A pastor friend chatted with me recently about how it seems like there is a lot of church bashing going around right now. I agreed, expressing my thankfulness for all our church leaders do. FB and twitter are full of quick links to articles about why people are leaving the church and why women’s ministries are lame. I admit, I read the posts and agree for the most part. I even share them, because they are thought provoking. 8 out of 10 times talks of building projects make me want to puke (NOT this one) and guys, there is really never a time when the "worship" time needs to involve a smoke machine. I get it, sometimes church looks a lot more like a show or keeping up with the Jones’ or just another social club. But, when we throw the church under the bus - I think we are missing the proverbial boat in many ways.
We forget that God did not forsake the church. (Hebrews 10:25)
We forget that we are the church.
When we think of church – we think of our respective denominations and our pastors and leaders. So, when the murmurings begin, the blame is likely put upon and felt most by our pastors and leaders. This is incredibly unfair to them. I have worked in non-profit and lay ministry positions my entire Christian life. I have met together, planned together, prayed with, and cried with many a man and woman at the helm of a ministry. I have yet to meet one that is in it for the money, glory, or celebrity. These are some of the most humble, compassionate, conflicted people I know. They pray and fast and give so much as they follow the call set before them. They deserve honor. I know they get a bad rap, and YES there are douche-bag church leaders, but I have been fortunate to be in the company of true blue, Jesus following, glory to God giving people. So, let’s cut them a little slack and start being mindful of where we place the blame. More often than not our church looks like WE want it to. We give our money to the things WE want to happen. We give our time to the things WE deem important. Maybe we need to start evaluating ourselves, before we start criticizing our people.
Are you aware that good things STILL happen in the church?
My pastor friend, Randy, reminded me of this, just the other day. Perhaps we grow cynical because we stop seeing the good things that God is doing through the church. An esteemed therapist I know recently spoke to our group on depression and specifically mentioned how one of the signs of depression is an outlook filled with “awful-isms”. We see the needs, how we wish church was different and we forget that people are coming to know Jesus. People are taking care of widows and orphans. Food pantries are being filled. People are finding grace and healing and hope because of God’s people – because of God’s work through His people – including organized church. Maybe if we can look beyond our doomsday prophesying and wishing for Jesus to come overthrow the tables of the foyer, we can start looking for the beautiful ways he is already there.
We are a body. When we start our disappointed diatribe on the state of the church, we should be looking in the mirror. I am becoming more and more convinced that if I see something that needs a fixin’ – I need to go to my leaders and ask to be part of the solution. Sometimes, that just means calling and talking to someone about a need or concern. Sometimes it means saying yes to a leadership role because it is the open door to affect change in your church. Maybe it means putting aside church obligations to focus on being the Church (the one with the capital C). If you aren’t part of the solution, you should probably be shutting your big fat mouth. Practice what you preach goes both ways. I can bemoan the waste of time that a fu-fu women’s tea can be, but unless I am willing to go and engage in one – I’m just as big of a hypocrite as the next gal. If I am bummed because no-one is connecting with me, maybe I should start connecting with others. Maybe if I want to see more service and less sitting on our butts, I should be leading the charge. If anything, I should at least talk to someone about doing it and being a part of it, instead of stewing like a human crockpot until my heart is all burnt and crusty around the edges.
That analogy about us being the body - it’s true. We cannot do church well if some of us are sitting on our hands while the rest of us try to fill every spot. You want the church to look differently, be perceived differently, engage the world differently? Before we throw our church under the bus, maybe you better see if YOU look like the Church you want to be a part of.
I will if you will.