I am a big fan of my church. Its not perfect mind you, no local expression of Christ’s bride will be this side of eternity, but I love it. God uses it regularly to encourage, convict, and stir me. I just wanted to say that my church is a wonderful gift from God, a gift by which God promises to mature me. I thank God for my church.
I felt the need to say that because I want to be an empathetic Christian, and thus I make a regular practice of reading blogs by Christians and following Christians on Twitter who I don’t quite see eye to eye with. I do this for a number of reasons–I want to know how people feel about the church and be open to hearing from people who differ from me. In this endeavor, I read blogs, articles, excerpts from books regularly by people who for various reasons, slam the churches they grew up in. It is very popular to criticize the church’s failures and perhaps equally unpopular to sing its praises. The stories of churches who do silly and hurtful things are myriad. But who is telling the story of the imperfect but striving-to-be-faithful church? Perhaps some churches deserving slamming, but its worth saying that a particular local church whose carelessness compromises its testimony doesn’t mean the church is worthless or that there are not faithful churches out there.
I don’t know exactly how faithful my church is but I know the members of my church care for me, I know they support me and point me to Christ. I am not declaring that my church is one of the faithful few, but I do want to say that being a part of my church is absolutely indispensible to my walk with Christ. I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Perhaps you have had a bad experience in a particular church or maybe you don’t really like the local church you are going to. Whatever your experience–if you treasure Christ, you really ought to consider what His Word has to say about the church. Your church probably isn’t as terrible as you think it is. Remember the people who make up your church deserve the same empathy you feel your not getting from them. By yourself you cannot change your church, but sitting on the sidelines complaining helps no one and only serves to make your church suffer more.
I am not unsympathetic to those who have been burned by a church in the past and I don’t know your particular situation but I do know that there are faithful churches out there just waiting for people who love Jesus to come and be faithful members of them. Certainly there are probably parts of the country where a “good” church is incredibly hard to find, but on the whole, my guess is that those who hate the church aren’t trying hard enough. Before you throw stones, either try to find a faithful church that will challenge and encourage you or start making efforts to help the church you have given up on be more faithful to Christ and to people.
Maybe I am wearing rose-colored glasses because I think my particular church situation has been largely encouraging, but given the regularity of the “I got burned by my church” story, I just think the story of one guy who has been a part of a few great churches is worth telling.
With that said, you might be encouraged by this article I wrote about how God has designed the local church and how we can make the most of our gatherings.