I love the church. What’s not to love about a community representing Christ to the world? It’s a beautiful ideal, even though the reality is, all too often, a different picture. There is a huge potential in the thousands of churches across our land, but the church needs to make some shifts into its present reality. People like me will give the institution another look when we see these changes begin to happen.
Should we criticize the church? Only if we love it! If I didn’t love the church, then, I wouldn’t say a thing because I wouldn’t care, or else, I would criticize it in a mean-spirited, destructive manner. If, however, someone you love is involved in something that is misrepresenting her and ultimately destructive, you won’t just let her continue to walk toward the cliff until she falls off. You will say something.
Since we all have faults and blind spots, lobbing criticism at anyone or anything is pretty easy. Lord knows, anyone who is acquainted with me could easily make a long list of what they think is wrong with me and many of the items would, no doubt, be very true.
So, listing faults is sort of like shooting ducks in a barrel. When you shoot ducks in a barrel, you are likely to wind up with dead or wounded ducks, or ducks that are really, really mad.
I don’t want to wound anyone in the church and don’t want to make church-goers and church leaders mad, but the latter part is really out of my control. My intent is to show some possible ways forward for the church, since my crazy story gives me both the perspective of an informed practitioner and a seasoned outsider.
It takes much more thought to get on the solution side of things than it does to point out what’s wrong. Yet, the problem needs to be identified in order to suggest ways to improve. Some people don’t like it when we talk about the church’s problems. But identifying the problem is always the first part of making things better. However, that is only the beginning point. Then the hard work of problem solving and improvement must begin.
Many of us have more or less given up on this type of reformation, but some wonderful things would happen if there is an openness to honest evaluation and change.