The church is not your superhero.
It wasn’t meant to be, it will never be, and the sooner you get over it the better.
Sarah Cunningham’s very sensible article in The Ooze debunks a few myths as follows:
- The church will always appreciate my investment. False.
- The church will always take the time to understand me. Nope.
- The church always offer the kind of support I need when I need it. Myth.
- The church leadership is 100% admirable. Wrong.
- The church will always give equal attention to all portions of the bible. Sorry.
She ends by saying that the failure of the church is a reminder of human frailty and our own need for God’s forgiveness and restoration. The church after all, is not the hope of the world. Jesus is. Follow the link to read the whole article.
Her short commentary reminded me of another piece I read some time ago at the House Church Blog. In a post dated 2004, the church is no superhero, it is also uncool too. Here’s an excerpt:
Churches, themselves, are not cool. House churches are not cool. Traditional churches are not cool. Emerging churches are not cool. Mega-churches are not cool. Seeker churches are not cool. Cell group churches are not cool. Churches with buildings are not cool. Churches without buildings are not cool.
We have such a human tendency toward unhealthy self-centeredness that we want to take our human expressions of God's grace and admire the human aspects of them.
Churches are not cool.
God is cool. God's redemptive power in the lives of humans is cool. God's grace expressed in and through humans is cool. God humbling himself to take the form of a human is cool. God giving himself to die because of His desire and love for humans is cool.
Humans responding to God are cool. Humans filled with the grace of God are cool. Humans gathering to worship are cool. Humans going into the world to express Kingdom life are cool. Weak humans filled with the grace of God are cool…..
We are the church. How we express the church, or "do" church, or gather, or build, or worship when we gather, doesn't make it any better. How we be the church, today, ourself, is the only point. How we, as humans, reflect the wonder and grace and beauty of God, and point to Him, and let Him express His glory through our weakness and brokeness, is the point. God's grace seen is the point. God's redemptive work displayed through us is the point. God's Kingdom revealed is the point.
God, of course, is w-a-y cool. It's just that he often chooses to work through and in very uncool people. Institutions, structures, systems, included. That's cool. To help you think beyond structures and systems, you might want to read this heartwarming book by Wayne Jacobsen aka Jake Colson. Download or read the whole book here.
On the other hand A.B Simpson (founder of C&MA) shared this vision of church in his 1890 book, A Larger Christian Life, and here's an excerpt:
[The]... Christian church that is much more than an association of congenial friends to listen once a week to an intellectual discourse and musical entertainment and carry on by proxy a mechanism of Christian work; but rather a church that can be at once the mother and home of every form of help and blessing which Jesus came to give to lost and suffering men, the birthplace and the home of souls, the fountain of healing and cleansing, the sheltering home for the orphan and distressed, the school for the culture and training of God's children, the armory where they are equipped for the battle of the Lord and the army which fights those battles in His name. Such a center of population in this sad and sinful world!Well. The church is no superhero. She's so uncool. And all that. But can she be 'mother and home' (by proxy, perhaps) and should she? If not, why not? If the people of God can't be all these good things, what are they good for?