Thoughts on the Church

I am a believer in the salvation brought by the Lord Jesus Christ.  I believe He is the only way to eternal life, that I can never be good enough or do enough to tip the scales in my favor.

But I fail … every. single. day.  I rush through life missing the blessings of the small.  I neglect the call to be still.  I fail to reach out to those in need.   I’m a sinner – a big one! – in desperate need of grace and mercy and forgiveness.  I often think that if you could see inside my heart you would run as hard and fast in the other direction as possible.  I’m not perfect, I’m not good … most days, I could best be described as “a mess.”

I am a church member and and a pastor’s wife.

thoughts on the church www.terilynneunderwood.com

Lately it seems the “in” thing is to reject the “institution of church.”  I’ve read countless blog posts and even a few books about how the modern church has failed in its purpose.   To be honest, all of that makes my heart hurt.  Has there been abuse and harm done in the name of Christ by churches?  Of course, I could never deny that.   But I love my church … as imperfect as it is.  Yesterday, I sat in a service with over 300 teenagers who lifted their hands to worship and I listened to a sermon filled with practical, relevant truth from God’s Word.   I sat in a Sunday School class with 25 other women and we shared our struggles and victories.  We prayed with and for one another.    Last night I was a part of a multi-generational prayer group.  We sat around a table and prayed for the spiritual renewal of our church leadership, our Bible study groups, the ministries in our church, and for our own strengthening as we sought deeper intimacy with the Lord.

Is “the church” all it could or should be?  Nope!  It’s made up of people just like me … imperfect, selfish, and demanding.   {see above!}  But does that mean we don’t need it?  That we should toss it to the side?  I find that hard to accept.   Maybe it’s because as a pastor’s wife, daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and sister I’ve seen too much from the other side.   I’ve seen the hours spent preparing for sermons and services, the all-night vigils with families in grief, the days when all the plans get tossed to the side because of a family’s urgent need.   I’ve seen the hurt on faces of men and women who have given their lives to minister to others and found nothing but criticism.

But I’ve also seen what I saw yesterday – a glimpse of what heaven might be.   A sanctuary filled with people of all ages and races, hands lifted high praising the Living God.   

And I wonder if we all spent more time digging deep into ourselves, opening up our own hearts to what the Lord is saying, acknowledging our own failures and desperate need for grace, if just maybe our churches would be a little bit different.

This week, I’ll be praying for my church.  Prayers of gratitude for a faith family who gives generously and sacrificially to meet needs in our community and around the world.  Prayers for the wisdom and protection for our leadership.   Prayers for honesty and integrity among our members.  Prayers for healing and restoration.

Because the answer to this question of finding the right church isn’t in starting a new one … the answer is prayer.  Fervent prayer that availeth much … prayers for ourselves and for our churches.

21 Replies to “Thoughts on the Church”

  1. I wish posts had a “like” button! So true! 🙂

  2. Wow, Teri Lynne, thank you for writing the exact words that have been in my heart on many occasions. Yes, churches are flawed, but so are we all…even those who constantly offer criticism. The collective church is a beautiful picture of heaven and how we will all worship together there. Sometimes we have to realize that there is no “perfect” church, after praying, we have to make a commitment. A commitment that we won’t toss out the window at the very first sign of opposition or hardship. I appreciate you writing so honestly from your heart!

    1. Oh Monica … the key is commitment, isn’t it?? Thank you for stopping by.

  3. Thank you, Teri Lynne for speaking to the heart of a sensitive issue with grace and truth. It breaks my heart when I hear people from my generation giving up on church because of hurts. I have experienced some deep wounds from my church family{ies} over the years but God has used those experiences to teach and grow me.
    The {little c} church is made up of broken people so there will inherently be disappointment and even pain. But, God is clear that the work of the church {Big C} is accomplished through the coming together of His people in community, each doing their part to see others brought to know Him, for the first time or in deeper relationship. {Ephesians 4, Romans 12, etc}.

    1. Melissa, thank you for reminding us all of the Scriptural imperative of joining together.

  4. What a wonderful, encouraging, thought-provoking, humbling post. Thank you for sharing your heart and passion. What a beautiful picture of heaven you shared! Living in the Bible belt this topic hits incredibly close to home for me, and with my frustrations with the church. I would venture to say that those complaining of “the church” aren’t the ones who have experienced what you have experienced/are experiencing. It’s very easy to get caught up in “doing church.”

    “Because the answer to this question of finding the right church isn’t in starting a new one … the answer is prayer. Fervent prayer that availeth much … prayers for ourselves and for our churches.”

    How true, but often forgotten truth. Thank you for the reminder. I adore your heart for the Lord! I am always encouraged by your posts!

    1. Leigh Ann, it’s hard to live in an area that has churches on every corner and really believe that NONE of them are doing Kingdom work. It’s not always as amazing at my church as it was yesterday … but it’s always an opportunity for me to serve and to learn and to practice the art of loving others.

  5. AMEN!!!

  6. so guilty of being the family that church hops – because we’re never happy where we are and always finding fault … we’re just not doing life with each other. And we’re the problem !! =/

    1. Oh Stef! I love you! It’s just so much easier to find fault … I know, I do it too. 😉

  7. You are blessed to be in such a church. But not all churches are created equal. Many, many churches are failing to preach the truth of the gospel, but instead are settling for whatever will get people in the door.

    Church leaders are settling and it’s costing them and it’s hurting others. I understand some aren’t in that predicament, but many, many are. The American church has become a source of entertainment for getting people in. We don’t believe the Gospel is enough to change people alone. We somehow have to help it along by hiding it behind masks of entertainment to make it look appealing and not offend people.

    This should not be. 🙁

    It is so hard, Teri, to worship God alone in a church. When people don’t want to talk about God outside of the church walls (or even outside the sanctuary).

    Yes, we are all a mess and we are all sinners – but we still choose who we will worship and what we will preach. Even sinners can teach the Truth and choose to worship God.

    (((Blessings & Hugs))) From one of the hurt ones.
    Love,
    xo

    1. I agree, Christin, it is hard. It always has been. There have always been leaders who fail and groups who seek to divide. The enemy will always be hardest at work where the Spirit of the Lord is moving.

      I too have been hurt … and I’ve done the hurting. It’s hard. Really, really hard this walking out our faith.

      ((hugs)) to you, dear one!

  8. […] 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 […]

  9. To speak up for some of us that have “rejected the institution of church” I just want to humbly point out that our goal isn’t to “toss aside” God’s church, but to create a space for it that is more natural and where we think the Spirit is able to flow and minister much more easily without all the extra wrappings and trappings that so often come with an organization. 🙂

    <3
    Jessica recently posted…What Do You Do With The Kids During House Church? Part 1My Profile

    1. Oh Jessica, I know your heart and the journey you have travelled. Your story is one of the main reasons I hesitated to write this post … because there are so many who have sincerely sought the Lord and been led by Him in different ways. But of course, you surely agree that there are those who do “toss aside” the church with far less prayer and contemplation than your family has. While I think there is a place for the “wrappings and trappings” in many situations, I realize that God works in each of us differently.

      Big hugs to you!!

  10. I think so many people of my generation haven’t truly gone to church and they assume they know what it’s like. I had a friend in college that used to rail on how awful Baptist churches were, then when I asked him if he ever attended one, his answer was of course no.
    KM Logan recently posted…Free Ebook! Maple Tree ProjectsMy Profile

    1. Very good point, Kasey. Seems like too often we assume all churches are the same based on a very limited number of experiences with a particular church or “church people.”

  11. Praying for the Church says: Reply

    […] Jeff Goins challenged us in his writing session at the conference to write a dangerous post. Hence my thoughts on the church became public […]

  12. […] 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 […]

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