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Your Church Needs Your Contentment

“After 79 years of spiritual service in the community,” a local newspaper reported, “Hope Evangelical Christian Community Church will host its last public worship service this Sunday. Church leaders cite budgetary pressures mixed with low attendance to force closure. The church building is officially for sale.”

At some point in your life, you may hear of a church that dies. But the reason many churches die may surprise you. Sometimes churches die for obvious reasons: a global pandemic, financial struggles, or lack of attendance over a long period. We live in a fallen world, so sometimes church leaders make all the right decisions and their churches still don’t make it. Why? We can’t always know.

Other times, churches die because long-standing members develop unhealthy ownership of the church, killing forward progress. These members feel a sense of entitlement because they’ve been giving and serving and fighting for the church for years. In their minds, they’re making decisions to protect the church—when they’re actually killing it. Hundreds of churches in the Western world die each year because of good Christian folks. The ones who attend, give, and serve sacrificially over a long period can unintentionally become the reason the church can’t move forward. I’m convinced the remedy for many of the issues plaguing churches today boils down to rediscovering Christian contentment.

Case Study

Hundreds of churches in the Western world die each year because of good Christian folks.

Let’s take a closer look at Hope.

The church didn’t have a biblical form of church government, evidenced in the New Testament as a plurality of qualified male elders. Instead, they operated from a top-down business model. But the “top” wasn’t the lead pastor; it was the various leadership groups. Hope had councils, chairs, and committees—but no elders. In one late-night meeting, a member presented biblical evidence for a plurality of male elders. The leaders were impressed. You could sense the energy in the room. As a result, a study committee was formed. After the year-long study, the church would vote on church elders.

But two months in, disaster ensued.

A lifelong member disrupted the study. She didn’t want others to have “all that power.” “The church has been doing fine since I was baptized here as a baby,” she said in one members’ meeting. “We don’t need to change our church government. My college ministry didn’t need elders, and neither does this church.”

Afterward, she continued to divide and alienate people in the church against eldership, convinced she was protecting the church from harm. You might expect her to be a mean and rude person, but she was one of the most faithful givers in the church, always reliable to serve the body when needed, always around to provide an empathetic listening ear. Eventually, she won the battle. The committee dissolved and the church’s polity stayed the same.

Yet the lead pastor wasn’t off the hook. Despite enjoying most parts of his job, he struggled with fear of man. If it wasn’t obviously sinful, whatever people wanted, they got. He never rocked the boat, never made any big changes, never said anything controversial from the pulpit. Even though attendance declined every single year of his 22-year pastorate, the members didn’t question his ability to serve, because he never made anyone uncomfortable.

This is a fictitious example, but the dynamics are real. The newspaper, though right to cite financial issues and low attendance, was oblivious to the root causes. Every year, hundreds of churches in the Western world die because the discontentment of its members has led to unhealthy entitlement in the church.

Becoming a divisive, entitled church member is a slow-acting disease that can infect any Christian.


I’m convinced the remedy for many of the issues plaguing churches today boils down to rediscovering Christian contentment.

Contentment doesn’t mean passivity, laziness, or complacency. It’s an inward sense of peace and joy independent of circumstances. It’s a confidence in God’s sovereign goodness in all situations. I define contentment in part as “freedom from dependence on desired circumstances.” We may desire a change of circumstances, but we aren’t dependent on it for inward peace and joy.

Contentment is freedom from dependence on desired circumstances.

Unlike secular methods that insist contentment is always attainable through personal strength, true Christian contentment derives from God’s supernatural grace that enables us to endure all things with rejoicing.

Paul famously states, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). This often misapplied verse doesn’t mean Paul can accomplish anything; it means he can endure anything.

Recapture Christian Contentment

Contentment has fallen on hard times in modern culture. While the virtue was prized in previous centuries, it’s now underappreciated and overlooked. Expressive individualism combined with abundant material possessions has conditioned many of us—even within the church—to trivialize the value of contentment.

But the Bible doesn’t just encourage contentment; it commands it (Heb. 13:5). Imagine what your church would be like if every member took pursuing contentment seriously.

Imagine what your church would be like if every member took pursuing contentment seriously.

You can’t deny there’s competition, comparison, and envy in your church. We’re conditioned by culture to fixate on self, and we wrongly bring these attitudes into the church. Why did she get picked to lead the women’s event? Why do we have to plant a church and lose beloved members? Why was I passed over for leadership again? The next time you feel discontent with a person or circumstance in your church, spend extended time in prayer for the person and for your church. Consider using a journal, and write down evidences of God’s grace in your church community. Remember the persecuted church, and how thousands of churches across the world can’t afford a building and don’t have resources for a formal youth ministry. Comparison breeds envy; gratitude breeds contentment.

Christian contentment is one of the best gifts you can give your local church. When your church leaders make a small move that rubs you the wrong way, contentment enables you to quietly disagree without being divisive. Contentment empowers you to serve in children’s ministry without complaining that nobody else serves back there as much as you. This virtue will allow you to support your church financially, knowing your true treasure is Christ.

Though uncontrollable circumstances sometimes lead a church to close its doors, don’t let the death of your church be because you didn’t pursue contentment in Christ.


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