From Church to the Soccer Field
Small groups are about to kick off at our church. The pastors just had an Inspire Leaders event and pastors gave encouraging talks. The band also played to cheer us on. It was fun. They even had desserts and coffee for us. I enjoyed myself so much; I just wanted to stay there forever. It was a little “mountain-top” experience for us. We all know, however, that God doesn’t want us to stay on the mountain-tops – that’s not where the battles take place. Battles usually occur down in the valley and in the trenches of everyday life.
When we are in a battle, it’s very difficult to look at it in a spiritual sense – rather than an earthly, humanly, fleshly sense. It seems that the irritated or emotional part of us can’t see past the person or circumstance in front of us. I’m thinking about this because I recently read how somebody had a “bad small group experience,” and as a result, they were turned off to small groups, the church, and our church in general.
I can relate to this because over the years, I have many bad experiences with people at church too. In fact, last year, I attended my first small-group leader event (by myself), and two other ladies in front of me, turned around and were very rude to me – And they were “Leaders!” It hurt my feelings and made my stomach kind of sick. Part of me wanted to leave, and say, “Forget this!” But that was the fleshly part of me. The spiritual part of me said, “This is just a ploy from the enemy to get me to quit and not lead a small group; I won’t be fooled! I will have faith that God is going to use me, and He has a plan!”
I stayed, I led, and God brought the ministry of Warrior Moms! Do you see what was at stake? You see the enemy knows that God is up to something with His people, so the enemy tries to discourage us – through the actions of imperfect people – because it usually works. It’s a pretty simple formula really. It’s simple: have someone be mean and/or let someone down, and the person quits, Next?
I was asking God how to touch on this topic in order to inspire others to not focus on the irritations or hurts they experience in the church and then subsequently allow that experience to turn them off to small groups and the church, and He said, “People get irritated with other parents and people in general at the soccer fields, but they don’t quit letting their child participate in soccer.” I thought that was just genius! It’s true. We all get irritated with some of our children’s teachers at school, but we don’t pull them out of school and say, “No more education!” We get irritated with our boss and/or co-workers but we don’t say, “That’s it, I’ll never work with people again!” We need to eat after all.
My point is, or rather, God’s point is, that people get irritated and/or hurt at church so they quit on church because they think it’s an option or something. When in reality, it’s a dangerous cop-out. As soon as they are alone, and unprotected, the enemy eats them for lunch, dinner, and breakfast over and over again! He takes them out of the battle that way. It appears that he is taking believers out of the battle one by one through each irritating or hurtful experience. He’s very patient by the way. It’s a gradual overtaking of God’s soldiers. He has all the time in the world! (temporarily, anyway).
If someone is saved, their soul is already claimed, and their name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but that doesn’t stop the enemy from trying to make them ineffective, wounded soldiers who remove themselves from the battlefield.
When people choose to cop-out on “church,” “organized religion and people in general, it simple means that the individual is merely looking at things with their physical eyes. If they pressed into the Word, and began to see the spiritual perspective, they would see that all people are imperfect, that all people struggle with the emotions of the flesh – whether they are at school, the soccer field or church. Imperfect people are everywhere; we especially find them in the mirror every morning. Let us not let our imperfections or someone else’s keep us from pressing into the Word or joining or leading small groups.
Mainly, let’s not cop-out on Christ. If anyone had a reason to say, “Forget this!” it would have been Jesus, but He didn’t. He continued to serve and love even when He was hated in return. He saw the battle through the spiritual, and He knew what was at stake. The imperfect people before him could have deterred Him from His mission, but He knew the ultimate mountaintop experience existed within His Spirit – not the physical body or circumstance that he was in – temporarily.
The mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and people will stream to it.
Let us encourage those who lead small groups, who coach small group leaders, and who join small groups to remember to look to the Mountain of the Lord rather than the mountainous obstacles found within imperfect people. The enemy wants us to see only the irritations, the hurt, and the anger that imperfect people bring so that he can keep us from leading, coaching, and joining small groups. Why does he do this? Because he knows that when believers get together than are more powerful than when they are alone. God has given us too much wisdom, found within His Word, to fall for such a ploy.
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her website, https://kristinaseymour.com/. God loves to share His story of love and grace through us all, and Kristina believes that everyone has a story to tell.