A friend of mine and I were having a discussion the other day. He is a Christian but does not have a “home church.” He was telling me of listening to a message online from a church he has attended a few times. The message was on the tithe which he felt was in error as it did not take New Testament teaching into account. I am not sure where I stand on that. I get where he’s coming from on one hand, (God owns and deserves everything) but on the other hand I know how many churches struggle financially because the members of the body do not even come close to the tithe. I found myself getting too emotional in the conversation because as a pastor, I need all the help I can get. Believers foregoing corporate worship is a sore point with me.
Yet part of me understands it. A wise man one told me that ministry is easy, except for the people. It’s true we come together with lots of baggage, rough edges and wounds and we often manage to hurt each other. We have difficulty coming under authority, humbling ourselves and forgiving. All those traits are relational time bombs waiting to go off. Yet I maintain the answer is not to give up gathering for corporate worship.
I guess the thing that hits me the hardest is the fact that while I acknowledge that in some ways the church is broken, I also feel a call to do my part in fixing it. For that, I don’t need people who will wander in as consultants, tell me what’s wrong with me and then bounce out of my life again. I’ve been pastoring the church of the revolving door for too long.
Don’t tell me what’s wrong with my church, or even how to fix my church and then walk away. That’s not what I need. I’m not infallible and I do make mistakes, but I don’t need a consultant and I don’t need a critic. I need some folks who will climb into the trenches with me, come to the word with me and hash it out with me, battle by my side and help me. I need people who care about the vision God has given and the Kingdom of God enough to get their hands dirty. Your idea may be perfectly valid, you may even be right, but don’t expect me to change anything I do in the name of God before you show me with your faithfulness that I can trust you. Don’t give me an idea or something to do unless you are willing to put your own effort behind it, and for pete sake, don’t tell me I have to do something because God told you I do. The people I trust most are the ones who will join me in the trenches.
Funny my friend would tell me the church is not the building, it’s the people and he would be right about that but I don’t believe that the church will ever be fixed from the outside. I believe the church is a body that needs all the parts to function. We can’t amputate ourselves and really make a difference.
Plug back in and join us in the trenches.