As part of my 2011 Jesus Revolution, I have been making it a point to chat with my neighbors about their belief systems. Some, of course, don't want to talk about it. I respect that. Others are more interested in the beliefs of their neighbors; we have a Jehovah's Witness family on our circle that many have questions about. But Saturday (while walking my dog, of course) I had a chat with a mother of 3 who lives across the street. We talked about her faith history. We talked about her most recent attempts at taking her family to church. It was not a happy story. She and her husband were having trouble finding a way to fit in. When they called the church office for assistance, they were told that their Sunday School class would help. When they responded that they didn't yet belong to a class, they were told to join one. That was the final answer. There was no outreach. There was no love shown to them. And so they gave up on church. I hope I can do something to get them started again. #FAIL
The church is like its members- it will never be perfect. We get it right more often than not. But the one place we should never fall short is in showing love to our world. I have seen more and more examples lately of how the institution of the church seems to be losing touch with the teachings of Christ. As the 1 Corinthians 13 scripture reminds us, without love we are nothing. We are just white noise, becoming more and more deaf to the hurting people around us. How is the church failing to love? Here are just a few of the things I have seen and read recently that make me just a little crazy...
- I heard from a friend of a youth ministry that requires (at the demand of their pastor) church membership cards before students are allowed to enter the youth room. So much for Acts 1:8, huh? #FAIL
- I read about the Westboro Baptist Church, which in its attempts to condemn gays has done greater harm to the way people see Christianity than almost anything else Satan has going on. #FAIL
- I saw a church sign that read, "Join us Sunday. We'll scare the sin right out of you!" Now there's a message of hope and love... #FAIL
- I know of a church that stopped having youth group on Sunday evenings so that the students could spend more time with their families. It sounds good on paper, but in reality over half of their youth are from broken homes with little parental support. I'm guessing many of those kids are not having family game night on Sunday evenings. #FAIL
- I know of a church leader- a man who works for a well-known Christian organization and who teaches classes at a very large church. When he speaks about his faith, many people listen. Yet there is another man who wronged him (and confessed this sin) and whom he sees in church most every Sunday. He will not speak to him or even look at him. Until he shows grace in that relationship, his words about the amazing grace of Jesus sound hollow and impotent. I struggle with my own feelings towards the man- but is anything harder than forgiving someone who will not forgive? I am telling you, without love, that "professional Christian's" life is just noise. #FAIL
Because of Jesus,