Last week I read an article 20 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Pastor. I shared the article on Facebook, which lead to a discussion from a couple of college classmates about the failure of the Church. I will be the first to admit that there is no perfect church. Since the Church is made up of imperfect person, what do you expect?
Also last week, I read an article in my Rotarian magazine about what someone loved about Rotary. I am a Rotary member in the same way that many are church members: I go to most of the meetings and pay my dues. That is about my extent with the Rotary, but I would not say that I “love” Rotary. But I do “love” the church. For the same reasons that the people in the article loved Rotary, I love the church.
“There’s a real beauty to the underlying message of Service Above Self. I know there are going to be people in Rotary who are like-minded and like-hearted.” I hate that this person finds this in Rotary and it is not said about a local church. It is a not the natural inclination, but we are called to be people who serve, not people who want to be served. Every church struggles with this issue, but we must remember that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve, and commanded us to model His behavior. I love to serve others and serve alongside others.
The church is also a full of people who are like-minded and like-hearted. The church is comprised of people of different backgrounds, personalities, and every other marker you want to use. But we are united because we have been changed by the saving work of the Lord and given the common mission to make disciples. This looks different in each church, but when the leadership fulfills its role, each local church will work in the same direction. I love that about the church.
One Rotarian pointed out he loved “the opportunity to develop relationships with people who have more life experience than he does.” I get to experience this about every day – and I love it. While I am the pastor, most of the people in every church I have served are older than me. I am the spiritual leader, but I learn more than I teach. To sit down with the individual facing a third battle with cancer and hear, “I know this is God’s will,” and listen to the witnessing opportunities that he has been afforded due to his previous battles – I am challenged and encouraged. To watch the church member give out Bibles to other patients at each of his radiation treatments – I am the one who is learning! The tables will turn in a couple of weeks when I teach pre-teens at Vacation Bible School. I just pray they can learn half as much as I have from people with more life experience. I love that about the church!
Another Rotarian loved the “‘old school’ traditions.” I do not know what they are but maybe it is something like the one in Yazoo City when the President rings the bell with the gavel and everyone immediately stands for the pledge! The church is full of traditions. Let’s all admit that many of the traditions have lost their meaning and were started for a particular time and purpose but the purpose has been lost. There are times when I get frustrated with traditions, but we cannot wipe them all out. The churches that I have pastored have all been over 100 years old, and I would be stupid to not consider their rich heritage and honor the traditions that they have. I love (most) traditions!
A final Rotarian loves that she has an avenue to “give back to her community.” Every church should be impacting its community. There are lots of people in the community that think the church is there to meet their needs, so they come when their utilities are about to be disconnected or they face some other crisis. But we should consider that if our church left, would the community miss it. I love that I have been part of churches that have given back to its community, such as the “I Love Yazoo” Day recently where we spent a Sunday afternoon painting at the local sports complex, which has long been ignored. Or what about the local school that needed its playground cleaned or the school that needed its walls and bathrooms painted? Did I mention that I love the church?
I could write about some things that I do not like about the church, but that list would be small and most, if not all, would boil down to personal preference. I could go on and one about what I love about the church, but why don’t you get involved in one and experience it yourself. Or leave a comment below about what you love about the church.