Friday, March 26, 2010

Into Jesus But Not the Church

Sometimes people tell me that they believe in Jesus but not the organized church. Such people normally go on to tell me some story of how they were hurt by the church at some point in their past. That negative experience soured them on the institutional church but did not make them abandon their belief in Jesus.

I can relate to these people because I understand how it feels to be hurt by a church. I have been underpaid and overworked by the church since I began working for my first church at the young age of 18. Often the people in church who demand the largest portion of my time and energy are the same ones that complain the most about how I go about doing my ministry. There is nothing more frustrating than pouring your life into someone only to have them turn on you when you least expect it. I know exactly what it means to be hurt by the organized church because I have experienced such hurt more times than most people could endure.

Yet, I continue to remain loyal to the organized 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 be frequently disappointed. But if I focus on the Head of the Church, Jesus, then I will love the church, even when its people disappoint 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. Think about how many soup kitchens, homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, youth groups, job training programs, after school programs, and other community programs are operated by churches. Churches have facilities and structures already in place to help those programs operate efficiently and effectively.

On the other hand, how many of those same types of programs are operated effectively or consistently by an "unorganized" group? While the church might not be perfect, it seems to me that if we dismantle the institutional 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 institutional church, we should become more involved in the church. We should become part of the solution instead of just a complainer about the problems. After all, WE are the church, so if it is to be fixed, we are the ones to do it!


  1. I needed to read this. Thanks.

  2. Isn't it awesome that it is JESUS that saves us...not the church. The church is just saved sinners..still flesh and blood. Thank you Terry for spreading the gospel of Jesus in Barre and surrounding area.

  3. Allen Burns, CEF missionary to South AfricaMarch 27, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    Good post. Have you read “Stop dating the church” by Joshua Harris? It has very good insights as to why Christians should have a commitment to the church. Keep on turning out the helpful material.

  4. Good subject that needs to be discussed.

    I have found three distinct groups or generations that are involved in churches that hurt. All people of capable of hurting others but in the church, certain groups seem to be more hurtful.

    First, the pioneers are planters and by faith they carve something out of nothing (sounds Biblical). Next, the settlers move in and begin to build fences, barns, and big houses to protect their investment. This sounds Biblical also. Thirdly, apostates (many times,third generation) develop who have heard about great trials and great faith but have never personally experienced them. This group begins to establish many traditions and rules... again, sounding very Biblical.

    Churches that plant and pioneer are less negative and seem to be less hurtful. Yet churches with people are always prone to this.

    Praying for you every time I drink Green Mountain Coffee.

  5. Thanks for the blog, so true. Been there,know what you are sharing.

  6. Thanks for this encouraging word about frustrations in the church. I'm a young deacon, long time chistians and church goer. I often get frustrated.

  7. I found this to very good, & I too have had some experiences that might have caused some people to just quit. Not me!!!