The church’s sign read: “THE END OF YOUR SEARCH FOR A FRIENDLY CHURCH.” This attracted a neighbor from the community. When she visited all the members warmly greeted her.
They were glad she had visited. The worship service was a cappella – different, but it felt spiritual. She also left feeling encouraged, so she visited again. Nevertheless, she feared pressure. She didn’t want pressure to do more than just attend worship. As the weeks passed members continued to be friendly, but small talk alone is not enough to create a significant bond. Resisting the invitations of caring members she missed opportunities to engage in meaningful discussion of truth. Eventually she just stopped attending and did not answer efforts to encourage her. She once admitted her difficulty in finding and staying with a church. She sought truth and inspiration apart from its personal resource?
Two common beliefs are that the springs of truth and inspiration are ideas and experience. Ideas and experience do express truth and inspire us, but expression and inspiration necessarily involve personal communication and communion. Although the source of negative pressure is personal, the source of positive passion is personal. The fear of meaningful fellowship and involvement in the church fellowship may protect seekers from pressure, but it deprives them of passion and lasting inspiration. Many visitors, like the church’s neighbor, start their visit with observation. If they like what they see and hear, then they ask questions. This is searching, and this leads to opportunities for meaningful fellowship and friendship. Additionally the regular experience of church worship will challenge and inspire the searcher. Searching isn’t easy and it can be scary, but the support and edification of the church fellowship grounds and inspires us. [See 1 Timothy 3:14-15 and 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13 and 14].
Personal understanding is formed in community through personal relationships. Upbringing, culture, heritage, religion, education and friendships are significant influences. What then is at the root of the desire for a meaningful spiritual experience without involvement with the personal influences of the ideas and experience? God designed the church to express the riches of His plan for us and fellowship with us [Ephesians 3]. I don’t like pressure either, but we need personal relationships and involvement for the full spiritual blessings that worship of God can bring to us [Hebrews 10:24-25]. It’s God’s complete package we need.