I recently heard a couple discussing reasons as to why they left a certain church. They kept telling me that they loved the doctrine, they loved what they heard from the pulpit, and they loved what they learned. What drove them away from this church was the attitude of some in the congregation. As they have been searching for a new church to attend, they said they had found many churches with good doctrine but most lacked a good attitude.
As I asked them what they meant, they stated that they were looking for a church without cliques. They were tired of seeing favoritism and partiality. Some in the church they left made them feel part of the body, but most did not. They came to the realization that it was time to move on from that church when they found themselves engaging in gossip at home.
As I sat and listened with horror to their being hurt by a local church body, I was amazed at their maturity to recognize their own sinfulness and need to find another church home for the sake of their spiritual growth and maturity.
After the conversation, I prayed to the Lord that I would not only guard my doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16) but that I would also use my doctrine to drive my practice. The scriptures teach that the church consists of many different parts functioning as one body (Rom. 12:12-13, 1 Cor. 12:12-13) and that the Lord shows no partiality (Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11).
May we be ever mindful as ministers in training that we need more than just good doctrine. We must love the people we are called to serve. As an under shepherd or leader in a local congregation, it is our responsibility to see that we are meeting our people where they are and not expecting them to meet us where we think they should be.