You know those pieces that start off “Dear So-and-So, We Need to Talk”. This isn’t one of those. It’s not one of those, because those are almost always nicely packaged lies. This is very different. This is probably going to be uncomfortable. I’m not offering any pretty packages, but I am offering you the truth. And let’s face it, you have been lied to so much the Truth should be a refreshing change for once.
You need the Church.
Oh, I know. You think you don’t. You have lots of reasons to be just so over church… or… well… you think you do. The problem is you have all of these strong opinions about church, but they are built on lies and misconceptions. You’re really mad at church because Church doesn’t live up to the false standards and insane expectations of it that exist only in your own heads. It’s rather like hating a fish because the fish can’t ride a bicycle. Fishes swim. They are great at swimming. They were never meant to ride bicycles. That may sound odd, but it’s exactly the way you are judging church. See, you’ve been told that Church is supposed to be the glorious utopian community where everyone loves each other and treats each other with respect. You’ve been told that you go to church to feel loved and to feel God’s love and to grow and learn and be spiritually fed. You’ve been told that the Church does all of these good deeds.
Ask a 5-year-old girl about love and she will start telling you about a Disney movie because that’s what her concept of love is.
Your concept of Church and what it is … is just like that 5-year-old’s concept of love. It’s idealized and fantastic and utterly wrong.
You see the Church as flawed. You see it messing up. You see people arguing with each other. To you this is a sign that the Church is hypocritical and therefore broken. In reality this is just the fact that the church is made up of people, and people are all flawed. In other words, Church is just like everything else in the world. It is broken because people are broken.
But there is a bigger issue. You’ve been taught that Church is something you go to for yourself. It isn’t. Being involved with, and in, a Church is a sacrificial act. We sacrifice our time and our money. We support the Church through sacrifices of time, presence, prayer, and our gifts. That’s actually a formal vow of membership in some denominations.
We don’t go to church because it’s fun. We don’t go to be with our friends.
We go because Christianity is not an individualistic religion. It’s a collective religion. Oh, it’s personal. It’s definitely personal. But more than that, it is relational.
There are many gifts of the Spirit that are specifically delivered through the Church. Assurance is a great example of one. One of the ways we know we’re on the right path, or we know what God is nudging us toward, is the confirmation we get from other Christians in our church who see the same thing. Out on your own, disconnected, you don’t get that.
Like it or not, God works to change the world through the Church. Not through mere individuals. The Church is a massive force multiplier. And if you want to really do something that matters, you need the Church. The local church is the hope of the world. And you have abandoned it. It’s like complaining that your favorite team is playing bad, when a huge chunk of its players are not on the field or even on the bench.
You have gifts and talents. You have something to contribute. But you are sitting on the sidelines. You’re off doing your own thing while your team, your family, needs you.
You say you want a career that matters. You want to make a difference. Well, that’s not what careers are for. Careers are what puts food on the table. Did you know that Saint Paul had a career? He wasn’t a professional apostle. They didn’t have those back then. He was a tent maker. No one remembers Paul for making great tents. He didn’t change the world through his career. Most devout Christians don’t even know he had one. He changed the world through the Church.
Get out your Bibles and read the book of Galatians. It should sound familiar to you. Because Paul is writing to that Church about the same things we struggle with today. The problems of today aren’t new. We’ve been dealing with these same problems for millennia.
So now what?
Come to the church. Find a church that needs you. Find a church near your home where you can connect and sink some roots. Find a church that has a you shaped hole in it. I promise they are out there. You may think that your gifts don’t fit in with typical “Christian” expectations, but trust me, we will be dealing with that lie as well.
You do need the Church. But more importantly than that, the Church needs you. Stop demanding that the Church change to fit your Disney expectations, and get into the fight. Yes, it’s ugly and uncomfortable. That’s the real world. Time to grow up and join it. It’s time to stop saying you want to make a difference. It is time to get off your ass and start making one.