Listening: Looking for a Church and Community?

Aaron Menikoff, pastor of a church in Atlanta, GA, writes this recent article entitled, "You Don't Find Community by Looking for It." This would be one of many resources we can point to for anyone to read, learn from, affirm, or change in their understanding of Christ and Christianity, especially as one is "looking for a church" or "looking for community." There seems to be many ways to describe a local church like house church, family church, mega-church or other ways like through the church name, denomination, association, or network. More often, these categories become unhelpful and fillers for conversation. We want to see the conversation change along with lives changing because of God's work in people's heart and lives through the gospel of Christ and making known that "Christianity" is all about "Christ."

Pastor Aaron mentions a "church-as-family model," and he's describing the result of being "church-as-Christ followers" in which he highlights throughout the remainder of the article. So, this is not a church model, but Christ molding people to be "inspired by truth and love to make life, disciples, and churches all about Jesus." This includes our life in business, traveling, family, neighborhoods, etc. "Church" is not about you, them, us, or me, but a people all about him, who's come from God the Father's will and where God the Spirit is at work to unify.

Here are a few great quotes from the article, but we'd recommend reading the entire article:

  1. "Community is biblical, and it’s important. But it’s not the whole story."
  2. "Over the years I’ve seen countless examples of Christians caring for each other, putting the interests of others first, and generally sharing their lives. Cancer-plagued believers being driven to chemo treatment by brothers and sisters in Christ. Couples learning how to care for children with special needs so that tired parents can have a night out. Families opening up their homes to welcome singles on a weekly basis."
  3. "Community is the fruit of Christ-exalting worship. Community is not what we’re to aim for; Christ is. And when we find him (or, rather, when he finds us), community naturally follows."
  4. "Paul never pitted Christ and community against one another. But he did prioritize Christ. 

    Paul knew, like his master, that wherever Christ is championed, community is created.

    Relationships are deeper and richer when our ultimate confidence is in Christ and not one another. When you live as if other people can meet all your needs, you will be regularly disappointed. You’re asking them to do something no person can ever do—give you the happiness you so desperately want. But when Christ is your confidence, someone is freed to be your friend, not the god you rely on to meet all your needs."

  5. "Whether we’re gathered or scattered, staying tenaciously focused on the true King is the secret to true community."

  6. "Recently Christianity Today reported some statistics on why people start looking for other churches. Lots of reasons were given, from moving out of the area to disagreeing with the pastor. Only 2 percent of respondents indicated they were looking for another church because they “wanted more community.” I’m convinced the actual number is much higher. It’s easier to say you’re leaving the church because you’re dissatisfied with the worship experience than saying you’re leaving because you don’t have friends. It’s hard to admit you’re lonely.

    So what should you do if you aren’t experiencing the kind of community you want?

    1. Pray for your church faithfully ...

    2. Examine yourself ...

    3. Seek solace in Christ ..."

  7. "We all need community. We just need Christ more."