As a kid, I grew up loving church. This was mostly because it was fun and the people there showed an interest in me. I learned about Jesus’ love, got to sing fun songs, and sometimes earned prizes in children’s church. VBS was always a fun time, too, and I loved church camp. It wasn’t until many years later when I realized something very important.
We are a broken people who come together to make broken churches.
We’ve all got stuff. You’ve got stuff. I’ve got stuff. As the Bible points out many times, none of us are perfect, except Christ. And yet, we are called to come together and form groups, which make up one gigantic body we call the church. Of course, it’s going to be broken.
The question is: Are we going to allow its brokenness to be a hindrance or a catalyst to the growth and expansion of God’s kingdom here on earth?
Today, I’d like to confess something to you all that I recently realized. I don’t follow Paul’s command in his letter to the Philippians. I complain. More specifically, I complain about the church. Even more specifically, I complain about the church to my wife. While many of you may think complaining about the company he works for is a normal thing for a guy to do, let’s think about this a bit further.
My wife, who I am called to lead, is hearing a ton of negative things about Christ’s bride. This is a woman I am supposed to love, as Paul says in Ephesians, just as Christ loves the church. But if I am showing a consistent disapproval of the church, how do I expect my wife to feel? And further, if I had kids, and they hear the negativity, how would I expect them to feel about Christ’s bride if they are constantly hearing negative thoughts?
I have a feeling that I’m not the only church leader that acts like this every once in a while.
Here’s the thing, though… The church is made up of broken people who have a ton of issues. And yet, Christ is still at the head! And in the middle of all the bad that the church does, there is a ton of good!
Yes, it is easy to get overwhelmed about budgets, paperwork, and other office-related things. It is easy to see all the things the church should be doing to reach even more people. It is easy to see the people we let slip through the cracks. It is easy to see the lack of volunteers. It is easy to see the times when giving is down. It is easy to see the leaders who are not leading properly. It is easy to see all the brokenness, and it is really easy to focus on that.
But let’s take a step back for a moment and focus on the other side of things that often gets overlooked. Let’s look at all the ways God’s people are reaching out to those in need. Let’s focus on the churches that are giving well over their monthly budgeted need. Let’s focus on the expansion of the church in areas where Christianity is illegal. Let’s focus on the people who are able to serve their local body and make a difference in the lives of those around the world at the same time. Let’s focus on our volunteers who really get it and are full partners in the ministry. Let’s focus on the parents who understand their roll at home to be the spiritual leaders for their children. Let’s focus on the injustices that are being fought day after day by Christ’s bride.
The church starts to look a little bit different now, doesn’t it? Yes, still broken, but thriving — not because of us, but because of who is at the head of this body.
I recently got to see a church that has some leadership and administration issues. They’ve also got some people who don’t feel like they fit in, and they have problems attracting and keeping volunteers. However, they are reaching thousands of people every Sunday morning. They are meeting many needs in their community by strategically attacking injustice. They are consistently giving more than the budgeted need.
It is really easy to focus on the negative, but once I took a step back to see the big picture, it was wonderful to just praise God for what He is doing in the middle of their brokenness.
We all have a choice to make. We can easily sit around and bad-mouth the church and expect it to do all these things for us. Or we we can start to look for the good and be change-agents to make things even better.
I am grateful to be a part of God’s church — a church that is filled with broken people, but who has a God that loves us and still wants to use us to expand and multiply His kingdom.
There are no perfect people. We are all broken. And when we come together, we make up imperfect and broken churches. But I am grateful that we have a God who is completely whole and perfect, and He can do amazing things through us!