People are not looking for the perfect church. Yeah right!! Lets be honest….there’s a little part in all of us that expects a touch of perfectionism. You know it’s true!!
Here’s a piece of advice though. If you should ever find the perfect church, then I would encourage you to stay as far away from it as you possibly can. Personally, I would want to avoid any contact with it whatsoever. Why? Because I know myself too well. I’m imperfect you see. So I’m more than aware that if I were to go anywhere near it, then it’s perfection would be severely compromised.
Ok, now for the truth. There REALLY is no such thing as a perfect church. Whilst most people ‘get’ the theory of this, deep down, they still secretly harbour expectations of perfection. These false expectations lead to an inevitable sense of disappointment. The evidence of this lies in how they practically handle things like offence, hurt, mistakes, insensitivity, blunders, embarrassment and the rest. These are all inevitable symptoms of something which isn’t perfect. Therefore, at some point in church life, they’re all going to happen. So when they occur, do we run away from them or stay and work them out? The moment we choose the latter is the day we truly become part of a community.
For all it’s imperfections, there’s no greater blessing in life than to be planted in a local church community. Pastor Bill Hybels once said ‘The local church is the hope of the world‘. He was right. The Junction Church in Leicester and Loughborough is a community of people who have not only experienced God’s amazing grace – but who live in it too. If God had the grace to forgive us, then this surely challenges us about how we respond to the imperfections of others.
The irony is that Christians can sometimes be very poor at handling these imperfections. This is nothing new. In the New Testament, the Pharisees detested Jesus because he was a ‘friend of sinners’. This appalled them. They wrapped their objections in the language of self-righteousness religiosity. However their self-righteousness was merely unrighteousness…in disguise. Jesus felt far more comfortable hanging out with unpretentious unbelievers than with judgmental ‘believers’.
A few years ago, I was involved in helping a couple who’d been involved in a certain ministry. While some of the aims of this particular organisation were good, it was very noticeable that there was a thread of anti-Church sentiment which ran throughout it. This ministry had been birthed back in the 1980’s out of a sense of disappointment with Church. Was the disappointment valid? Perhaps. However this negative anti-Church vibe had the effect of undermining relationships & contaminating any positives about what they were doing. The cynicism of the environment completely missed the point of God’s grace. It also fed a culture of negativism and actually ended up doing great damage to people’s lives, including the couple we were helping. Nobody thrives in a negative environment that focuses on the imperfections of others.
It’s always important to manage our expectations. Only one person deserves 100% of it. His name is Jesus. The rest of us? Well, we are works in progress. We are getting there. However, we need a lot of grace along the way. This is church – all about people who are imperfect. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s loved by God. For this reason, we love it too. #iLoveMyChurch
We’d LOVE you to check out the JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER