If you can’t find one, change one!

11 06 2015

It seems like they’re everywhere! In fact in some communities, you can find one on every corner.

No, I’m not talking about Starbucks. I’m talking about churches! Baptist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches exists in abundance, in just about every town and city in America. Some are large. Some are small. Some are full of life. Some are dying. Some are great reflections of the body of Christ in the world today. And, well, some are not.

Sadly, not every congregation of Christ followers in America is a dynamic, joyful, transformational, inclusive, inspiring, or missional part of the Church. Some are stuck in another era, irrelevant and out of touch with the world. Some are arrogantly exclusive, welcoming only to people who look and act like those who are already there. Some are so concerned about those who are already there, they don’t have the time or the energy to think about those outside their doors, those who desperately need to hear the Gospel and who are longing for a community where they might love, and be loved. And some, even have really bad pastors. Their elders may not be all that great either; but as a pastor, I will be the first to admit that some of us should never have gone into ministry in the first place.

But worse than all of this, is what is coming out of so many churches today. Some are preaching supposed “good news”, that is anything but! Their messages take shape in an environment wrought with fear and anger — fear of the big, bad world; and anger over the fact that everyone appears to be out to get them. Their approach to faith is born in a literal reading of the Bible, built upon a God who is more like an angry cosmic cop than a unconditionally loving parent, and nurtured by a Spirit who appears to have stopped working centuries ago. The Jesus who is at the center of these churches’ lives is more interested in taking people to heaven when they die, than making them into transformational change agents in the world today.

Some are so bogged down in tradition that they appear to think it sinful to sing anything written after 1600; and others are so contemporary that they wouldn’t know a sacrament if it hit them over the head. Some are so ‘mainline’ that their Sunday gatherings look like scenes from the “Stepford Wives”; and others are so caught up in political correctness that it is ok to believe anything you want, as long as you just believe something. And some are more concerned with what kind of coffee is being served during the fellowship hour than with the homeless person down the road; while others are serving coffee so bad that even the homeless person down the road doesn’t want to drink it.

No, not every Christian church in America reflects it’s namesake. We’re messed up. All of us. And in all kinds of ways.

But ya’ know what? We all know that. Those of us inside the church know that. Those who have walked away from the church know that. And many of those who have never even darkened our doorsteps know that. Further, anyone reading this who is currently looking for a church home, they — you — know that as well. There is no perfect church out there. Period.

So rather than just bemoaning the fact that you “just can’t find the right one,” one that “meets the needs of you and your family,” that “inspires” you, that preaches a Gospel you’re “comfortable” with, or that gives you some “meat” on Sunday mornings that will keep you going throughout the week — instead of allowing any of those reasons, to in any way justify your lack of involvement in a local Body, can I challenge you a little bit here? Because what you really need to do, is to just find the congregation nearest to your home, and jump in! Pick one . . . any one . . . the one with the best landscaping . . . the one that has cleanest restrooms . . . the one that has the best communion bread . . . choose one and just jump in and get involved. Find a church somewhere, anywhere; even it it’s not what you think the church should be. Then, begin working to change it! Get involved, and do what you can to make Christ’s body in the world today what you think Christ body in the world today should be! It really is that simple.

You see, finding a church is not like buying a new pair of shoes. It’s not about shopping around for a product that has already been mass produced, that you can purchase, consume, or wear on your sleeve like a new watch. Not at all. Finding a church is more like that little shell that you discovered on the beach last summer . . . the one you brushed all the sand off of . . . and then took home to wash because didn’t smell too good . . . and that you’re still carrying around in your pocket to remind you of the beauty of God’s creation.

The church is what we make it. And as someone who’s given his life to the broken body of Christ in the world today, I’m tired of hearing people complain about us. If you don’t like us, change us! Join us! Come and be part of us, and MAKE US WHAT YOU THINK THE CHURCH SHOULD BE. I’m interested in what you might have to say. And I think there are many others who feel the same way.


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