Over the last few months I have talked with some of my pastor friends who are struggling with the number of people they see "church hopping." You know those folks that move from church to church looking for the next big thing or that place that will meet their agenda. Part of the frustration I have heard is for those people leaving churches but also those who come through the door from other places. Most of the time those folks are angry, hurt or frustrated and they bring all of that with them.
A number of years ago I shared a message in a youth experience that I believe applies to this struggle. I believe I called it "Nail Night." I got some of the material from a source that I long ago got rid of so if the author reads this forgive me. In that message I shared that it is better to be a nail than a hammer. Here's why.
- A nail sticks in one place.
The most exciting time in the history of the church is recorded in Acts 2. The beginning of that chapter says:
"When the day of Pentecost came,
they were all together in one place."
The believers stuck together and stuck in one place. I believe God is calling us to find that one place and stick there. I once heard that a tumbleweed does not grow. It just blows from place to place, aimlessly wandering. A healthy growing plant puts down roots. It reaches deep into the place it is planted and grows tall and strong. Because of its deep roots it is able to withstand the things that may come against it.
To often today people never give themselves a chance to get rooted. They jump from church to church never giving time to become planted and therefore nourished and strong. Then when the winds of change blow or frustration builds they are like the tumbleweed.
-A nail holds things together
All throughout scripture we see examples of things being held together. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 it says:
"I appeal to you brothers,
in the name of Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree with one another
so that there may be no divisions among you
and that you may be perfectly united
in mind and thought."
God wants us to stick together. Now I know their are times that this is impossible. Sometimes we find ourselves with a group of people who are moving contrary to scripture or who's mission and purpose are not loving God and loving the people he puts in our path. In these cases we need to find a new group of people, a new church, to journey with. But, in a lot of cases these days I am seeing people who leave a church because of much less important things. God wants us to be like a nail. He wants us to hold each other and his church together.
-Weather makes a nail stronger
I've not done a lot of construction in my life but I have talked with some folks who have and one thing the tell me is that the longer a nail stays in the wood the stronger it is. I would have a tendancy to see rusty nails and remove them. That would be the wrong thing to do. You see, the rust on the nail actually makes it adhere to the wood even more. That weathered nail has more grip and is stronger than a new one. Philippians 4:11-13 says:
"I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances
I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what is is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any
and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength"
We need to trust God where we are and allow his strength to surpass our capacity to endure any and every situation. We need to get a little rusty and become stronger in him.
As Christ Followers we need to allow God to put us in the church where he wants us. That may not be a perfect place. By the way, if you find the perfect church please tell me where it is, I'd like to visit there. The reality is it doesn't exist. What God wants is for us to find a place where he is at work and get involved. He wants us to plant and root ourselves in one place, using our time there as a chance to grow through the good and the not so good. He wants us to be a part of holding together and building up what he desires, even through the hard times, because we realize that the hard times make us stronger.
I hope you will find the place God wants you to be. A place where you can be a nail. You have a job to do. Drive yourself in deep wherever God has you.