/ local church / Kyle E. Sims

The Local Church Is Critical For Your Faith

For our whole married life I was employed in a church until May 2023. Thus there was never a discussion about which church we would attend. Only the occasional decision about where to visit while on vacation. This last year has been a challenge transitioning from local ministry to the seminary. Making this change harder is that as the Director of Church Relations I am preaching or attending different churches many Sunday mornings. When taking this job I did not consider the loss of my local church family to be such a big factor in the coming transition. 

At first, I enjoyed being in many different churches each week seeing old friends and making new ones, but as we moved into the Fall of the year, I noticed something was missing. My wife and I talked about how we missed the regular flow of church life in a local congregation. But now came the hard part - we needed to agree on a church to attend. We had never had to choose a church home. There were many good options in our area. We never settled on a church that was right for us, partly because they had to have ministry outside of Sunday mornings. This meant an evening service and Wednesday night activities. We entered the new year a bit lost still needing a church home but struggling to find one that met our specific needs. 

Then one Friday afternoon in February, I saw a friend of my wife’s at the local Panera Bread, after talking for a little while the subject of church came up. I told her about our struggles in finding a church and she invited us to her church. This was the answer to our need. They had a Sunday night Worship service and Wednesday night programs. What a blessing it has been to reconnect with a local congregation in the last few months. 

Why did we realize we needed a church home? 

First, we needed to be fed the Word of God. My poor wife has heard me preach the same three sermons again and again in different churches. Also, we finally stopped attending the different churches Sunday school classes as guests, it seems that the seven-foot-tall pastor from the seminary is a little intimidating to the average Sunday school teacher and even class member. I felt like I was stifling their teaching and conversation. Now we have a regular Sunday School class and people are comfortable with us there. 

Second, we needed regular fellowship with believers. When we began to visit this new church, my wife knew more people at than I did. If you know me that is saying something. To see my wife be a regular church member and not the pastor’s wife has brought me joy. I have seen a new side to her and I am glad. I knew some of the elders and have worked on committees with them. We knew a few friends from college as well. It has been good to reconnect with these old friends and make new ones too. 

Third, we need the rhythm of church life. We missed the blessing of being a part of the local church week to week. To know the joys and struggles. To join in the praises and prayers of the people. To invest in these people as part of the group. In ministry, the rubber meets the road in the local church. It is good to remember this when you are working at the seminary where we are preparing people to serve. Being in the local church reminds us of this truth. 

Fourth, it is a blessing to support the ministers and staff at the church. In my church at Lancaster, I was blessed to have several ministers attend who encouraged me. I’m privileged to pray for and strive to bless those in full-time ministry at our church.

Finally, every Christian is called to have a spiritual home. Being in a different church every Sunday is not the same as walking together with the same group of believers. People have asked me what has been the hardest part of changing calls. I said that it was like 100 of my best friends have disappeared. I live in the same house. Shop at the same stores. But so many people I had loved and had been a part of my life are no longer there. I believe a pastor needs to move on from the local church you served, so staying at our old church was not an option. But I came to realize that going to a variety of churches was not enough. You need to have your own church. You need to be part of a body of believers. The local church is a gift from the Lord and you need to take advantage of this blessing from Him. 

Have you soured on the local church?

Have you been burned by people in the church?

There is no perfect church. There is no perfect pastor. However, you need a local pastor and you need a local body of believers to call your own. Having lost it for the first time in my life, what a joy it is to find it again. 

Kyle E. Sims

Kyle E. Sims

Director of Seminary Admission and Church Relations at Erskine Seminary. Principal Clerk ARP General Synod. Pastor since 1999. 6’ 11” former Basketball player.

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