A man was stranded on a proverbial deserted island for years. Finally one day a boat comes sailing into view, and the man frantically waves and draws the skipper’s attention. The boat comes near the island, and the sailor gets out and greets the stranded man.
After awhile the sailor asks, “What are those three huts you have here?” “Well,” the castaway answered, “that’s my house there.”
“What’s the next hut?” asks the sailor. “That’s where I go to church.” “And what about the other hut?” the sailor asks one more time. “Oh, that’s where I used to go to church.”
That would be funnier if it wasn’t so sad. We do live in a generation of church-shoppers and church-hoppers who are prone to switch churches at the drop of a hat, for one reason or another. Perhaps they were offended by someone, or disagreed with a decision made by the church body. Or maybe they didn’t like the pastor, or the music, or the color of the carpet (or, in our case, the concrete floors). Whatever the case, it’s pretty easy in our consumer society to think it’s normal to move on when we don’t like the “product” that’s offered.
The difference is that church is more than the local franchise of God’s larger corporation. It is a family, a connectedness of relationships, melded together by the Holy Spirit into a holy community that is the local expression of the body of Christ. Like any family, there will always be disagreements and conflict, which provides a great testing ground for seeing how our faith and Christian character operates in the real world–among other sinners like us. And the big truth most of us discover eventually anyway, when we do pack up and move, is that the grass is rarely any greener on the other side of the fence.
The reality is, there’s something about commitment and faithfulness that not only reveals our character, it grows it. God calls us to persevere in tough times–and even in times that aren’t so tough but aren’t terribly exciting either–and to serve Him faithfully where He places us, even when we might just as well go somewhere else. No, that doesn’t excuse complacency, nor does it give cause for just going through the motions, but it does remind us of the truth of the old cliche: “Bloom where you’re planted.”
The Church at Shelby Crossings, like any other church, is not perfect. We will always have our struggles, and we’ll probably butt heads now and then. But God has supernaturally and sovereignly called us together to serve Him, and, in effect, this is where He has planted us together.
I want to encourage each of you to dig your roots deep into the soil of God’s word, and to start blooming! You are an integral part of our minstry’s fruitfulness, and I hope you’ll commit to being faithful in our fellowship as we seek to carry out His will in this community.
There’s not another church in this world that I would rather be a part of, or that I would rather have the opportunity to shepherd. I do count it a privilege to be your pastor. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.