What if its Me?…

‘Its not you – its me…’

‘No really…’

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.

He writes:

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.

4 thoughts on “What if its Me?…

  1. I read Mark’s blog a couple of weeks ago and was challenged by this same point. I appreciate your reflections on it.

    I think that if we try simply to love another, love the world around us and the people in it in a way that reflects Christ’s love for us on the cross (self sacrficial, graciously forgiving enemies, pouring out ourselves for the sake of one another etc) then our churches would look and feel a whole lot healthier.

    Perhaps easier said than done…

  2. Have you read The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne? It speaks on this very issue about how to change church culture and steer its focus away from events and more towards genuine relationship and discipleship.

  3. Probably a few points getting meshed into the one thread. The health of a ‘church’ depends on it being a bit more like ‘family-living’ versus ‘family-gathering’. This is the difference between Sunday am being ‘enough’ versus Sunday am being a small part of the whole. Any church I’ve ever attended has had a fair mix of both sorts of people – so we get some who want to take massive leaps forwards, and those who are pretty happy with 1983, and get bothered by the ‘pressure’ being put on them by the ‘fundo-radicals’.

    Mark writes that ‘we’ might be the problem, not ‘me’ (well, in this paragraph he did). That tells me that if I’m going gang-busters but the dude sitting next to me is going nowhere fast, we have a problem. ‘Chrisitan-individualism’ (yes, I’m now scraping my tongue with a wire brush after writing that) says that ‘I need to focus on my walk, and he needs to focus on his… but he’d better catch up or ship out!’. I might need to learn to come alongside my brother and help him with some soul searching, and while I’m at it, I can make sure that I’m not simply being pious, religious, proud, or anything else like that.

    Perhaps then ‘we’ (my derelict brother & I) are no longer the problem.

    I might need to start doing some of that. I’ve been pedaling my own bike for too long perhaps…

  4. I agree many of us think the individual church is the savior of our time.

    I also think that many ‘churches’ strive to be this savior. Its kind of like who’s leading who?

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