My social media accounts have been littered with “Dear Church” letters in the form of blog posts and online news articles enumerating why people are leaving the church. These articles are written mostly by pastors and ministry experts and shared on Facebook and Twitter by Christians. Some of the writers make some valid points and most churches would benefit from the kind of the self-examination called for in Scripture. However, others are harsh, bitter, and malign the Body of Christ. I love the Church and the constant barrage of criticism (even that which intends to be constructive) seems to contradict the very attitude believers are called to display.
Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
I am saddened by it all.
Don’t get me wrong. I have my own what’s-wrong-with-the-church story. I was practically born in church, attended faithfully for the last 50 years, and served on church staff in various professional ministry positions which probably qualifies me as much as anyone to write a tell-all-best-seller.
But the Church is the Bride of Christ. We, as the Church, are His beloved.
As a small-group Bible Study leader at my church I share openly and honestly about my own journey as a believer and church goer. I take every opportunity to cheer on those who are attending and serving and trying to find their way as believers in a culture hostile to the things of God. Last week, this topic came up in our study of Nehemiah. Quickly, my friend Melody spoke up and mentioned the “Dear Church” letters. She shared so much of what my heart had been feeling. Sunday afternoon I received the following email from her. I share these heart felt words with her permission:
I’ve made a list of reasons why I am not leaving you and why I continue to support you while others blame.
1. I love Jesus.
2. I love people. I understand that none of us is perfect and we all make mistakes. I know that as hurt and wounded as I have been by others, I also have many times been the offender. We are not perfect, but we keep going, because God is perfect and we want to follow Him.
3. I want to grow. Yes, I can read my Bible at home, but would I if I weren’t in contact and fellowship with others being taught the Word of God by a man appointed by God? No, I wouldn’t. I’ve been there and tried that….total failure.
4. I enjoy corporate worship. There’s is something very sweet and special about our times together worshiping the Lord. It’s powerful.
5. You have a great heart for children and youth ministries. You have appointed wonderful leaders who work diligently, fast, and pray over their ministries; and they show that example to the ones they minister to.
6. I have watched you love the ones others judge. You welcome them with open arms.
As believers, church attendance is of high importance. It is a place we can all come together to worship, be encouraged, and learn from God’s Word for spiritual growth. Let these Bible verses encourage and remind you of why attending church is essential to our lives.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
So, church, I’m not going anywhere. I am staying and supporting you when others complain and blame you. I continue to lift you up in prayer daily.
Thank you, Melody, for sharing your heart and allowing me to share your words here. I am blessed to be your Sister in Christ.
Do you love the Church? To love her doesn’t mean we deny her imperfection but God wants to use us—the Church—to reach the world for Christ. Love her. Support her. Speak kindly of her. That just may be the best way to get others to come . . . and stay.
If you love your church and you’re staying will you share this message with others please?