I sincerely apologize for royally sucking at being church. While I’ve been very disciplined at participating in different levels of churchy activities, I lacked God’s heart in building a unified Christian community. I’m doing a 180 degree turn in attitude and in ministry, as I listen more closely to the scriptures with an ear for God’s kingdom. Improving at being church is my goal.
All my life I have heard it said, “church is not a building we gather in, but the people who gather.” And while that statement logically made sense, the practices of doing church did not always align with the needs of the those in the gathering. Often the performance of Sunday morning, or Sunday evening, or whatever “service” was going on, was more important that the health and well-being of the relationships of those within the meeting.
Specifically in my life as a preacher’s kid, the welfare of our family was secondary to the execution of my father’s duties as Pastor. It was not unusual be fighting in the car on the way to church, only to “stuff it” in the parking lot and put on a smile for the public. Reconciliation with each other was not modeled in our lives, as Jesus taught.
“So if you are offering a gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the alter and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
This is not the only example in my life where doing church was not being church. Unfortunately, I have so many experiences where the business of church was the priority over the wellness of the people in the congregation, that I lost all respect for it. I lost hope in it.
There’s A Point To The Pain
But the beauty in becoming disillusioned with corporate gathering, was that it forced me to define what I believe in . . . or rather who I believe in. And because I love Christ, I set to erase the wounds of the past with forgiveness (I’m still working on that) as I began relearning what he had in mind for this entity he calls church.
The best definition I have heard to describe marriage came from the book As A Woman by Paula Stone Williams.
A Marriage is not two halves becoming one whole. It is two whole people creating a new entity – the relationship. The relationship has to be nurtured just like you nurture a child.”
I bring this definition up as I process what it means to be in a covenant relationship with Christ. I may be off in my analogy (feel free to contact me on this point), but if the unity of husband and wife in the flesh is called family, is the unity of Christ and humans called church?
Church Is Not Optional
Even if my thought process on this marriage point is wrong, the assembly of believers is God’s choice in how we do life in Him. In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus gives his Apostle Peter the anointing of building Christ’s “church” and the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Peter later writes in 1 Peter 2:5,
“you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
If God says church is my plan, any disillusionment I have with the church then requires that I must reconcile with it. Or, rather, with them.
Without Hypocrisy & Without Brutality
Previous to this point in my life, I have not had the courage to speak up against ungodly, unloving, and unbiblical behavior happening within the walls of corporate gathering. The unhealthy modeling of Christian behavior within my own upbringing led me to believe that I should shut up and just smile. I’m done with pretending problems don’t exist.
Thank goodness God has given us descriptions of how His kingdom works in relationship with Himself and one another, AND how to reconcile when we’re at odds! As Theologian Warren Wiersbe wrote (inspired by the book of Romans) . . .
“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
There’s a way to speak truth without being brutal. Just look at how Jesus dealt with people.
Improving At Being Church
So . . .
I’m stepping into bigger shoes (I prefer that to bigger panties!) with both my writing and my actions with other Christians in the arena of building Christian community. I am specifically addressing lack of unity within the body and healthy ways to communicate and reconcile within these deficits.
Personally, I am developing friendships with the leadership in the congregation where I fellowship to build love and trust. Without a close relationship and trust, accountability is not going to be voluntary. Trust is the foundation for our faith community leaders to hold their congregations accountable as we reciprocally hold them accountable to following Christ’s lead.
This change begins with me.
“Untethered” has been the tag line of my blog (and social media presence) since I began writing publicly in 2020. I chose that word to express a desire to disengage from worldly expectations and pressures as I follow Christ. But today I feel “Untethered” doesn’t represent this refined goal to cultivate a healthy church community. So, I am “rebranding” with a phrase has more direct meaning to me, and that is:
Cultivating Authentic Harmony
I’ll save more on cultivating authentic harmony for the next blog. It’s my intent to begin posting on my website again at least monthly. During my trips to Hawaii, I will be using the opportunity as a writer’s retreat to work on my book (maybe with the same title) on Christian unity.
Thank you for sticking with me as I have been “off grid” for such a long time working through much of this. I am excited for the future and for this opportunity to improve being church with you!!!