I heard another rant recently. This one on the lack of relevance that the church has in today’s society. The ‘rager’ relentlessly blabbed on about the large percentage of young people leaving the church and the impending ‘death of Christianity’ in the United States.
I get it. Church attendance has been declining over the decades and fewer churches seem to care.
I get it. Church leaders are afraid to push lazy congregations to do more, be more and impact more because it might take change.
I get it, but I’m sick of it and I’ll tell you why.
First, a bit of understanding. For those of you who don’t know, the church is both organism and organization. The organism-church is the alive, active movement of the people of God living in Jesus on the breath of the Holy Spirit. God describes the organism-church as the ‘bride of Christ’ and likens it to a body. Seen and unseen, it is the Christ-followers that seek piety, purpose, and impact in our families, communities and world.
The organization-church is the organism-church, gathered in clusters — big and small — around the globe. These are the institutions. These are the church buildings. These are the budgets, programs and ministries that operate as a business hopefully with the intention of supporting and furthering the work of God in the world through the organism-church.
Organism and Organization. Woven together in a beautifully messy dance that stumbles across the stage of a fallen world.
No, we’re not perfect. (Duh – palm slap my forehead). We are human and humans are fallen. We get lazy. We get comfortable. We are selfish and sometimes rude. But we are the church and — whether you know this or not — most of us in leadership are trying to move the needle. We see the stats. We watching the dwindle. We encourage our staff and the organized church toward mission. Some don’t. Many do.
For me, I love the ambiguity of the thing called the local church. I love how, even in our frailty, the Holy Spirit changes lives.
When a women comes to me after the service in tears because our organism-church gathered as the organization-church has been praying for her family and she has started to see change, that’s when I love the church. When people who have been marginalized by society can find a place of welcome, friendship and purpose, that’s when I love the church. When a student realizes that when they die, they know without a doubt that they’ll be in heaven, not because of their efforts or by simply being a good person, but by the death and resurrection of Jesus, that’s when I love the church. In all her brokenness
Ranter, we hear you, but lighten up. Yes, we have a lot of work to do — work that is getter heavier with every passing generation. But your battle isn’t against flesh and blood. Your flamed cries of negativity deflates instead of inspires. Spend your energy storming the gates of heaven with us, asking for a revival. Put your relationship with the Spirit ahead of your ratings with the readers.
Some day, we will celebrate together the fact that God never let his church — in all of her imperfection — be wiped off the face of the planet.
(Special Announcement! I’m pleased to announce that a brand new podcast will be starting next week on my site called, “Take Back Your Life.” For a summary, click here)