Where’s Martin Luther when you need him?

I may not have many pastor friends left after they read this. But to quote Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2….”I got enough friends.”
Before I begin, let me say I love the church. I think God invented the church. Not man. I know many pastors, deacons, loyal lay folk…and almost tears come to my eyes when I think of this highly imperfect, but astonishingly group of beautiful people. I also know some monsters, but I digress…

When it comes to the Church many have thrown the baby out with the bath water on this issue. And some…well some just don’t know any better. Complaining against the church, is nothing more than complaining against people, and ultimately yourself. Which, don’t get me wrong, I will do in this post. But more than that …I think the Church has created, and ignored a dysfunction and a virus in our DNA if you will…and when we see a mass exodus across the board…what do we do…we write blogs, or preach sermons, or write articles…trying to figure out and analyze what’s wrong with “them” versus ….maybe, dare I say, a more humble approach…”what’s wrong with us.”

Some of the most famous pastors of the day, even question if we are truly a Christian if we have disassociated ourselves with the church. Oh, man I really struggle with that position. Even if they may be right. I think one of the reasons I struggle with that, is it is another argument and position that lays on top of a big pile of arguments and positions against people who have walked away or organically just want nothing to do with the church…and I sigh…because I just think that position inherently lacks grace and compassion, and frankly turns a blind eye to the house burning down around them.

I myself struggle deeply with the organization and infastructure called church…even though that’s not really the “church” if you will…but a thing the church does…or the way the church operates etc…I’ve gotten to the point where I hate, even if it’s me asking, the question…”How did you like church today?”

What?

If I…and you answer that…or if that is a common place question…I think we need to realize in your church and in mine…there is something radically wrong.

Okay, where are you going with this Schultz?

I’ll give you an example…do you go to a hospital….and ask…How was it? Well, I give the doctor a 9, the surgery a 10, and the jello a 3….No one asks “How did you like a hospital?”…but it’s the place you go when you are sick…or you have an emergency…maybe if we are looking for a primary physician …we will have a list of questions…but not in an emergency…you bet if you need a doctor…and in a hurry…you and I both are going to get our ass to the closest hospital we can….and why?

Because without thinking…without second guessing…we know that …that’s the place we need to go when we need help.

Man I wish that’s how my soul felt about the church…but sadly, it’s not. And I’m not talking about a theological position here…I’m just talking bluntly…that’s not how I feel…now that doesn’t take away from my theological position about the church…but when I think of church…I think…well in terms of entertainment…

Now while you may think that’s typical, and if you have been in a Christian church for more than five minutes…you may have even heard a sermon about not going to church and being a consumer, but a giver etc. etc…yes the same church’s that have light shows, sound checks, and a concert feel to their worship services, celebrity pastors with book deals, and a wanna be starbucks in their lobby…

When I was a kid, I remember thinking the old people in my baptist church were really stuck up when more, as it was called, “contemporary” music started seeping into the church…I thought…”what old foggies…worried about clapping…guitar playing and the like…”…Now I’m the old foggie…and I’m wondering if maybe they had a wisdom and a healthy fear that we should have all have…they maybe knew something that the rest of us “young-ens” wanted to ignore…and that is…beware of turning a meeting time of the body of Christ into entertainment…Sure they weren’t all saying that…some of them weren’t complaining because they were wise…but because the way they do things…and are used to things…their own traditions became their own idol…but some were wise…we just didn’t want to listen…and most denominations within protestant Christianity didn’t become immune….some of the more liturgical ones battled it quite nicely….how i wish we were all more catholic…

speaking of it’s been interesting…I know many catholics & protestants that love Jesus…and I know many in both that just love the way they do things….and don’t really get it…there is beauty in all denominations…but neither camp define who really knows Jesus…or who just pretends like they do…nether camp is immune to the positive or the negative.

You may or may not be picking up on my point…and may still be wondering what I am getting at…and wandering around waiting for me to get to the point…here’s the point. There are two sides to this…one side is that the group that has thrown the baby out with the bath water…those who claim to be a Christian but want nothing to do with the church…or at least are taking an undisclosed amount of time off from the church…or have never had a faith in Jesus connected to the church…and want nothing to do with it….this group…yes this group needs to learn that the church is the body of christ…and we need each other if we can’t become fully who we are intended to be in Christ…a genuine “little christ” without the church…we need to partake in the sacraments…and need elders & teachers…we need others to serve and love…we need to be humble and submit…and we need to not deprive others of who God created us to be to mirror Christ to….but some frankly don’t know any better…some have never known…some just don’t get it…and some have been so abused and discounted by religious fakers…they are confused…some don’t care…some aren’t wise enough…some aren’t smart enough etc…etc…etc…

Here’s the other side’s…typical point of view…”So?”….they need to grow up and get with the program…don’t they know their not really Christ followers if they don’t partake ….don’t they get it…they can’t really be a Christian without the church…they need to grow up…they need to tie their shoes…pull up their pants…and get their act together…and get with the program…they need to learn…and get wise….it’s their problem…and not ours….

This is where I do a face palm.

And this is where I cry…

And this is where I wish we were all in one corrupt church together…corrupt because it’s filled with us…with sinners…& screw ups….so a wild man man could come and nail a 95 Theses on the front door…

I can’t help but wonder, and dream, if all this discontentment and mass exodus that is happening with the church despite some thriving and growing church’s …is actually from God himself. Not that God doesn’t want people in the church…right?

Except when the reformations was starting to happen…do we think God was cool with the church selling indulgences? or Pluralism…or …or …or all the other crap that was going on with the church in 1517? Maybe not…maybe he wasn’t okay with the corruption…and maybe…just maybe he not only discontentment to grow within the church…but who knows…maybe he even caused it…

Who know’s…maybe it’s time for a new reformation?

Why? What’s all wrong with the church? How much time do you got? More than you’re willing to give. I guarantee.

Can you imagine…a church really known as a place of love, healing, and place where you could get help…like a hospital? Yeah it happens here and there…and maybe more than just here and there…but it’s certainly not our reputation…

Can you imagine walking into a place and yelling…”I need help I’m addicted to this sin…or this one…and I just need Jesus…without people looking at you like you had a big scarlet letter_______(pick the letter of your sin here)….and why would’ t they be looking at you weird? …..because Church has become the hospital of the soul….where else would you go for help….?

Can you imagine if the church wasn’t known for entertainment but for charity & love?

Can you imagine if there were no famous people in the church? Like name a famous doctor ….that doesn’t have a TV show? Right….so imagine the church was filled with a staff who wasn’t famous…because they were too busy helping people…instead of interviews…

Look, I knock at that part…even though I get it…the more well known…the more we can help spread for the gospel…blah blah blah…but just….what if…what if it all changed? What if …I don’t know…what if we didn’t need anybody else famous in the church…besides Jesus….

What if we were more compassionate with all of those people who have walked away from the church…or don’t want to come…instead of blasting from a loud speaker how wrong they are?

What if we did away with the 1-2 hour service every Sunday…and it became…I don’t know…something else instead…like a hospital for sinners…where people could receive more love…and less entertainment?

What if the discontentment that everyone is feeling about the church is really coming from God?

We know from the scriptures that the enemy of the religious, and the pharisitical spirit will always be around but what if the church became hostile against this attitude much like Jesus was…instead of bowing to it because they feel like they need their tithe?

What if we stopped preaching self-help gushy feel good messages…and actually talked about Jesus, and why we need him?

What if the church was more understanding of why people didn’t want to be a part of it? Like I wonder if church attendance dipped during the crusades…probably…and probably people were still like…they need to get their act together and come to church…it’s their problem…wanna be a part of the solution? than change it from the inside!

What if God is trying to kill off an old way of thinking, to make room for a healthy way of thinking about the church?

What if it’s time for something new?

Who knows…I’m just as confused as the next guy…and am no one to have authority on the subject…but I can’t help but wonder if all this fuss and discontentment about the church isn’t all that bad…but maybe even needed…maybe things really do need to change….What if we didn’t go to church because “we should”…What would it take for us to want to go to church again….I honestly don’t know…What if we started over? Like why did we have church in first place?…I think it’s because Jesus was at the center…and it’s where one could go to find life…kinda like a hospital.

Right now instead of changing …they are praying for us…instead of looking at themselves as the problem…they are blogging about us….instead of getting rid of what doesn’t belong in the church…they are writing books about us…the broken vessels…the ones that know they need Jesus & the church…but are fed up…and sick…hurt…and disillusioned by hypocrisy…of which we know we are also guilty…hence why we need Jesus…, but were still sick of the falsehood…those of us that are confused….and know they need to be healthy…but also want the church to be healthy as well…or at least on the journey together…I mean any relationship takes “two” right….so maybe we need to come back together…and get healthy together…we can hope and pray for that to happen right…those who have stuck with church and in their pride…making themselves believe that their not part of the problem…except in some vague, general way…but not really believing their the problem….and then there’s us…those who feel shipwrecked by a religious infrastructure, and often filled with pharisees who are never called out…while the obvious sinners are crushed by their legalism and judgement…can we come together…and admit that we are both a part of the problem…and will they see their our discontentment isn’t just spiritual immaturity…but maybe there is some truth in the middle of their pain…just like there’s stuff we need to learn and change in…there’s stuff they need to learn and change in?

Man…wouldn’t that be beautiful? Maybe it will happen. Maybe we can come together…and in holy community surrounded around Jesus…we could together be the church and make it a place known truly as a place of love, compassion, truth, and grace…and place all about Jesus…and a hospital for sinners…maybe it will happen that way…a harmonious joining of the elder and younger brother from Luke 15…maybe…

or maybe it will take another madman to nail a 95 theses on the door of a church…again.

David Leo Schultz

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~ by David Leo Schultz on December 14, 2015.

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