In my daily work with church leaders, I often run into the disillusionment of folks who see the imperfections of the church. And honestly, it feels a lot worse than "imperfection." As a collection of redeemed, yet sinful men and women, the church has outbreaks from time to time with dark and ugly stuff. 

The question is, what should we do when we encounter the church's underbelly? 

#1 Be Grateful. Remember that if it wasn't  for the church you would not know Jesus Christ. The church is a steward of the gospel and a community of faith that has endured countless obstacles and untold persecution. Yet the church has been preserved, by the sovereign goodness of God, in order to reach you, today. The sum of the church's presence is a juggernaut of grace despite weaknesses from within and enemies from without.

#2 Be Humbled. Remember that no sin besets the people of the church that is not fully capable of being manifest in your own life. In 1723 Jonathan Edwards wrote 70 resolutions  to review weekly for personal development. He states this as his 8th resolution:

Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

#3 Be forgiving. Many times the church-as-a-whole  can cause personal offense. It's particularly strange if it doesn't boil down to a person and yet there is lingering hurt in a generic way was a "a church" or "the church."  Even if you can't put a face to the problem, it is still critically important to forgive. Yes, in these situations differing perspectives multiply, misunderstanding amplify and tangled webs of poor decisions result. But, you have the power to wipe it all away in moment of forgiveness. Don't let a faceless offense go unforgiven. 

#4 Be hopeful. You were not created for the world as it is. The church is a vehicle, a rescue ship that is tainted, for now, by the very problem it is here to solve. A rescue ship is nice, but a new world is coming. Great will eclipse good. Jesus Christ will return and will wipe away every tear. Every hurt, every insult, every harm will be replaced by undiluted joy. In that day, the body of Christ, with an underbelly today, will be nothing but a radiant bride- pure, blameless and beautiful.

Topics: Date: Aug 19, 2010 Tags: church intervention / church problems / growth challenges / sin