Moving to Nashville was the first time in our married life that we were given the opportunity/burden to search for a church to which to belong. Every other time we moved as a couple, we moved for the purpose of joining a specific church staff. With my role at LifeWay, there were a ton of churches that we could visit.
As we were moving to Nashville, some said, “It will be nice to be able to actually choose the church you want to attend.” That perspective often came from church staff members who don’t really like the church they serve, who feel stuck in their current context. But by God’s grace, we could not relate to that perspective because we loved our church in Miami. We were honored to serve a church we loved, a church we would partner with whether we were on staff or not.
For us, searching for “our new church” became a blessed burden. The search lasted almost a year, partly because I was simultaneously still on staff as teaching pastor at Christ Fellowship in Miami.
I will share some lessons from the “church search” experience over the next few weeks. But some may be surprised to hear the search described as a blessed burden.
I say “blessed” because it is an incredible honor to be included in His Church, to know that there are believers in every community who have been called out by Christ and placed into localized gatherings of faith. Throughout history, believers have clung to one another for encouragement. The Lord has been very gracious and good to us to give us the Church.
I say “burden” because deciding which church to plug into is a massive decision. As we wrestled with which church to call home, we prayerfully wrestled with the magnitude of the impact that choosing “this church” would mean. We knew the Lord would use this church, in part, to form us more into the image of His Son. We believe we will meet people at this church who will greatly influence our kids. We will invest time and money into the mission of this church. This was not a small decision for us… so it was a burden, a blessed burden.
The Christian faith is deeply personal, but it is never private. It is neither an independent journey nor a life filled with unhealthy and idolatrous dependence on another human being.
Rather, the Christian faith is designed to be interdependent, a partnership of believers growing together. Thus, the decision to partner with a local church is a serious and necessary matter. At the same time, it is a deep privilege and blessing. I look forward to sharing more about this blessed burden in the coming days.