Ever notice all the bad press we give the church? Blog posts constantly talk about what is wrong with the church. Seminary students sit around and talk about everything that is wrong with he church and develop their plans on how it needs to be fixed. People stop participating in the church because they say it doesn’t work. It almost feels like you cannot be considered a thought provoking Christian these days unless you are willing to talk about everything that the church is doing wrong. We need a perspective change. This fad is going down a dangerous road.
Let’s start with the root of these discussion. We say the things we do about the church because of personal experiences with local churches. We take the negative elements of those experiences and paint a universal canvas of the churches common problems. “The problem with the church is that it is not evangelizing enough.” “The church needs to do better at meetings the needs of the poor.” “The church needs to be relevant.” “The church needs to show love more.” All of these statements are based out of local experiences form local churches. There are certainly local churches that suffer form some of these issues, but is it fair to say that it is a problem of the universal church. Is it fair to say that the church is no longer effective?
Here is where things get particularly complicated. It’s Christ’s church. So we end up laying claim that a creation of Christ is no longer effective. That makes things a little awkward. We sit around and talk about how we need to fix God’s church. We discuss what needs to be done to fix what we interpret Christ’s church to be. It ends up making things exclusive. We end up caring more about making things look the way things they are supposed to rather than helping people move along in their personal journey. We want the destination, but rebuke the progress that it takes to get there.
I love the church. I love the real church. It is more than a love for a local church. The church is so much more than that. The church is a family. It is the body of Christ with Him as the head. He is the one who takes the lead. The problems is we have arms, legs, feet, hands, and all other parts of the body deciding that they don’t like how an individual piece of it is going. The hand grows disenchanted by an itch on the leg and proclaims that the whole body is suffering from a terminal disease.
The church is going to have issues. It is going to have moments that make us disenchanted to it. Many of us feel our most pain and sorrow out of people within a local church body. It hurts the most because it is supposed to do the most good. When it doesn’t it becomes a bitter situation. It leaves us hating the whole thing.
What if we developed another perspective though? What if we looked at the bigger picture. The reason for the messy parts of the church is because it is made up of broken pieces. That leg doesn’t seem particularly effective by itself. It makes poor decisions and tends to go places it has no business going, but with the proper body lead by the proper head it manages to be effective. It finds its one true place where it belongs. That is why the church itself is a living miracle. It takes individuals that are broken and hurting, and brings them together under the leadership of Christ to perform something with significant purpose.
Of course the church is going to be messy because it is made up of messy people. That is part of what makes it so incredible. The church is filled with those who are a work in progress. It is filled with those who are all going on a journey. The beauty of the church is that we happen to get to have the opportunity to go on that journey together. I love the church because I love the one who made it.
I’ve learned to be cautious with statements where I claim what I believe is wrong with the church. The reason is simple. I am part of the church. If something is wrong with the church then I am saying that something is wrong with me. If I see a problem then I need to actively be part of the solution. It is not a solution brought based off of what I think the church is supposed to look like. It is a solution based out of personal sanctification for how Christ proclaims to me how I am supposed to be.
Don’t just give up on the church because a local church burned you. Don’t just hate the church because of one experience. We are a work in progress, but are work is being done by the one who can actually do something about it. I urge you not to highjack that control of perfection, but rather welcome you to be an active part of the process.