Friday, August 8, 2014

I happen to like the church.  That may seem non-controversial, but from my admittedly personal observations it is controversial. 

I have, in the past few years, seen many facebook posts about how terrible the church is.  I have read posts from pastors who are ill or suffering and they opine about how the church is terrible at dealing with people who suffer.

I have read posts about how the church is full of hypocrites.  I have read posts about how the church is ill-equipped to deal with the 21st century ills of this world.  I have read posts about how the church has done this, that, or the other thing wrong. 

There are two things I find disturbing about this - 1st, every single post that I read in this regard was written by Christians.  Christians - people who are nourished by the Word and Sacraments - we ought to think the best.  And also, are we unaware that when we publically malign the church those that do not know Christ are simply buttressed in their thought that the church, "is useless"?  We, of all people, ought to recognize that outside of the church there is no real hope.  The church, warts and all, is the bride of Christ.  And yes, ultimately, the church is God's people.

Now, of course I admit and confess that not all churches do it right - and yes, I will admit - not all churches work to spread the Gospel effectively.  However, it is in the church that I was raised to hear of Jesus.  It is in the church that I receive the sacraments.  It is in the church that I have met - and have - built amazing relationships with people that I love.  It is in the church that I have been nurtured in the faith.

The second thing I find disturbing is this trend to, "de-institutionalize" the church.  This one would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.  I hear often that people hate, "church politics."  Yet, and I can only speak about my own church body - the LCMS - I am thankful for it.  Let me tell you why.  There is some nonsensical thinking out there that we can have, "church" without governing bodies, without authority, where everyone has amazingly equal say and all ideas are worth repeating and implementing. 

My response to this is simple - have you ever tried to get anything done with more than one person?  If you have than you know that agreement is hard to come by.  At some point having governance and good polity assist the body to do something wonderful. 

For example, let us look at the imagined house church.  We gather together around the Word.  We pray.  It is wonderful.  Than more people start coming.  They are attracted to the freedom expressed there.  They want more of it.  They invite more.  All of a sudden, decisions have to be made as to how things are going to operate when people meet there.  All of a sudden, someone has to make choices.  All of a sudden, for there to be any order in the meetings - people have got to step up.  People are elected to take charge.  People are elected to represent.  Like Stephen in Acts, governance begins to take form and shape. 

Huh...sounds like church polity.  Paul himself said that everything should be done in good order.  Paul himself appointed elders in the cities and the churches.  Good structure and order were paramount in the process of spreading the Gospel.  To say otherwise is to simply deny facts.

I guess what this post is really about is this - I want to stick up for the church.  I find her to be the greatest force for good the world has ever known.  Many of our institutions of higher learning were started by the church.  The drive for literacy - started by the church.  The principle that every human being has intrinsic value - an idea from the church.  Jesus Himself said that He is the head of the church.

I know people have been hurt by the church; but I write here saying that far more people have been helped.  I love Jesus, and I love His church.