Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Church - Why?

It's Carnival time again! Today the word is church and its hosted at One Word at A Time by Bridget Chumbley.

I like the thoughts about church (believers coming together) that Jesus talks about and that are in the scriptures. If we believe, we are a part of the church of Jesus. And we meet together and do life together. Yes, I like that.

But too often when I look at church - communities of believers - I don't see what I think a church should look like. I am embarrassed as some of the things I see. I am disappointed when I read what some churches have done - the pain, destruction and hurt they have caused. I'm frustrated with the tension of church and money. I look at some churches and say, "Really?!"

And I wonder why ...

Why bother?

Why be involved?

Then I also look at the good churches have done - throughout the centuries and today. I think about the many hospitals/schools/etc in this country and throughout the world that were started by communities of believers.

Personally, my family has been helped many times by the local church we've been involved with for 20+ years. They've brought us more meals then I can count ... at the birth of each of my three boys, when my husband was injured and out of work for 3 months, when my husband was injured again and when I was injured (Now I understand why they asked us to stay indoors:)

So church ... with its good and bad - is it worth it?

13 comments:

Glynn said...

We're a miserable bunch of sinners and hypocrites -- and somehow God takes all of that and creates something beautiful. Great post, Janet.

Kelly Langner Sauer said...

Oh Janet. What a loaded question. My husband and I have agonized over this one. We have been out of the "organized church" for about four years now.

I still can't tell you the answer to your question, because the question isn't "church - good or bad?" not really. I think it is "where does God want you?"

We left initially because I couldn't go to church and still want God (there is a longer story here than I can tell). We've visited a few churches, but He hasn't led us back into full attendance.

The trade-off for us has been incredible. We've had time to grow as a family, to grow in the Lord - to seek His face. The friends and fellowship may not be as readily available, but seeing His provision for us has been truly amazing. We've gotten a chance to share on such deep levels with others who are following His heart.

Leaving the organized church finally shifted my heart-focus from "the principles" of God to the heart of God. I don't regret it for myself, but I know this is not where He leads everyone. Being out of church has taught me that He works individually, drawing His people to Himself wherever they are.

Involvement with His Body is always worth it - the organizational structure we apply to it? I could take it or leave it. Our testimony is this: that Jesus Christ lived and died and rose again for us. Staying connected to Him as our head wherever we are is what will make us or break us.

(I think this may be the second time in four years that I've come out and talked about our decision online. Your post makes me wonder if I shouldn't consider writing out my story...)

JFKlaver said...

I'm not one to join any type of "organization" but a church IS the people. It stands to reason since we're human the church will be only as good as the people, something we all need to work on whether in church or not. Good thoughts coming from this post.

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Thanks for your thoughts!
@Glenn - very true.

@Kelly - interesting, thanks for sharing. I (and my husband) definitely lean that way some days. As for telling your story ... now might be the time - as you wait on the baby :)

@JFKlaver - Hi almost neighbor :)
Very true, church is the people. I think I need a bumper sticker like I saw the other day "I love God, but sometimes his people annoy me."

Nick the Geek said...

I have been through 2 church splits. The first was when I was in college and working with ~12 year old boys in the church and my wife was in charge of the girls program. The church board turned against the pastor and several women were out to have my wife's position. They cut her deep in a time when she needed support the most. She has just had her second miscarriage when this all started and we left the church just before the tubal pregnancy.

The thing is, even though we left the church a community of faith came around us. They attended many different churches and I think that was the first time my eyes opened to the idea that we are the Body, not that each church is a body unto itself.

The local church failed us, they hurt us, and only cared for themselves, but the Body didn't cast us out and Christ didn't fail us.

Helen said...

The Church is made up of people, and sometimes people suck. I am part of the Church, and sometimes I suck. I think this is one of the places where Jesus's teaching on forgiveness is relevant. If He wants us to forgive our enemies, how much more does He want from us for our brothers and sisters?

S. Etole said...

I think this is something many struggle with from time to time. We truly need to have ears that listen to what the Lord is telling us.

Jojo Agot said...

With all the good and bad, yes the church is definitely worth it. Why? Because even if we see thousands of hypocrites today, there were billions of genuine Christians ahead of us who are now with the Lord.

I only feel discouraged about the church when I think of it in terms of today. But when I remember its rich history, the faithful men and women in the past, I always realize I'm in a great company of saints.

That gives me the power to shrug off the hypocrites around me.

Bridget Chumbley said...

Janet, I love this!

So many of us have been hurt by the 'humans' that make up the 'church'.

I've been on both sides as well... I used to be so involved at our previous church home, that I knew EVERYTHING and it caused me great pain and disappointment... now I'm staying on the sidelines and miss the feeling of being involved... seems like it isn't easy to find that 'happy place' somewhere in the middle.

Thanks for this post.

Jaime said...

If only this were easy, huh? I struggle with this question right now, as I am in an in-between land. I knew it was worth it, but after the pain...during the pain...I wonder sometimes.

nAncY said...

i agree with a lot of what has been said on the post and in the comments.

it has been a treat to take part in this topic of posting with so many believers.

i am starting to think that there is no getting around struggle in this life.

especially when people get together and all of them wants to run the show.


but, i agree with glynn in that somehow God takes all of it and creates something beautiful.

and i think something beautiful to His eyes and to His glory.

Russell Holloway said...

Yes it is worth it :-) The church, because people are involved can be painful. But, it is the conduit of Christ's love as well.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

I'd like to think that I've seen church at its worst. I mean, I've been burned by ministry, while not even through seminary! That said, I cannot divorce myself from it. I couldn't live without it. And not just because it's 'church' but because it's the body of Christ.