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One Body

May 5, 2011

Yesterday I was sitting at Caribou, studying and doing my new daily thing, when two guys walked in and began to talk.  Within seconds the topic of their conversation was pretty obvious – they were pastors, and they were discussing their churches.  One of the guys had been a pastor in Sioux Falls, SD for a while and had moved to the Cities at some point to plant a church.  And that’s when I started getting frustrated.

He began to talk about various churches in the area, and didn’t have a single nice thing to say about any of them.  He talked about Eagle Brook  Church, a church at which I volunteer and play bass, and how they were a “mile wide and an inch deep” (common critique of large churches) and how they weren’t actually reaching anyone in the area.  He then mentioned New Hope Church, one at which I routinely play and attend on Sunday evenings, first mocking the fact that they couldn’t figure out what their name was (they recently switched their name from “Crystal Evangelical Free Church”), then using a story about a five-year attender who couldn’t answer basic questions about the Bible as an excuse to tear down the credibility of the entire EFCA.

Needless to say, I was pretty ticked.  But I was kind of surprised by the reason behind my frustration.  You see, I wasn’t angry because they were mocking my church.  I was angry because they were mocking the Church.  You see, the Church is Christ’s bride, “butt ugly” as she is (thanks, PB).  The Church has made mistakes, the Church is not perfect, but Christ’s bride she remains.*  Critiquing it in this way – simply pointing out the issues and not working to resolve them – only serves to divide.  Sure, we all have much to learn when it comes to spreading the Gospel and living out Christ’s example here on earth, but to publicly bash the only light and hope the world has… I just can’t see how that is beneficial in ANY way!  I pray no one else overheard that conversation and was dissuaded from checking out a church!

Those of you who know me know I can’t stop there.  I’m far too practical for that.  So here’s the question: what do we do about it?
First, we need to recognize the fact that we’re all part of the church.  No exceptions.  If you are in Christ, you are part of the Church.  The Crusades?  That was us.  Executing the Anabaptists?  That was us.  All the Catholic priest drama?  Yup, that’s us, too.  We are the church.
Second, we need to love the church, sores and all.  Scripture doesn’t talk about the redemption of the “good parts” of the church.  John doesn’t talk about the “good churches” entering Jerusalem in Revelation.  We are brothers and sisters, co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).  Christ loves the Church, and we must follow his example.
Third, if we love the Church, we must act like it.  We must stop our divisive talk.  We must stop bashing denominations and theological traditions that are not our own.  There is wonderful diversity in the body of Christ, and our actions should reflect an appreciation – no, a love for that.  We must join together with Christians who worship and express their love for the world in different ways.  There is beauty in diversity, and there is beauty in being challenged to worship and view God in ways that don’t necessarily come naturally to us.
Fourth, and finally, we must become champions of the Church.  It’s not enough to stop complaining about “other” churches.  We must support, celebrate and cheer them on.  We must join them in worship from time-to-time.  We must pray for them.  We must come alongside them in times of trouble.  We must enter into the reality that, while we worship in separate communities and in different ways, we are all ONE church. No exceptions.

*Check out the sermon audio from the Fusion Community’s recent series “Be the Church” here.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. B.C. McWhite permalink
    May 5, 2011 3:56 pm

    Church mockers equal lame.

  2. May 9, 2011 8:02 am

    Great post, Clayton. Great comment B.C.!!!

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