It seems that everyone these days are making lists, so I thought I would make one of my own. This is a list of lies I have heard people say about church.
The most effective lies are not the straight out denial of the truth. They are the half truths that have exceptions. This list is no different, there will be exceptions to each of the lies that are based on truth. The thing is that we often make the exception the rule and we lose the truth in the half lie.
So let me be up front these are meant to be provocative to get you to think if you have swallowed the lies about church, since what we believe is what we tell ourselves. Before you dive for the exception, you need to ask if you have bought the lie.
- Everyone at church will be my friend. Community and love at church are important but fellowship is not the same as friendship. Fellowship (the Greek word is koinonia) has more a partnership aspect, in the case of church, serving together. I may not be friends with everyone I play sport with if I am playing on a team, but there will be a companionship of working together. If you are feeling like you aren’t connecting with people at church serve with them, don’t wait for them all to line up and want to be your friend.
- I can just sit in the pews. One day I would like to have someone explain how you get this from the Bible, since as far as I see the expectation of is that church operates as a body “with the proper working of each individual part” (Eph 4:11), or that everyone comes with something to build the church (1 Cor 14:28). Sure there may be seasons when this is not possible due to prolonged illness, new baby or burnout. But these are the exceptions. This does not mean that you need to be doing formal ministry (appointed by the church), but it could be as simple as “I will turn up to look for the new person or the person who needs prayer so I can pray for them or to do the thing that is being missed like washing up or cleaning up”. It doesn’t have to be big but I don’t see how you can be a passenger in church.
- It doesn’t matter if I miss a week, I can always go next week. I have had some problems writing this one, but then others have already written on this. Kevin deYoung has written a really though provoking post on this asking the question that is the attitude behind this whether you are Christian or not. This is true church will always be there and there is a danger of legalism. But it is the attitude under it that is the question. Does it matter to you if you miss a week? What would you not have this attitude to? Would you say about work – I won’t go to work, I can always go next week. Or I can miss this appointment with my friend, because they will be there next week. If you are not sure if this is you, Trevin Wax has written an interesting case study for people
- Church should be cool. I think one of the reasons that we baulk at inviting our friends to church is that church is not cool. Church should be a lot of things, but cool is not one of them. Church certainly should be engaging and life changing and that is why we should be inviting people to hear and see God’s Word spoken and lived out in church. But it will never be as entertaining as an X-Box or as exhilarating as a concert, its not meant to be. Cool is what culture tells is is trending. Church will always be uncool because there will always be a point that church is against culture.
- I can offend church without offending Jesus. Church is not perfect and is not above criticism. And yet it is clear that the Bible sees that Jesus sees the church as his bride (e.g. Rev 19:9). So there is a myth that we can “love Jesus and not the church” is indeed a myth since to love Jesus is to love what he loves. It is easy to take pot shots of church, but consider how Jesus is going to respond to you as you do this. I think the solution is not to not criticise the church. And if there are issues you should take it up with your leaders. But it is all about attitude and how you do this. There is a difference between “You are not doing your job…” to “Hey, we both want to see Jesus’ bride looking the best she can be, can I raise something I think will help?”
I am sure there are more. I am sure (and kind of hoping) I have got under your skin a little. I am not asking you to agree with everything I have said, I am asking you to consider the lies you might have unconsciously swallowed.