I Hate the Church but Love Jesus
I HATE the church, but I LOVE Jesus
I hear this so much. Stay with me, I’m probably going to get a little offensive.
This strange separation of faith and community is all over the place. I have gone to the same church my entire life. It isn’t a perfect church, but it’s the family that I belong to. As I have grown up there I have watched literally hundreds of people bail and either attend a different church (which they usually end up leaving also) or abandon the family altogether and rough it on their own. They get mad, or get impatient, or get in trouble, and they book it out the front doors (or more likely, they quietly sneak out the side door).
As I have been preparing to move overseas and am faced with the prospect of changing churches and, for the first time, attending a new church, my thoughts have turned to these people who take the church for granted (or even just despise it). I think that there are two inadequate reasons that people leave churches.
(1) The Church doesn’t help them grow
This one is basically the product of many believers’ wholesale purchase of the consumerist system. Church is a product and I will go to the one that helps me grow, or makes me feel important, or gives me that position on the worship team that I want, or gets me into the Holy Ghost zone. I pick the church that “fits” me best: like a hoodie from Urban Outfitters (I don’t even know if Urban Outfitters sells hoodies, but you get the point).
What a sad way to do Church. We need to stop doing this as Christians. Constantly looking for the right fit misses the point of fellowship and replaces it.
Also, Church isn’t about you. Give more than you get. That should the mantra of Church attending believers.
(2) The Church is messed up
Absolutely the most common reason people bail on their Church family. Somebody, usually in leadership, mistreats me so I find some church who “actually cares about me and not just my offering money.”
I’m gonna be honest here, I hate this. I hate it like when two brothers no longer speak because of a disagreement.
It also seems to me that it is a form of arrogance. I used to associate with those people, or that pastor, until they screwed up. Now, because of my hurt feelings and strong moral compass, I can’t see myself going there anymore.
I’ve heard that the Church is not a hotel for saints but a hospital for sinners. I have to accept that when I go to a church, I will be mistreated, overlooked, cheated, gossiped about, and manipulated. People do those things. The church is made up of still sinful people. It is living in the grace made possible by Christ that we can reconcile with one another and move on.
I understand that there are times and places to leave churches. In fact, there are probably even times where it is the only right option. But, the persisting problem in the church today isn’t that people are staying in their churches when they should leave, it’s that people pack up and leave way too often.