I’ve been around the church a long time, in fact all my life.Nowadays there seems to be a lot of negative writing about the church. Truthfully, we all know someone who is bitter because of some church, pastor or priest. I’m a pastor. Lots of people have been angry with me over the years. Lots of people have left my churches because of issues with me. Imagine that! Some people don’t like me, my style, my leadership.Statistics show that some types of churches are in serious decline- and in the USA alone, about 1500 pastors or more leave the ministry every month.
There seems to be two approaches to take on this. First, the church, flawed and supposedly disconnected, should be abandoned. Closely related to that would be the idea, “Quit church and just do your own thing. After all Jesus is within you and the Holy Spirit is everywhere so you don’t need a “church”.Second, the church has people in it…”no one is perfect”…so just shut up and put up and all will be well.
I’m not ready to give up on the church, nor am I willing to cover up.
Here are a few reasons:
1. Jesus said he would build His church, and I should add- with people. Never in church history has it been perfect. Yet it always survives. The church is an act of God. I should never make light of that. To ignore the church is to ignore God.
2. Its purpose has never changed- to be Jesus to our world. In that, it has often failed. Yet in every church I have ever been a part of there is someone who is very Christlike who makes you realize that Christ is real and He is there. Those people have affected me permanently.What about the bad examples? Well…I wonder how many were turned off knowing that Judas was stealing money from the disciples’ treasury and yet no one did anything about it. In the end Judas hung himself.How many left the church when Paul and Barnabas had their falling out or when in Corinth immorality was rampant? Many! But the church is still necessary- even with all it’s failures. It was then and it is now. It serves Christ’s purpose even when it appears to be failing.
3. The presence of God is there. My father attended a funeral awhile back where the woman who had passed was a part of an Eastern religion. He commented to me that the night before he had attended a small, what you would call, dead Christian church. No life, no energy. He said to me, “Even in that dead church I felt the presence of God; but the next day in that Eastern funeral there was nothing.” He went on, “I saw the difference. Every church has the presence of God.”
4. Most of the good- the lasting good- that happens in God’s kingdom today happens through or in an organized church. That fact is undisputed. For me, I’ve met God there a thousand times, in worship, in prayer, through a preaching or in the embrace of a friend. I was saved, water baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, called by God, and have had countless God encounters, all in formal church.I think for a moment… if I removed from my life all the encounters and experiences that I have received in church, I would be a mere fraction of the person I am today.
I’m not suggesting that just being a church attendee will radically change your life, but it helps.
I could go on. What can I say. The church has problems. It always will. The church has failed at times- true- and yet it has also succeeded every where it has been planted. Leaders have failed- true, but there are men and women who have ch
anged their world for God- and most are in the church.
I know I am coming on strong in my last statement, but I fully believe if you want to leave a spiritual legacy of any kind you’ll have to do it through the church. Fifty years from now no one will remember the disconnected bitter believer- but they might just remember someone who walked with God and others, embracing the flawed church and its flawless Savior.
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