Church was never meant to be safe. Loving, accepting, forgiving and transforming? Yes. But not safe.
Joining God on his mission to redeem a fallen world is probably one of the most dangerous things you and I can do. Because living out God’s dreams for His church has more to do with mission than comfort—more to do with sacrifice than programs and more to do with serving than being served.
I hope this section will be the start of a rich conversation about what it means to be the church—calling us to something greater than ourselves. So send in your engaging articles and reviews to help the conversation progress.
As for me, I am a pastor but let me be honest—I don’t wear ties, I get queasy in hospitals and I’m often apologizing for my quick-but-untimely wit. I guess you could say that I don’t really feel qualified—but I do believe that I am right where God wants me.
For some, following Jesus in the midst of the church is a paradox—you’ve probably heard the phrase, “I love Jesus … but I hate church.” This statement depicts the struggles that many people have with the modern-day Christian community. But the church remains the chosen narrative of the epic story God is writing. For all of us—eventually, the two have to fit together.
So, if this is true, why do we find it so hard to place ourselves within this story? Why do so many people find it second nature to critique church rather than become a part of it? Well, I have a theory. So with the danger of grossly generalizing, here are my thoughts on ‘why you don’t like church’. This only applies, of course, if you really don’t like it.
You don’t like church because down deep you don’t want to be catered to. You don’t want to be entertained. You want someone and some place that will draw out every ounce of potential you have; you want to experience the depth of the very soul God gave you, and at this moment no one is asking much of you—right now, your soul is untouched. And to be brutally honest, there is a real fear that you won’t be able to unearth the beauty within; you may fail, and the pain would be unbearable. So you position yourself so that no one will ever ask much of you and the question looms, What if you look inside your heart and come up empty? Rather than risk the danger—you place yourself on the outside where it seems safe; on the outside where you can make comments but never really experience community. The problem is, as Erwin McManus said in An Unstoppable Force, “The purpose of the church cannot be to survive or even to thrive, but to serve. And sometimes servants die in the serving.” It’s a risky business.
Why don’t you like church? My guess is—because it has a price tag to it. It’s chancy. You may get hurt—you may find out things about yourself that shake your existence, but you could also discover the vintage story that this ancient-future church is writing: the missio dei.
The beauty of “Life Together,” as Dieterich Bonhoeffer put it, can only be experienced when you and I leave the safety of critique and enter the story ourselves; vulnerable, out-there and risking it all for a glimpse of what it’s like to share in the love, life, and Spirit of Jesus Christ. Of course, this is just a theory.