This past Saturday night I attended the wedding of a friend from my very first home church 2 years ago. I sat next to, I'll call her Jen, and Jen and I were fairly decent friends during my time there.
Sitting next to her, I overheard her telling the sister next to her that she was staying at this church (I'll call it Hope Chuch or HC for short) because she finds it too daunting to readjust to new church social dynamics. I also know, because she told me about 6 months ago, that she had a bit of a falling out with HC and that she left for a while because she didn't feel appreciated or that she could trust them any longer. So now I hear she's going back there. I felt led to email her privately, and would like your thoughts if I handled this properly/sensitively enough.
Actually, any thoughts in general would be appreciated. Either this email, or thoughts on the topic title of this thread. How do we handle these "I've been where you're going and here's my advice" situations without seeming overly righteous or holier-than-thou? For example, it's easier when someone comes to us and asks our opinions. But when we interject on our own, that could be trickier (I guess it depends on the situation). Yes, I'm trying to live 1 Thess. 4:11 which states make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and mind your own business. I think this email doesn't contradict that. I simply offered her my opinion and advice, and left it up to her to process it however she feels led.
I also made sure not to bad-mouth Hope Church (which I've honestly had some less-than-positive results with, regarding a few of the people there but of course I've forgiven them) since that does not help the Kingdom of God (also didn't need to hand Jen any bullets to take back to her church friends i.e. "Hey look what Steve said to me about our church!" etc.)
I know Jen's read my email by now, but she hasn't responded, which is fine for the record. I don't particularly expect or anticipate a reply from her. It's now between her and the Lord. I said what I felt like the Lord would have wanted me to share, I've shared my peace, and did my best to encourage her. I felt like sharing the email I sent her with all of you as well -- you can be my extended accountability partners I've sent this email to my real life acct. partners as well by the way.
It was good to see you (and Niki together) last night. Sure did bring back some memories
I thought about emailing you the following, and I pray you will receive it in the spirit that it's intended. I say this from the viewpoint of a brother in Christ and I speak with love. I pray you do not find this offensive, but that it may help in some small way. You are free to receive it however you wish.
Last night I overheard sitting next to you and Niki that you "feel like checking out other churches but it's scary adjusting to new social dynamics, grouping, demographics, church settings" (paraphrasing your words, I'm sure you recall exactly what you said to Niki). When I heard your comments, I immediately had this thought, and figured I'd share it with you privately.
If you feel Hope Chuch is still the church God's calling you to -- great.
But if you're not sure HC is still where God wants you to be at, or part of you even feels like your season there is over, and you're just going back for the familiar fellowship, I want to urge you to pray over the matter more, and really commit it into the Lord's hands.
One thing I've discovered in my journey with Christ is the safest place to be is indeed in the center of His will. If you're outside it, for example at a church God no longer calls you to, you're operating out of a place that is, at best, second best.
Yes, it is scary to put yourself out there and find new community, but don't let that stop you from making a concerted effort to check out other church communities and be in constant prayer over it. God will definitely lead you -- whether it's back to HC, or to a new church. He will absolutely lead you, but you have to do your part, too.
Again, if you know in your heart HC is where God still wants you to be, please disregard this email. But if even part of you is still unsure, I'd urge you to make the most of this precious time. I'd hate for you to be 31 one day years from now, look back and think "Why did I settle for less than what God intended for me?"
To clarify, this is in no way, shape or form meant to be tearing down HC. I think it's a Biblically-backed and solid church. But that doesn't mean it's everyone's church. God calls us to different places... the key is knowing where that place is. If HC isn't your place, I'd hate for you to stay just because finding new community and adjusting to new church social dynamics can be a little unsettling. I say this because my heart felt the tug when I heard you saying this to Niki. I guess you could say I have been in your position before (to a degree at least), and want to share with you from my personal experience, DON'T SETTLE, and don't operate outside God's will.
I pray this blesses you somehow. I pray again you are receiving this email in the good spirit it was intended to be written with, and I pray you will have peace of mind, heart, soul and spirit wherever God takes you.
PS- Happy Early Birthday! (it's almost your Baptism bday I recall. You, Mike, Jill and I are like a week apart