Church – what is it good for?

Being upset with the Church is very natural and very commonplace. It is an inevitability for most of us after the first ‘honeymoon’ stage of Christian life gives way to the harsh reality that Church is full of broken people just like us. In my frustration with Church over the years, I have often walked completely away from it.. mistakenly identifying the failings of the people around me for a failure on God’s behalf. Eventually I realised that, while Church was often irrelevant to my struggles in life, Jesus was always relevant. I came to terms with what Church was, what it wasn’t, and got on with being a follower of Jesus.

In that sense, being upset with the Church was an important ‘middle’, but a very poor ‘end’. As a Christian, I constantly live in a place of tension between the Kingdom I long for, and the one I see around me. Often, other Christians play a part in this dissonance. This is regrettable, but it always happens when people are lazy or nominal with their spirituality.

If we did away with CHurch and used some other model of communal worship and preserving wisdom traditions, we’d just come up with a whole other bunch of problems. Because we’re human, and humans stuff everything up, over and over again. Whatever denomination (or even religion) we belong to, the human ego (especially in a post-enlightenment western society) is geared towards familiarity, security, and comfort. That’s why it is so easy to let a Church or a Pastor do our thinking and growing for us. Lets be honest.. we’ve all been lazy about our spirituality at some stage! God is much bigger then any one church or tradition and if we equate the Kingdom with the Church, we are in for a big disappointment I think.

Church itself is not the problem I think, and it has an important part to play in making the Kingdom a reality. Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. As mature Christians, we need to be able to live in tension between the world we see, and the world we long to create. When we have a healthy appreciation for the strengths of Church (accountability, orthodoxy, support, encouragement, richness of wisdom and tradition etc) then we benefit greatly from these, and are able to (at worst) tolerate its failings, or at best, be a active agent in its transformation.


~ by humblemonkey on July 31, 2009.

8 Responses to “Church – what is it good for?”

  1. Sweetly put, I’m going t link to this article from my blog.

  2. Cheers Mark.. where’s your blog?

  3. […] Here’s another man’s thoughts on church. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Thoughts on church – A Broken BodyWhen God Builds a Church: EvangelismChurch of England offers free beer in churchTwittering in Church, With the Pastor’s Encouragement […]

  4. I agree with your main point. In my thinking the issue isn’t the fact of the Church it’s the lack of love and unity we bring to that commumnity and thus the consequent intolerance grows. It’s easier to live in false certainty that belief in right doctrine brings than to embrace the personal challenge presented to us: to truely “love one another as Christ loved us” and “to be one” as are Yeshua and God.

    Such is the challenge that faces us and always faces is: between spirit and doctrine, grace and law, mercy and judgement. Does the current Church, with its plethora of denominations, really want to do this or does it really believe in its current approach?

    It seems to be a human trait for us to need to so organise great ideas and experiences that we end up being in command of them and their distribution. Which is historically been what the Church has done with the mission of Yeshua.

    Do we do nothing, work within or start yet another denomination?

    Worth a chat I think.

  5. Totally lachlan, but how do we encourage this love and unity? We know people aren’t transformed unless they surrender to the call to take what Jesus said seriously… but Pastors and Priests have despaired for centuries over how to facilitate this process.

    The ‘current Church’ that you talk about is a vastly complex and varied animal. What I am encouraged by is the emerging consciousness that I see among Christians (especially young ones) of every denomination, a consciousness that recognises this need to live somewhere between orthodoxy and mysticism, and to take Jesus seriously. That is why we are seeing things like the emerging church, new monasticism, new friars, and a growing non-violent resistance movement around the world. It is fresh, exciting, grounded in tradition yet also in the realities of love and suffering. I’m hopping in their Waka and seeing where it takes me. =)
    A great video on this stuff here from my favourite Franciscan:

  6. I like what he says. Very much my own thinking as well. What I need to do now is to get in touch with a christian community that is on that journey. I’ve been out of touch for too long.

    You have probably heard of Jim Wallis and his “Call to Conversion”. You would enjoy that I think.

    Good blog bro!

  7. Bro, I’m all over Jim Wallis like a monkey on a banana! Just finished off God’s Politics now..

    Glad you’re enjoying reading, please keep the comments and the conversation going!

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