More than grammar

What’s wrong with this sentence?

… my frustration to find anyone at my new church who connected with me, my life and my needs.

If you can figure it out, it points up what’s wrong with the religious world and with much of what is leading many in the Lord’s church to go beyond what is written.

This is an actual quote I picked up on the Internet. I chose not to link to the page where I got it, so as not to pick on the individual. My concern is for the all-too-common sentiment.

Discussion is invited in the comments section below.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

12 thoughts on “More than grammar

  1. Sure seems obvious to me. Me. Me.Me. She is waiting for people to come and connect with her, rather than she with them. She is waiting to be served. Naturally, as it stands now, it will not happen and that church will be run down for being uncaring. If she would make the steps necessary to connect with them, she would find what she wants.

    [I know the quote doesn’t say “she” but I feel safe in saying it. No, it isn’t stereotyping]

    It also says that needs matter more than truth and transformation.

    Thanks, Randal for the thought.

  2. Randal
    A few years ago a brother came to me with about the same thing. He said: “I have stopped drinking, smoking, beating my wife, got a job and was baptized into Christ for remission of my sins; I attend regularly; but I can’t find a friend.”

    I have found that every convert must fit into a congregation.
    Sometimes its the converts fault and sometimes it’s the congregations fault.

    Here are some things to think about:
    Is the congregation open to new people?
    Is the eldership and preacher outgoing; but not the membership?
    Is there a desire to let people into your life?
    Is there a interest in them as a person?
    Do we take time to get to know people?
    Do we open our homes to new people?
    Do we take new people out to eat with us?
    Do we just preach hospitality or do we practice it?
    Do the elders/deacons visit new members or have a new member meeting?
    Does the preacher visit you within a few days of your visit to the congregation?
    Does the congregation send out a welcome letter?
    Do the elders and preacher followup on people visiting and possible seeking to placing membership?

    Before becoming a “fulltime preacher” I was “just a member”
    and moved to many new cities trying to find a congregation.
    If there was no interest in me and my family at a congregation we would go to another until we found one where we were made welcome and wanted. But, I learned that I had to put forth the effort to be open and wanting to be a member.
    Dave Dugan

  3. There are several things wrong here. Not all of them are something wrong with the person who wrote this and not all of them are things wrong with the church.

    First, as Richard noted, this statement is very self-centered.

    Worship is supposed to be focused on what we give, and not on what we get. God is the object of our gathering together. We are to give praise, we are to give thanks, we are to give encouragement, we sing to God and to each other. If we “go to church” looking for what we can get, we will often be disappointed, but when we attend the assembly looking for what we can give, we will rarely walk away feel let down. In fact, by giving, we will actually get more in return, but that should not be our focus.

    Secondly, this statement speaks of “my… church”. We should first, recognize that the ownership of the church is not ours, but the church belongs to Christ. Christ being the owner, he should have control!

    Third, it is described as a “new church”. Our desire should not be for a new church, but for the church Jesus Christ built and purchased!

    Finally, this person seems to feel like an orphan looking for a home.

    The church, should be a home looking for orphans. This being a new person in the congregation, she should be welcomed with open arms!

    Where is the hospitality of the congregation? Why would a person feel like an outsider having to hunt, or even beg for acceptance? Do we only offer love to people who have to hunt it down and break through our inner circles, or do we extend it first and freely?

    Quite often we get settled in our routine and in our circle of friends that we forget to reach out to the new person in town, the lonely, the widows, and those in need. Shame on us!

    Yes there are problems with the perspective of the one who wrote this, but quite often there are problems in the congregation as well. Our love should be obvious to others and freely given! “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)


  4. Joe wrote,
    Finally, this person seems to feel like an orphan looking for a home.

    The church, should be a home looking for orphans. This being a new person in the congregation, she should be welcomed with open arms!
    At some congregations, people get to Sunday morning worship late and rush out the second that the worship ends. Whoever is in the back will almost be trampled. My point is that no one even knows they are there and they haven’t done anything to give people an opportunity to meet them. Sad.

  5. I know this woman’s focus is more on the fellowship aspects of being part of a local congregation, but her comment reminds me a bit of something a beloved sister once said when asked why she was not being faithful to the worship services.

    “I’m not getting anything out of it.”

    Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I have heard this… I kindly explained that worship is for God. He is the audience, not us. We give our worship. God receives our worship. If our hearts are right, we will naturally get something out it: namely the satisfaction of knowing we have pleased God.

  6. I remember a wise elder telling me years ago that if a person can develop five friends in a congregation that person will never leave. I have found it to be true and also that it is sometimes difficult to achieve. Some people are reserved, some are “high-maintenance”, draining the energy from others, but most are people looking for something or someone or they would not have come to us in the first place.

    Jesus should be lifted up as their primary relationship. Brethren may fail them, but Jesus will not. I think if we can instill that in their minds they will remain and be more satisfied. This person does not seem to be at this point and he or she may never reach it. But when and if he or she does, the things bemoaned will not be so important. There is a reason God gave Elijah tasks during his despression — to change his focus from himself to others.

  7. I have had the same problem at various times, and so have several of my friends (female, yes!), including women who I would have never have thought would feel that way. I think the most impt thing is to realize that you do not go to church to have a social life. If you do, great, but the reason we meet as a congregation is to worship God, period. Satan can really work the “unfriendly” angle. He can help you become bitter and unfriendly yourself, and even send the most vulnerable to unscriptural churches who seem friendlier. I am by nature an introverted, socially awkward person who likes people, but has a hard time forming relationships, like my mother and her mother before her! It has not helped that we’ve moved a lot, that many congregations have large family groups, and that we currently are the only members who live in our particular town. That being said, here are some ways I’ve dealt with this issue. First, get involved. Volunteer. If the doors are open, be there. If you can provide a service, do so. It can be hard if, like us, you have little kids, but make it happen. Also, get a picture directory and study it. I cannot remember names, only faces. I felt more involved once I knew who was who. Send cards. Go to the hospital. If people know you are interested in them, they will be interested in you. For me, since we live far away and I cannot always stay and chat, and since I am not good on the phone, Facebook has been a great blessing. I can keep up with other women, and they can keep up with me. It amazes me how a few little comments here and there have helped me feel connected. Lastly (and I have to remind myself of this), you cannot expect other people to fulfill you emotionally. They can’t, just as you cannot fill the hole in another’s life. So examine your expectations; they may not be realistic. Adults have kids, jobs, and marriages–there isn’t time to have the friendships you may have had in school, or read abt in books. Also, you are going to have to reach out. Ask people out; have a party, host a shower. You may never meet a “kindred spirit,” but accept that that’s ok. You’ll meet people you like and care about, and that’s enough.

  8. That’s an unfortunate thing to see. I must agree with some of the comments above. There are two parties involved here, the congregation in general, and the member in particular. A proper relationship requires effort on both parts. I do not know the situation in particular, lacking omniscience as I generally do, so I will not even try to suggest who is at fault. I do sometimes honestly think we could use some more fellowship in the Church. It seems to be easy to relegate the totality of not only our fellowship, but our worship, to the four walls of one little building, and to a morning and two evenings.

    God’s Kingdom, which extends beyond the aforementioned four walls, is described to us in several ways, the church (called out), the body of Christ, and also as a family. We are all described as God’s children, as brothers and sisters, Christ is our Elder Brother. We are children through adoption. If we are to be the family of God, then, perhaps we ought to give some study to what God intended a family to be, and see if we are really acting in that way toward one another in God’s Kingdom. Personally, I would dare to say that a family who only gets together one morning and two evenings a week is not much of a family… Perhaps we have forgotten to read past Acts 2:38 and see that the disciples then met daily with one another, they shared doctrine, FELLOWSHIP, breaking of bread, prayers, they continued daily in the temple, the went from house to house sharing meals, and they enjoyed gladness and singleness of heart. Perhaps I’m misreading the example I see here, but, it doesn’t seem to be a bad one, and it’s one, I feel, we could do a lot more to follow.

    Perhaps this person is searching for a self centered worship, God shall never accept such, may they repent and pray God that the thought of their heart may be forgiven. But, perhaps they are crying out to be part of the family of God… shall that cry go on unheard?

    Your’s humbly in Christ,


  9. God’s people must serve the people of the world. Why? To give them an example of Christ who came not to be served but to serve. When people of the world convert to Christ, they should be invited to become servants–the only way to do this is to lead them by our example. Striving to meet the needs–serve–others is necessary as a good first step to spiritual maturity.

  10. There are already a lot of good comments here, but personally I only ran into this one time while attending an evening worship service. I had traveled 11 hours from Raleigh, NC to Nashville, TN on a Sunday. I dumped my belongings in a motel room and went up the road a ways to attend the evening services in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Only one person spoke to me or greeted me. I had to introduce myself. I was moving to Nashville. Did I go back? No! I found a congregation very close to where I would be working and closer to where I would be living. I was given a friendly handshake, an introduction, and it being a Wed. night I was asked to attend several classes. I went to the class I was first invited to, same person was the teacher, and my wife and I became very good friends with his whole family.

    Every time this subject comes up, I recall this incident. The friendliness of a congregation will either leave a good impression or a bad one. This one incident stands out in my memory because it was a one of a kind having lived in six different cities and visited several congregations when traveling.


  11. The comment, out of it’s original context, does seem self-centred and from someone looking to her her needs met, instead of serving. I found the original (not too difficult with Google). Randal, do you think she went “beyond what is written” in establishing the Bible Study group she did?

What do you think?