Ok. So, that’s a pretty diplomatic title for the series of discussions (aka “can of worms”) I hope to open up in the next few weeks. I hope that you will join me and throw in your input. To put it in more bluntly, one might ask:
“Is the church broken?”
I have heard some say that it is. At first blush, I might want to agree. But, I just can’t. Not because I’m convinced that church as we know it is find and dandy, but, because of something that happened about a year ago…
I was in prayer — at our church, as a matter of fact — praying for the church, at length. And, suddenly I had to stop, as I felt the the voice of Jesus, with such tenderness, yet with great strength say to my heart:
“My Church is not broken. It’s under construction. Won’t you help me build it?”
It was disarming to say the least. A total paradigm shift in my thinking and my attitude. Sure, things are not all good and well in the Western church — but Someone is very interested in us, and has intention to bring us into the fullness of His plan. Not only that, He’s looking for those who will help Him.
I guess that’s kind of where this discussion comes in. I’ve been pondering, praying –whatever you want to call it — about the state of “church” for a while. And, I’m not sure I have any solid answers. I’m not just talking about the particular church that I’m a leader in. I’m talking about ALL of us, at least in the western world (those in the East seem to have something good that we don’t — but, that’s another topic).
Many of you have been invited into this exploration. Thanks for reading this far! Please stay with me! Here’s what I’m hoping we can do: I want to ask some questions, pose some ideas, share some of my opinions (they may not all be right!), and then ask for YOUR feedback. I am by no means writing this thinking that I have all the answers! I’m looking for some people who are willing to throw in their two cents and honestly wrestle with things with me. Can we do that? I only ask that we try to stay constructive and not do too much blaming. But, by all means, BE HONEST. I’m planning to post a couple of times a week. So, all I need from you is about 10-15 minutes to read, digest, and post your thoughts. I’m really pumped about this! But, if I can’t get a good number of you to join in, it will be a bust.
So… my first thoughts to ponder and questions:
In this discussion of “what’s wrong with church”, there are usually two sides of the conversation. On one side are many well-meaning church leaders trying to figure out why all of their hard work seems to be producing so little. On the other side are the church-goers (for lack of a better term) who faithfully attend and who talk vigorously amonst themselves about what is good, bad, or could use improvement. Unfortuntatlely, these two camps hardly talk to each other about these things. The leaders look to the latest church growth method, or to the church where the Spirit seems to be moving, or to the church down the road that seems to be “working right” – all in search of the answer that will “fix” things. The faithful begin to look for a church that feel will better “feed them”, where they “fit in better” or where they feel it’s being “done right”. Even more unfortunate is that in each group, there can be a tendency to criticize and place blame on the others for all the problems (“If only the people would do more….”; “If only the leaders would be more . . .” etc.). We all have the solution (or, so we think), and believe that if “they” (the other group) will get their act together, the problem will be solved.
I don’t know if we’ll truly solve all the problems or change the world in this discussion, but, who knows, what if we can? 🙂 At least maybe our eyes will be opened a bit more by seeing from one anothers’ perspectives. And, maybe can we move towards productive, constructive change. I will admit there are some churches/ministries out there that seem to be doing very well, but, by and large, the Western church does not seem to be happy and healthy.
I hope to tackle some crazy, intense questions like, “What IS church?” “What’s the purpose of church?” “Why do people go to church? Why do people leave church?” “Should church be concerned about being culturally relevant? If so, how much is enough/too much?” “How does Jesus feel about this church that bears His name?”
So, my first questions for you to answer:
How satisfied are you with your current church experience (scale of 1 to 10)? Why?
What do you see that is good about church (in whatever form you know it)?
What do you dislike about church as you know it?