February 11

Written by Bill Grandi on February 11th, 2019

My title today is Replace or Repair.

When I was in my 20s and early 30s I used to do minor repairs on my car. Change the oil. Change the plugs. Replace the belt. Switch out a battery. Change the filters. Then several things happened that changed all that. One, I got too old to want to waste my time. Two, I got tired of being a contortionist. Three, engines changed. Now in my 60s, I won’t even attempt any repairs. I had a flat tire yesterday afternoon and I called a local man to see if he wold come and get my truck to repair it.

Things have changed over the years concerning car/truck maintenance. Everything is so hi-tech it takes a trained ASE certified mechanic to change a light bulb. Or maybe even change wiper blades. 🙂 No longer do we repair things; we replace them.

There are tons of examples from everyday life where that is true: marriage, work, church. It’s the latter which is on my mind. In my 45+ years of pastoral ministry, I’ve seen my share of church hoppers and shoppers-both as a victim and a recipient. People get angry, miffed, hurt, feel ignored…whatever…and the easiest thing to do is to leave. Now…if it’s a doctrinal error or heresy from the pulpit, then it has merit. But even then replacing (running) should not be the first option. I think the proper approach is to go to the pastor (or whomever) and ask for clarification. If you hit a stone wall, the leaders are next. If that doesn’t work, leave quietly. (Operative word: quietly). The tragedy is people often leave over “little” thing, things are not game-changers in the grand scheme of things. “We don’t like the music. There’s not enough 18th century hymns.” “I wasn’t greeted by every person, tribe and nation.” “The preacher went on for 30 minutes.”

I realize some people have legitimate reasons for leaving but we live in an age of church hoppers and shoppers. Instead of replacing where we worship, why not try to repair it first? There is no perfect church. Never has been; never will be. Let’s be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Let’s work to repair not replace.

“Father, if I’m part of the problem forgive me. Help me to be part of the solution, to work to repair instead of replace. Work in my heart first.”

This devotion was inspired in part by “Replacing Everything that Breaks” from 46 Stones by Randall Arthur.


12 Comments so far ↓

  1. Meekly Seeking says:

    Yes, I’ve seen what you are saying. I’m probably the opposite. Even when it’s likely time to move on, even when hurts are so deep it sometimess interferes with worship, I find myself, inside my mind and heart, repairing with bailing wire and duct tape and hanging in there. I considered moving on but the church family is FAMILY. Even though there’s hurt coming from one direction, there’s all the other family members that are supportive and hold me accountable if I am missing.

    The struggles to find a new church family are similar to the struggles of finding a new friend only multiplied by 50 or 100+. The energy it takes to find a Bible teaching church family with people you can trust to be sincere, etc… Staying put has its bumps but moving on has a mountain of issues.

    I don’t know how church hoppers do it. God’s people are the main thing in a church family. Never sticking around long means never REALLY getting to know them and never getting to that place where they are family.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Thanks for your thoughts MS. It is not easy staying but you are right…the church is FAMILY. As you also put it: the bumps versus the mountains helps in the decision. Glad to hear you are sticking around.

  2. Ryan S. says:

    Bill, I have been on both sides of process.
    I think much of what drives moving from church to church is having a consumer mentality vs a ministry mentality. After moving from Fort Smith, AR to Nashville, TN… We went through a bit of consumer mentality. We decided to find the “perfect church” . Two problems with that… 1) They don’t exist 2) They wouldn’t let US in if they did.

    I agree 100% with your approach. First try to reconcile the issue. Second try harder.
    3rd, if there are differences that simply cannot be overcome, then go quietly. Do not cause discord or trouble, simply leave.

    Lastly, leaving SHOULD leave a bit of an emotional hole. If it doens’t, then something was probably more wrong than you thought.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      You are right Ryan. There will never be a perfect church. It is made up of people! I like your thought about an emotional hole. I know when you guys left because of moving, it left a hole in me.

  3. Pam says:

    Your post stirs my already churning mind as our denomination faces a decision this month that will affect the immediate and future foundation of our churches and Dick’s and my immediate and future ministry. We are praying that the decision will be based on Scripture, but the overwhelming propaganda is to follow the wishes of society. No matter what the decision, many, many people will be re-evaluating their allegiance to their church, so I expect you will see quite a few church hoppers and shoppers in the next months.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      I’m guessing you are wrestling with the issue that many denominations have wrestled with and compromised on. I feel for you and Dick, Pam. It has got to be hard. Fortunately, we are not part of any denomination so any action taken will come from this local congregation.

  4. Glynn says:

    Some years back, well, actually, quite a few years back, we left a church after 15 years. We had invested much of our time and resources, the church had helped shape our children, and we had many. many good friends there. But the church had changed. It began to chase after a dream of “we’re the next Willow Creek.” Whole ministries were disbanded. Adult Sunday School classes were encouraged, strongly, to stop studying books of the Bible and replace that teaching with popular books, like “The Prayer of Jabez.” We watched friend after friend leave. I spoke out and got steamrollered. We hung on as long as we could, until the Sunday worship service included dancing around a maypole and singing nonsensical songs from an overhead projector. Two years after we left, the church was a shipwreck and barely survived. It took years for the church to recover, and it still has never reached what it had been.

    We found a new church, one with solid teaching. We began to integrate ourselves into church life. I became a deacon. We had a good Sunday School class. And then the church started down the same path as our previous church. I spoke out and got my knuckles rapped. I was told that as an officer of the church I was expected to support and promote what the church was doing. And then the church shipwrecked and nearly sank. The damage wasn’t as bad as at the first church, but it was bad. We didn’t leave, and now the church is growing stronger again. But I still feel like something of a stranger.

    In both cases, men went chasing after men’s dreams. We forgot what it was to chase after God’s dreams.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      WOW Glynn! That is quite a testimony and a great testimony to your love for a church. To speak up, be castigated, but try to stay until it was no longer feasible. I’m glad to hear you stayed in both cases. Being part of a healed and growing church now is gratifying. Thanks for sharing your story. That puts so much more “meat” to my devotion than I can even express.

  5. Without going into elaborate detail, Danny and I found ourselves facing a fight or flight situation with our church. After much prayer, reflection, and, yes, visiting another church, we decided we could stick it out until the pastor retired. She is actually going to come June. Praying that God sends us a pastor that will unite us as the body of Christ, not divide us.
    Blessings, Bill!

    • Bill Grandi says:

      When I first “met” you via your blog it was around that heart-wrenching time and I remember your anguish over that. Hopefully you and Danny have found peace and I know you have a place to worship. I second your prayer martha.

  6. floyd samons says:

    Great thoughts and approach, Bill. You’re right; it’s easier to replace than it is to repair, but not nearly as gratifying…

    • Bill Grandi says:

      After reading your memoirs in your posts Floyd, I know you love to repair. I envy you of that. And you are right, replacing is not nearly as gratifying as repairing.