I chose this title to sound controversial, but I actually do love it. I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in church, in fact the same church my husband and I are members of now. I’ve visited many other churches, though I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been a member of another one. The closest I came was the church I attended in college an hour and a half away from home, but that was only for two years. My home church has provided me with a spiritual foundation, an environment for growth and discipleship, leadership opportunities, community, prayer, counseling, and love in so many other ways I couldn’t name. I can’t imagine any person with a genuine love for Jesus and His gospel being averse to the idea of local church membership. And yet, it’s out there.
I’ve been thinking lately about “the church” and what makes it so polarizing. I realize that my personal experience with the church is just that, but the more I’ve gotten to know the church – her successes and her failures, her beauty and her blemishes – the more I love her. I know it’s hip to say you love church because you love people and/or that church is not really about buildings and programs and I understand the heart behind that, and agree in fact. The church is the bride of Christ, which are we who are in Christ (i.e. people). But I also unapologetically love everything about church. I love buildings, sound systems, programs, websites, staff meetings, elder boards, worship rehearsals, and even copyright licensing (did you know churches need licenses to sing most modern worship songs? Well they do. Your church probably has a CCLI license). I love these things because it’s part of what makes the church organization, or perhaps organism, function. Yes the church is people, but church government is necessary and the physical commodities (like buildings, sound systems, websites) can be beautiful. We employ these things to glorify Christ.
To you who would say that you have all but given up on “The Institution” of church I would say this: Dysfunctional church government, rough leadership transitions, or bad programs can burn people. Genuine hurt and offense have occurred and will continue to occur in the church. But we must not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let us not neglect meeting together as a family in Christ to encourage and build one another up! (Hebrews 10:24-25) Learn to see the beauty in all the aspects of church because of the beauty of Christ himself. “Organized religion” may sound like the furthest thing from beautiful to you, but as Christ’s redeemed bride it is the means He has given us to the ultimate end. And that ultimate end, according to the Westminster Catechism, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Photo credit: MB Photography