Church Problems Vs. Real World Problems

ofjoyandfire asked a question:

I am so, so in to your blog. There’s this sickness in the church; we notice the things that are wrong and ungodly in the church, yet instead of acting against them and defending the honor of the Lord, we sit and wallow in our complaints. That’s one thing the Lord has been showing me lately. He’s been showing me the wrongdoing of his people, and the fact that they do nothing about this wrong doing. I am so thankful that you (gracefully) call these things out. God bless, friend

Hey my dear friend, I’m right there with you.

I was talking the other day with my friend about “church problems.”  Things like: the praise team members not practicing, the pastor saying something weird and off-putting in his sermon, the room is too cold, the bulletins have typos, those members don’t like each other, that one guy who keeps coughing during service.  And my friend said (paraphrasing), “These are not real problems, this is church people stuff.  There’s real hurt out there.  I don’t really listen to the complaining anymore.  I just want to meet people in their real world.”

The truth is that most of the suburban upper-class church has the privilege to complain about “right doctrine,” church structures, and in-house bickering, but the entire world is bleeding in their homes and workplaces and hearts.  That’s not to diminish church problems: they exist, they’re real too.  But the priorities are way off.  When one more churchgoer tells me about their whack sound system, I say, “Well go fix it, and pray for the persecuted Christians who are being killed by ISIS.”

Those who only complain about the church and do nothing to move forward with solutions are revoking their own right to complain.  As a pastor, maybe I’m biased.  But I’m exhausted these days of first-world church division.  We have too much time to over-think these things, while my North Korean brothers and sisters are systematically crushed for their faith and Iraqi Christians are regularly imprisoned or killed for saying Jesus.  From Kiev to Pakistan to Ferguson, the church can’t stay in our four walls anymore or we lose relevance and purpose.

I know we can’t do everything all the time.  We can’t boycott everything or donate to everything.  We each have limited resources and time to give away.  But I hope that the global church uses these resources in a prioritized, grace-driven, wisdom-drenched manner that looks to the battlefield against evil instead of against each other.  Anything less than this is outside God’s Will, and is the very reason why the world looks at the church as some kind of bizarre out-of-touch virus.

Please know that I love the church.  I’m sorry I sound so harsh.  I don’t want to be one more guy who badmouths her.  But it’s my very love for the church that causes me to grieve, because we could be so much more.  While so many of us sit comfortably on our blogs (including me right now) and try to go viral or sound holy, I want to be part of what God is doing on the earth.  I’m praying we roll up our sleeves and get into the dirt where Jesus is.  I have hope for the church, that we’ll get there by grace.

— J.S.


10 thoughts on “Church Problems Vs. Real World Problems

  1. Yes sir! Sometimes I get to complaining about all the work. The harvest is great and tiring work. Then God reminds me this is a war we are waging not with guns or bombs but with the weapon of love. He reminds me this is a war His Son gave His life in. He gave His life for me. If He could die fore I ought to be able to live tor Him and not whine while I doing it


  2. What I preach is no secret to anyone, but I want to make my distinction again – religion, organized structures, let God down, not The Church. The Church, The Body of Christ, the People of God, do God’s work. My problem is that too many Church waste time in the religion. The Body must gather together for worship and mutual growth, but we don’t have to join the property committee, or spend all day at a bazaar to raise money for the new roof, or debate doctrine… No one needs the permission of priest or pastor to do God’s work: love, heal, teach, make disciples, but I have seen religion divert people away from our God-given call.
    And yes, there is nothing in this world worth complaining about. I continue to struggle to do as commanded, “In everything give thanks”. Somehow that does seem worth putting time and energy into. When I get that all worked out I won’t comment about it, because I will be dead and in heaven. But I’ll keep at it. Maybe, some day…


    1. For sure. Just to be certain, I’m all for loving on Pharisees and the “religious folk” too. I’m no better than them and they need grace just as desperately. I’ve seen some Pharisee-types finally get it and do some great work for the Body.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your quote “I want to be part of what God is doing on the earth. I’m praying we roll up our sleeves and get into the dirt where Jesus is.”

    I completely agree. We need to get on the front lines and stand up for the wrong in this world. However, relating back to what nopew commented on earlier, there’s a different between being “religious” and being a “Christian.” There’s a lot of religious people out there but they aren’t necessarily speaking the Gospel. I came from one of those organizations. For years I thought I was growing closer to God/Jesus when in fact I was moving further away. I saw everything as “right and wrong,” not as “Jesus loves me.”

    I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s an outside force in the world that gives a bad reputation to Christianity, and we should be time and effort into. But there are also internal forces that helps give that bad reputation. We need to focus our time and effort on both sides.


    1. Thank you and agreed. I don’t mean to put a false dichotomy between “out there” and “in here,” when really the problem is always in the human heart, and Christ is always the remedy. Even those we call religious are redeemable by that grace.


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