Church: Keep Afloat

Your church can be ridiculously frustrating, and you’ll want to give up and walk out and say you were right about them the whole time.

I know you’ve probably had a million ideas they didn’t listen to, and you want worship to be deeper, the Bible studies to be harder, the activities to tone down, the atmosphere more gracious, people more real, the pastor to be more serious or more in-depth or more thoughtful or more attentive. You want more missions, more conviction, more change, more open dialogue.

But please, please, please hang in there.

You’ve probably been trying for a while. I know it hurts to not be heard, to see others halfway committed, to hear the stories of two-faced lives.

Please consider that the “hypocrite” might be someone on their first lap of faith, and they just don’t know yet, and not everyone is paced at your speed. Consider that your pastor has a vision that he is desperately trying to tie together across dozens of conflicting opinions. Consider that what you feel are glaring flaws in your church are NOT sins against anyone, but simply a preference that rides against yours.

Church is exactly the place for you to endure through disagreement and discontent: because it teaches us patience when nothing goes “your way.” It doesn’t mean we remain complacent as things unfold: but that we extend grace for the growing pains of our church body, and we offer solutions lest we become part of the problem.

Fighting for unity is not the same thing as complaining about what’s wrong. I get this confused a lot too, and people can always tell the difference. The church knows when you can’t handle being told “no” and if you are pushing a vengeful reactionary agenda. You know your heart on this one, and if there is bitterness there, you probably wouldn’t listen to you either.

If you’re really hurting for your ministry: I just hope we act to restore and not out of righteous vindication. People walk into church with a divided mind already. They don’t need more of that. If you’re secretly venting to others about what is wrong, even in a “humble” articulate manner: you are poisoning the well. If it’s a legitimate concern, there are better ways to be heard and move forward.

People hear the ones with their sleeves rolled up, and nothing less. They will know if you really care or if you are really bitter. There is certainly a lot wrong with your church: but that’s because we attend them. There could be a time to walk away: but not in anger. There is a time to confront: but not to look back, and only to bring healing.

Have room in your heart to struggle together in the mess we call church. You will be heard this way. More importantly, God will speak this way.

It’s not easy, but don’t give up. Don’t give in. You are needed. Keep afloat, dear friend.

— J.S.

15 thoughts on “Church: Keep Afloat

    1. Definitely. With the shopper’s mentality, it becomes too easy to leave church at the slightest hint of conflict. Leaving church is always a big deal and shouldn’t be done lightly. When I’ve seen people stay committed in church through hardships, they are always happier and stronger on the other side. Thanks for sharing it!


  1. Exactly what I needed. Right on time. Thank you, Jesus! And, thank YOU for being His trustworthy messenger.

    Lord, bind us together with your love. Only you can unify us! Bring us together and make us one…different parts of ONE body with one heart, mind and purpose even as we have different functions, views and ideas. In your holy name and for YOUR glory. Amen.


  2. Timely word and what I needed to hear. There are times I want to run away from it all, and i am the co-pastor! Often change does not happen quick enough for me and it is hard to understand the complacency of some, but I go back to the call and dig in once more. We are called to be a community of believers doing life together, and sometimes that includes some Holy Tension or Holy Discontent so we keep moving forward and do not stagnate. Things that stagnate are not good, and eventually begin to smell! Thanks for once again giving a very insightful blog!


    1. Thank you! When I read the Book of Acts, I see that the life of a church was often lived out over an entire lifetime of the people. I attended my last church for about 13 years, but that’s still a small amount of time compared to the founding apostles. Change is a lifelong journey, and I pray we have the perseverance for it.


  3. We all mess up in church… So many churches today think its a place to put on your “everything’s perfect” mask. Nice to see fellow Christian’s admitting they too are imperfect and need Jesus!


  4. Reblogged this on Who Is Maria? and commented:
    “Church is exactly the place for you to endure through disagreement and discontent: because it teaches us patience when nothing goes ‘your way.’ ”


  5. Another fabulous post! One thing I discovered when I decided to quit complaining and start praying is that our pastors are shepherds. Their sheep are in various states of repair – some healthy and thriving, others torn and bleeding. When conflicts arise, we sheep are quick to turn and kick or bite our shepherds. Some of the decisions they make come from the wounds they’ve sustained from their unruly sheep.

    Hmmm. I feel a post coming on here!

    Prayer for our local fellowship puts us in touch with God’s heart for those with whom we worship. He begins to reveal the “why” so we can pray more effectively. It was a real eye-opener for me, giving grace and compassion for those who previously frustrated me out of my mind!




    1. Write that post! Good word.

      I think there will always be people who frustrate us, but this doesn’t mean they’re “sinning” or anything like that. We’re all just so different. I’ve said before in sermons that God’s church is like a tumbler of jagged rocks, bumping against each other until we’re polished jewels. It’s not always fun, but over a lifetime I think we’ll look back and see why God instituted such a community.


  6. It’s been a long while since I went to church… I never liked it ever since I’ve heard pastors often condemn the inactivity and the sin in people through their preaching instead of extending grace,. I’d like to get back on track, but it’s been far too long.. I hope I find an open-hearted church to be in too


    1. My friend, I do hope you find a church as well. That really is an active process which requires effort on our own part. I will always endorse church involvement regardless of how the media picks and chooses which churches to eviscerate (never the good ones, that’s for sure).

      I believe we should be open to hearing about our sin too, but I know we can tell when the pastor loves his people or is just being a reactionary guilt-tripper. I’ll throw you a prayer.


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