And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24–25

It’s been quite a while since my last post. Life seems to have been cranked up a notch or two this past year. This is largely due to several drastic changes in my family’s life. We started raising and breeding pigs, started raising chickens, and now, with Spring in full swing, we are busy cleaning up the property of all the fallen trees from Winter and prepping the garden for planting.

But by far the most significant change has been the loss of our faith community. Our previous church underwent a split and many families including my own were displaced during the split. My wife and I have spent countless hours discussing and praying over how to navigate this chapter in our lives. We were at our previous church for a little over twelve years. That means that my youngest daughter was born and raised by that church community and my older two kids had been there since they were toddlers and grew up with those families and friends. So, it has impacted my family greatly (as I’m sure it has the other families as well). We no longer see those other families every week. My kids don’t plan weekly play dates and sleepovers. We don’t study the Bible together at church functions.

Watching my family try to adapt and regain its footing during such a drastic transition has opened my eyes even more to the impact a community of faith can have on our lives. As we try to navigate this new season, I’ve seen my kids swing from anger at God, to grief over the loss of time with their friends.

It’s also pressed on me more than ever the importance of church. We are feeling the temptation more often now to just give up and stay home. We don’t want to try to seek out community, or worship with other believers lest we get burned again. I’ve always believed that the local church was supposed to be a family, and we did life together, but I wonder if it’s truly possible to appreciate how much that means until you’ve lost one.

Another aspect of this has also been the struggles that I, as a husband and father, must face while attempting to navigate my family through this. I no longer have ready access to godly men who I can talk and pray through these things with. My friends and our families have been scattered and hurt leaving, at least myself, mostly on my own in this struggle. That’s not to say that I’m not incredibly blessed with a godly wife whom I can talk through all of my struggles with, however I also think that there is value in having godly men who can speak into your life and pray with you in specific ways. My wife has felt this as well, with the loss of regular discipleship with other, godly, women to talk and pray with on a more regular basis.

We have tried to stay in touch with our friends and we are still very much praying for one another, however I think we all recognize that things are never going to be the same.

I know that early on, I’ve failed to set a very good example to my kids. I’ve been reluctant and standoffish in seeking out a new church. I think this shows them that I may not actually believe what I am trying to teach them about the importance of a strong church community. I’m getting a little more involved with the church that we’ve settled in for the time being in an attempt to change this narrative in their minds. It’s been difficult, and I feel like it’s hard to find where I fit, but I’m trusting the Lord to lead me to where he wants me and my family.

The other realization this has brought is the sheer lack of healthy churches in my local area. We’ve been blessed to find the church we are in; the preaching is solid, exegetical, and true to Scripture. The main struggle is that they seem to lack a sense of community. It’s been over a year and none of the leadership or ministry teams have introduced themselves to us. To this day none of the elders have asked what brought my family to the church or attempted to learn anything meaningful about us at all, which leaves the question “who is shepherding us?”

However, as we visit and learn about other churches in the area we see unhealthy teaching from the pulpit, or unbiblical expectations of “works” by their members, and many other issues. So, for now I’m attempting to keep my family where the preaching will at least feed our walk with the Lord. Maybe God has something I’m not imagining in mind for our community, but for now it seems clear that He’s asking us to trust Him and wait on His perfect timing.

What do you think the Bible says about a healthy church? Should the community be more important than the worship or the preaching? Or is the preaching all that matters? I personally lean toward good preaching over anything else because how else are the saints supposed to be equipped? We are not equipped through liturgies or man-made doctrine, but through prayer and the teaching of the Word. But, maybe there is something in Scripture I’m missing. Perhaps the Bible talks more about discipling one another than it does about good preaching? I’ll need to spend some time thinking about that…