‘Its not you – its me…’
I was reading Mark Sayers blog yesterday where he lists his top ten questions he has been asking about church and culture – and the first one pretty much nails the heart of the problem for me.
1: The almost overwhelming consensus in the West is that Church needs to change. But what if Church is not the problem what if we are? In the past people were part of the church because of their sense of devotion, their expectations of Church were much lower. What if we are looking for Church to give us the transcendence that we are meant to find in God?
I think there is plenty in church to critique and even as one who leads a church these days I have no problem finding the oddities and failures of our western church. I think we need that ability to look at ourselves critically. But we could literally critique for ever and not get on a positive footing.
As Mark states ‘church critique’ (in its current form) is a fairly recent phenomena. Wind the clock back 40 years and a church was a church was a church. There weren’t different flavours to try. There was simply vanilla – or vanilla with sprinkles on top if you were a pentecostal…
But in asking the question ‘what if its me?’ I feel Mark gets closer to the real issue. It was Chesterton who when asked ‘what was wrong with the world’ answered ‘I am’ and maybe the same is true of church. Maybe we need to take it more personally though and ask what it would look like for us to shift our own priorities so that we were engaging in our churches in completely different ways.
I imagine some of this comes down to:
– taking responsibility for our own spiritual formation rather than hoping Sunday Am will do the trick
– investing more time (lots of it) in genuine community and discipling of one another
– seeking to give more than we take in all areas of life
It circles around again to the issue of personal spiritual formation and the need for us to be increasingly pursuing Christlikeness rather than increasingly trying to make our church function better or look better. Like most things in life of value there are no shortcuts and this will take some effort from us.
But if we chose to make the effort then perhaps the church critique would dry up because there would be a complete change of focus…
I certainly feel that part of the problem with the church I lead is me and I don’t mean that in a self deprecating way. Its just true. I have become part of a seductive and selfish culture and to resist and live differently is often more than I am willing to do.
Its something God has been speaking to me about these last couple of weeks and I’m just looking at what it means to raise the bar in my own life, rather than improving the plausability of the excuses.