I bet you could list five things you don’t like about your church. Maybe ten.
The pastor preaches too long.
Or not long enough.
The music is too loud,
or too traditional,
or too contemporary.
It doesn’t have enough programs.
It’s too hot.
It’s too cold.
The service starts too early.
Someone’s always asking you to volunteer.
Or maybe you haven’t joined a church, because churches are:
Full of hypocrites.
Always asking for money.
If you google “complaints people have about church,” you’ll find dozens of articles.
In response to the sometimes overwhelming negativity against the church, I’m going to be counter-cultural and tell you what’s right about most Christian churches.
The pastor preaches God’s Word.
He studies. He thinks, and he prays. He’s always wondering, how can I make this principle come alive? He worries, too, when he has to say hard things. But he says them anyway, because he loves his congregation and God more than he loves being popular.
The pastor loves you.
You’re seldom far from his mind. He carries you like a lamb on his shepherd shoulders everywhere he goes. Some nights he doesn’t sleep well, because he’s thinking and praying for you. That wayward teen? He’s praying for him. That broken marriage? He prays about that, too. He notices when you miss a week, or two, or three.
Many people there love God with all their hearts.
They’re trying their best to follow him. They serve selflessly, give sacrificially, and invest their time and talent into the church. They don’t always get it right, but they try. They clean bathrooms, vacuum floors, and set up tables. They teach your children, bring meals when you’re sick, and lend a hand when you need help. Their actions are motivated by their love for God, and as they serve you, they’re serving him.
There are also baby Christians there. And non-Christians.
This is good, and as it should be. A church should attract people in every stage of spiritual growth. Keep this in mind when someone disappoints you, or behaves “unspiritually” or immaturely. Breathe grace and remember how mature believers nurtured you in your spiritual infancy. Set the example, come alongside, and don’t judge.
It’s imperfect because people are imperfect.
“They that are well need not a physician,” Jesus said long ago, and the principle holds true today. The church isn’t a finishing school. It’s a hospital where the dying receive new life. It’s where the broken are mended, and the wounded are healed. Like a hospital, it’s messy and sometimes painful. It’s also one of the most hope-filled places around. Its doors are always open, and there are people who care.
Jesus lives there. Jesus didn’t die for the para-church organizations. He didn’t die for podcasts, and he certainly didn’t die so people could look down their self-righteous noses and criticize his family. Flawed as the church is, Jesus chose to ordain it as his hands and feet.
“Upon this rock, I will build my church,” he said, “and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
He entrusted to the church the Holy Scriptures, the sacraments, and the mission of sharing the Gospel with the world. In the church he inhabits the praises of his people and transforms both baby believers and spiritual saints.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the church isn’t perfect. But it is God’s family. Maybe instead of criticizing, we should identify what’s wrong and try to make it right. Or if we can’t change it, we should just accept it. Like the family member who’s socially awkward and a little slow, we should look past the superficial and into the heart. If we do, I bet we’ll see Jesus there.
Now it’s your turn. What’s right about your church? What do you love about it? Leave a comment in the box below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment.