If you’ve read any recent articles about the Church, you’d think it was on the cusp of being forgotten.
Young adults and youth leaving in droves, everyone is upset and pastors are clueless. I read it all and a lot of it, I understand. The church has often lost its way, but I think something that gets lost in the emotionality of the concerns is that there is still many reasons to love the church.
I have been heavily involved in the church since I became a Christian as a teenager. I attended the youth group and bible studies, served on worship and preaching teams and been employed as a youth pastor. This provides me a unique platform to analyse the church, because I got to see all the behind the scenes action.
There is a reason that from the time I became a Christian, I have only had a couple of months without a church. It’s not because I’ve had a perfect experience of the church, in fact some/most of the time it makes my blood boil, but there are many reasons I still love the church, even though it’s broken.
Here are my top five reasons I still love the Church.
#1: The Church is Filled With Broken People, Just Like Me
Every church I’ve been a part of is filled with broken people. Thank God.
When it comes down to it, the Church is a community of broken people clinging onto Jesus like their lives depend on it because it does. Nothing more, nothing less.
You might have been involved in Churches that functionally practice the opposite of this, but that doesn’t mean it should be like that. Church, for me, is a place it has been OK to not be OK. It’s been the only place I ever felt comfortable talking about the darkest days of my depression, sharing my greatest defeats and talking about my brokenness. I love that.
#2: Jesus Died For The Church
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25)
One of the craziest things that I will never get my head truly around is that Christ died for the broken, the notorious and the self-righteous equally. This gathered community called Church clinging to him is precious because Jesus, the Son of God, died for them.
The Church is described in many terms in the New Testament, but it’s almost always terms of affection and it’s not like Jesus didn’t know what he was getting into, he is God. He knows exactly the rag-tag, broken-hearted make up of this community yet he calls it his bride (Ephesians 5:22) and lays down his life for her. Jesus think the church is precious and worth redeeming.
#3: It’s One of the Last Places that People Wrestle With Great Ideas and Worldviews
In my experience, the only two places where I have heard great ideas and worldviews deconstructed and discussed is in the halls of university and in the sermons at church.
Every single Sunday, a great idea or worldview will be wrestled with – sometimes excellently, sometimes poorly – but there will always be the clash of ideas. In the past, I’ve heard quotes from the Dalai Lama, Nietzsche and Richard Dawkins put forward in the same breath, dissected and discussed in great detail and passion.
#4: The Church Often Walks in When Everyone Else Walks Out
When I was first diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a teenager, I lost most of my friends. I don’t blame them, it was just that I wasn’t able to do anything with them anymore. Men build friendships by doing things together. I couldn’t do things, so I didn’t have many friends at that time.
I was loosely affiliated with a youth group at the time at my local church my parents attended, but I rarely attended myself. Once they heard that I had become sick, they not only made me a video with a message wishing me well, but the pastor came to my house and prayed for me and all these guys from the church came and hung out with me for hours.
When everyone else walked out, the church walked in.
#5: I Trust God With His Church
I don’t really worry about the church anymore. I trust God with it.
It has some problems, like any community that bonds over brokeness but God is both good and sovereign and because of that, I trust him.
James Gartmenian puts it beautifully by calling the church “to free itself from our obsessive focus and our faithless worry that if we don’t protect it, preserve it, reinvent it, spruce it up, perpetuate it, it will somehow just disappear and we will have failed.”
We can trust the wild and crazy ways of God to supersede our tendencies to micromanage and puff up our own self-importance in the future of the Church.
Whether the church is relevant, authentic and sexy or simply plain vanilla, once and all preserved through the ages it will persevere because God is in control of the ship, not me.
And that is why I still love the church.