I’ve been reading this really interesting book called “Thriving as an Artist in the Church” by Rory Noland and I just wanted to share something that really impressed me from it.
Rory uses this quote from Bill Hybels book “Courageous Leadership”.
” I believe that only one power exsists on this sorry planet that can transform the human heart. It’s the power of the love of Jesus Christ, the love that conquers sin and wipes out shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies and patches broken dreams and ultimately changes the world, one life at a time. And what grips my heart every day is the knowledge that the radical message of that transforming love has been given to the church.
There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.
Still to this day, the potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp. No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.”
Rory goes on to say ” Given the inconsistency of the church’s reputation, you may be wondering, What does Jesus see in the church? How can he love something that’s so far from what it should be? Or, to bring it closer to home, How could Jesus love my church?
Actually Jesus sees more of the church’s shortcomings than you and I do, but he has a totally different perspective. He sees the spiritual battle going on behind the scenes, but he knows the outcome has already been determined. Satan has targeted the church for annihilation. In fact, he’s been trying to discredit, disrupt, and defeat the church for over two thousand years. Every day he launches deathblows in the form of persecution, scandal, and dissension. He knows that he cannot defeat God outright, so he ruthlessly goes after the little kingdom outposts God has planted all over the world. It’s a struggle ‘not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 6:12)
The church operates in a hostile environment. We are never without help from above, however.
So even though the church fights for its life everyday, be assured that it will prevail. In fact, the church has already won. Jesus said the gates of hell will not overcome it (Matt 16:18). The bride of Christ (the church) may stumble along the way and appear disheveled at time but she is still poised for the ultimate victory-to be united in intimacy with Christ forever. In spite of persecution, division, and scandal, the church is very much alive.
I love baseball, and all my life I’ve been a fan of the Chicago White Sox. The White sox organization makes allot of decisions I don’t approve of, never consulting me about eh batting order, trades, game strategy, or personel moves. We haven’t won the World Series since 1917, so I live with constant disappointment. But in spite of my frustration, I’m still the team’s biggest fan. I would never leave or forsake my White Sox team. They’re my team.
My point is this: some of us exhibit more loyalty to our favorite sports teams-or rock group or politician, and so on-than to our church. Some threaten to leave over the slighest disappointment or failure. Others change churchs at the drop of the hat. I’m sure God finds our trasient loyalty disconcerting. Hosea 6:4 says God becomes frustrated when our “love is like the morning mist, like th early dew that disappears.” Loving the church like Christ loves the church first of all means being loyal to it.
Being devoted to your church goes beyond mere affiliation. You need to get involved. Do you go to church only to get something, or do you give in return?
This doesn’t mean giving to the point of neglecting your families but stepping up to serve in whatever ways are possible. Church work was never meant to be carried out by a few professional staff people. We are called to do the work of the church.
The church needs you and you gifts.
Committment is rarely convenient. By faithfully stewarding your God-given talents through the ministry of your church, you are setting an indelible example of commitment to your family.
What if my church has problems?
Your church may have shortcomings, all churches do. Just make sure you are a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. If you hear gossip, squelch it. If negativity and apathy spread all around you, turn the tide with a genuine can-do attitude. Encourage those with differences to talk them out. As much as possible get on the solution side of your church’s problems.
Prayer should always be part of the solution. Pray that the ministers of your church would be fruitful. Pray that the Lord would preserve the Unity of your church and protect you from the attackes of the evil one.
What if my Leader is difficult to work with?
You may be disappointed with some leaders in your church. They may be frustrating to work under, controlling or overbearing, or even embarrassingly incompetent. There may be a personality clash between your leader and you. But if you are going to love your church, you’re going to need to come to terms with any such conflicts.
First, always give your leaders respect, whether or not you think they deserve it.
1 Thess 5:12-13 says
“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders (Pastor)in the Lord’s work. The work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong. Think highly of them and give the your wholehearted love because of their work. And remember to live peaceably with each other”
King Saul was an evil leader and yet David always showed him the proper respect. Even though David had been annointed as Saul’s successor to the throne, he introduced himself to the king as “the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem” (1 Sam 17:58) In most of his interactions with Saul, David was a class act.
Second, just as you pray regularly for your church, pray for your leaders. Pray for their walks with Christ to be strong and full of vitality. Pray for their marriages and their families, that they make wise decisions that are in the best interest of the Church and that they follow God’s directions-even if that mean making decisions with which you disagree.
If you pray for a leader with whom you are having problems, on of three things will happen. God will either change you, change the leader, or change the situation. Sometimes difficult situations are God’s way of removing someone from leadership. Psalm 75:7 tells us God is the one who raises up and brings down leaders. God has a history of removing bad leaders, but it will be in His way and according to his timing.
Third, put real effort into your relationship with that leader. You may never be the best of friends, but you need to be able to work together effectively. If the two of you have a problem, always make the attempt to talk together about it. The more effort you put into this relationship, the easier it will be to hear each other out. As Paul suggests in 2 Cor 6:13, open your heart to your leader. Try to get to know him as a person.
Fourth, be patient. Cut your leader some slack and give him or her time to grow. Leaders are not perfect; we all make mistakes.
Last, make sure you relate to difficult leaders with the utmost integrity. Don’t bad mouth them. Don’t retaliate or be vindictive toward them. If your leader is behaving badly, don’t behave badly in response. Dealing with a difficult leader can be a test of your character. Pass that test with flying colors!”
I can’t tell you how much I was impressed about this last chapter…….The church is us….God’s people…..we are all imperfect……we get discouraged, depressed but if we shared those things together…..built each other up in love & prayer, we would be a force to be reckoned with. I feel really strongly about this…….don’t point the finger at anybody else, if you don’t like something about your church then start praying for that area and like Rory said “God will either change you, the leader or the situation”. We have all been hurt by people in church, there are no exceptions, but if you let it defeat you and stop you from going to church then you have let Satan win. We need each other……..if we all actively looked for those who are searching or hurting, put our pride aside, reach out and love people Oh what a different place church would be!
Sorry this post has been so long but it was stuff I really needed to say because it’s hitting very close to home for me these days. Because I am not outgoing, I find it very hard to reach out to someone I don’t know, but I am being convicted that if I want to be “loved” by the people in my church I need to give love to the people in my church, step out of my comfort zone and be the person that makes someone else feel loved in church.
That’s it for me today….again sorry it’s been so long!