Church: What if the Problem is Me?

church problem is me www.terilynneunderwood.com

So, apparently every church isn’t like mine.  Hmm … that’s a shocker.  Oh wait!  No, it’s not … because every Sunday at my church isn’t like the one I described yesterday  In fact, there are lots of Sundays where I am guilty of going through the motions.  I bet there are even Sundays when the pastor, staff, Bible study teachers, and (gasp!) even other members are guilty of the same thing.

The question here isn’t if churches or church leadership  are flawed.   That is a given!   The issue isn’t staying at a church where the Gospel isn’t preached … duh!  GO!

My point, my concern, that ache deep inside my heart is this:  How much of this problem is because of me?

How often have I left a service frustrated that I wasn’t “fed” when the truth is I left my appetite at home?

 What if, just for a moment, we stepped back from all of the hoop-la and asked ourselves some hard questions.  In fact, maybe, just maybe we do need to make this about “me” for a little bit … digging deep into our own hearts and motivations.

A few years ago I was struggling with my church and the way I felt about “church.”   We’d been through some difficult seasons and I had reached a point of wanting to throw the towel in.  I’d felt the stones of judgment hit hard again my flesh and I’d seen the seeds of bitterness and entitlement flourish in an environment of “me-centered worship.”   To be honest, I was ready to walk away from all of it … and, at one point, I even told my husband I wanted him to leave the ministry.

I’d been hurt … badly.  Words spoken to me and about me left deep holes of doubt in the fabric of my faith.   Rejection by people who did not even know me burned hot inside my heart.

That’s all to say, I know what “church people” can be … in the words of the old farmer, “I are one.”   I’ve been hurt and I’ve been the one who did the hurting.

But when I was ready to give up on the church, walk away from this body that punched itself and refused to be honest about the wounds … I read this little piece of Scripture and it stopped me cold.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

Was I motivated by conceit or competition?  Was my great concern my interests, my desires, my needs, myself?

Aside from unbiblical teaching or immoral action among church leadership, I wonder how much of the issue with the “institution of church” is rooted in self?   I am not implying that all who have left larger churches and moved to a smaller, more organic model of corporate worship are selfish … I don’t believe that at all.  I have precious, godly friends who have been led to plant churches.

I firmly believe we must bathe all decisions in deep prayer … willing to follow the Lord’s direction – whether it lines up with our own desires or not.

Have you struggled with a selfish approach to church?  What impact does that have on your family and your worship?

9 Replies to “Church: What if the Problem is Me?”

  1. I went through a period {after reading Radical in May 2010} where I basically begged God to release me from my church family. Church politics and the like were making me disdain leadership and ministry. I didn’t see how I could ever fit my convictions and the changes God was making in my heart around the traditions and “stubbornness” of my local church. And God said “no”. Not wait, or maybe later or anything but flat out “stay where you are”. Little did I know that I would need the love and support of those same “stubborn” people to survive the changes God had in store for our family and our life. The old saying “bloom where you are planted” comes to mind. I am enjoying this series, TL!
    Melissa recently posted…Sweet Tea, Lent and GratitudeMy Profile

    1. You know, Melissa, when I read Radical I felt the same way. Of course, so did David Platt when he wrote it!! 🙂 But there is something to be said for working within a body that isn’t homogenous, doesn’t see eye-to-eye on everything. I don’t think the church is perfect … and I sure don’t think all church leadership is perfect, I’m married to a VERY human pastor!! But, I know this, the sacrifices and disciplines of being a part of a local faith family have been the most instrumental components of my growth in dealing with others and seeing God at work. I wouldn’t give that up for a group of people who think the exact same way I do for anything!

  2. “Aside from unbiblical teaching or immoral action among church leadership,” <—this is exactly what I meant when I commented yesterday. That's the type of stuff I dealt with in my previous church.

    And I agree with every statement you made up there. You are right – we really need to check our motives.

    Currently, I'm in a church that has sound biblical teaching and some of the "issues" are more personal/preference then any real "problem". But there are things I long for my church family to experience and it's hard when you feel as if they are just deaf to hear and blind to see.

    But we are all deaf to some things aren't we? We are all blind in some areas, right?

    The bottom line is to love others well (I always remember that from Sarah Mae). That's my number one priority. To love others well – even when they are not; especially when they are not.

    Good job for tackling a hard subject. And thank you for grace as I work out some of my own issues in your space here. 🙂 ((Hugs))
    Christin @ Joyful Mothering recently posted…Worldly Living ~ How It DestroysMy Profile

    1. You are always welcome to process your story in this space, Christin! 🙂

      And yes … the big point is to love others well! Thank you for that reminder.

      Thank you for your insight and openness.

  3. I really appreciate this. So much. I have been thinking an this for a long time, like for the last three or four YEARS… This is an issue near and dear to my little, fallible heart.

    1. Thank you, Kris, for your words of encouragement. I have to say these have been difficult posts to write. It’s tough to turn that spotlight onto myself.

  4. Church: Well Done or Well Said says: Reply

    […] I wonder if maybe we are asking the wrong questions, looking at all of this from the wrong perspective.  Maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t matter if […]

  5. This is my heart. I struggle against the confines of traditional church, and yet that’s where I go every Sunday to listen to my amazing husband preach. I steel myself against the snide looks or the unspoken arguments between church members when all I want to do is ask them “Why”?? The balance between doing church and actually worshiping is a struggle that I am in the midst of.

    1. Aurie, ours is a strange life, isn’t it? We see the very best and the very worst of our faith family … and our calling alongside our husbands is to love these willfull, stubborn sheep. I get that. I live that! ((hugs)) dear one.

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