The Trouble with Church
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1
I have issues with the church – not only the church I am a member of, but other individual churches, as well as with the church as a whole. Granted, if the church is the body of Christ on earth, it has a high standard to attain. Regardless, I find how far and how often the church falls short of its reason for existence troubling. Some churches have charismatic preachers, with congregations who attend more to be entertained by the delivery of the sermon than to be enlightened by the content of the message. Churches are always asking for money, but many churches divert so much money to facilities and staff they have little left over for missions. Some churches are not welcoming of newcomers, and others offer few opportunities for individuals to become a part of small groups for study and fellowship. I know of churches that routinely allow their children and youth to be loud and disrespectful. Like more than a few other charities, some churches seem to focus more on their own survival than on their stated purpose for existing.
Yes, I have serious issues with today’s church. I have concluded that the trouble with the church – both individually and collectively – is that it does not always serve as I believe it should. I want my church to be informative, engaging, and spiritually enlightening. I want to hear sermons that confirm my understanding of God and the world, and I want to hear the types of music I most enjoy – and I want the songs done well. I have passed along a number of great ideas to the pastor and others, only a handful of which have ever been implemented. I want to be involved in my church, but on my own terms; so I want to help with activities that are fun and that fit my schedule and that are done with people I enjoy. The trouble with church is just that: me, and what I want.
Obviously, the church does not exist solely for my purposes, so I should expect there will be times it leaves me feeling irritated, unappreciated, and even angry. Church often frustrates my desires – which is exactly the point! The church does not exist for me, except to draw me closer to God. The church is a community of believers seeking to do God’s will in community. If my life were perfectly in tune with the will of God, there would be no personal need for church or spiritual disciplines. Therefore, there is tension between what I want, what I need, and what the church provides and requires of me.
My wife and I were married in the church. Many of our closest friends are members of our church. It is our church family that reaches out to us in our times of greatest need with help and support. It is in church we have said our final goodbyes to loved ones. Our church sheltered and nourished our children. The church is not about me, but about us. I guess the trouble with church is not about the church at all, it is the trouble with me…
Come home to church this Sunday. Without you, it is only ch rch.