Despite the high priority the NT places on the importance of the church people have all kinds of reasons for not committing themselves to a local church. Here is a list of some of the top excuses for not being committed to the local church, list to see if any of them describe you:
1. Got burned before – Many time people walk away from the church because the got burned in a church. Maybe it was a pastor falling in sin, some injustice that was overlooked, or even a church split. Whatever the case may have been, people often use the circumstances as an excuse for not being a part of a local church. In these cases my heart certainly goes out to these individuals and the pain that they have been through, however that pain does not justify leaving the church all together. If Christ dealt with the church in this way then we all would have been abandoned a long time ago. In these circumstances it is important for individuals to trust the Lord, and commit themselves to a local church–no matter how vulnerable it might make them feel.
2. Church is full of sinners – All the time I hear people who have never been in a church make the accusation that the church is fill of sinners. To that I always respond, “how did you know?” The church is full of sinners, however for the most part we know that we are sinners–that is why we are a part of the church. We are there because the church is not about the sinners who make up the body of the Church, it is about the Savior who came to save the church.
3. Life is too hectic right now – If I had a penny for every time I heard this excuse or one similar to it, then I would have a big pile of pennies that would lie around forever because I wouldn’t want to count them and roll them up. The sad thing is if you subtracted all the times that an unbeliever used this excuse then the pile of pennies would still be about the same size. Without question this is the most common excuse that Christians use for not committing to the church. Whether it is plugging into the life of the church, finding a place of regular service, or even just showing they just can’t seem to make it happen. This excuse is short-sighted to say the least since it trades something of eternal value for something of earthy value.
4. I can’t find a good church – I met a guy one time who told me that he had not gone to church in 12 years because he couldn’t find a “good church.” I asked him what he meant by “good church” to which he responded, “every church I have ever been in gets something wrong doctrinally. Plus, in every church I have ever been in the Pastor has just gotten up on Sunday mornings and told everyone what they were supposed to be doing.” Another individual I know of left a church because he said he couldn’t think of a single sermon the pastor preached that he couldn’t find something to criticize him about. There is one thing in common with both of these examples, PRIDE. When people say they don’t go to church because they can’t find a good church that usually means that they don’t go to church because they can’t find a church that agrees with everything they say. We are going to talk more about what a good church looks like, and how to handle a bad church. But for now suffice to say that every church, and every church leader is going to have something that is “not perfect.” If you wait until you find a perfect church with a perfect pastor to commit then you have a long wait.
5. I’ve got my Ipod, what do I need church for – This excuse is becoming more and more common all the time (It is usually combined with the “life is too hectic” excuses). Christians think that because they listen to John MacArthur, John Piper, and Albert Mohler they are getting everything that they need for the Christian life. However, as we will see tomorrow , this couldn’t be further from the truth. When the only “church” you have comes via online downloads or TV broadcasts you are missing out on almost everything that the church is truly about. In fact, if you are listening to good sermons but not going to church it will not do you any good at all because all you are doing is gaining knowledge. Without being a part of the church you will have no context for applying your knowledge, no one to keep you accountable for applying your knowledge, and no one pass that knowledge along to through a discipleship relationship. When you think of it this way it kind of makes sense that “knowledge makes arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 8.1)