Churchin’ Ain’t Easy.
I love the church. It feels really good to say that. I haven’t always felt that way. I remember feeling so angry and frustrated, but I would pray “Lord restore my love for the church.” Well, you know how Jesus is. He snuck into my mad heart and taught me a whole heap of stuff while I was at a really unteachable place. Through my church tantrum, I came out on the other side with a whole new respect and appreciation, and with a butt load of understanding about the church. Isn’t that just how Jesus is? He comes in and navigates your path sometimes without you realizing He is working out something amazing. When you come through it you look back and realize you were in the middle of a slow motion miracle. Then you say something really deep like, “Whoa. That happened.” Then you can blog about it. I tried to come up with the excuses I hear most about why folks quit church, and give my personal rebuttal from my own experience. I’m going to play the church’s advocate in the form of a list, because who doesn’t love a good list.
1. “I visited a church and an old lady yelled at me for sitting in her seat.” That is unfortunate, and embarrassing, but let’s use our imaginations here. Maybe she just lost her husband and her family never comes to visit. She is sick and in pain all of the time because her medicines are just to expensive for her fixed income. She is angry. She is lonely. She is scared. She has no security in her life whatsoever, except on Sunday. On Sunday she has her seat at church. She has sat there the last 50 years. Sunday. That’s the day she feels secure. Happy. Hopeful. You know what you could maybe do? Sit WITH her. Talk to her. Love on her. It could change her life. It could change your life. Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
2. “I tried to get involved in that church but they were so possessive!” I know. The thing is passion can sometimes come across as possessive. And psychotic. I’m a passionate person myself and we are a little nuts. When God gives us a vision we tend to just get nuttier trying to work it into completion. We mean well. Perhaps the Lord is working on our controlling spirit, as He is working on your forgiving heart. That’s a 2 for 1 blessing if you will stick around long enough to find out. Psalm 86:15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
3. “It’s to loud.” Remember this. For every person hollering it is to loud, there is a shaky, petrified singer on the stage. He or she is just about to pee (or worse) in there britches in front of God and everybody. Their panicky thumb is pumping away in an upward motion at the sweaty sound man saying to him “Turn it up! I can’t hear the music!” 1 Chronicles 16:9 Sing to Him; talk of all His wondrous works!
4. “It wasn’t loud enough.” Well remember sweaty sound man? Now he is trying to accommodate the old man plugging his ears on the first row. Maybe you should sit in the front row. The old man has made it clear you can hear up there. Then after church go introduce yourself to poor sweaty sound man. While every one else sat in their chairs listening to the service he was serving. And sweating. The. Whole. Time. You may be surprised just how intense and unappreciated that job is. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage one another and build each other up…..
5. “Everybody was staring and judging me when I walked in.” Well I’ve been there. I know my appearance is school teacher conservative, but I can’t take Jon anywhere. But you know, faces are sometimes hard to read. Maybe they are staring because they appreciate your sense of style, or your great haircut. Maybe they are staring purely because your a new face. Maybe some of them are judging, but folks judge you at the Walmart, and ain’t nobody gonna quit Walmart. John 3:17 For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
6. “I don’t have to go to church to go to heaven.” Right you are my friend. The bible doesn’t say believe in the Lord Jesus, and go to church and you will be saved, but the bible does say that going to church is super duper important. Church is where your faith is strengthened through learning, serving, and building relationships. There are many reasons why sitting on the couch watching your favorite preacher on t.v. every Sunday doesn’t cut it.The bible is clear that relationships are really, really important for your growth. Building relationships with fellow believers is not always easy, but even, or should I say especially in conflict, there is growth. There’s going to be times you want to knock somebody in the back of the head with a red back hymnal, even so the bible is clear we need one another. Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
7. “There’s just to many cliques at church.” It happens. Us southerners can get especially thick. Think about it like this for a moment. Some folks don’t have close families. Some folks don’t have families at all. For many, church friends fill that lonely hole in their heart. This goes back to the importance of relationships. It may come across cliquish sometimes, but I truly believe that it is rare that a group of believers will intentionally leave others out. And what about the person who does intentionally leave others out? Well, that person I’d say is broken, and they are exactly in the right place. Church is for the broken. I’m broken. You’re broken. The Lord is putting all of us together, one broken piece at a time. Romans 5:8 But God showed His love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Even the snobs.)
What about bluejeans, or coffee in the sanctuary? What about the fact that its to dark or they sang to many old fashion songs?? We are beginning to split frog hairs 4 ways here. If you are a child of God, you want what He says is good for you. Like it or not, He says church is good for you. So many times we pray that God will bless our families, or our ministries, or our jobs, but I really believe God isn’t going to bless you with something your not willing to work for. My greatest blessings have never been delivered to my door. They came through hard work. At it’s very best the church is flawed. You can look for a lifetime and never find a perfect one, or even one that you agree with 100%. Churchin ain’t easy, and ya’ll I’m pretty sure that is the whole point.