I have often thought the church as I have experienced it is a bit like life. When it’s good it’s great but when it’s rough it’s really rough.
When I started serving the church I started as a youth pastor. I served in that role in 2 different churches for a total of just over 10 years. When I look back I can say, as Charles Dickens says in A tale of two cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”. I remember seeing teens come to Christ and see their lives turn around. I also saw much hurt and pain. I saw families come together and I saw families torn apart.
I then served in several churches as a senior pastor, again for over 10 years in total. It was in this role I saw that awesome potential of the church to help change lives. But I also saw people in the church hurt each other in such developed ways. I could write a month of blogs telling stories from first hand experience. But for time sake I land on 2 polar opposite accounts.
The first was one of the hardest times I have ever experienced. I received a call from someone in the church that I was serving saying that a young couple in our church had been involved in a shooting. It was only later that I found out that the wife had actually shot her husband during a mental breakdown. I saw the power of God move in amazing ways as the church prayed and prayed for this couple. I met with the husband and prayed with him. God did a redeeming work in this couple’s lives. She got help and he stood with her. What an amazing thing to see.
Author Dwight L. Carlson once wrote a book entitled Why do Christians shoot their own wounded? What a title but what an important book to write. I have been hurt and, if I’m honest, I have hurt others. I have been gossiped about, slandered, misunderstood and hurt so very deeply by those who I sought to save. It was during a particularly tough season that I faced a decision many others have faced: Should I just walk away or should I try and just ride the hurt hoping for a better day?
I am not writing this blog to whine or to seek pity. I am writing this blog to try to be a caring pastor who both understands what it means to be failed and to fail others. I understand first hand what it means to say the church is full of fallen human beings.
The church is a product of God’s plan and part of that plan is made up of church people who still sin. Christians are saved but they are not perfect. Romans 3:23 says we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory, God’s perfect standard. So there lies a tension.
God is perfect, man is not!
So what do we do when we are hurt or we hurt others? What do we do when a church fails to be a place where God is honored and obey and becomes a place when people act as if they are God’s sole spokesperson? In the coming blogs I hope to encourage and challenge your thinking. This is a work in progress and I want you to know from the start that pastors still sin, myself very much included.
But God has many things to help us. First on that list is His Word, let’s submit to that. Secondly, we have His Spirit, let’s allow Him to lead us.
Please feel free to email to respond or just post a comment. But just one parameter, I don’t want to slander God’s church by sharing story after story that simply extends what I’ve already said. The church isn’t perfect but God is. So let’s see what He says and how that applies. firstname.lastname@example.org.