I have a question about changing churches. Currently I attend a large Baptist church in Texas. I have attended this church for the past five years, and I joined primarily because they had a Sunday school class for 20-somethings and the teacher of the class is very solid. I attend two different services at the church and have not been totally content with the content. I'm so hungry for solid preaching from the Word and expositional teaching. I like to be challenged.
My dilemma is that many churches in the area do not offer anything for 20-something singles. Should I stay where I'm at because there's a class for my age? Or should I join another church with more solid preaching?
It sounds like you've found what many singles would love to have in a Sunday school. Unfortunately, as you've discovered, if it comes at the expense of solid, challenging teaching from the pulpit, it may not be enough.
I'm going to guess that a lot of people would think I'd say "stay put," since a class of 20-somethings would be a likely place to meet a Christian mate. But I'm not. If the only reason you're sticking with this church is a peer-group Sunday School class and if you've been there five years and are still single, I'd say it may be time to consider another fellowship.
I have a couple of reasons for thinking so. The first is the purpose of church. Boundless columnist Suzanne Hadley wrote about it a few years back in "Designer Church" and did an excellent job of reminding consumer-oriented parishioners that our reasons for joining a church should take into account the pattern of first century Christians. That includes things like geographic proximity, sound doctrine, prayer for persecuted Christians, personal evangelism, service, the presence of spiritual gifts and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
One of the main reasons for attending church is to grow in your knowledge of the Word, enabling you to grow in wisdom. Paul likened it to moving up from milk to solid food. Hebrews 5:11-14:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
If in fact the teaching from your church's pulpit is stuck at the "milk" stage, that's a good reason to pray about finding a new church. Of course it's possible to study the Word on your own and grow in wisdom during personal Bible study and daily quiet time (something we should all aspire to), or to download audio sermons from excellent expositional preachers, but you should also be challenged by your pastor — who presumably knows even more than you do about God's Word — on Sunday mornings.
Beyond that, my reason for thinking it might be time to look around is that while peer groups are often ideal for socializing, they're ill-suited for cultivating cross-generational friendships which can lead to those all-important mentoring relationships.
Based on my own experience and the stories of many other Boundless readers, I've found that building relationships with believers in different life stages is often much more fruitful and helpful to rounding out the single season of life.
As I wrote in "Plenty of Men to Go Around, Part 2,"
Who knows [the] single Christian men who desire marriage? Someone must. I'll wager it's the older women in their lives. These are the women who taught little boys in Sunday school, gave them piano and art lessons, and loved them as sons, nephews, grandsons and neighbors. Some still have their pictures in photo albums or on their fridge. Many are still praying for them....
Not surprisingly, the Bible instructs us to go to them for help. In Titus 2, Paul instructs the older women to teach the younger women how to live godly lives. Specifically "to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." It only makes sense that if the young women are having trouble finding husbands in the first place, that the older have a vital role to play in helping them marry well.
It's for this reason that I don't think you'll be at a disadvantage if you leave a Sunday school for 20-somethings in exchange for a body of believers with lots of different ages represented who share the goal of spiritual maturity while receiving solid teaching.
Copyright 2008 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.