No Church In The Wild is a series where the Talented 6 members will discuss faith, religion and the church from our perspectives. We will examine the relationship millennials have with God drawing from our upbringings, beliefs and experiences. Some will defend, some may accuse but we hope all posts spark conversation. Here’s Part 1.
Wherever you are right now I want you to recall a memory, of a time when you had a day. Like one of THOSE days. When any and everything that could go wrong did. One of those days when it feels life itself is conspiring against you. Now let’s dig a little deeper, when you were going through that hard time or found yourself faced with a fork in the road moment, who did you call on? When you felt like you were at your breaking point who did you consult? What did you fall back on to help propel you forward?
Today, less people than ever answer God. Why is that? That’s a big question, one that as my grandfather would say, “Is above my pay grade.” The answer to that question contains nuance and layers that are too deep to discuss holistically in a blog post. But I do want to examine one part of the equation which piques my interest – how God and the church are perceived today.
Pimps, crooks and robbers, are words commonly used to describe pastors and their organizations. That church is the reason you are single! The pastor just want all the women to himself! I’m not giving that preacher my money, all they do is steal your money! These and other accusations are frequently hurled at the church. A quick Google search on any of these topics return countless posts within seconds decimating the body of Christ. A lot of people that make these indictments may feel they were wronged by the church. Maybe their congregation did not support them in a time of need, maybe they went through a traumatic experience that shifted their paradigm or maybe they feel the church simply does not do enough for others.
Now, I am not naïve. I know all pastors and ministries do not exist to serve God’s people. There are some churches led by pastors who treat it as their empire. Individuals that see their position as a way to yield power, influence and control. But here is something to remember. They are all humans! Pastors are men and women not deities. As long as humans fill positions you will have people messing up, no matter the industry or organization. It’s in our nature. We make mistakes. You see it in every field, including the church. Do they deserve passes? Absolutely not. Have some received passes? Definitely so, and it is wrong, full stop. With that being said, why does the church as a whole have to be slapped with a label?
If you go into any business or office building, you will find every person has a different “why” for doing what they do. And depending on which person you encounter when you come in the door, they can shape the way you perceive the company. Some just want to make money to pay their bills and could not care less about the performance or perception of the company. Some truly buy into the mission statement and the vision pouring their all into every day. And some are burnt out, fatigued and hate their job and everything the company represents. The same can be said of churches. So maybe you came across a member or congregation that operates under the wrong “why.” Maybe they don’t preach and teach the Gospel as Jesus charged them to do, but please, don’t throw a label on the church as a whole because you stepped into one that was tired and broke down. That could’ve been God letting you know this isn’t the one for you.
Any flourishing church has to have an impact on the community. First and foremost spiritually as the primary mission of the church is to win souls for Christ. However the responsibilities of the church extend far beyond the soul. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Any religion that professes concern for the souls of men and is not equally concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried.” In other words, the church also must care for the “outer man.” Whether that means feeding the hungry, providing clothing and groceries or covering the homes around the church in prayer, there should be some signs of service and influence on the community.
What can be a better change agent for our communities than God and the church? On the spiritual side, I’ve seen lives changed. I’ve seen people set free. I’ve seen individuals healed. I’ve seen families restored. On the physical side, I’ve seen dozens of families walk out of a sanctuary with thanksgiving dinner groceries they couldn’t afford. I’ve seen joy on the faces of children who got a toy on Christmas only because of a church sponsored toy drive. I’ve watched members step up and into the gap for a parent in need. And I wonder how many more could have been helped if not for skepticism?
I truly believe in the church as a major change agent for our neighborhoods. I know there are people out there hurting, I know there are people who need a hand. Could it be that our frayed relationship with the church has disabled our greatest vehicle to effect change in our communities? Where are we giving other than a good biblical church that could do more good for a neighborhood in need? Why don’t we put our money where our mouth and people are?
I wrote this post because I believe in the church as the body of Christ, and I believe in God as the remedy for anything we face today. Whatever the need, God’s got it and that is why a relationship with Him and the church are so important. I say this as a witness. I owe every good thing that has happened in my life to Him. He has opened doors and given me opportunities that have changed my life forever. He has given me peace and joy. He’s given me life. And I would not have any of these things if I didn’t have a relationship with him, facilitated through the church.
Is the church perfect? Absolutely not, not even close. Are all accusations hurled upon it without cause? No again. But can you tell me one role performed by man that is perfect? Has man done anything unblemished? How about a government agency? Than what is the answer? If you ask me, I say God and by association, the church.