I have not had much experience with churches where the prevailing mentality is “entertain me” or “meet my needs and wants.” I’m not interested in Joel Osteen or any other prosperity preaching, anything where the self and empowerment and material blessings come first.
On the other hand, I’m not interested in churches or groups where service to God and others implies the non-existence or non-importance of self. I was in a cell group in college that had that mentality — it was cruel. In the year before the cell group became official, I was welcomed, listened to, considered, accepted, and prayed for. Among other things. The following year, I felt like I had to shape up or ship out — I think they actually did tell me that the solution to my depression and anxiety would be to forget about myself and serve others.
I just finished reading some information about some ways of doing house churches. My overall impression is that they’re like that cell group — as long as you have no self, with no needs or desires of your own, as long as all you want to do is give and serve and sacrifice, then you’re welcome.
Maybe it’s just my experience that makes me shudder.
There were also words about loving one another, but it sounded a lot more like “you had better love the other members” than “we are going to love you.”
How easy it is for churches and Christians to fall on one side or another of any imbalance!
What must come first, be top priority, is the Gospel — not preaching or serving the Gospel (not first), but knowing and believing the Gospel. The more each individual understands what the Gospel is, for him or her, the more he or she will be able and interested in loving others and serving others.
Fill that pitcher before you try to pour it all out.
And? Trust God to do the pouring. It’s not your job to tell people how to serve, or when, or how much, or how frequently.