I recently read a blog post called I Love the Church. I Hate the Church. The post offers a pretty common sentiment: The church is great, but the author has been hurt by it. So, while she understands and loves the goodness of the church, part of her hates it. I felt a need to respond and did so in the following way:
“I completely understand where you are coming from in this post. However, I think we do a disservice to the Kingdom when we use the word “hate” in regards to the church which is the bride, temple, body, and family of Jesus (www.CreeksideBibleChurch.org/churchas). It seems that what you actually hate is the evil that sometimes exists in the church. I hate spiders, but I don’t hate the trees in my backyard in which they often make their home. The church has far too often allowed itself to be the home of evil, but despite this we ought not direct our hate at Jesus’s bride.” [bra_blockquote align=’right’]I hate spiders, but I don’t hate the trees in my backyard in which they often make their home.[/bra_blockquote]
The author replied to me by saying, in essence, that she stands by her point and is only vocalizing what many are thinking and feeling. I felt the need to reply one more time, here are my words:
“Sarah, let me state more clearly that I agree with your overall point. It appears that almost anyone who has been dedicated to the church has been hurt or disappointed by it. We are on the same page there.
I’ll stand by the fact I think it does a disservice to the church when we talk of hating it. Augustine famously said, “The church is a [prostitute], but she is my mother.” I hate the prostitution of the church, but shan’t hate my mother. Instead, I love her unconditionally.
I don’t often comment on blogs, but think I have felt the need here because of the wide-spread slander of the church in our country today. My generation (I’m 30) has made it a habit to point to the failures of the church and Christians have taken up this cause without much thought. For the most part I find myself agreeing with much of the criticism that is pointed towards by mother, but it worries me when we (Christians) make statements about her without considering the veracity and ramifications of our words. When Christians hate their mother does it make others less likely to accept the gift of adoption offered by Our Father? I’m not sure, but I think it is something we must consider.
Thank you for writing and responding to my first comment. I do think we will all be better for the dialogue!”
I think my reasoning in the above statements was clear and logical. I don’t want to spend the remainder of this blog post trying to convince readers that we shouldn’t hate the church in a philosophical or theological way. Instead, I want to support the above points and defend my “mother” by writing briefly about two fantastic events that our church was apart of over the last two weeks. I know that many who read our blog aren’t part of our church, but I want to briefly share about them because they were great and point to the greatness of church (I’ll bring it all together at the end).
The first was our church’s annual VBS. Every year people do a great job of putting on this event. It is a lot of work, but we feel it is worth it. This year’s installment was unique in two ways. First, our volunteers were ultra enthusiastic. It is normal for us to have awesome and dedicated people that help make VBS happen, but this year their energy was through the roof (if we had been inside this might be literal). It was genuinely inspiring to see people serve God and have so much fun at the same time. You should see some of the dance moves (more here and here)! The second way that this year was unique was in how many kids came that don’t go to church; over half of the kids who attended don’t usually attend any church. I’m not sure if this was a product of our moving VBS to our church property, the ever decreasing percentage of people who go to church, or some other force, but it was really cool to be able to share the love of Jesus with kids who haven’t heard much about him. Kid’s world views are being influenced daily by music, TV, books, teachers, etc. It was a privilege to be able to teach kids that God loves them and can help them get through the difficulties of life.
The other event was a benefit festival for a new non-profit called Basic International Inc. Their mission is to to help with disaster relief locally and internationally. Their “current focus is Haiti – [where they] help to rebuild churches, orphanages, and homes.” I, and others in our church, are connected to the founder, director, and heart of this organization. Several months back he asked about our church being apart of an event to share their vision and raise support. This event, “Back to Basics,” took place last Saturday and was a success. Bouncy houses, pony rides, and free tacos brought the people, our band provided the live music, and I offered a sermonette about giving money to ministry. It was good for our church to be apart of something that didn’t directly benefit us; we were able to support another ministry and glorify God.
These events were fruitful, but even more they showed the true beauty of the church. People, as I stated in my comment on the aforementioned blog, seem to bash the church without hesitation. My generation consistently wants to point to the failures of the church. I was told of someone Sunday who doesn’t “believe in God anymore” because the church has been responsible for so many “bad things.” I am tired of this attitude amongst Christians. Sure, the church has been responsible for evil, but not that much.1 In fact, the church has been responsible for FAR more good than evil.2 It is time that we stop focusing on the bad things our mother has done and start remembering how fantastic her achievements have been for the world.[bra_blockquote align=”]It is time that we stop focusing on the bad things our mother has done and start remembering how fantastic her achievements have been for the world.[/bra_blockquote]
I’ll end with one of my favorite happenings from the last two weeks because it shows the beautiful nature of the church. Every year there are many kids from other churches who attend our VBS. One family who is strongly connected and serves at another church has brought their kids to our VBS for years. We love the kids and feel rather connected to the family despite only seeing them annually. At our VBS carnival and through email we invited people to attend Back to Basics, telling them that it would be fun for kids and would support a new non-profit that was doing good things for God in Haiti. Multiple families, not from our church, took us up on the invitation, including the family mentioned above. After her kids had finished jumping around in the bounce house I was talking with their mom and she told me that her husband was Haitian. I had talked with him once a year for however long his kids have been coming to VBS, but did not know his nationality. It turns out, this was the reason they had come to the event, not for the free tacos. Later in the evening I talked with him and he told me that his mom is still in Haiti and that he used to have an outlet to visit her and do mission work there, but it was no longer an option. Promptly I introduced him to the director of Basic International Inc. and by the time I left the conversation it sounded like he would be going on a mission trip with the organization where where he could help with translation and offer a true Haitian perspective. Because of church, kids will be fed, houses and churches will be built, and the love of Jesus will be spread.
It is easy to minimize the importance of church and to focus on her negative aspects, but with stories in mind such as the one above, we ought to remember the goodness of this God-ordained organization. We should be slow to slander and quick to compliment that which whom we were born into a new life through. I would love it if you left a comment below sharing a story about something significant you have seen take place in or through the church – it is always good to give your mom a compliment.
On a different note…
I have several subjects that I am excited to write about in the next few weeks: 1) Historical evidence in support of celebrating communion weekly. 2) The dangers I see in making church too simple. 3) The importance of preaching in church gatherings. I hope that you will subscribe to the blog so you can be notified when these posts go up. And, if you haven’t read any of Matt Conniry’s posts on doctrines, you should. It is a fantastic series![bra_border_divider top=’20’ bottom=’20’]
1. Don’t believe me? Read the free PDF version of The Irrational Atheist.
1. Don’t belive me? Read What’s So Great About Christianity.
A pastor I know once said, “I have never been so loved as by Christian brethren and so mistreated by people within the church.”
It is good to remember the Church, although His bride, is not perfected in this fallen world. There are also some within the flock that do not belong, and others who are not living righteously or do not have others in mind with their goals.
I like the analogy of the spiders and the trees…
Hi Victor. Thank you for reading and commenting.
I think it is important for us to be honest about the imperfections of the church. To deny them or to pretend they don’t exist is to be outright dishonest. However, my problem is with the flippant slander of the church by so many in the church. Considering the metaphors listed above, it seems we should be careful when talking about this God-given organization. As I sit here, three things come to my head: 1) My wife’s husband is far from perfect, she knows this better than anyone. Yet, if someone were to say, “I kind of love Chad and I kind of hate Chad,” she would be hurt. Does Jesus feel hurt when like this when his “bride” is spoken of in this way. 2) This is something I should have thought of when writing the post, but it is only coming to my mind right now. When I was in college a baseball teammate of mine gave an impassioned speech in which he said, “I can’t stand Chad, but I love him as a teammate” over and over. The point of the speech (I think) was to encourage people to play with a greater desire to win. The speech was less than affective because it left people thinking, “Wow! He can’t stand Chad.” I think we feel a need to be overly open about the problems with church because it might help us connect with those who aren’t a part of it. But, I think we run a huge risk of leaving people thinking, “Wow! They can’t stand the church. Why should I be apart of it?” 3) I can’t think of one time in the Bible where the church is spoken of poorly by Christians. Sure, churches were spoken of negatively, but never The Church. The Church is always spoken of in rich and beautiful terms (This is off the top of my head. I could be wrong.).
I didn’t plan on responding this long! This subject is important to me right now. I finished my blog post yesterday and then last night vented further with someone at our Connect Group. I just love the church and want her to be spoken well of!
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