There have been approximately 1,284,956 posts about Americans disgruntled with “the church”. And I think there have been as many more responses. I feel I need to add one more reply because:
- I have a blog and I can.
- That’s it. Just (a).
The internet is FILLED with complaints about “the church”. Mind you, I’m not exactly sure who “the church” is right now. Is it Evangelicals? Fundamentalists? Lutherans? Catholics? Methodists? Mennonites? Para-churches who are feeding the poor? TV evangelists who are exploiting for money?
For this post’s sake, lets say “the church” is everyone who believes in Jesus as Christ Messiah.
Most of the grumblings I’m reading are the result of being hurt or offended by organized religion. I totally get this. Some who name themselves Jesus followers are idiots. I’ve been cheated on by “strong Christians”, led astray by senior pastors, and offended by preachers as I’ve listened to their sermons. I’ve blamed the politics of a denomination, the egos of leaders, and the lame reason of “this is how it’s always been”.
But to put the blame on “the church” as a whole is misleading because then I am blaming you as a fellow believer and part of the body, which is all wrong. I do tend to stay away from toxic individuals or groups which make up part of “the church”, because they are actual people and some actual people actually suck.
I did not stay with these communities with which I took issue. As a family, we searched to find a place where we fit. And let me tell you – it was dang tough. I finally told God – I don’t see what I’m looking for. We’ll start a home group of our own.
Right about the time I told God my plans, He laughed and introduced me to a small group starting a church plant of their own. This time, we found others with whom we share like values and ideas.
The community we worship with now –
welcome everyone, no matter the baggage
welcome everyone, no matter the belief
serve the poor
help the hurting
preach from the heart
break bread together – and soup, and salad, and gluten-free desserts.
If something ever were to happen and the people with whom we do church change – I’m talking significant value changes where we’d all have to be vegan or wear only yellow* – we would probably say our goodbyes and find another community.
But I will not quit “the church”. To do so is to throw away the sacrifice of the early apostles, the freedoms we have in this country, and the commands of Jesus**. Not to mention the message leaving “the church” says to those dying across the world for owning a Bible. It’s like telling countries with no access to clean water that we let our faucets drip and throw clean H2O down the sewer every day. It just proves our society’s spoiled selfishness.
If you feel the need to leave “the church”, I challenge you instead to be the change. Yes, thousands have written identical thoughts and this is just one more time you’ll read it. My intolerance comes into play when people complain and criticize without action.
The 5th book in the New Testament describes the beginning of the early church. Because of the actual labor which went into gathering believers it’s named, The Acts of the Apostles, not The Whiny Tirades of the Apostles.
Change will only happen with work; elbow grease, get in the trenches, become uncomfortable, love your neighbor (including those who are buffoons), dirty work.
If you’re someone whose butt warms a seat in worship and you bemoan the problems of “the church” without being part of the community – Shut. Your. Mouth.
However, if you consider yourself part of “the church”, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12: “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Now go act like it.
*Not that there is anything wrong with veganism or wearing all yellow. It’s just not my style.