I love my Church and my church movement. There I said it. Again.
I just got back from an amazing week, last week, with my tribe - our annual national leaders conference. My church had a huge film night party Saturday night and then had a commissioning service this morning for a new church plant.
More than ever I realise how much I love my church, and my wider church family and the church itself more broadly. And more than ever I feel how that sentiment is at odds with our ‘cynical age that tends to celebrate anti-institutional suspicion’ (see the recent Comment Magazine).
I have reposted below something I wrote a few years ago, about that juxtaposition of cynicism about church and loving church. I find myself convinced of what I wrote then more than ever now, with my recent experiences.
I sometimes wonder if at present that kind of statement (I love my church) puts you up there with the ‘crazies’. Kind of like saying Margaret Thatcher was a warm gentle person, or that Tony Blair’s faith helped his political policy making.
I’ve written before that it currently seems much more ‘authentic’ to leave/criticise/doubt/be bored with church. Any confession of a high view of church, and love of church immediately paints you as an institutionalized reactionary conservative, blind to the problems of church.
I’m not talking about the idea of church, were we can all affirm the imagining of a better church. I’m talking about the church as it has existed and will continue to to in history.
The church messed up by you and me.
There is a naive sentimentalism about church, that is dangerous and leaves the church unable to change, with it’s fingers in it’s ears to any critique. But there is also a bilious cynicism about church, that finds it’s ongoing expression in a pathological idealised post-church narrative. And lots of stuff in between.
My location on the emerging church discussion, doesn’t come from being bored with church (I didn’t grow up in church), a dislike of worship aesthetics (there is much I don’t like), or the loss of faith in a post-modern world (I’ve nearly lost mine a few times).
It comes from a love of the church.
Church saved me. It introduced Jesus to me. It challenged me to hand my life, my basis for living and being over to Jesus, and to explore that with other Christians.
It brought healing to my life, through loving relationships, the presence of Jesus, examples of what it meant to live as a human being and as a father and husband (without alcohol and violence), with a new family of wonderful relationships.
It encouraged me to learn and grow and find out God’s plans for my life, and to try to locate that in the scheme of eternity and God’s kingdom.
It got in my face about the need to attend to my character, and take the pain of my past to Jesus.
And yes it has bored me, frustrated me, and been hopelessly out of step with my world so many times. And more than that it has regularly hurt me, abused me, tried my faith, and caused to me to doubt and question.
And yet I love and believe in it even more than ever.