My grandfather is a minister, my father is a pastor, and I’ve worked in a church.
I’ve seen dirt.
After living in four cities and being a part of three church-splits, I have felt my fair deal of pain. I have felt the confusion when friends begin doubting church leadership I have trusted. I’ve felt the anger when people leave the church without explaining why. I’ve felt the world tip sideways when a pastor’s secret life is exposed.
I’ve felt a lot.
But I don’t have to tell you that. The reality is if you are a Christian, you’ve felt a lot too by now.
You don’t have to be a pastor’s kid to see the underbelly of church dynamics. Heck, that’s the newsroom’s favorite subject. Scroll through Facebook, turn on the news, read a paper.
There’s no way we can’t see it. It’s like we’re holding a magnifying glass over it all the time.
And we should care about our church leadership. God puts a heavy call on our leaders. If we find ourselves in a church with a leadership lacking in character or Biblical truths, we need to do something about it.
Now that that’s out there, that isn’t what this blog is about.
This blog is about shifting the magnifying glass away from our church leaders and landing it on our reflection.
Not long ago, I found a church that I thought finally “did it right” only to watch it end in yet another church split. God used that experience to create a dramatic shift in my heart towards church. Rather than anger and bitterness at the church, like I experienced so many times before, I just felt despair.
I decided I wasn’t going to let myself go through the same cycle I had been through a million times before. I wasn’t going to dwell on what went wrong with other people, become bitter, and stay skeptical of future churches.
I was going to dwell on what I could have done differently and trust that despite the mess, God was still there.
You see, we Christians say that “the church isn’t just a building” all of the time. And we get that part right, we see it as more than the building. But I’m afraid we are still not seeing the full picture. Our actions often imply the church is only the pastors, elders and deacons – and we are just the people that attend.
We are proud to be a part of our church when the church is doing great things and getting along. But when trouble comes, we take a step back and watch the mess unfold like a bad show on Netflix.
We don’t take ownership.
What if instead of focusing on the mess, we focused on what we could do?
After so many previous church messes, my husband and I made it a priority when we got married to stick to a church until God literally pushed us out.
We decided if we didn’t like something, instead of complaining or wishing it was different, we would be the change we wanted to see.
Now, we aren’t doing this perfectly, trust me.
But my attitude and heart towards church is in a completely different place than it was a year ago. I don’t approach church like a reviewer for Yelp anymore.
On Sunday mornings, I go to meet God in the mess, not to look for the mess around me.
That means I am able to truly worship God when the worship leader is off-tune and I hate the song choices. That means I am able to ask God what He would have to teach me that day even when the message bores me and I accidentally zone out for half of it. That means when I see that the church is lacking in an area, I don’t have to get frustrated, but I can take ownership and be a part of the change.
What if instead of visiting churches and leaving if they don’t welcome us well the first time, we just choose one and stick with it? Then we take the uncomfortable, awkward first step and decide to begin meeting people and being the welcomers?
What if instead of being angry that our church doesn’t serve, we organize a service project?
What if we were the change instead of the critic?
It could just take one or two people initiating change to create an entire new culture in the church. Most churchgoers are just waiting for leadership to tell them what to do.
Be the leaders.
Friend, what bothers you about your church? If your church leadership is truly following the Lord, can I challenge you to take what bothers you and pray about it? See how the Lord stirs your heart. He may be calling you to do something, or he may be asking you keep praying about it (by the way that is doing something, too). He may even change the way you are viewing it all together.
Church leadership isn’t perfect. Our pastors are going to sin. Side note- isn’t it great that the Gospel they preach about applies to them?
Lets pray for our church rather than rate it’s performance.
That doesn’t mean God will never call you away. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever question your leadership.
It just means you should question yourself first.
Jordan Sok is a 20-something writer, Christian and newlywed. Her personal blog encourages her readers to “embrace the awkward,” because the way she sees it, a lot of “awkwardness” is simply feeling uncomfortable because something is out of the norm. And maybe that is a good thing. Her blog focuses on a mixture of topics surrounding the 20-something Christian life- the good, the bad, and the funny. Oh, and the awkward.
Publication date: January 5, 2015