"I want a church that meets my needs!" That thought is not only the desire of many in the religious world, but it is becoming the philosophy of many Christians also. Many persons praise or blame a particular congregation because it is or is not "meeting my needs."
Let me hasten to say that if the emphasis is upon fulfilling spiritual hunger, then it is a good expression, for surely everyone ought to be in a Christian community where his or her deepest spiritual longings are being addressed. The voice of God needs to be heard through spiritual teaching, and we need opportunities to serve, love, and to be called to repentance.
But, for some, being a part of the church means reaching for goals of "self-actualization." In other words, if the church doesn't fulfill certain expectations, wants, and preferences of a particular individual or family, then they must move on to another emotional department store with different merchandise more appealing to their "tastes."
Sadly, and probably without realizing it, many congregations have gotten into thinking that "we have to do all these things and plan all the activities to meet people's needs so they won't leave." Consequently, well meaning leaders have turned God's church into a merchandising institution. We promote this program and that program for this group and that group.
But, in my judgment, the system has become turned upside down from the way God intended it to be. What ever happened to the attitude in a Christian's heart of "I'd like to be a part of this congregation because of what I can do to meet its needs"? When are we most fulfilled? Is it when our needs are met or when we meet the needs of God's church on this Earth? We ought to be part of a congregation--not so that our needs can be met--but rather so that we may best meet the needs of God's work!
Christians need to recall the truth of the Scriptures that personal fulfillment is a great spiritual paradox. We are most filled when we empty ourselves and humbly serve others. Jesus taught - "Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:26-28).
Paul said of his own heart in Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
And again, in Romans 12:1 - "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." "Reasonable service" is not being served (i.e., having your needs met), but serving (i.e., meeting the needs of others). We need to relearn the axiom - "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
Let's not demand that God's church be a place where people (leadership or membership) cater to our desires and preferences. Let's turn it right-side up again and be a part of a congregation, not for what it can do for us, but for what we can do for it!