Have you ever really disliked your church? If you’re in ministry, you probably have.
Your mind wanders over all the problems…
- Why does my church have more than its fair share of wierd people?
- Why are there more dysfunctional families gathered in my church than anywhere on the planet?
- Why is my church growing at precisely negative 800%, while every other church in town is growing by leaps and bounds?!
- What is up with my people’s giving? Haven’t they ever heard of “tithes and offerings?”
- This church building has got to be on the Top Ten List of Most Ugliest Buildings on the Planet. I’m ashamed to call it “God’s house.”
- What part of 10am don’t these people understand?
- If any of my staff members has one more “family emergency,” “sick day,” or “couldn’t make it to work” excuses, I’m going to puke.
- Do people think I have the attribute of omnipresence? I can’t be preaching your great-aunt’s funeral, visiting the shut-ins, and giving you a ride because your car broke down all at the same xtime!
The stupid-church syndrome is due, in part, to our own selfishness and pride. It would do us well to look up from our navel-gazing, to see what God is doing through the church in the world.
- Your church is part of something big and powerful. Christ told Peter, ” on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Does this sound like your local assembly, with its 84 attendees, and insane budget deficit? Not likely. But take a look. Christ is the one who is building the church, and although your local body may not look like much, you are part of something more vast and mighty than you realize.
- Your church is ultimately under the leadership of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22). Leadership is hard…and lonely. For those who are in ministry leadership positions, it is relieving to realize that Jesus is the Head, not us. When you’re tempted to despair at your own puny leadership attempts, or to scorn the efforts of those who are in leadership, keep this in mind. Jesus is at the helm.
- Your church is part of a glorious display of God’s wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). One of the most jaw-dropping roles of the church is one that Paul mentions in Ephesians 3:10. Somehow, someway, the church is showing “the manifold wisdom of God” to heavenly hosts. Who are these heavenly rulers and authorities? Likely, they are what we would think of as angels, but we’re not entirely sure. It may be best to simply realize that we have a message to proclaim—a message of God’s wisdom—to an immense and authoritative group of beings. This is an incredible responsibility and privilege, and every local assembly is a part.
- Your church will ultimately bring glory to God (Ephesians 3:21). No doubt about it, the going is sometimes rough. But the outcome is glorious. Literally. The church as a whole exists to bring glory to God, and that is the outcome, regardless of how awful you think your church is. Listen to what Paul wrote: “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all the generations” (Ephesians 3:21). Did you catch that? Glory in the church. It’s not a potentiality, it’s an actuality, brought about by “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
- Your church is going to improve. One day, we’re promised, the church will be different. It’s going to be perfect. Jesus is on a mission to “present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27). Regardless of how many blemishes your church has right now, and how ugly they may be, Christ is working. He takes an intense interest in every single local church (see Revelation chapters 2-3).
Your church may have its share of late-comers, tight-fisted givers, grumpy saints, and dysfunctional families, but the church is still a glorious thing. Celebrate it. Rejoice in it. And get ready this Sunday to participate in it, “to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).