Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If It Was Easy, We Wouldn't Need A Commandment To Do It

When you invest your life into a ministry in the smaller local church, it becomes way more than just a job or a place of ministry. You love it fiercely and work and dream and pray for it multiple times a day. So like the Philippian Jailer's example below, when people come with a litany of issues and say they may start looking for a new church, or worse - up and leave without notice, it hurts. Hasn't happened lately, but it's happened, and when I read about it anywhere, I wince.

By now I've been here long enough to see people leave for frivolous reasons, for pride's sake, because their feelings were hurt, or because they didn't get their way. But every now and then I'll get something like this:
My friend Kathy had just finished recounting to me the myriad insufferable problems with our church. The theology was impure, the congregation was insufficiently devoted, the leadership was distracted and divided ... in short, the church was hopelessly off-course. She and her husband were thinking of leaving for another church that promised better everything: from the pastor to the laity to the doctrine. It was time to go find a congregation more pure, united, and Christ-like ... well, you know, like those wonderful first-century churches.

"Okay, Kathy", I said. "I completely understand. I just ask you one favor. Call me when you find the perfect church."
HT: The Philippian Jailer: In Search of the Perfect Church:

You should read it all.

If your church has holes that you spot, what if God has placed you there to fill them? How will it ever get to be more effective in its areas of weakness if people don't step up and serve?

I know it can be tempting to find an easier place, a shinier building, more of this or that and yet...
...like in marriage, the glory of committing yourself to a particular body of believers is in actually honoring the commitment. If loving one another was easy, we wouldn't have to be commanded to do it. Every church has problems, many of them severe. Every church struggles, changes, has bad apples, and goes through ugly trials. It is the nature of a congregation of sinners that they will, in fact, sin, and that will be unpleasant for all involved.
HT: The Philippian Jailer: In Search of the Perfect Church:

Yes it is. We will in fact, sin.

We will in fact, fail
from time to time in different areas.

There will be times when we move too slowly to fix what needs fixing.

There will be changes we do make that just don't work out. And yet...

Again from the Philippian Jailer's post
In relationship to my local church, as in my marriage, fidelity must be my first and overwhelming inclination, my consuming passion, and my ultimate objective. As long as there is still love for Jesus present, there is still work for me to do in the place where God has planted me.
There are some things that can improve, some things that have improved, and some things we do well here. We are NOT perfect by any measure. But God has worked here and is working here. Lives have been changed and are being changed. Relationships have been born and continue to be.

If you serve your church. If you love her, and love Jesus, then bend your heart toward making it your forever church home. Bend your knee frequently to pray for her and for her pastor(s). Build a relationship with him so that you can help by not just spotting what needs fixing, but pointing out how you and others you enlist can help it get fixed.

It won't be easy at times. But it will be the right thing to do.

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