Plugged Into the System – a Riff on Church Attendance

The Matrix movies, as a concept, were some of the most interesting interpretations of the future that I have seen. The idea that (spoiler alert) humans could be utilized as power supplies for a machine army was innovative to say the least.

When humans were “plugged in” to the system, their energy was used to drive the actions of the machines. The machines, however morbidly, sustained the lives of their human “coppertops.”

Is it possible he can pull a church-related illustration out of this? Oh, yes.

Christians are the fuel that drives the Church and her mission on earth. Every church has an identity. A DNA. A culture. When a Christian chooses to partner with a church – attend, give, serve – a believer is associated with that culture.

Thus, when you tell someone that you attend Such-and-Such Church of Greater Whatsitville, that implies a set of parameters (the culture) is true about you. A benefit of this is that inviting someone else to church becomes a personal investment. It’s almost as if you are saying, “Come to church with me so I can share this part of myself with you.” (I am not implying that we should invite people to church as an act of social- or self-promotion. Just an illustration.)

But what if the church turns?

Declines?

Doctrinally shifts?

What if the church where you have invested your time is no more?

What if it no longer makes much of Jesus?

In our consumeristic culture, there is a preference toward instant gratification. But in reality, God does not necessarily want His people to be finicky in their choice of church. He isn’t interested in our impatience, intolerance, preference of style of substance, or “what’s in it for me” mentality.

So, when IS it OK to leave? (Incidentally, NOT the best question to ask.)

I have often heard it said that the greatest clue as to when to stop attending a church is when God stops attending.

I’m not saying that God does not call people out of churches. But it’s convenient to believe that our motives are always God-driven when, in my observation, God’s purposes are oftentimes an afterthought in these situations. Church hopping is self-serving unproductive to the Body of Christ.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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One thought on “Plugged Into the System – a Riff on Church Attendance

  1. I’ve been a nomad most of my life, so for me leaving a church happened every couple years as I followed family or my job around the world. Since I had a short-term connection, I staying in churches even when they imploded or (nearly) bankrupted. Hopefully I’m now at a phase when I’ll have “stability” for the first time. This is a new experience, and has opened me up to issues such as you raise here. What to do when my family is attacked? What to do when I don’t bond with others? What to do when s.o. else really pushes my buttons? What to do when I disagree whether closely held church custom is biblical or not? What to do when the church implodes? What to do when I’m annexing jobs/duties that stress me? Thus far, I’ve stayed regardless. Perhaps it is because I feel that I still have a voice, and the issues I face are “part of living in a community” and aren’t foundational to salvation / discipleship. Only time will tell….

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