Jayson D. Bradley at Relevant Magazine offers 5 reasons we should not give up on church.
His points are all important and his applications are worth pondering at: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-give-church#KHFcpd8Q6pddpMft.99
Here are Bradely’s five reasons why church continues to be a valuable exercise along with my reflections on each of his points.
- We’re all part of the church’s problems.
The problems the church faces are never “them.” The church is us. Every person who connects himself or herself with the community of faith known as the church is the church. Every church is a reflection of the people who make up that church.
If we long for change in the church, we need to be the church we long to be part of. Which is why Jayson Bradley’s point #2 is so important.
- Churches need reformers.
If everyone who has a different picture of how things might be, leaves the church, nothing will ever change.
The challenge of the problems in the church is not to leave and create something apart, but to stay and work for something new within the existing realities. This is true because of Bradley’s point #3.
- There’s still so much good in the church.
Despite all the horror stories, despite all our failures, the hurt we have caused. and the damage we have done, the church continues to be a force for good in the world.
The sick are prayed for and visited. The broken and lonely are honoured and valued. Children learn deeper ways of being in life. Refugees are taken in; the marginalized are respected and people gather week after week to honour the truth and beauty we see embodied in the person of Jesus. Deeply important values of human dignity, respect and gentleness that are often diminished in the world, are held and affirmed in the church. This is why #4 is so important.
- Church is a support system.
There are people in churches who will faithfully stand by those who find themselves in dark and difficult times. Church is a place where we are encouraged to walk alongside the downtrodden and stand with the oppressed.
No matter how imperfectly we may all fulfill the call, in church we are at least encouraged to live by the deepest and most ennobling virtues of our humanity. We seek to support one another in the deep challenge of living in tune with the alternative kingdom Jesus came to establish in our lives. It is not possible for most of us to live a truly noble and deeply human life completely alone. The fire of life requires more than one log to burn brightly.
- Church is a spiritual discipline.
I have no doubt that I could abandon the local church and cherry pick some friends to meet with regularly who would make spirituality and theological discussions deep, challenging and fun.
But when I’m honest with myself, most of my growth has come from interacting with people I wouldn’t choose. By handpicking my social circle instead of submitting to a local community of believers, I’ll generally choose people who fall within my comfort zone.
I’ve grown in my ability to love by getting close to people with opinions I disagree with, different lifestyles, disabilities and all sorts of issues I had not been previously been exposed to.
Church is not church when it is simply a gathering of like-minded individuals who all naturally get along together and find it easy to live in harmony.
Human community is hard work. People are irritating, upsetting, uncomfortable, and awkward. Getting along with real people is often crucifying. But that is the call of discipleship.
‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
The most sure-fire way to be crucified is to hang out with people. We always let each other down. If we are not willing to bear the pain of sticking it out with difficult people, we are not willing to carry the cross and die daily.