We live in a society that values customization. Almost everything you buy can be customized to your particular liking. While this is great on one end, I fear that the tailor fit mentality can often times be imported into a Christian’s thought pattern when considering a local church.
There is a danger in “customizing” our spirituality. We like the mega church’s music, the conservative church’s preaching, the suburban church’s children’s ministry, and the small church’s shepherding and discipleship. We want it all and we try and have it all when looking for a local church. If we cannot have it all in one place then we Frankenstein our spirituality into several local churches.
Practically, I do not think genuine Christians intend to do so, but functionally many Frankenstein their spirituality when they have their feet in different places of ministry. Often, people will realize the importance of a local church, but in an unbalanced and unbiblical way will commit to para-church ministries or other local churches at the expense of their local church.
Practically, this normally shows up in a few different ways. Often, people will attend their local church on a regular basis, but will complain about a specific deficiency (e.g., children’s ministry, preaching, language / cultural differences, etc.). But, because of their affinities or history with the church they will “remain committed.” Still, later on in Sunday evening or during the week they will find their lives severed from their local church. They will attend another church’s Bible study or worse host a Bible study for another church or ministry.
I do think there’s a place to participate in para-church ministries or cooperate with other local churches. Unfortunately, in a majority of cases I do not think people are understanding the proper balance. I do think it valid for Christians to leave local churches in the event that there is heresy or a serious deficiencies detrimental to one’s spiritual growth. For the most part, I would actually encourage Christians to persevere through many of the discontentments they may face in their local church. If they were to under-commit, they would be doing the church a disservice and dishonoring God by neglecting their covenanted church family.
The person who improperly Frankenstein’s their spirituality must be aware of what they jeopardize. Consider the following implications of under-committing to a local church and spiritually compensating elsewhere:
You Undermine God-Appointed Leadership. The Bible states that God gives the church her leaders (Eph 4:11–16). Part of the responsibility elders bear is to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4:12). Therefore, leaving your local church to attend or minister elsewhere in an unhealthy manner (without your church leaderships blessing) undermines God’s divinely appointed leadership over your soul. This alone is of great danger to you (Heb 13:17). How can leaders give an account for your soul if you are severing yourself from the body. The church is often described as the family of God and under-committing to your local church would be like using your home for room and board, while you spend all your quality time with the family down the street.
You Rob People of Your Spiritual Gifts. Every person is given a spiritual gift (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:7) and the primary purpose of the gifts are to benefit the local church (1 Cor 12:7; Eph 4:12). Therefore, your lack of presence alone robs other Christians of specific gifts that God has given to your local church for her specific needs. You are intended to be tailor fit for your local body with wherever God has placed you at the time. Therefore, use those gifts for their God-intended purposes: the benefit of the local church.
You Rob Others of Their Spiritual Gifts. Your under-commitment to a local church also robs others in the exercise of their gifts. For example, if you leave your church because you like another teaching ministry, for whatever the reason (e.g., doctrine, charismatic personality, language / culture, etc.), you may never give the opportunity of the teachers of your local church to exercise and grow in their gifts. You are robbing God’s people from the benefit and exercise of the spiritual gifts.