I have heard this statement said in different ways many times over the past four years. At first, this concerned me, but the more I thought about it and asked God to shine some perspective on it for me, the statement began to make sense.
People typically are going about living their lives, and at some point they become unsatisfied with how their life is going. However, the unsatisfaction is not typical, where one can simply make a man cave, plan a vacation, or even purchase a larger flat screen to remedy. This kind causes one to find a remedy at church and for a time they once again find a sense of satisfaction.
But then, a different sense of dissatisfaction develops. They begin to read the Bible, listen to sermons, and get involved with small group discussions to just learn they suddenly have issues they never had before. To more accurately describe this, they become aware of issues they have always had but never realized what they were.
NOTE TO THE PERSON:
If you’re a person experiencing this–praise God for it! This simply means the Spirit of God is working in your heart. If you positively respond, you will only become more like Jesus, which should be the goal of every believer.
Before you started to respond to God and started attending church your awareness to the spiritual things of God was not clear. As you developed your relationship with Him, you slowly became aware or sensitive to thoughts, behaviors, and life choices that would inhibit the deepening of your relationship with Him.
I encourage you to not give up. In a way you can never go back to the way you were before you responded to God. You have three choices: (1) you can address the issues in your life as God reveals them to you (2) you can continue in church and become stunted with your relationship with God (3) or, you can stop going to church and try to go back to the way you were before this grand church and God experiment.
The interesting thing with choices 2 and 3 is that you will become the most miserable person around. Once you have come to know God, you can’t go back to when you did not know God. You just become miserable with yourself and with life. The only choice you should make is a direct response toward God; this is the choice that will eventually bring peace to your soul.
NOTE TO THE CHURCH LEADER:
The issues of adultery, cohabitation, friends with benefits, pornography, and sexual sin in all its forms in and out of the church are well known. As these new attenders begin the discipleship process in our churches, if we are not proactive in addressing the Bible’s teaching concerning sexual expression, then what is going to keep these men from avoiding the unpleasantness and fading back into the unchurched world? Or worse yet, what will keep them from living a Christian life full of sexual sin?
Yes, responsibility lies on the individual believer when responding to the Spirit of God at work in his heart. Yet, there is a greater responsibility on Church leaders as to how we disciple those men whom the Spirit of God brings into our circle of influence.
I hear two main reasons why church leaders avoid the issues of sexuality: first, because they are uncomfortable with addressing the topic, and second, because they are afraid of offending members of the church.
My wife and I have three daughters. We started to verbally teach our children about sex during their first year in school. As they have grown older, we have taken our talk to deeper conversation. The first few times these discussions were warranted my wife called on me, and I must say I felt very uncomfortable. But I have always been determined that my daughters will learn about sex from my wife and me, not from some guy who gets his education from a porn video off the internet.
Now, it is not uncomfortable at all. Even my wife has regular frank discussions about sex with our daughters. When you first start to address these issues in your church, you will feel a certain amount of discomfort, but in time the uncomfortable will become comfortable. We as church leaders must adopt the view that the people whom God entrusts to our care will learn about God’s plan for sexuality from us as well as their own study, not just from society.
As far as offending someone, I would suggest if you have never truly entered this area of teaching, be intentional but don’t be extreme. Plan 3 or 4 two-week sermon series over the course of 12 to 18 months and intentionally change your church culture.
I have viewed both Mars Hill Church and Elevation Church’s documentaries, and in each someone mentioned when their church started to preach on sex people flocked to the services in droves. It is my understanding that when Granger Community Church in Indiana did their “Pure Sex” series, their church grew by hundreds. I believe people not only need to hear God’s design for sex, they desperately want to hear it.
Society is teaching and influencing not only the world but the church as well with the issues of sex; it is time that the church as a whole no longer stays quiet, but enters the arena by teaching about sex from the Word, from the One who created sex.