Thursday, January 29, 2009

Definition of church

You may not agree with this post! Read with caution!
This journey I am on has often been a dry, dusty path. And then sometimes a newly paved, smooth road. And more often than I like, a rocky broken road with dangerous pot holes that have the potential of putting me in the ditch. However, I am learning that this road...this journey that I am on is always under construction and some how, some way I will reach my destination one day. But it is my journey. I am taking His hand and seeking truth.
Even if it is a lonely path.

I have attended Sunday school and church my entire life. But as I have grown into a middle-aged adult I have become more and more dissatisfied with church-going. I have struggled with this and have had a difficult time pinning it down until I fell into one faith-threatening pothole after the other over the course of two years. One pothole I recently climbed out of was almost fatal. Fatal, that is, until I allowed Jesus, and no one else, to lift me out of it. I admit, there are many well-meaning people in the church; however, I believe our churches are diseased and sick, lacking Spirit-led leadership, for the most part.

In these two years I learned that ...

1. The church, as we know it, is man-made. Basically created to fit our needs. We are more interested in meeting our needs than loving and serving .

2. The church is a business. When there are staff members who make salaries comparable to CEOs of major business organizations, one must question the true calling of those in leadership.

3. Positions within are too often given to those who "play church" and not necessarily ones who truly want to serve.

4. The church empowers self-righteous, finger pointing. Instead of truly loving people, the nature of the church today is to judge and condemn.

Here is an excerpt from the book The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World by David F. Wells.

In my view, so much of this rethinking confuses rethinking the nature of the church with rethinking its performance. For the multitude of pragmatists who are leading churches in America today, these are one and the same thing. The church is nothing but its performance. There is nothing to be said about the church that cannot be reduced to how it is doing, and that is a matter for constant inventories, poll taking, daily calculations, and strategizing. I beg to differ. These are two entirely different matters. We intrude into what is not our business when, in our earnest pursuit of success in the church, which we think we can manufacture, we confuse its performance with its nature. Let me explain. The church is not our creation. It is not our business. We are not called upon to manage it. It is not there for us to advance our careers in it. It is not there for our own success. It is not a business. The church, in fact, was never our idea in the first place. No, it is not the church we need to rethink. Rather it is our thoughts about the church that need to be rethought. It is the church’s faithfulness that needs to be reexamined. It is its faithfulness to who it is in Christ, its faithfulness in living out its life in the world, that should be occupying us. The church, after all, is not under our management but under God’s sovereign care, and what he sees as health is very often rather different from what we imagine its health to be. The church, let us remember, is called the “church of God” (Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:9). Churches are “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16.16) because they are his, bought by his precious blood. Christ not only constituted the church (Math. 16:18), but God has given us the blueprint of its life in Scripture. What we need to do, then, first and foremost, is to replicates his thoughts about it. We need to ask ourselves how well, or how badly, we are realizing our life in Christ in the church, how far and how well churches stand out as the outposts of the kingdom of God in our particular culture. —David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World (Eerdmans, 2008), 222–223.
So, there it is. That's where I am on this journey. Time to rest and fill up. Tomorrow the road trip continues.

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