There’s Something Wrong with my Church

FBCHVVisitors to the church I attend may not notice it immediately but something’s wrong with my church.

I’m not sure how they can avoid seeing it since it’s so apparent to those of us sitting in the pews every week. Something’s very wrong with us.

And, it’s not just one something. It must be many things or some systemic problem because like a twisted version of the blind men and the elephant, each of us describes the brokenness of our little congregation in a slightly different fashion.

It’s the music.

It’s the pastor.

It’s the prayer.

It’s the lack of . . .

It’s the abundance of . . .

It’s the pewsitters.

It’s me.

I wonder, often, why God called me to this little imperfect local fellowship. I was fine where I was, thank you.

The place I’d chosen to worship previously came highly recommended. I’m a writer and the congregation was full of creative people. The service was designed with my minimalist tastes in mind. Passionate, biblical preaching. Energetic worshipers. Contemporary, well-executed music. Casual dress Subtle technology. Artistic sanctuary grace notes. Devout followers of Christ making every effort to reach the city in which they worshiped.

Which was the problem God had with my being there – it wasn’t my city.

In fact, my city isn’t a city at all. My city is a little town that isn’t even really a town – just a village in a town. Every time the leaders of the perfect church talked about their passion for reaching their city, I heard God whisper the name of my own community.

Right. The souls on the street where I live matter to Jesus. And He wants them to matter to me.

Besides, there was something wrong with that perfect church, too. I didn’t belong there. It felt perfect to me, in part, because I wasn’t on the same mission with them. I wasn’t fighting in the same trench so my view lacked the details people see up close. It was the perfect church to visit but God didn’t want me living there.

So, I listened (not quickly, but eventually). I showed up at the church with something wrong with it in the community where I live. No one is perfect there and the worship reflects that. No one has hit the mark. No one is all grown up in Jesus. No one is flawless. I feel right at home.

I feel at home but not comfortable. I’m uncomfortable because the Spirit of God is on the move and I feel His breath on my neck during the service, I sense His touch on my face as He moves among us, I hear Him enter like a rush of wind with the promise that soon He will remain longer. It’s the discomfort I feel at the start of a trip, a journey, an adventure. I’m packed and ready but who knows what I’ll encounter along the way?

This discomfort makes my little church the perfect place to worship. The perfect place to worship is the place where God is at work because watching Him work inspires worship.

When I was younger in the Lord, I thought that when people complained things weren’t right, something should be done about it. I thought the pathway to community in the church was to hear everyone’s complaints, address them, make compromises, and build alliances.

I don’t know if I believe this anymore.

Now, I wonder if when people start complaining, when people get restless, when people start asking, “what’s wrong with this church anyway?”, I wonder if that’s when the people of God should say, “Listen, God is on the move and right before He moves – just like a storm – the air pressure builds and people feel uncomfortable. Endure the discomfort. Seek the Lord. Ask for the Holy Spirit to come. Pack lightly and be ready when He blows the church doors open.”

After the wind. After the earthquake. After the fire. God’s going to ask you a question. “What are you doing here?” Do you know what you will answer?

For me, the answer will be, “I’ve been waiting for you.” Because in any church, the most important question isn’t how you worship or how many people worship beside you or what style music do you use, the most important question is does God show up in your midst.

Is there something wrong with your church?

If it’s not preaching, teaching, living biblical truth, abandon ship. If it’s teaching biblical truth but no one is putting it into practice, repent and pray for the Holy Spirit to move and work in your midst.

If, however, people are uncomfortable, restless, and seeking answers about what’s wrong with them, hit your knees and stay there until God appears – He’s ready to move among you.

Are you worshiping in the perfect church? Beware. That could be because you haven’t gotten close enough to see its faults. There’s more danger in keeping your distance than there is risking opening your heart to other faulted believers.

It’s been with us since a heartbeat after Pentecost – the imperfect church. But the true church’s power is not in perfection, the power is in the presence of Jesus Christ.

The perfect church for you is the church to which you are called, the place assigned to you by God. If you’re in tune with the Holy Spirit, you’ll know if you’re where He’s assigned you to be. If you’re not, seek the Lord through prayer. Tell Him that more than the perfect worship experience, more than perfect church family, more than perfect music and mission, more than all that – you want to be where He is. Ask Him to lead you THERE. Then, pack for an adventure . . .

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8 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Wow! Powerful post, Lori. Thank you!

  2. Jan says:

    Oh, Lori – you’ve hit me right between the eyes one more time! This is one more post that I’m going to have to print out and stick in my Bible to read over and over. Thanks for speaking truth!

    • Patsy Arrouet says:

      Amen, sister! God has not called us to be comfortable in anything but in Him, no matter where He places us. Critiquing in our area of expertise can be a huge block to our entering into worship. Seeking the perfect fit, if we can even find it, may lead to complacency, happy in our own little world of ‘How it should be-ness.“

      • Jan says:

        Well put, Patsy! A perfect addendum to Lori’s post. Note to self: Copy/Paste/Print and stick in Bible. Thanks for these words that further challenge and point me in the right direction.

  3. Melanye Wrighton says:

    Love, love, love the way you speak from your heart into our hearts, Lori! You are a breath of fresh air in the midst of a storm…the waters are rough in “every” church ~ the messy one’s ~ and it’s right where Jesus is and wants me there with him. Risky.Courageous.BoldLove.

  4. stumbler says:

    I’m so entry-level I don’t even know if what’s being preached is “living, Biblical truth”!

  5. Matt says:

    I feel like there may be a danger that is not being addressed here.

    There are times when you local church is not following Biblical teaching. The trouble is it can be very hard to tell when this is the case. Say you are in a worship service, and it has been geared to draw you into worship, to prepare you for hearing God’s word. Then when the word of God is preached, if it is done passionately and with conviction, it can be difficult to notice when what is being taught is contrary to God’s word.

    When this is the case, when we realize that the teaching does not line up with God’s word, I think what is the case is that the entire course of the church will seem away from God’s truth rather than towards it. Even if we feel we can continue fellowship with that church, and just think carefully about the things being taught, I think what happens is that the entire spirit of the church becomes ‘difficult’, as it is moving in a direction contrary to the one you feel is the right direction.

    This is the situation I feel I am in. I’ve only been going to this church for about 10 months, and I feel that I ought to try to start going to another church, though this seems really difficult to do. In this case it is hard to tell if there really is something wrong with the church, or if there is something wrong with me. I think an important thing to do is to look carefully at the things being taught, and into God’s word, and try to ask honestly if I can fellowship with the church.