…is Jesus Christ her Lord,” as the old hymn goes. So many of the commenters here on this page, on my Facebook page and other sites around the web share a sure foundation on Jesus Christ our Lord. I am so grateful for that. We are in agreement. I never intended or asserted to judge if someone is or is not of the faith based on their church attendance.
Clearly some of us have very different and passionate opinions on ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church), discipline within the Church and the fellowship of believers. This dialogue is healthy, but I wish it was happening within the context of a local community of believers. If there is any one thing proven by this article and response it’s this-we have much to improve upon. But I still strongly believe that these discussions are best held privately within “the family.”
My general concern is that publicly criticizing the Church does little to change the hurtful, dismissive leaders of unhealthy churches. I can’t imagine a leader, who up to this point has been ignoring the complaints of their membership, reads a blog or post and suddenly feels shame, regret or sorrow for their behavior. If this happens, it would be in the extreme minority.
But overwhelmingly, I think the impact that is more sure, more pervasive is that those on the periphery or outside our churches leave with a jaded (at worst), negative (at best) impression of churches at large. This is sad for the HUGE numbers of loving, tender, Christ-focused churches that long to reach those exact people. Interestingly, most critical commenters assert that they are desperate for the Church to change so that these “outsiders” are welcomed in. And yet it’s this audience that is likely turned off by our criticisms.
I am certain that abuse exists within the Church. I am certain that individuals have been hurt. I said as much in my article. Those arguments are valid. But when one church fails, I believe we can find a host of other churches willing, ready and biblically capable of helping one find healing. Where one turns a deaf ear, many others offer an open heart and helping hand. This is the place to share hurt and the need for restoration. This kind of change builds up the churches that are biblical, healthy and effective.
Finally, I’m not addressing those who leave “a church” in this article. I was addressing those who claim to be leaving “the Church,” and quite frankly kick her on their way out the door. From the responses I’m reading, most critical commenters don’t fall in this category. If you are still looking or have found a church to invest in, I applaud your passion and grace. Thank you for sticking with us. Thank you for letting someone be the version of the Bride you long for.
Those are the stories worth publicizing, “liking” and “sharing.” These kind of stories edify and make the Bride more radiant to our world.
For those of you who are interested, I’ll be posting a video response tomorrow to some of the more theological challenges asserted here. I’ll also be sharing a bit of my personal story. I hope it helps offer some much needed context to this discussion.