This post is part of a short series based on Jeremy Myer’s (from “Till He Comes“) book project “Finding Church.” Jeremy asked for contributions in the categories of Changing Church, Leaving Church, Reforming Church, and Returning to Church. As I worked through my own contribution, I realized that my story could fit into any of the categories. So, I’m writing a post based on each category.
This post describes when I “changed church.” This is how Jeremy describes this category: “These are stories of people who, for numerous different reasons, left one church to join another.”
Now, I grew up as part of various different “churches.” In reality, each of these was a organization, not the church. Don’t misunderstand me… the church was there – the people of God were present – but what I understood as “church” was actually the organization, not the people.
During that time, I “changed churches” many times and for different reasons. Usually, we “changed churches” because we moved. Only a few times we “changed churches” even though we stayed in the same city. Interestingly, we never “changed churches” because of problems with leadership.
In reality, I was really changing organizations. I was leaving one organization to be part of another organization. Of course, I was also breaking relationships with part of God’s family and inserting myself and my family into the lives of other people who are part of God’s family. But, I didn’t really see either one was the church.
But, a few years ago, I changed “church” for the last time. Why? Because my understanding of what the church is changed. It’s not an organization that can be joined or left. Church is the people of God, saved by faith in Jesus Christ, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and gathered together by God according to his grace and purposes.
When I’m with the people of God, I’m part of the church with them. And, in fact, we are members together of the body of Christ whether we realize it or accept it or not. Our relationship with one another and our identity as the church of God does not depend upon our decision. Instead, it depends completely on God. We simply interact with one another as directed by the Spirit to help one another grow and mature in our walk with Jesus Christ.
So, a few years ago, I changed to a different church for the last time. I changed from “church” as an organization to church as the people of God. Actually, I have always been part of this church, even though I didn’t understand it. And, I will always be part of that church.
What about you? Have you changed churches?