Monday, May 18, 2009

Into God But Not Church

I frequently hear people say they are into God but not the organized church. Normally they have been disappointed in some way by the church but are not ready to give up their faith completely. Having worked for a church my entire adult life, I understand how it feels to be hurt by a church. I have been underpaid and overworked my entire life by the church. Often the people in church who demand the largest portion of my time and energy are the same ones that complain about me the most to everyone else in the church. There is nothing more frustrating than pouring your life into someone only to have them turn on you and attack you. I know exactly what it means to be hurt by the church, I have experienced it more times than you can imagine.

Yet, I continue to remain loyal to the church. Perhaps it is because I understand that a church is made up of people. And people are not perfect. Even Christian people make mistakes. I have learned the value of forgiveness and the need to keep my eyes focused on Jesus, not people. If I focus on the actions of people in the church, I will frequently be disappointed. But if I focus on the Head of the Church, Jesus, then I will love the church, even when it disappoints me.

When thinking about the organized church, one must be practical. From a practical perspective, it would be difficult to accomplish much without some kind of organizational system to help make it happen. How many soup kitchens, homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, youth groups, job training programs, after school programs, etc are operated by churches? Those churches have facilities and structures already in place to help those programs operate efficiently and effectively. Do you know any of these types of programs that are operated effectively or consistently by any “unorganized” groups? The nature of the universe requires some system of organization. And it seems that if we “dismantle” the church, we would just have to turn around and recreate something quite similar in order to accomplish the same things. Why not just keep the organized church to begin with?

Perhaps instead of complaining about the church, we should roll up our sleeves and get involved in the church? Perhaps you and I are the solution the church has been looking for? Perhaps you and I are the ones to help the church finally become all that it should be? Perhaps the God we say we love wants us to lead the church that He loves?

These are thoughts we must consider before we abandon the church, even when it disappoints us and hurts us. You and I must BE the church!

3 comments:

  1. It is easy to criticize churches today with the scandals that seem to find their way into the headlines regularly. But the Body of Christ is the cutting edge in a dead, decaying world and we would do well to remember the war that is raging.

    I am certain that a soldier in a combat situation would prefer to have better equipment, more thoroughly ... Read Moretrained fellow soldiers or less hostile enemies. But we, like they, must fight the fight on unfriendly ground, with flawed peers and the gear we have been issued. With that in mind, we do well to press on.

    Those that talk of abandoning the church would be akin to a soldier that refuses to fight. Who among us that has been forgiven could look across the aisle and esteem himself better that the rest of his fellow grace dependant soldiers? As you said, we need workers to climb in and get to it. Anyone can stand on the sidelines and criticize but reform happens from the inside out.

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  2. Yes, Terry. Everything you have written - Yes, yes.
    We, too, as unpaid laymen get friendly fire and get weary. People don’t understand that church workers and staff often don’t know THE WAY and they have to pray and seek the Lord. When THE WAY opens up and we minister according to His known will people SEE results. But so many are missing this WALK with the DESIGNER of THE WAY. He just wants them to return to Him the love He has for them. How He misses their fellowship.
    They should fear His wrath. Yes, surely His patience is of an infinite nature. We can’t understand it finitely.

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  3. Looking for practical ways to put some of the principles in this blog post into action? Purchase my book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church. The first part of the book explains why bivocational ministry is biblical, normal and missional. The second part of the book explains how to mobilize the laity to do high level ministry in a team setting with the pastor so that the church can be effective in reaching its community for Christ.
    The book is published by Crossbooks and you can buy the book directly from them at:

    http://www.crossbooks.com/BookStore/BookStoreBookDetails.aspx?bookid=58188

    The book is also available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles.com and a many other online bookstores.
    If you live in Central Vermont, you can purchase a copy at the Faith Community Church in Barre, VT.

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