There is something wrong. Terribly wrong going on around us.
Nearly monthly I have people come to me and tell me how hurt they are by the church.
I’ve always been the type of person people open up to. I’ve often wondered if I have “ Free counsel” stamped on my head and often considered opening a roadside stand like Lucy on Peanuts.
I have had people speak over me from the time I was a teen in youth camp that I have the gifting of help.
Can you get more vague please?
In any case, I think part of my non specific gifting must be lending an ear and having something worthwhile to say to help a person’s situation.
This combined with the fact that I am quite vocal with my dissatisfaction with the American church probably find me a safe sounding board for a dangerous topic.
Now to be fair, for the longest time I pooh poohed the thought of people leaving church for a break to seek God on their own, due to exhaustion of church politics and ugliness.
Then I and my family experienced the very ugly side of church life.
First, we saw dear pastors and their families torn to pieces like by ravaging hyenas.
I held the hand of a pastors wife during a business meeting as she sobbed and told me the insults and daggers hurled at this faithful families direction. I sobbed with her as she squeezed my hand sharing her pain.
Then we experienced it ourselves. Just crazy out of control church jealousy and insane obsessions over status climbing.
You think the whispers and rumors you get are bad, try being chest bumped and screamed at at the altar while holding your toddler and baby. And called a foul name- all in front of a visiting missionary. Birthday party invitations are serious business in the church yall!
I get it now.
The church is often a painful place.
Im sorry to all the people I probably rolled my eyes about in my younger days before I peered behind the curtain of the modern church.
Its scary back there!
Its also NOT okay to discuss this. AT ALL.
Lest ye tarnish the garment of the faultless church.
Because you know, nobody sees through the facade...
Sadly, in so many churches we are expected to carry on the whole stained glass masquerade where all is well, and life is perfect.
Reality in fact is far from this and the very body that is to operate in truth obfuscates it and creates a culture of dishonesty.
This culture of masquerade keeps so many holding their hurt inside, smiling through pain, not wanting to bring up the taboo of criticizing their church and becoming ostracized.
Lets face it folks.
Church these days is more often like a trip to the coliseum than a worship service.
Looking around the congregations and the conversations therein you would find yourself more apt to believe you were on the set of Mean Girls than within the Body of Christ.
"she wore that?'
"how did THEY become friends with the pastor"
(^this statement usually precedes a campaign of character defamation to tear down anyone who dare unintentionally climb the sacred social ladder of the church, gasp)
"I have been here longer, i should be the sunday school teacher and i'm also long time friends with the pastors mother which obviously qualifies me on spiritual matters"
Its not just the women.
Deacon boards often have become like the mafia strong arming those who don’t agree into submission or running them out Off “their” turf- rather than being a sprit guided force of direction for the church.
It’s a sad state of affairs and its no wonder people are fleeing the pews or taking breaks from the organized church.
I’m no great theologian, I don’t claim to have answers or even insight really but I think one of the underlying issues of the American church could also be contributing to the ugliness we see being
slung between congregants.
WE HAVE NO PURPOSE.
We of course do have a purpose.
We have many.
But church, done in the usual way these days, amounts to a gathering of people coming together to sit, hear a sermon, maybe praise and worship depending where you are, “fellowshipping” and going about life.
There is nothing connecting us, unifying us - no larger cause to drive us together giving us a collective outlet to put our energies into.
Church, we are to be out there being hands and feet.
The very body of Christ.
Do you think this metaphor was given to us just to sit that body on a pew and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done?
People ask all the time why God isn’t here God isn’t there.
We know he is.
We also know we live in a world with free will, a fallen world and those two things mean there will be unpleasant circumstances in every life.
We know God is still there , because we have faith in the unseen.
But what about the lost.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier for them to see Christ intervening in dark situations if
HIS BODY actually showed up?
We are the representation of our Savior on this Earth.
Our feet are to walk to the broken. Our hands to feed the hungry. Our arms to wrap around the hurting.
Because when we do that it is not us who does that but He who is in us.
When we go out people then see His hands feeding them, healing their wounds. His feet rushing to help the broken, chasing after the lost.
You see church was never meant to be a building in which to gather.
The church was his people
. And his people were to be busy.
It wasn’t for poetic prose that his last directives before returning to heaven were “Go into all the world…”
He was always saying go.
Not sit on a pew and listen to fifty more sermons this year . * and that is just the “slacker church goer who skips evening and mid week services*
I don’t recall much in the way about being told to go and listen to sermons.
I know we aren’t to forsake the gathering together of believers but I cant help but wonder what those biblical times consisted of… the church of those days seemed to be operating in the Holy Spirit in their community not sitting in ivory towers pontificating on one verse a week, singing a few songs and going about their merry way.
Perhaps, if we, the church, put our energies into walking out the calls and duties set forth for us clearly in scripture- not only would we see a huge return of people to the church but we would see the unity that every pastor shouts about from the pulpits.
If the church came together and went out and worked together to fulfill the duties of the church, feeding the hungry, caring for the orphan and the widow in their need, laying hands on the sick, seeking the lost. … and on and on. … maybe if we all actually put our hands to the plow together we would not only expend all the pent up energy that is now being used to criticize each other on trivial points and being overly concerned with minor details of church business and each members stance on issue x,y or z, but we would realize that we are one in body and purpose.
Can you imagine.
The Church, spending more time outside the four walls of A church, working together , taking their pledges of reaching the community seriously and actively…
Can you imagine the good not only for the community and the lost, but for the church.
I have people come to me consistently and telling me how hurt they are by the church.
But I also have people coming out of the wood work and telling me they agree with me.
That they are aching and burning to do more.
A sermon isn’t enough for them
Their hands need to help.
Their feet need to go.
I think there is a change on the horizon.
I don’t know that every church will get it.
But I do know that there are plenty of people out there being called up and out of the pew, people who get it , that the change will make a difference.
In the meantime can we all just agree to pray for our churches?
At this point praying for unity is a moot point.
We aren’t ready for that.
Can we pray for our hearts to be changed, to be opened?
That God would give each person in our church a calling, a directive, a purpose to walk out one of the duties listed for us Christians in his word?
If we would just grasp that the things required of Christians in the Bible or still required of us today and sought God for what he would have each of us do right now, I really think we would not only change our churches, but the world.
If we would rally around those in our midst walking out callings of God on their lives and seeking Him for our calling.
With everyones hand to the plow, no fingers would be left to point accusingly at the outcast.
With a purpose, maybe the churches today could find that elusive unity that we keep hearing about.
Until that day…