my note on facebook and then your note popped up. Quite often I would have hit the like button and perhaps made some comment about agreeing.

    Tonight – I am in a totally different place and very thankful. Far from frustrated, I am feeling so blessed by my church. A fairly traditional church that doesn’t often go out on limb. But today – they went high up the tree with me. Many were sceptical, many were not getting it – but they allowed me to share a vision and ssupported it with their presence.

    130 people (which is our average worship attendance) – and of that number 17 were elementary age and 15 middle and senior high age – went out in the community to serve. From nursing homes, to retirement community, from paper truck recycling to working on Habitat Homes, delivering flowers to picking up furniture, to handing out quarters at the laundromat.

    It was a Sunday unlike any other and it was fantastic.

    We received and we gave – and many came back saying, “We have to do this more often.”

    Get out of the building and go into the world. Be doers of the word.

    Today some more folks got it – and even though my Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions lost – I am as happy as I can be.

    So yes, some days are frustrating – but when the spirit of God busts through – we understand why we continue to be faithful.

    Thanks for all the giving that you do – thanks for being you.

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