Thursday, July 25, 2013

Don't Expect Them to Understand (But Hope That They Will)

I've finally concluded that most other Christians we know have no idea why we think what we think about the church. This is no fault of theirs. It's just the way it is.

My wife and I have had numerous conversations with other believers about the church. Some have been good discussions, while other have been less so. We try to avoid arguments at all costs. In the end, we hope that others will at least understand where we are coming from. Some do while others don't.

In general we do not try to change other people's minds about church. All believers have been called to be witnesses to Christ, not to a particular form of church. We are to make disciples, not make converts to simple church life. That said, we do wish that most believers we talk with could at least understand why we believe what we do.

The difficulty (and this may be your experience as well) is that many Christians have not ever given much thought to the issue. They have simply lived out institutional church life as they have been taught. Again, I'm faulting no one in this. It is just the way it is.

We should not expect other Christians to understand us. The reason for this is that most believers have no framework in which to place these discussions. Since they've never thought about it, it makes almost no sense to them. They see no problems with the way they live church life. Rather, they probably think things are going along swimmingly where they attend. Because of this, we should not expect them to gain a firm grasp of why we don't "go to church," why we meet in homes, why we don't have a pastor, why we eat together each week, why we don't listen to sermons, why we sit is small groups, etc.

Despite this, we can and should hope that they will eventually understand. Through many conversations it is quite possible, even likely, that they will begin to comprehend why we believe what we do. This will take grace, patience, and understanding on our part. We did not come to our conclusions about church overnight.

This is all secondary to gospel issues of course. And yet, it sure would be nice if those closest to us knew why we do what we do. Let's hope to bring about fruitful dialogue that will lead to their understanding. This is not with the goal of changing their minds (although it would be fine if they did). Rather, it is so that they will understand and respect the conclusions we've come to.

They may not understand, but I hope they will.


Jeremy Myers said...

Yes, this is the practice I have tried to come to develop as well.

What is hard is when people who don't see things as I do ask why I don't do things their way, and when I try to explain a bit, they get all upset and try to show me the error of my ways.

How do you handle these situations?

Eric said...


Great question. I admit to often not knowing what to do. In most instances I find myself trying to end the conversation really quickly or at least changing the topic. It's difficult to talk when the other person wants to argue.

My guess is that the best course of action is to try to steer the conversation away from church issues and toward Christ. I don't mean this in an artificial way, but chances are that I could find unity with another brother or sister in Christ by talking more about Jesus and less about other stuff.

Aussie John said...


Sadly,I know exactly what you are writing about.

"Apostate" is a word one often hears, or "fallen away from the faith".

Firstly one thing I've noticed as a stand out issue is that the naysayers have not understood that being a disciple of Christ is to be in a familial relationship with Him and other fellow disciples.

Secondly, the security of their salvation is grafted into the tradition to which they belong, and as such engenders fear of losing what they think imagine they have, and therefore, are prepared to fight (argue) for it.

Randi Jo :) said...

Thank God for the internet to know there are others SOMEWHERE out there who God has given the same vision/dream. Is this why Truth/dreams can be a burden? and yes we continually have to let Him carry the load that it makes us have and not us ourselves. Our Church family was us 5, a single guy and a couple. The couple is now moving away so this week I am going through one of those blah weeks and feeling a big lonely and impatient.

YET I KNOW God wants me to be patient. My whole life I've had a problem with rushing, impulsiveness, charging ahead. I know He is breaking me from it. I see He wants me to pour my heart & soul into parenting my children and being a wife. It's a hard temptation not to continually look at what He wants me to DO with all He has shown me in His Word & through my studies of Church. Like... God? Why did you give me all this insight? Somedays I clearly see the path He has me on and how it all connects.... somedays I don't and I just feel wandery and what is going on?

REALLY it's not like I want more NUMBERS, cuz it's not that. I just want...I don't know? What is my problem today? haha We don't want too many people trying to join up with US - we want people to join up with EACH OTHER so it's not like I want MORE PEOPLE and I'm focused on that. I just want people to stop trying to get me to "go to church" and see this passion He has given me and I am ready for it be used a bit. BUT I DON'T WANT IT TO BE USED IF I'M NOT READY YET SO GOD PLEASE DON'T LET ME RUSH AHEAD OF YOU. DEAL WITH MY IMPATIENCE AND DON'T GIVE INTO MY WHINING PLEASE LORD!!!

Sorry for the caps. :) haha but YES thanks for letting me process here. That is my issue. I am whining and I'm impatient.

I have to go back to the plow and stop whining. Wife mommy above all else right now.

Randi Jo :) said...

I read this after I commented on your page

and it helped me BREATHE and just receive everything He has shown me.... even though it makes me uncomfortable & have to be outside the box and go against the tide and everything it means.... receive it. live with it. don't go back to living and doing what I was before...don't ignore what He has revealed.

Eric said...


You are right. Many do equate the salvation with their church participation. They absolutely cannot see outside the institutional framework. However, let's hope they will someday.

Eric said...

Randi Jo,

I understand your struggle with patience. It is difficult. It almost feels like we are in the beginning stages of a reformation in the church (I hope so). More and more believers are seeing it, but the vast majority still do not.

I pray that God will send some fellow believers into your life with whom you can have fellowship.

Randi Jo :) said...

thank you so much!:)