Friday, May 17, 2013


Staying In Church

Jeff Dunn @ iMonk with a lament I know well:
I have been in church, involved in church, serving the church, working for the church, sweeping up after the church for going on 40 years now. I’ve been in the back-room meetings that dictate what happens on the stage. I’ve been in meetings that discuss how to market the product we were selling (the Sunday service) to attract more customers (tithing members).
 I have worked with numerous motivational speakers who call themselves pastors, but who do all in their power to avoid ever having to even brush up against a sheep. I have seen lighting schemes in sanctuaries that put some Broadway theaters to shame. Video cameras TV stations would love to be able to afford. I’ve even known churches to rent those hideous spotlights that rotate on the night sky like the Bat Signal.
I go to a church that, for the most part, avoids being a full-blown circus. But even there I’m tired of singing the same emotionally-soaked songs week after week. I don’t need to watch movie clips during the sermon. And I really don’t need a comedian using the pulpit to try out his stand-up routine. Yet still I go—at least, most Sundays.

Why? Why do I keep going? I know that my salvation does not depend on my attendance record at church. I didn’t use to know this, but I do now. And to own the truth about this, most Sundays I’d rather sleep in, or go take a walk, or read—anything but go to church yet again. After 40 years, I don’t think I’m going to see or hear anything new.

Dunn looks at 2 Sam 21:15,16 and concludes:
This is where my church comes in. These are people who know me, know my faults and failures, see me as I really am and still accept me. They are there to stand with me, encourage me, fight with me. They are not afraid to tell me when I’m doing something in a wrong or hurtful manner. Their encouragement at times is hard to swallow, just like medicine that could save my life, but they give their encouragement still.

I need my church. And, somehow, I believe they need me. Me, as I am, with all of my failures, all of my warts, all of my scars. I’m not as strong as I think I am. I cannot do this faith thing alone. I wasn’t meant to. And yet that is my temptation these days. Just let me have my books and blog sites and fellowship occasionally over lunch or coffee and I’ll be fine. But Abishai sees right through me to my exhaustion, pushes me aside and kills the giant that would have killed me. I don’t always like that. I still like to see myself as a giant-killer, but life has taken its toll on me, and I really do need others to help me.
I agree, but I would add one caveat - there is a time to leave. It's rare, but it exists. When the church does not want to get better. Every church in some sense of caldron of dysfunction. So long as the church sees the dysfunction and attempts, even if failing in the attempt, to overcome it, the church is as healthy as things can get. Watch out for the church the revels in its dysfunction.

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