Posts tagged church

In some circles today it’s cool to criticize the church. Search social media and soon you’ll find someone upset because they say the church has failed them. Some have even walked away. In fact, most readers of this blog know at least one person who has decided to leave church altogether.

Obviously, the critics are not totally wrong. Attend church long enough and you’re sure to bump up against adultery, jealousy, lying, or just general unpleasantness among folks who are supposed to be redeemed.

I get it. Sometimes someone will say to me, “It must be wonderful to work at the church, doing God’s work all day every day.” Well, it certainly is gratifying to partner with God in his activity on earth. But it’s not for the faint of heart. Spiritual healing is like physical healing: sometimes it means cleaning messy wounds, draining ugly infection, watching for many months (or years) while disabled people slowly hobble along until their brokenness has mended. 

So I could tell you plenty of reasons to criticize the church. But I’m committed not to join the critics, for at least three reasons.

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We’ve heard quite a bit in the last decade about the church’s waning influence in our culture. Many writers want to talk about generational differences, sociological trends, or cultural changes to explain why fewer and fewer Americans attend or care about church.

But I want to propose something more basic. I thought about this as I reflected on the sermon I preached last Sunday.  It was about spiritual warfare and the reality of Satan’s work in our world. Early in the sermon I quoted John MacArthur’s words in a sentence that seemed to resonate with many who heard it:

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I first met Scott in Colorado as we both stepped into a mentor group that would begin to shift and change both of us as leaders. I have always described him as the most down to earth man with the most amazing leadership. When you hang with Scott he is like any other guy on the surface. He is funny, sarcastic, loving, self-deprecating (in the best of ways), and yet he drops the nuggets of gold that you start to take notice of.

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I remember the first time a biracial couple visited the small church where I grew up. Everybody there that day noticed, in a “you don’t belong here” sort of way. I felt uneasy for those two then. And today, many years later, I’m still troubled by the lack of diversity in many local churches.

I realized very quickly that I was growing up in a church bubble. The people in my church looked like me, thought like me, dressed like me, shared the same values and preferences. We were comfortable inside our white, middle-class boundary.

But today I’m not comfortable.

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Pastors: 4 Reasons You Need a Friend

If you’re a pastor and you feel lonely, you’re not the only one. Loneliness can plague even the most productive pastor, especially after he got close to and got burned by the wrong confidant. When that happens, he may feel that alone is the only safe place to be.

I understand. In fact, I warned about that in last week’s post. But this week I want to share the other side. It is worth the risk of being hurt for the hope of being helped. Every pastor needs a friend who fits the following four descriptions.

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