I once read that you cannot truly love your Pastor and not love his wife. I know it may be possible, but not practical. Believe it or not, his wife is the extension of him, the one that supports him when no one does, the one that listens when the man behind the pulpit needs to vent, the one that takes care of his home while he’s tending the sheep. You get what I mean.
Similarly, I don’t get this mentality either: “I love God but hate my church because…”
10) the sermon is boring. This is a big thing with people when their pastors don’t retort like John Piper or challenge like Marc Driscoll. There’s a great debate as to whether or not a church can survive without a dynamic speaker. I will tell you of an old testament leader who generations followed despite his absent penchant for oration, but God chose him. We place little importance on integrity these days of our leaders who will speak the truth. And let’s be honest, is it really the sermon that’s boring, so we can wait for God to dazzle us with whirlwind or the fire, as if the worship is about us? Or do we come Sundays to really wait on God, and listen closely for His whispers?
9) the people are fake. You know what?! You’re fake! Just kidding…look…everyone tries to put their best foot forward. OK, not everyone, the people that shove it like it is get another title- yes, hypocrites. You really can’t win. Those trying to put their best foot forward and end up showing their humanity are fakes; then those who are too honest to your face aren’t even worthy to be called Christians. In all my years in the church, do you know how I stayed sane with these questions of authenticity of character? There’s a bunch of ways, but one is to remember that I am not perfect. And two: I don’t go church to worship them, but to be in the struggle with them and minister to them, grow with them, and love them. What I love most are the people who shout hypocrite when the hating is practically hyprocritical thinking. Love that.
8) that church is not growing. Despite seeing and hearing testimonies of peoples lives being changed, families growing in forgiveness and love, ministries struggling to serve those in need, charity work produced, relationships building, youth rising into leadership, discipleship training (in and out of the church), children learning about God’s love, reaching out to the poor and needy, church planting, ministering to today’s troubled youth, and especially testimonies of hearts just growing in love for God and the joy of serving in that church, people can really critically guage the church isn’t growing. It must be really powerful to know exactly everything hidden thing that God is doing in the lives of His people in a given church. And I know how accurate it is to look at the numbers in attendance and conclude the lack of growth in numbers is directly proportional of the church not growing spiritually. Have we forgotten to realize that when people leave, new people come in? When leaders must go, servants rise up? If you start counting success by numbers, I would have thought God would have at least given us one hundred fingers, ten eyes, and the ability to go through bodily physical mitosis to accomplish two things at once. I know many admirable pastors who sheperd churches that maintain low attendance and struggle with similar challenges with servanthood. To be honest, even if their congregations never pass 200, I could never say their church isn’t growing. I look at the close disciples and their growth, and measure the potential. Maybe the more accurate thing to say is “I’m not growing.” But then that would require some introspection about why one isn’t growing in that church. Maybe the people are fake or the sermon is boring.
We’ll look into the rest seven reasons in the next few blogs.
But I want to end with this, it’s possible to love God and hate your church, but not practical. When you do or say things to hurt your “church”, I emplore you to take a look at the bigger picture. You’re saying, “I love You Lord, but I hate the people you love, the people who are working as your hands and feet, the people who are ambassadors of His Word, the people who are loving the people who cannot cope. The people who have prayed for me and have ministered to me when I needed forgiveness and love.”
I want to abruptly end before you, reader, doze along, with this passage in James 3, verses 5-12.
5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
Think about such tiny little words that may be exhaled through hurt, frustration, disappointment, pride, malice- small tiny words you feed tiny little ears- ears that may not want to hear the unwholesome talk or ears that love disturbance like honey. Nonetheless, that “tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” But “those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18).