What the Church is Doing Right

What the Church is Doing Right

I started writing this blog to help me clarify and hone the things God was teaching me. I used this blog as an opportunity to share that teaching with others as I learned. Using a blog was a very intentional decision, so that I could add to previous posts and if necessary, correct mistakes. When I started, I was seeing many things terribly wrong with the institutional church, and I wanted to do what I could to correct it from a biblical point of view. 

It's interesting that I've now come full-circle. Not only has God led me back into the institutional church, but it's one of the largest and most institutional churches in America. And I'm not just a member, but I'm on full-time staff leading a ministry. This was a difficult calling to accept, but God graciously helped me refine my understandings on many topics that prevented it before. This post then is an opportunity to continue sharing what God is teaching me, and how my perspective has changed from when I first started writing. 

Professional Christians

At one point, I saw paid clergy as the biggest problem with the church. Paying certain people to do ministry put a distinction between the "professional Christians" and all the rest. This blocked church congregations from pursuing the full potential of ministry that Jesus call all of His disciples to.

But I've come to accept that from the very beginning, Jesus modeled ministry supported by those he's helping. There is strong scriptural support through the rest of the New Testament for those who dedicate their time to sharing the gospel to be supported by those they're sharing it with. And yet not every Christian can become a vocational minister because who would support them? And so it makes sense that there would be certain sacraments that should be reserved for those more mature professionals.

Of course, those professionals are only there to serve, encourage, and empower other disciples to do ministry as well.

Unbelievers in the Assembly

I still think that there should be no question that the assembly should primarily serve the body of believers. But I've come to appreciate that unbelievers can also be present in the assembly. And while any believer should be willing and able to share his faith outside of the assembly, I don't think it's inappropriate for one to bring an unbeliever to the assembly to hear the gospel. After all, as stated above, those people are being paid to share the gospel.

Being the Church, Not Going to Church

I used to be uncomfortable with the idea of regularly scheduled church gatherings. I thought church should be living in community, a Christian's whole life, not just one small part of it. And if the church was only supposed to be normal life, then a pre-arranged program would undermined the organic fellowship and freedom for the Spirit to move.

But I've come to see that regular gatherings have been a part of the church from the very beginning. Thinking about the words to describe it make it clear: assembly, gathering, congregation. There is something special, unique and spiritual about gathering intentionally for the sake of edification, outside of casual social get-togethers.

Along the same lines, there's nothing wrong with these gatherings being guided by a program. The problem is when the program precludes interaction from the rest of the assembly. Interaction is critical for discipleship, because disciples do what Jesus did. If disciples can't learn by doing, they're not disciples. Simply observing the leader is not discipleship. 

More Improvements

None of this is to say that I think the church has it right or doesn't need improvement. I think that most churches don't have nearly enough authentic discipleship. I don't think churches encourage spiritual maturity from their congregation. I don't think most churches have much real faith in Jesus.

But there's a lot of really good stuff going on in churches. There are small course corrections that need to be made. But the overall structure and intention behind the vast majority of churches are sound. This is really encouraging! Jesus was right when He said, "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." This is what I've always said, see my original post. But saying it and actually believing it are two different things.


These new understandings have had a big impact on me and my personal ministry. Up until recently, I saw myself as a reformer, and set out to correct the problems in the church. But I've come to terms with the fact that Jesus is in charge of the church, He always has been, and He doesn't need me to correct anything. I might think that I have some special revelation, but anything right that I know came straight from Jesus. Anything He's told me has certainly been told to others as well. I'm nothing special -- just another servant of Jesus.

So I don't want to be a renegade doing ministry on my own anymore. And I don't want to try to put myself in charge of anything. Jesus entrusted His Assembly to humans. So any authority Jesus wants me to have should recognized by others. And really, I don't deserve any special authority. But as I've entrusted Jesus to lead me, He's guided me into a position in the church that I'm privileged and honored to have. My hope is to use that position to keep serving Jesus and His assembly. That will include doing everything in my power to support and encourage the things it's doing right, and correct the things that need to be improved.


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