2 Principles to Consider if You Are Planning to Move: Advice to a Mobile Society

January 19, 2015

2 Principles to Consider if You Are Planning to Move Advice to a Mobile Society

2 Principles to Consider if You Are Planning to Move Advice to a Mobile Society

A church member or friend comes to me and says, “I’ve got a job offer in another town,” or “I’m ready to do more education and have applied to a few different schools around the country,” or “We’re shopping for a home.” Not surprising for a mobile society.

In the 21st century, people often move for jobs, or education, or buying a new home. Long gone are the days when a person stays in the same town and maybe even takes over the family business. The average American is said to move as many as 11 or 12 times in their lifetime, most of which comes before their mid-forties.

I’d like to suggest two principles for someone who is thinking about moving.

1. If you are considering moving, make sure there is a good church in your new location before you make the final decision to move.

If your participation in a local church is one of the key sources for your spiritual growth (Ephesians 3:10; 4:11-13; Hebrews 10:24-25), why would you take a risk and go someplace without knowing first if there would be a good church near you?

Don’t make your decision to move based solely on criteria like:

  • This new job will be good for your career.
  • Education will give you better job prospects in the future.
  • You’re dissatisfied with your current job so you need to move on to somewhere else.
  • You’ve outgrown your current house, so you want to move to a bigger one.
  • You want a bigger home just because you can afford it.
  • You are about to start having kids and want to move closer to your family.
  • You would rather live in a city or the country or where the pace of life is different.

Here is what’s troubling to me—folks are usually not making church a first priority in their decision to move. Either they haven’t thought about what church they would go to in their new location, or they just assume there will be a good church near them no matter where they move (after all, this is America, where a church can be found on every street corner, right?).

What you shouldn’t do is pick a new career or apply for an education opportunity or buy a new home and have absolutely no consideration of where you are going to go to church.

To do that is to make your spiritual life secondary to your career, educational choices, or home purchase; and that is just flat out dangerous.

As best you can, build your life around a church where you are prospering spiritually—not around your job or your educational training or a new home. You don’t want your work or educational choices or home purchase to jeopardize your spiritual growth.

2. Consider, at some point in your life, committing to a church long-term.

If you’ve found a church where you are growing spiritually, then you’ve found a good thing. Why give it up?

If you stay in your church over the long-term, you have the benefit of:

  • Getting to know the leadership of the church much better and allowing them to get to know you.
  • Getting to know the local community better (which will help your evangelism).
  • Sitting consistently under preaching that is benefiting you spiritually.
  • Building a kind of depth to relationships, which you achieve over 10 or 20 (or even 30) years that you don’t get if you move every five years.
  • Being known by others who have had the chance to see your needs, challenges, and sin patterns over time, which in turn enables them to speak meaningfully into your life and care for you in a way that those you just met couldn’t.
  • Earning trust among leaders in the church so that you might be entrusted with various responsibilities.
  • Earning trust among leaders and others generally that you might be able to speak into their lives in significant ways.
  • Having the opportunity to minister to the children of others as they grow from infancy to adolescence to adulthood, and having the ability to help form in those children’s minds a model of godly adulthood.
  • Building greater unity within the church by growing up with the church.
  • Providing a kind of stability in the church by staying and giving an example of commitment through thick and thin.
  • Being sanctified through being at the same church during different seasons
    • In life—single; married; with kids; retired;
    • Personally—when thriving and when struggling;
    • In relation to the church—contentment, discontentment.
  • When you stay, you get to witness and in turn grasp long-term spiritual growth—what it is like for God to make people more like Himself over decades.

I know this might sound far-fetched, but at some point, it is okay to say “no” to new job possibilities or education or a bigger home because you don’t want to give up your church. I’ve known folks who did that, even in their 20s or 30s.

I have a friend who has turned down promotions because he knows the next level of responsibility will make it hard to stay involved in his church or cause him to have to move to another part of the country. I’ve known college students who picked a school in their own community because they loved their church, or have said “no” to good schools because they couldn’t find a good church in the same town. I know another guy who said “no” to a great job possibility because it would have caused him to move away to another town and (again) he didn’t want to move away from a church in which he was growing spiritually. I’ve known folks who stuck with the same home, even though they could afford a bigger one, so that they could live near their church and be invested in the same community that their church resides in.

Because the local church is the way in which God plans to make His “manifold wisdom” known to the world (Ephesians 3:10) and because a local church is a key to your spiritual growth, you should consider committing to a church long-term.

Join the Conversation

During your last move, did you factor church into your decision? If you did not, can you do that in your next move? What would it take for you to stay long-term in the church you are currently in?

8 thoughts on “2 Principles to Consider if You Are Planning to Move: Advice to a Mobile Society

  1. I understand this. We made a move to a place, where I assumed we’d find a good church for us. But it was not as easy as I expected.

    However, we know that God called us to that place. And we had the support of our “home” church (a place that we HAD, like you encouraged, built our life around). But shouldn’t some Christians intentionally move to a place where there is no solid church?

  2. I think Jesus always sent out the disciples in twos. The apostles often did things that way as well in Acts. I think if we’re moving to start new churches, we’ve got to do it like He said, and follow the examples we’ve been given.

  3. I’m really encouraged by your story, as my fiancee and I see our lives being clalled in a similar manner.

  4. One of the reasons we are moving “home” is to be a permanent part of our church. Although we have never lived in the community we are moving back to on a full-time basis, our trips home have shown how much a community of believers can add to our lives and our lives to theirs. It is a beautiful thing ..and we long for it!

    Our time abroad (15 years) has afforded us with career opportunities but not particularly consistent spiritual ones. We are so looking forward to being truly known by a church body and digging in and investing in this group of people for the long-term. Thank you for the article.

  5. Almost 23 years ago, we prayed for a year about moving to a new town. Part of that time, we spent looking for a good church in that place. When we found that church, the move was certain. We have stayed in that church all this time, and there would not be space enough here to enumerate the blessings. My husband is now a lay pastor in the church and we are committed to its spiritual growth.

  6. We purchased our home to be close to our local church; however, due to leadership decisions and changes in theology, our church of 26 years is no longer a church we can support. Several of our friends have left our church through the years but we made the decision to stay through thick and thin. While I agree with this article, the premise is that the local church will remain a good church and that is not always the case, at least it has not been for us.

  7. Many people don’t have a choice to move. Military service and 3 job layoffs that resulted in new jobs with relocation has left us with 11 moves across state lines. Sometimes I could just “hold fast” and pray for wisdom. Through good choices and bad choices, lifelong long-distance spiritual friends and a split church God has kept us inscribed on the palm of His hand.

  8. I grew up attending Christian assemblies that were very socially, practically, and doctrinally interconnected across great distances. Regardless if I was in LA, Montreal, or Halifax, I would meet Christians for the first time who already knew 30+ people I already knew. In some ways it’s like being part of a “church” spread out across the world – like the real Church is. While it’s very important to be committed to a local church/assembly, the question we grew up asking is: “Would I ever move to a city that did not have an assembly socially/practially connected to the assemblies I have attended for years?”

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