Going through college in the evangelical world, all I heard about going to church after you graduate is that you need to go to a church where the theology is solid and that you agree with it. Maybe I’m exaggerating about the “all I heard” part, but there was a sense that if I didn’t go to an evangelical, Reformed church I was missing out on some things.
Guess what? I’m going to an evangelical church, yes, but it’s not “Reformed.” It’s not “Calvinist.” I don’t agree with my pastor on everything he says. And he knows it, and we still have great conversations. In fact, I want him to be part of my wedding.
For a while, that bothered me. I thought, “Isn’t that bad? Shouldn’t I go to a church where the pastor and I agree on everything?” As I’ve invested more time in serving at my church, I’ve learned a few things about what it means to be part of a local body of Christ and just about following Jesus. And four reasons why going to a church where you disagree with the pastor on some things isn’t a terrible idea.
1. You’re challenged in what you believe.
Far too often we live our Christian lives in a nice bubble where we don’t like challenge to our beliefs or convictions. We’re staunch in our theology, our eschatology (beliefs about the end times), our Christology (beliefs about Jesus), our bibliology (beliefs about the Bible), our hermenutics (Bible interpretation), our homiletics (preaching), our Israelology (beliefs about Israel), our soteriology (beliefs about salvation), all of them. And that can be a really good thing.
But if you’re not open to your beliefs at least being challenged, are they really that strong? Just because you hear a different opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. In fact, through listening to my pastor talk about some things I disagree with, it’s forced me to think deeper about what I think about certain parts of following Jesus. Just because I think he’s incorrect doesn’t mean I can’t listen to and appreciate his thought process.
2. It forces you to know yourself and your passions better.
What frustrates you? What brings you joy? Sometimes you don’t know the answers to those questions until you get in an environment where you have to confront everything you’ve thought about yourself because someone proposed something different. Being in a church where you disagree with some things with the pastor means you are forced to confront who you are.
The more you know yourself, the better off you are in serving Jesus. We each have gifts and talents that we’re called to use to love God. Sometimes being challenged with something you disagree with can open up your mind to those things.
3. You learn the real reason you go to church.
So often I think we go to church to just hear something we like to hear, something we agree with. American culture is leading people astray? The youth of America need a change? Insert-your-favorite-cliché? Amen. When you go to a church where you hear things you don’t necessarily agree with all the way, you can’t just say “Amen” with everything. So you’re forced to find a different reason why you go.
You learn that you go to church to be in community with brothers and sisters in Christ. You go to church to hear the Word of God preached. You go to church to serve God by serving others. You go to church to have fun. You go to church to confront your sin. You go to church to eat good food. You go for more than just going somewhere your ego can get stroked.
4. Learn how to get along with people you don’t agree with.
If you look at Facebook these days, you’ll see lots of people that don’t get along with each other simply because they disagree with each other on this or that. I’m with them. I mean, I don’t respond well to people disagreeing with me (I wrote about it). But being in an environment where you’re consistently confronted with something you disagree with forces to learn how to get along with those people.
I love my pastor because he’s a great guy, he loves Jesus, he knows the Bible. We just happen to disagree on some of the interpretations. You don’t completely ignore the differences, you love people in spite of them. This is what life is about. You won’t ever find complete agreement with someone ever. So sitting under teaching you don’t completely agree with helps you to not hold those disagreements over someone’s head.
Ideally. Of course we have to get our egos out of the way, and that’s one of the hardest things.
If your pastor ends up going away from true biblical theology in the important things like salvation, then there’s probably a reason to consider leaving. But just because you disagree with your pastor in how you view politics or Israel or the end times doesn’t mean you have to ditch the church.
It’s not for everybody. But there’s something about it that might actually be good for your spiritual growth.