If the church is a body, I’m definitely a mouth. I’d like to believe that I’m a brain — the one that gets all the smarts and makes all the decisions — but in reality I’m more of a mouth: I talk when I should be listening, and I don’t like to get my hands dirty. Of course, that’s because a mouth doesn’t really have hands. But you get the point.
And Paul says that a healthy church needs to have all the body parts. After all, a mouth is pretty pointless without at least a few ears around. And if we were all eyes, we’d always be getting stuff in our eyes, probably from rolling around on the ground all the time, and we wouldn’t have any fingers to get it out, which would be super annoying.
So we need variety in the body. I get that.
But here’s my question. When you’re looking for a new church, should you consider whether a church already has people with your particular gifts, focusing on churches where there seems to more of a need in areas where you can make a real contribution, or should you just find the best church around you and trust that God will find a way to use you there?
Option 1: The Selfless Saint
I’m wrestling with this question at the moment because I just moved to a new town with my family, which means we’re in the process of finding a new church. And we’ve narrowed it down to two options: one that appears to have a surplus of people with gifts like ours, and another that appears (on the surface at least) to have a greater need for people wired like us. Church A is a better fit for us in many ways, but church B seems to need us more. So there’s a big part of us that thinks we should go to church B. Let’s spread the resources around rather than collecting them all in one place, right? Isn’t that what Jesus would do?
Option 2: The Arrogant Jerk
That was my first instinct. Then I realized how arrogant that sounds…and is. When did I become a valuable resource that some church desperately needs?
What if this really isn’t about what that church needs, but what I need. What if this dilemma is really driven by my need to feel valuable, unique, important. What if this is really about my fear that attending church A means I won’t stand out in the crowd; people won’t look at me and say, “Isn’t it great that Marc showed up? Whatever did we do without him?” Instead, I’ll just be one among many. Instead of being the mouth, I’ll be one of many mouths. Or worse, they won’t even need another mouth, and I’ll end up as a middle toe.
What seemed at first like a legitimate, even selfless, question, “Where can the gifts God gave me be used most effectively for His glory?” now begins to sound like an arrogant exercise in self-aggrandizement: “I shall now bestow the awesome honor of my presence upon that poor, befuddled congregation, lifting it from the misery that necessarily results from lacking me.”
So now I wonder: to what extent should you consider a church’s “need” when finding a new church? Is that a selfless act that manifests the diversity of the body or an arrogant attempt to secure your own self-importance?
To be honest, I’m still working on my answer. I resonate with the argument that we should value diversity in the body. If God has already placed five people like me in a given church, maybe that’s a hint that he wants me somewhere else. Do we really want all the mouths hanging out together? Not a pretty picture.
At the same time, though, the Bible never suggests that we’re responsible for making sure that the church has a variety of gifts. God does that. We’re just supposed to appreciate the diversity of gifted people that he’s blessed us with, valuing even those with the most unassuming gifts. Maybe my desire to find a church that “needs” me is yet another way in which I try to supplant God by taking responsibility for something that only he can truly do.
What do you think? Should a church’s “need” play a role in deciding what church to attend?