Beginning a Tough Conversation About the Church

Talking about family is a complicated thing. We are connected to them… like it or not. We come from them. We owe them much of who we are. We love them. And yet the relationships are tangled and frustrating. But to talk about this frustration openly would seem like… a betrayal. So we avoid the painful subjects in our family dynamics. Worse yet, we pretend that our family is wonderful in every way when its plain to see that it is not.

Or perhaps we have crossed over to the place where our frustration boils over and we can finally speak “honestly”… which usually means we are so angry we can no longer see any good or sweetness in our family of origin. Maybe we don’t shout it from the mountaintops but privately we slander them… or maybe we do shout it from the mountaintops. Our families are dysfunctional and as we interact with them, we find we too become something we don’t like very much.

Our relationship with the Church can be a lot like this. If we grew up going to church or we are a follower of Jesus Christ, our relationship with the organization of other followers of Christ is… complicated. We either pretend all is well (and therefore enable the dysfunction) or we act out in anger against it, destroying reputation and relationships along the way.

Perhaps this blog entry will, Lord willing, play some small part in facilitating a different approach for those that read and interact with it. I hope we can learn to name the realities but also speak lovingly and even constructively about the Church. Does the Bible call the Church a whore? Yes, though the Bible speaks more about the Church acting like a whore than being a whore. Is this distinction important? I believe so, because while the Church may whore after reputation, success and affirmation, she is fundamentally the Bride… the beloved of Christ. That love is more defining of us than our sin.

From time to time, I will write in this blog about the dysfunction of the Church: the double-mindedness of our devotion, the power-dynamics that marginalize people of different races and gender, the narcissism of church leadership among other topics. I will write about the dysfunction not because I am resentful or angry, but because I am hoping and praying for better for the Church. At times, I may be provocative. But it is my prayer that this conversation will, in the end, help us to come to grips with unpleasant truths so that we might work together in faith to bring them more in line with who God’s love is making us to be. 

Let me know what you think about engaging in the conversation in the comment section. If you have subjects you would like to discuss, let me know that, too. And together, let’s be hopeful about what the Lord might do in His Church!

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