Saturday, February 14, 2009

Slagging on the Church

Over at CT there is an article by Mark Galli on Pastors as Lovers [of the Church]. He notes the cynicism and sarcasm that many speakers of the National Pastors Convention had for the church. I think frustration and anger at trying to turn things around in a church and not being able to, can really suck the joy and wind out of some people. I once asked a pastor friend of mine what was the best thing about ministry. He said, "Christians!" I then asked him what was the worst thing about ministry. He said, "Christians!". Anyone who had know the frustrations of ministry can relate to that.

I'm more than willing to critique the excesses and errors of the Church (be it Western, American, Asian, African, Anglican, Baptist, or The Royal Society of Red-head Exegetical Ninja Storm Troopers of the Sacred Covenant of Holy Doctrine), but there is a danger that the rhetoric of our criticisms become excessive simply in order to validate our egos, propitiate our hurt, and parade our own vision for how it should be. For instance, imagine you went up to your best friend's fiance and called her a "a lazy, stupid, whore". No matter what she had done wrong, your best friend is probably gonna be pretty ticked off at you. What's that mean? Well, the Church is the Bride of Christ, hardly sinless and not yet perfect by any stretch, but remember, when you slag her off, you're insulting Jesus' fiance. Keep that in mind next time any of us say, "The Church is so ...".


Gordon Kennedy said...

Thanks for this, a difficult subject to raise, but one that needs aired.
I was speaking with a friend in ministry yesterday, he said, 'I love the Lord, but hate the Church of Scotland.' I guess you could substitute your own denomination because I'm sure we've all heard, if not said, such things.
I'm always challenged by Paul's prayers of thanksgiving for the church, and let's remember things were not always rosey for the Apostle in Corinth, Galatia ...
If we commit ourselves to pray for the church, for our brothers and sisters in the church can we overcome this sarcastic cynicism which so pervasively afflicts our congregations and denominations.
Not only did the Lord die for his church, the intent of God is to make known his manifold wisdom, through the church.

Craig said...

Thanks for posting this, Michael. A couple of the guys in my church community group seem constantly to have something negative to say about "the church." I think they speak from unpleasant, or perhaps difficult, church backgrounds, and are thus (really) saying "this is my experience in some churches I've been a member of." However, they universalize that to "this is what the church is like," calling her called her "a lazy, stupid, whore." One night at dinner, attended by both these fellows, I'd had enough and told them so in no uncertain terms. [I startled on of them, who was at that time new to the group.] I wish I'd had the fiance idea in mind then.