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.