by Aaron Earls
People always dream of purchasing their own house—that is, until the plumbing bursts or the electrical goes haywire.
Owning a home calls for significant investments far beyond the financial ones. It usually requires substantial amounts of time and energy to turn the house you purchase into your home, not to mention all the work to keep it that way.
But there is something about the permanence of buying a house and committing yourself to that property. It’s more work than renting, but in the end, I think most would agree it’s worth it.
However, far too many Christians have never felt this when it comes to their church. Instead of committing themselves to a local body of believers, they simply “rent” a church home.
They want the benefits of having a place to go, but do not want the responsibilities of the upkeep or solving problems when things inevitably go wrong.
Those who merely attend or refuse to commit themselves completely to a church are essentially renting the church. But this is not the picture we see in Scripture.
Acts 2:42 says the early Christians devoted themselves to the gathering, teaching, prayer and other facets of what makes a church. There is a level of devotion to the local church.
In numerous letters to churches, Paul doesn’t just say the church is like a body. He says the church is the body and the people who make it up are members of the whole. That sounds like more than “renting.”
Nowhere in Scripture do you see faithful Christians simply attending church services haphazardly. Sincere followers of Christ are serious members of a local body.
Here are three ways to stop renting and make a church your home.
1. Plant roots — You cannot expect to grow if you refuse to put roots down deep in the soil of a local church family. Even if you know you will only be there temporarily, plant roots.
Lore Ferguson shared about the sadness and pain of leaving behind a church and area even after being there only a short time. It echoes the words of Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
When our family moved to North Carolina for seminary, we were all but certain that would only be a temporary home, but we planted ourselves there. Much of our sense of belonging arose from the next point.
2. Develop relationships — As you plant roots, you will form friendships with those around you. Do not resist them to avoid any pain that may come later. Cherish what God has given you for the moment He has given it to you.
Those deep relationships can form quickly, but they will not grow if you commit only a few hours each week, where you sit detached thinking only about what’s next—be it lunch or even the next phase and location of life.
Refusing to become attached to an area or the people only robs you and others. It removes from your life people who would celebrate with you when you are rejoicing and weep with you when you are mourning. And it prevents you from doing the same for others.
Despite the possibility (or even probability) you are in a location for only a short time, the relationships you develop could last your entire life. Don’t miss out on now because you are obsessed with next.
3. Invest in the work — If God has you somewhere, He has you there for a reason. Part of that reason is to use your spiritual gifts for the good of the church family.
College ministries that encourage their members to serve in the larger body are the ones producing mature disciples of Christ. Those students may graduate and move away, but they will leave behind a legacy and prepare themselves for future service.
Whether you plan to be at a church for three months or 30 years, you should wholeheartedly give yourself to the work God has set before that church.
As a follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit has gifted you with special abilities to be used for the betterment of the local body. You are called to a unique role in equipping the saints.
Wherever God has placed you and for however long He has placed you there, plant roots, develop relationships, and invest in the work of a local church. Stop renting and make it your home.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.