This past weekend, Nate Galloway, the Family Ministries Pastor of Piedmont Church, asked those of us in attendance the following question – What comes to mind when you think of church? I have given much thought to Nate’s question.
The following is what comes to my mind when I think of church:
- The church gave me a place to belong.
- The church gave me a place to feel safe.
- The church was a place I felt unconditional love.
- The church treated me like family when everyone else rejected me.
- The church gave my life direction and a sense of purpose.
- The church saw what I could be and not what I was.
- The church taught me God’s Word, the Bible which guides my life.
- The church taught me how to seek God during life’s trials.
- The church comforted me during times of tragedy.
- The church was filled with Godly men who became surrogate fathers.
- The church is a place where people sacrifice so others can have a better life.
- The church is a place of joy.
- The church is a place where I could be myself.
- The church loves me enough to challenge me to get better.
- The church was where the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin.
- The church was where I repented of my sin.
- The church gave me a place to discover and use my spiritual gifts.
- The church is where I have seen marriages restored, addictions broken, people healed, relationships reconciled, and lives are put back together.
- The church is where my best friends are.
- The church is where I serve others with my time and invest my money.
- The church has the greatest collection of communicators in the world.
- The church taught me how to be a better husband and father.
- A friend from church introduced me to my wife.
- Church has made Sunday my favorite day of the week.
- I can’t wait to go to church.
- What happens at church makes me sing.
- My wife is on a church staff. My daughter was on a church staff before going off to college.
- I gave my life to Jesus Christ because the church taught me what He did for me on the cross.
- I do not miss church. If you are tired or want to go to the mountains (I hear that a lot), go on Saturday. On Sunday, the Dodd family goes to church.
- The church is absolutely beautiful.
- The church has lasted 2000 years and is not going anywhere.
- The church is always advancing and moving forward.
- The church cannot be stopped.
- I love the church.
- Jesus loves the church so much He died for it.
I attend many church leadership conferences and do much research on current trends in American Christianity. In a moment of complete candor, I have grown sick and tired of Christians bashing other Christians and the church.
It has become a cottage industry for many Christians to go on Twitter or Instagram and rant about all the church is doing wrong. They talk about how mean the church is OR what the church is not doing OR how the church is outdated OR the latest negative stats on how the church is losing influence OR how they are for Christianity but not the church OR how Christians should adopt a particular cause OR fill in the blank. It seems never-ending.
In all candor, I’m offended by those comments. They make me sick. I love the church. It is where my life was changed. It is where I was redeemed.
The church is a lot like Noah’s Ark. Inside its walls the ark was not perfect. It was probably smelly, dirty, had some conflict, and was not an optimal environment to say the least. But it sure beat what was on the outside. What was on the outside was death, darkness, overwhelming circumstances and hopelessness.
I’ll take the church any day – warts and all. It sure beats what is on the outside of its walls. So if you claim to be a Christian and have anything negative to say about the church or other Christians, do us all a favor and keep it to yourself because the rest of us love the church.
If you have been hurt by the church I want to leave you with Nate’s final words from Sunday, “Don’t let anyone take from you what Jesus died to give you. Jesus died so you can have a family.”
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