What church should be

i-love-my-churchI know what hurt has come from some of my own church experience. I have seen the damage done to others by inappropriate treatment within a church. Quite frankly sometimes it makes me want to find the reset button and see if we can begin again with this whole thing we call church.

I can name two friends that were pushed out of ministry, guys that have good hearts and really ministered to people. They got pushed out because they did not fit with the current leader’s vision of what church should be. These are two different people, in two different churches, in two different states, in two very different parts of the country. The locations may differ, but the churches are similar because the leader has given the Enemy a foothold in that congregation by not allowing these two men to operate in their giftedness.

Perhaps there is a different way to organize church. Perhaps we overlook a pastor’s inability to shepherd his congregation because he is a gifted speaker and can draw large crowds. Perhaps we turn a blind eye to the damage caused when a leader seeks to build his church rather than Christ’s.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the damage that I have seen done by those who have built organizational structures that claim to promote the kingdom of God but only are building a kingdom among men. Today was such a day.

But as I worked on collecting firewood today, I was reminded that for every empire building hawker who claims to represent Christ, there are dozens, hundreds or thousands of men and women who are really doing the work of ministry and living out the claims of the Gospel to change lives.

Some of these men and women are bi-vocational, they have jobs outside the church but still effectively minister in the church. Some are full time employees of the church but give of themselves way above and beyond a regular work schedule. All of them are in ministry because they have been called to that ministry and can say with the Apostle Paul that they are “bond slaves to Jesus Christ.” In short, they are in ministry to meet others’ needs and not their own.

I keep coming back to the chilling words of Jesus in Matthew 7:

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22–23, ESV)

God will sort it out in the end and those who have been obedient and have done ministry God’s way and with God’s methods will be rewarded for their effort.

I really believe that those who misuse their positions of leadership within the church are the minority and that most ministers are seeking to be obedient to the Lord of their calling. The problem is that those who abuse their power for their own ends are often the most gifted and most prominent so it seems as though they are a larger group than they really are.

But God is not mocked. He is watching.

This is bad news to the self-promoters who abuse their congregations. But this is very good news to the faithful servants who give of themselves for the glory of Christ.

To those faithful servants I tip my hat and offer my hearty thanks. You encouraged me today.