There’s a lot to the word “perfection” that elicits a strong reaction among most human beings. We know that perfection is unattainable. And we know that perfection, as a goal, can be a dangerous thing. We know...yet we often find ourselves caught up in the never-ending rat race to attain it.
Not just as people, but as the Church.
In the context of our airbrushed, edited, and carefully curated culture, the mentality of perfection seems to have seeped into the mentality of the church. And it might be putting us at risk of tainting the message of the gospel as a whole.
In her Relevant Magazine article, “How Churches Can Make Perfection an Idol,” Rachael Quirin writes about her experience serving in a mega-church. There was a constant push-and-pull between two forces—excellence and perfection—that put misguided pressure on every part of church work... from the perfectly produced worship experience to perfectly showcased ministries to perfectly presented ministers.
The question is, are we contributing to this problem, or are we helping solve it?
There is a lot of finger-pointing happening when it comes to mega-churches as a whole. But, in truth, a mega-church is literally a mega-“body.” As the body of Christ, the church is made up of many people: many yous and many mes. A bigger church just highlights more of us. It brings out the best parts of our culture and also makes our weaknesses so much more glaringly obvious. Quirin writes:
“Perfection is a constant battle we all try to focus on. Perfection is always staring us in the face. When a church focuses more on perfection than excellence they can start to care entirely too much about image. Instead, authenticity and transparency get overshadowed by the constant need to have a perfect image.”
And the result?
“Many megachurches lose the ability to post the ugly and raw parts of outreach. They can sometimes focus more on showing the good they’re accomplishing than celebrating the people they’re actually reaching out to.”
We need to remember that the Church isn’t some distant, distinct entity—it is us. If we are to shift our focus away from perfection, it starts with you and me. It’s not the church “over there” we should hold solely accountable, or even culture as a whole we should blame. We are the church and we are culture. And we, in our daily lives, are the ones who determine the direction the body of Christ is going.
If you want to test whether you’re helping your church worship perfection, see how you react to imperfection: a mess-up in worship, an error in an announcement, or even a failing in a leader.
And before letting the pendulum swing the other direction, we need to remember there is a balance the Lord calls us to maintain. As the God and Creator, He IS excellence. And He IS perfection. But He is also perfect grace. He is the Master Artist, forming breathtaking beauty, and He is also the Redeemer, using our broken experiences to create something stunning. He wants us to strive for excellence, because it is a reflection of Him.
Grace is in equilibrium with excellence, always. May you and I—the Church—be the ones to reflect that.
Article date: July 14, 2017
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock
Cristina Rutkowski is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com.